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1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Ojai, California
5th Public Talk 22nd June, 1934

This morning I want to talk about fear, which creates, which necessitates compulsion, influence.

Now, we have divided mind into thought, reason, intellect; but, as I explained in my last talk, to me mind is intelligence, selfcreative but clouded over by memory; mind, which is intelligence, is clouded over by memory and is confused with that "I" consciousness, the result of environment. So mind becomes enslaved by the environment which it itself has created through craving, and therefore there is fear continually. Mind has created environment, and as long as we do not understand that environment there must be fear. We do not give our complete thought to environment and we are not fully conscious of it, so mind becomes enslaved to that environment and thereby there is fear; and compulsion is the instrument of fear. So naturally the lack of understanding of environment is brought about by that lack of intelligence, and because we do not understand environment, fear is thereby created, and fear necessitates influence, either outer or inner.

And how is this continual compulsion created, which has become the instrument, this penetrating instrument of fear? Memory clouds the mind, and this, I have said over and over again, is the result of the lack of understanding of the environment which creates conflict, and memory becomes self-consciousness. This mind, clouded over, limited and confined by memory, seeks perpetuation of the result of environment which is the "I", so in perpetuating the "I", mind seeks the adjustment, alteration or modification of environment, its growth and expansion. You know, mind is continually seeking adjustment to the environment; but adjustment to environment does not bring about understanding, nor can we see the significance of that environment by merely modifying the state of mind or trying to change or expand that environment. Because mind is continually seeking its own protection, it gets clouded over by memory which has become confused, identified with self-consciousness - that self-consciousness which desires to perpetuate itself; therefore it tries to alter, adjust, modify the environment, or in other words, mind seeks to make the "I", as it thinks, immortal, universal and cosmic. Isn't it so?

So mind, which seeks immortality, really desires the continuance of this "I" consciousness, the perpetuation of environment; that is, so long as mind clings to the idea of "I" consciousness, which is but the lack of understanding of environment and therefore the cause of conflict, so long will it seek, in that limitation, its own perpetuation, and this perpetuation we call immortality, or that cosmic consciousness in which the particular still remains. So long as mind, which is intelligence, is held in the bondage of memory, which is the "I" consciousness, there is the search of the false for the false. This "I", as I explained, is the false reaction to environment; there is a false cause and it is ever seeking a false solution, a false effect, a false result. So when the mind clouded by memory is seeking to perpetuate itself as self-consciousness, it is seeking false immortality, a false cosmic expansion, or whatever you like to call it.

In this process of the perpetuation of the "I", that self-preserving memory, in the perpetuation of that "I" is born fear - not superficial fear, but the fundamental fear with which I shall deal presently. Remove that fear, which has as its outward expression nationality, growth, achievement, success - remove that fundamental fear, the anxiety for the perpetuation of that "I", and all fears cease. So fear exists as long as there is this desire for the perpetuation of that thing which is false; this "I" is false, therefore you must have a false reaction, which is fear itself. And where there is fear there must be discipline, compulsion, influence, domination, the search for power which the mind glorifies as virtue and as divine. If you really think of it you will see that where there is intelligence there cannot be the hunt for power.

Now all life is moulded by fear and conflict, and hence by compulsion, by the enforcing of decrees and fetters which some consider virtuous and worthy, and others baneful and evil. Isn't that so? These are the restraints you have established in your search for perpetuation, free from fear; in that search you have created disciplines, codes and authorities, and your life is moulded, controlled and shaped by compulsion of various forms and degrees. Some call that compulsion virtuous, others evil.

We have first of all, outward compulsion which is the restraint of environment upon the individual. The ordinary person whom you call unevolved, unspiritual, is controlled by environment, outward environment, that is, by religion, codes of conduct, moral standards, political and social authority; he is a slave to all these because all these are rooted in the economic needs of the individual. Aren't they? Remove entirely the economic needs upon which the individual depends, then codes of conduct, moral standards, political, economic and social values disappear. So in these restraints of the outer environment which create conflict between the individual and the outer environment, in which the individual is crushed, warped, twisted, he becomes increasingly unintelligent. The individual who is merely conditioned all the time by outward environment, shaped by certain rules, laws, reactions, edicts, moral standards - the more and more you crush him, the less and less intelligent he becomes. But intelligence is the understanding of environment, seeing its subtle significance freed from compulsion.

These restraints imposed on the individual, which he calls outer environment, have as their exponents the quacks and the exploiters in religion, in popular morality, and in the political and economic life of man. The exploiter is the individual who uses you consciously or unconsciously, and you yield to him consciously or unconsciously, because you do not understand; you become the exploited economically, socially, politically, religiously, and he becomes your exploiter. So in that way life becomes a school, a frame, a steel frame, in which the individual is beaten into shape, in which he becomes merely a machine - the individual becomes merely a cog in a machine, thoughtless and rigidly limited. Life becomes a continual struggle, a battle, and therefore he has established this false idea that life is a series of lessons to be learned, to be acquired, so that he may be forewarned, so that he may meet life anew tomorrow, but with his preconceived ideas. Life becomes merely a school, not a thing to be lived, to be enjoyed, to be lived ecstatically, fully, without fear.

The outer environment forces the individual, crushes him into this steel frame of standards, of morality, of religious ideas, of moral edicts, and as the individual is crushed from the outside, he seeks and escapes into a world which he calls the inner. Naturally, when the mind is being twisted, shaped, perverted by outer environment, and there is constant conflict outside, constant battle, constant false adjustments, the mind hopes for tranquillity, for happiness, for a different world; so the individual builds up a romantic haven of escape in which he seeks compensation for the loss and suffering in the outer world.

