1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?
Auckland, New Zealand
2nd Talk in Town Hall 1st April, 1934
Friends, probably most of you have come because you are in search of something. At least most of you are here because you hope to find something by attending this meeting, because you are in search of something which you do not know, but hope to discover. You are here because there is a desire to find happiness, because everyone, in some way or another, is suffering; there is a continual gnawing going on in our minds and hearts, we are unsatisfied, incomplete, questioning. Continual explanations are being given for our innumerable sufferings, and so you come here to find out if you can get something in return for your search. By attending this talk, you hope to find an answer to your problems, the cause of your suffering.
Now, generally, what happens when you suffer? You want a remedy. When there is a problem, you want a solution. When there is an ache, you want a remedy. So we go from one remedy to another. We suffer and we want to find out what is the remedy for that suffering, so we go from one lesson, from one experience, to another, from one remedy to another or from one explanation to another, from one system to another or from one belief to another, changing your sects continually - that is, going from one cage to another cage, battering vainly against these bars to find out why there is suffering; and all the time mind and heart are merely seeking a remedy, an explanation. So, you will never find the explanation, because, what happens when you are suffering? Your immediate demand is that suffering should be relieved, that pain should be alleviated, so you accept a remedy which is given, without properly examining it, without properly finding out its true significance. You accept that because, psychologically, you have set up a hope and that hope blinds, and therefore there is no clear understanding of that remedy. If you think over it, you will see that it is a fact. You go to a doctor; he gives you a remedy. You never ask him what it is. All you are concerned with is that the pain should go away.
Now you are here at this meeting with that same attitude of mind, if you are seeking. If you are here out of curiosity, well, I have nothing much to say, I am afraid. But if you are here to find out, if you are seeking a remedy, then you will be disappointed, because I do not want to give a remedy, an explanation; but in considering things together, reasoning together, we shall find out what is the cause of suffering.
So, to discover what is the cause of suffering, do not seek a remedy; but rather try to find out what is the cause of the suffering. One can deal superficially, symptomatically; but that way you will not find out the real, basic, fundamental cause; and you can only find out the cause of suffering if you are not creating a barrier by the immediate longing that you shall be freed from that pain. For instance, if you lose somebody whom you love greatly, there is intense suffering. Then a remedy is offered - that he lives on the other side, the idea of reincarnation, and so on. You accept that remedy for your suffering, but that sorrow still remains. That loneliness, that emptiness is still there, only you have covered it over with an explanation, a remedy, a superficial drug. Whereas, if you were really trying to discover what is the cause of that suffering, then you would examine, you would try to find out the full significance of the remedy which is being offered, whether it be the idea that he lives on the other side, or the belief in reincarnation. In that state of mind, when there is suffering, there is acuteness of thought, there is an intense questioning; and this intense questioning is really what causes suffering. Isn't it? If you have lived together with your wife, your brother, or anyone, and that brother, or wife, or friend has died, then you are face to face with your own loneliness, which creates in your mind the questioning attitude - the full consciousness of that loneliness. That moment of acute awareness, of full consciousness, is the moment to find out what is the cause of suffering.
Now, to me, to discover the cause of suffering, there must be that acute state of mind and heart which is seeking, which is trying to discover. In that state, you will see that the mind and heart have become the slave of environment. Mind, with the vast majority of people, is nothing but environment. Mind and heart are environment, depending on their condition; and as long as the mind is a slave to environment, there must be suffering, there must be continual conflict of the individual against society; and the individual will be free of environment only when he, by questioning the environment, conquers the limitation placed on him by environment. That is, it is only when you understand the true significance of each environment, the true worth of the environment which has been placed about you by society, by religions, that you pierce through the limitation imposed, and thereby there is born true intelligence.
After all, one is unhappy because there is no intelligence, which is understanding. When you understand a thing you are no longer in conflict, you are no longer bound by that which has been imposed on you by authority, by tradition, by deep-rooted prejudices. So intelligence is necessary to be supremely happy and to awaken that intelligence, mind must be free of environment. The innumerable encrustations created by religions and society, throughout the ages, have become our environment. You can be free of environment, which individuals have created, only when you understand its standards, its values, its prejudices, its authorities. And you then begin to find out what is the fundamental cause of suffering, which is the lack of true intelligence, and that intelligence is not to be discovered by some miraculous process, but by being continually aware, therefore continually questioning, trying to discover the false and the true in the environment placed about us.
I have been given some questions, and I am going to try to answer them this evening.
Question: Do you believe in God? Are you an atheist?
Krishnamurti: I presume you all believe in God. It must be so, because you are all Christians, at least you profess to be, so you must believe in God.
Now why do you believe in God? Please, I am going to answer presently, so do not call me an atheist, or a theist. Why do you believe in God? What is a belief? You do not believe in something which is obvious, like the sunshine, like the person sitting next to you; you do not have to believe. Whereas, your belief in God is not real. It is some hope, some idea, some preconceived longing which may have nothing to do with reality. If you do not believe, but really become aware of that reality in your life, as you are aware of sunshine, then your whole con- duct of life will be different. At present, your belief has nothing whatever to do with your daily life; so, to me, whether you believe in God or not is immaterial. (Applause) Please do not bother to clap. There are many questions to answer.
So your belief in God, or your disbelief in God, to me are both the same, because they have no reality. If you were really aware of truth, as you are aware of that flower, if you were really conscious of that truth as you are conscious of fresh air and the lack of that fresh air, then your whole life, your whole conduct, your whole behaviour, your very affections, your very thoughts, would be different. Whether you call yourselves believers or disbelievers, by your conduct you are not showing it; so whether you believe in God or not is of very little importance. It is merely a superficial idea imposed by conditions and environment, through fear, through authority, through imitation. Therefore, when you say, "Do you believe? Are you an atheist?" I cannot answer you categorically; because, to you, belief is much more important than reality. I say there is something immense, immeasurable, unfathomable; there is some supreme intelligence, but you cannot describe it. How can you describe the taste of salt if you have never tasted it? And it is the people that have never tasted salt, that are never aware of this immensity in their lives, who begin to question whether I believe or whether I do not believe, because belief to them is much more important than that reality which they can discover if they live rightly, if they live truly; and as they do not want to live truly, they think belief in God is something essential to be truly human.
So, to be a theist or an atheist, to me, are both absurd. If you knew what truth is, what God is, you would neither be a theist nor an atheist, because in that awareness belief is unnecessary. It is the man who is not aware, who only hopes and supposes, that looks to belief or to disbelief, to support him, and to lead him to act in a particular way.
Now, if you approach it quite differently, you will find out for yourselves, as individuals, something real which is beyond all the limitations of beliefs, beyond the illusion of words. But that - the discovery of truth, or God - demands great intelligence, which is not assertion of belief or disbelief, but the recognition of the hindrances created by lack of intelligence. So to discover God or truth - and I say such a thing does exist, I have realized it - to recognize that, to realize that, mind must be free of all the hindrances which have been created throughout the ages, based on self-protection and security. You cannot be free of security by merely saying that you are free. To penetrate the walls of these hindrances, you need to have a great deal of intelligence, not mere intellect. Intelligence, to me, is mind and heart in full harmony; and then you will find out for yourself, without asking anyone, what that reality is.
Now, what is happening in the world? You have a Christian God, Hindu Gods, Muhammadans with their particular conception of God - each little sect with their particular truth; and all these truths are becoming like so many diseases in the world, separating people. These truths, in the hands of the few, are becoming the means of exploitation. You go to each, one after the other, tasting them all, because you begin to lose all sense of discrimination, because you are suffering and you want a remedy, and you accept any remedy that is offered by any sect, whether Christian, Hindu, or any other sect. So, what is happening? Your Gods are dividing you, your beliefs in God are dividing you and yet you talk about the brotherhood of man, unity in God, and at the same time deny the very thing that you want to find out, because you cling to these beliefs as the most potent means of destroying limitation, whereas they but intensify it.
These things are so obvious. If you are a Protestant, you have a horror of the Roman Catholic; and if Roman Catholic, you have a horror of everybody else. That goes on everywhere, not only here. In India, among the Muhammadans, among all religious sects this goes on; because to all, belief - that cruel thing - is more vital, more important, than the discovery of truth, which is real humanity. Therefore, the people who believe so much in God are really not in love with life. They are in love with a belief, but not with life, and therefore their hearts and minds wither and become as nothing, empty, shallow.
Question: Do you believe in reincarnation?
Krishnamurti: First of all, I do not know how many of you are conversant with the idea of reincarnation, I will very briefly explain to you what it means. It means that in order to reach perfection, you must go through a series of lives, gathering more and more experience, more and more knowledge, till you come to that reality, to that perfection. Briefly and crudely, without going into the subtleties of it, that is reincarnation: that you as the "I", the entity, the ego, take on a series of forms, life after life, till you are perfect.