Please, as I said, you are here to find out, to criticize, not to oppose. You can oppose after you have thought over very carefully what I have been saying. You can put up barriers if you wish to, but first find out fully what it is that I want to convey; and to do that you must be super-critical, aware, intelligent.

As I have said, being crushed by outward circumstances which create suffering, and in an effort to escape from those outward circumstances, the individual creates an inner world, begins to develop an inner law and creates his own individual restraints, which he calls self-discipline, or co-operation with that which he has learned to call his high self.

Most people - the so-called spiritual people - have rejected the outer force of environment and its influence, but have developed an inner law, an inner standard, an inner discipline, which they call bringing the high self down to the low; that is in other words, merely substitution. So there is self-discipline. Then there is that which is called the inner voice, whose power and control is far greater even than the outward environment. But what is after all the difference between the one and the other, the outer and the inner? They are both controlling, perverting the mind which is intelligence, through this desire for self-perpetuation. And also you have what you call intuition, which is merely the unfettered fulfillment of your own secret hopes and desires. So you have filled the inner world, what you call the inner world, with all these - self-discipline, the inner voice, intuition. All, if you come to think of it, are subtle forms of that same conflict, carried into a different world in which there is no understanding, but merely a moulding, an adjusting to a more subtle, what you call a more spiritual, environment.

You know in the outer world some have sought and found social distinctions, and likewise the so-called spiritual people merely seek in this inner world, and generally find, their spiritual peers and superiors; and again as there is conflict in the outer between individuals, so there is created in this inner world a spiritual conflict between ideals, attainment, and their own cravings. You see then what has been created.

In the outer world there is no expression for the mind clouded by memory, for that "I" consciousness there is no expression, because the environment is too strong, too powerful, too crushing; there you fit into the mould, or if you don't, you are broken. So you develop an inner or more subtle form of environment, in which exactly the same process takes place. That environment which you have created is an escape from the outer, and there again you have standards, moral laws, intuitions, the high self, inner voice, and to them you are constantly adjusting. This is a fact.

In essence these restraints which we call the outer and inner, are born of craving, and so there is fear; and from fear there comes restraint, compulsion, influence, and the desire for power, which are but the outward expressions of fear. Where there is fear there cannot be intelligence, and as long as we have not understood that, there must be this division in life as the outer and the inner, and therefore our actions must always be influenced, either compelled by the outer, and therefore false, or compelled by the inner, which is equally false, because in the inner also you are trying merely to adjust to certain other standards.

Fear is created when the false seeks a perpetuation of itself in the false environment. And so what happens to our action, which is our daily conduct, to our thought and emotion, what is happening to these?

Mind and heart are shaping themselves to environment, external environment, but when they find that they cannot, for the compulsion becomes too strong, they then turn to an inner condition in which the mind and heart seek perfect ease and satisfaction. Or they have thoroughly satisfied themselves through economic, social, religious or political achievements, and then they turn to the inner, there also to succeed, to be successful, to attain; and to attain, they must have always a culmination, a goal, which but becomes the condition to which the mind and heart are continually adjusting themselves.

So in the meantime what happens to our feelings, to our emotions, to our thoughts, to our love, to our reason? What happens when you are merely adjusting, when you are merely modifying, altering? What happens to anything - what happens to a house whose walls you are merely decorating though its foundations are rotten? So likewise our thoughts and our emotions are merely taking shape, altering themselves, modifying themselves after a pattern, either the external or the inward pattern; or according to an external compulsion or an inward direction. So greatly are our actions being limited through influence, that all reason merely becomes the imitation of a pattern, an adjustment to a condition, and love becomes but another form of fear. Our whole life - after all our life is our thoughts and our emotions, our joys and our pains - our whole life remains incomplete, our whole process of thought or the expression of that life is merely an adjustment, a modification, never a fullness, a completeness. And hence there arises problem after problem, the adjustment to environment which must be constantly changing, and conformity to patterns, which also must vary. So you go on with this battle, and this battle you call evolution, the growth of self, the expansion of that consciousness which is but memory. You have invented words to pacify your mind, but continue with this struggle.

Now, if you really ponder over this - and I think you have an opportunity during these days, those of you who stay quietly here - if you recognize this and without the desire to alter, without the desire to modify, become aware of this outward environment, of these circumstances, conditions, and the inner world in which there are the same conditions, the same environments, which you have called merely by more subtle, more lovely names; if you really become aware of this, then you will begin to understand the true significance of the outer and the inner; there is an immediate perception, the release of life, then mind becomes intelligence and it can function naturally, creatively, without this constant battle. Then mind - intelligence - recognizes the obstacles, and because of its understanding of these obstacles, it penetrates; there is no adjustment, there is no modification, there is only understanding. Hence intelligence does not depend on the outer or the inner, and in that awareness there is no desire, no craving, but the perception of what is true. To perceive what is true, there cannot be craving.

You know, when there is a craving, your mind is already clouded, is already perverted, because mind identifies itself with one and rejects the other - where there is craving there is no understanding; but when mind does not identify itself with the "I" but becomes aware of both the outer and the inner, of the subtle divisions, of the various emotions, of the delicate nuances of mind dividing itself as memory and intelligence - then in that awareness you will see the full significance of the environment which we have created throughout the centuries, that environment which we call the outer, and that which we call the inner, both of which are continually changing, adjusting themselves to each other.

All that you are now concerned with is modification, alteration, adjustment, and therefore there must be fear. Fear has its instruments in compulsion, and compulsion exists only when there is no understanding, when intelligence is not functioning normally.

1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Ojai, California
5th Public Talk 22nd June, 1934

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


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