Now I am not going to answer whether I believe it or not, as I want to show that reincarnation is immaterial. Do not reject what I say immediately. What is the ego? What is this consciousness which we call the "I"? I will tell you what it is, and please consider it; do not reject it. You are here to understand what I am saying, not to create a barrier between yourself and me by your belief. What is the "I", that focal point which you call the "I", that consciousness of which the mind is continually becoming aware? That is, when are you conscious of the "I"? When are you conscious of yourself? Only when you are frustrated, when you are hindered, when there is a resistance; otherwise, you are supremely unconscious of your little self as "I". Is that not so? You are only conscious of yourself when there is a conflict. So, as we live in nothing else but conflict, we are conscious of that most of the time; and, therefore there is that consciousness, that conception, which is born of the "I". The "I" in that conflict is nothing else but the consciousness of yourself as a form with a name, with certain prejudices, with certain idiosyncrasies, tendencies, faculties, longings, frustrations; and this, you think, must continue and grow and reach perfection. How can conflict reach perfection? How can that limited consciousness reach perfection? It can expand, it can grow, but it will not be perfection, however large, all-inclusive, because its foundations are conflict, misunderstandings, hindrances. So you say to yourself, "I must live as an entity beyond death, therefore I must come back to this life till I reach perfection."
Now then, you will say, "If you remove this conception of the `I', what is the focal point in life?" I hope you are following this. You say, "Remove, free the mind from this consciousness of myself as an `I', then what remains?" What remains when you are supremely happy, creative? There remains that happiness. When you are really happy, or when you are greatly in love, there is no "you". There is that tremendous feeling of love, or that ecstasy. I say that is the real. Everything else is false.
So let us discover what creates these conflicts, what creates these hindrances, this continual friction, let us find out whether it is artificial or real. If it is real, if this friction is intended to be the very process of life, then the consciousness of the "I" must be real. Now, I say this friction is a false thing, that it cannot exist in a humanity where there is well-organized planning for the needs of human beings, where there is true affection. So let us find out if the "I" is the false creation of a false environment, a false society, or if the "I" is something permanent, eternal. To me, this limited consciousness is not eternal. It is the result of false environment and beliefs. If you were doing what you really wanted to do in life, not being forced to do some particular job which you loathe, if you were following your true vocation, fulfilling yourself in your true vocation, then work would no longer be friction. A painter, a poet, a writer, an engineer, who really loves his work, to him life is not a burden.
But your work is not your vocation. Environment and social conditions are forcing you to do a certain piece of work whether you like it or not, so you have already created a friction. Then certain moral standards, certain authorities have established various ideals as true, as false, as being virtuous, and so on, and you accept these. You have taken on this cloak without understanding, without discovering its right value, and therefore you have created friction. So gradually your whole mind is warped and perverted and in conflict till you have become conscious of that "I" and nothing else. Therefore, you start with a wrong cause, produced by a wrong environment, and you have a wrong answer.
So whether reincarnation exists or does not exist is, to me, immaterial. What matters is to fulfil, which is perfection. You cannot fulfil in a future. Fulfillment is not of time. Fulfillment is in the present. So what is happening? Through friction, through continual conflict, memory is being created, memory as the "I" and the "mine", which becomes possessive. That memory has many layers, and constitutes that consciousness which we call the "I". And I say that this "I" is the false result of a false environment, and hence its problems, its solutions, must be entirely false, illusory. Whereas, if you, as individuals, begin to awaken to the limitations of environment imposed on you by society, by religions, by economic conditions, and begin to question, and thereby create conflict, then you will dissipate that little consciousness which you call the "I; then you will know what is that fulfillment, that creative living in the present.
To put it differently, many scientists say that individuality, this limited consciousness, exists after death. They have discovered ectoplasm, and all the rest of it, and they say that life exists after death. You will have to follow this a little bit carefully, as I hope you have followed the other part; if not, you won't understand it. Individuality, this consciousness, this limited self-consciousness, is a fact in life. It is a fact in your life, isn't it? It is a fact, but it has no reality. You are constantly self-conscious, and that is a fact, but as I showed you, it has no reality. It is merely the habit of centuries of false environment which has made a fact of something which is not real. And though that fact may exist, and does exist, so long as that continues there cannot be fulfillment. And I say the fulfillment of perfection is not in the accumulation of virtues, not in postponement, but in complete harmony of living in the present. Sirs, suppose you are hungry now and I promise food to you next week, of what value is it? Or if you have lost someone whom you love greatly, even though you may be told or even though you may know for yourself as a fact that he lives on the other side, what of it? What matters is and what in reality takes place is that there is that emptiness, that loneliness in your heart and mind, that immense void; and you think you can get away from that, run away from it, by this knowledge that your brother, or your wife, or your husband, still lives. There is still in that consciousness death; there is still in that consciousness a limitation; there is still in that consciousness an emptiness, a continual gnawing of sorrow. Whereas, if you free the mind from that consciousness of the "I" by discovering the right values of environment, which no one can tell you, then you will know for yourselves that fulfillment which is truth, which is God, or any name you like to give it. But through the developing of that limited self-consciousness, which is the false result of a false cause, you will not find out what truth is, or what God is, what happiness is, what perfection is; for in that self-consciousness there must be continual conflict, continual striving, continual misery.
Question: Are you the Messiah?
Krishnamurti: Does it matter greatly? You know, this is one of the questions I have been asked everywhere I go: by newspaper reporters for a story; by the audience because they want to know, as they think that authority shall convince them. Now, I have never denied or asserted that I am the Messiah, that I am the Christ returned; that does not matter. No one can tell you. Even if I did tell you it would be utterly valueless, and so I am not going to tell you, because, to me, it is so irrelevant, so unimportant, futile. After all, when you see a marvellous piece of sculpture, or a marvellous painting, there is a rejoicing; but I am afraid most of you are interested in who has done the picture, most of you are interested in who the sculptor is. You are not really interested in the purity of action, whether in a picture or a statue, or in thought; you are interested to know who is speaking. So it indicates that you have not the capacity to find out the intrinsic merit of an idea, but are rather concerned with who speaks. And I am afraid a snobbery is being cultivated more and more, a spiritual snobbery, just as there is a mundane snobbery, but all snobbery is the same.
So, friends, don't bother, but try to find out if what I am saying is true; and in trying to find out if what I am saying is true, you will be rid of all authority, a pernicious thing. For really creative, intelligent human beings, there cannot be authority. To discover if what I am saying is true, you cannot approach it by mere opposition, or by saying, "We have been told so", "It has been said", "Certain books have said this and that", "Our spirit-guides have said." You know that is the latest thing, "Our spirit-guides have said this." I do not know why you give more importance to those spirits who are dead than to the living. You know the living can always contradict you, therefore you do not pay much attention to them, whereas, the spirits, you know, they can always deceive.
We have trained our minds, not to appreciate a thing for itself, but rather for who has created it, who has painted, who has spoken. So our minds and hearts become more and more shallow, empty, and in that there is neither affection nor real, reasonable thought, but merely masses of prejudices.
Question: What is spirituality?
Krishnamurti: I say it is harmonious living. Now wait a minute. I will explain to you what I mean. You cannot live harmoniously if you are a nationalist. How can you? If you are race-conscious, or class-conscious, how can you live intelligently, supremely, free from that consciousness of class? or how can you live harmoniously when you are possessive, when there is that idea of mine and yours? or how can you live intelligently, and therefore harmoniously, if you are bound by beliefs? After all, belief is merely an escape from the present conflict. A man that is in immense conflict with life, wanting to understand, has no belief, he is in the process of experimentation; he does not positively believe and then continue with the experiment. A scientist does not start with a belief in his experiments, he starts experimenting. And a man who is bound by authority, social or religious, surely he cannot live harmoniously, therefore spiritually, intelligently. Authority, then, is merely the process of imitation, falseness. A man who is full of thought is free of authority, because authority merely makes him into an imitative machine, into a cog - whether in a social or religious machine. Therefore such a man can live harmoniously, and in that harmony his mind and heart are normal, sane, full, complete, not burdened with fear.
Question: Is the study of music, or art generally, of value to one who is desirous to attain the realization of which you speak?
Krishnamurti: Do you mean to say you go and listen to music as though you were going to get something in return? Surely music is not merchandise, to be sold. You go there to enjoy yourself, not to get something in return. It is not a shop. Surely our whole idea of the realization of truth or of living ecstatically is not continual accumulation of things, accumulation of ideas, accumulation of sensations. You go and see a beautiful piece of painting, architecture - any of these things - because you enjoy them, not because you are going to get something in return. That is the real materialistic attitude, the attitude of exchange, trading. That is your approach to reality, that is your approach to God. You go to God with prayers, flowers, confessions, sacrifices, because in return you are going to get something. So your sacrifices, prayers, implorations, beggings, have no value, because you are looking for something in return. It is like a man that is kindly because you are going to give him something, and the whole process of civilization is based on that. Love is a merchandise to be bartered. Spirituality, or the realization of truth, is something you seek in return for doing some righteous action. Sir, it is not a righteous action when you seek something else in return for that kindly deed.
Question: If priests and churches, and similar organizations, are acting with men in a sense of first aid to relieve the symptoms till the Great Physician arrives to deal with the cause, is that wrong?
Krishnamurti: So you make priests and religions as the first stepping stone. Is that it? You are waiting for somebody else to come and reveal to you the cause? You are saying, as far as I can make out, "As there are so many symptoms, as we are suffering superficially, that is, dealing with the symptoms, it is necessary to have the priests and churches." Now do you say that? Do you recognize that? Do you recognize and assert that churches and priests are merely dealing with symptoms? If you really acknowledge that, then you will find out the cause. But you will not do that. You don't say that priests and churches deal superficially, symptomatically. If you really said that and felt that, then you would find out the cause for yourself immediately; whereas you do not say that. You say priests and churches will lead you to discover the cause, so the question is not truly put. To the vast majority of people, practically everybody, churches and priests will help you to go to the reality of truth. You do not say they deal with the symptoms. If you did, you would do away with them immediately, tomorrow. I wish you did! Then you would find out. Then no one need tell you what the cause is, because you are functioning intelligently, because you are beginning to question, not to accept. Then you are becoming real individuals, not machines driven by environment and fear. Then there will be more thoughtfulness, more affection, more humanity in the world, not these awful divisions.
Question: Seeing that human society has to be co-operative and collective, what value can the individual be to its success? Leadership suppresses the individual's freedom, and renders his uniqueness valueless. Krishnamurti: "Seeing that human society has to be co-operative and collective, what value can the individual be to its success?" Now let us find out if the individual, by becoming truly individual, will not co-operate. That is, instead of being driven to co-operation as you are now by circumstances - I should not say driven to co-operation, you are not co-operative - instead of being driven by conditions to act for yourselves, which is therefore not true, intelligent co-operation, is it possible to co-operate by becoming real individuals? I say it is possible, by becoming truly individual, that there will be true and natural co-operation, without being driven by circumstances; so let us inquire into it.
After all, are you individuals, functioning with your full volition? That, after all, is the true individual, is it not? - the man who functions with full freedom; otherwise you are not individuals, you are mere cogs in a machine that is being driven. So I say it is only when you are truly individuals that there will be real co-operation. Now what is an individual? Not a human being who is driven to action by environment, by circumstances. I say true individuality consists in freeing the mind from the environment of the false, and therefore becoming truly individual, and so there must be co-operation.
Please, it is already late, and I cannot go into details, but if you are interested you will think it over, and you will see that in this world, as it is constituted, each individual is fighting his neighbour, searching for his own self-security, protection, preservation. There cannot be co-operation. It is an impossibility. There can only be co-operation which is intelligent, human, creative, not selfish co-operation, when you as individuals, become full individuals. That is, when you see that to have true co-operation in the world, there must be no competitive search for self-security. That means altering the whole structure of our civilization, with its vested interest, with its class possessiveness, with its nationalities, race-consciousness, divisions of people by religions. When you, as individuals, are really free, when you see the significance of these things and their falseness, then you become truly individual, and then you will be able to co-operate intelligently; that is inevitable. What is keeping us apart is our prejudice, our lack of perception of right values, of all these hindrances which we, as individuals, have created; and it is only as individuals that we can break down this system. It means that you cannot have any nationality, the sense of possessiveness, though you may have clothes, houses. That sense of possessiveness disappears when you have discovered your real needs, when your whole attitude is not that of possessive class-consciousness. When every individual takes an interest in the welfare of the community, then there can be true co-operation. Now there is no co-operation because you are being merely driven like so many sheep, in one direction or another, by circumstances, and your leaders suppress you because you are but the means of exploitation, and you are exploited because your whole thought, your whole structure, is self-preservation at the expense of everybody else. And I say there is true self-preservation, true security, in the worldplan as a whole, when you, as individuals, destroy those things that are keeping people apart, fighting each other in continual wars which are the result of nationalities and sovereign governments. And I assure you, you will not have peace, you will not have happiness, so long as these things exist. They but bring about more and more strife, more and more wars, more and more calamities, pains and sufferings.. They have been created by individuals, and as individuals you have to begin to break them down and free yourselves from them, and then only will you realize that ecstasy of life.
1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?
Auckland, New Zealand
2nd Talk in Town Hall 1st April, 1934
Jiddu Krishnamurti. What Is Right Action? The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1934..1935.