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1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Ojai, California
6th Public Talk 23rd June, 1934

I will give a brief talk first and then answer some of the questions that have been put to me.

I dealt yesterday with the whole idea of fear and how it necessitates compulsion; this morning I am going to deal again, briefly, with the way incompleteness creates compulsion. Where there is incompleteness there is the desire for guidance, for authority, for that moulding influence which has become tradition, tradition which is no longer thought but which acts merely as a guide. Whereas to me tradition should be a means of awakening thought, not dampening, killing thought. Where there is insufficiency, there must be compulsion; and out of this compulsion is born a particular mode of life or a method of action, and therefore further conflict, further struggle, further pain. That is, where one, consciously or unconsciously, feels the poignancy of insufficiency, there must be conflict, there must be misery and a sense of shallowness and emptiness and of the utter futility of life. One may not be conscious of this insufficiency, or one may be conscious of it.

So where there is insufficiency, what is the process of the mind? What happens when one becomes conscious of this emptiness, this shallowness within one's self? What do we do when we feel, when we become conscious of this emptiness, of this void in ourselves? We desire to fill that emptiness, and we look for a pattern, for a mould created by another; we imitate, follow that pattern, we discipline ourselves in that mould which another has established, hoping that we may thereby fill this emptiness, this shallowness of which we have become more or less conscious.

That pattern, that mould begins to influence our lives, compelling us to adjust ourselves, our minds, hearts and actions to that particular pattern. So we begin to live, not within our own experience, within our own understanding, but within the expression, the ideas, the limitations of another's experience. That is what is happening. If you really think about it for a while, you will see that we begin to reject our own particular experiences and the understanding of these experiences, because we feel that insufficiency, and we turn to imitate, to copy and to live through another's experience. And when we look to another's experience and do not live by our own understanding, there naturally comes more and more insufficiency, more and more conflict; but also if we say to ourselves that we must live by our own experience, our own understanding, we again turn that into an ideal, into another pattern, and after that pattern we shape our lives.

Suppose that you say to yourself, "I am not going to depend on another's experience, but will live by my own", then surely you have already created a mould for your adjustment. When you say, "I shall live by my own experience", you are already placing a limitation on your thought, for this idea that you must live by your own understanding creates complacency, which is only an ineffectual adjustment leading to stagnation. You know most people say that they will reject the outward pattern which they are constantly imitating, and will try to live within their own understanding. They say, "We will do only what we understand; and thereby they create another pattern which they weave into their lives. And then what happens? They become more and more satisfied; hence they slowly decay.

We look, for the dissipation of this insufficiency, to mere action, because where there is insufficiency and emptiness our one desire is to fill that emptiness and so we look to action merely to fill that. Again, what do we do when we look to an action to complete that insufficiency? We are merely trying through accumulation to fill that void and so we are not trying to find out what the cause of insufficiency is.

Please, when you feel that you are insufficient, what happens? You try to fill that insufficiency, you try to become rich, and you say that to become rich, to become complete, you must look to another, so you begin to adjust your own thoughts and feelings to the ideas and experiences of another. But this does not give you richness, this does not bring about completeness or fulfillment. And then you say to yourself, "I will try to live by my own understanding", which has its dangers, as I pointed out, leading to complacency; and if you merely look to action, saying, "I shall go out into the world and act so as to become rich, complete", you are again, by substitution, trying to fill that void. Whereas if you become aware through action, then you will find out the cause of insufficiency. That is, instead of seeking completeness, you create action, through intelligence.

Now what is action? It is after all what we think and feel. And as long as you are not aware of your own thinking, of your own feeling, there must be insufficiency, and no amount of outward activity is going to replenish you. That is, only intelligence can dispel this emptiness, and not accumulation; and intelligence is, as I have pointed out, perfect harmony of mind and heart. So if you understand the functioning of your own thought and your own emotion, and thereby in that action become aware, then there is intelligence, which dispels insufficiency and which does not try to replace it by sufficiency, completeness, because intelligence itself is completeness.

So when there is completeness there cannot be compulsion. But disharmony, incompleteness, creates separation between mind and heart. Isn't that so? What is disharmony? It is the consciousness of the division between what you think and what you feel, and thereby in that distinction there is conflict. Whereas to me, to think and to feel is the same. So having conflict and disharmony, and having divided the mind from feelings, we then further separate and divide mind and heart from intelligence - intelligence which to me is truth, beauty and love. That is, conflict, which as I have explained is the struggle between the result of environment, which is the "I" consciousness, and the environment itself - that conflict between the result of environment and environment itself, brings about struggle which produces disharmony. We divide mind from emotion, and having divided mind from emotion, we proceed still further to divide intelligence from mind and heart; whereas to me they are one. Intelligence is thought and emotion in perfect harmony, and therefore intelligence is beauty itself, inherently, not a thing to be sought after.

When there is great conflict, great disharmony, when there is the full consciousness of emptiness, then there arises the search for beauty, truth and love to influence and to direct our lives. That is, being aware of that emptiness, you externalize beauty in nature, in art, in music, and begin to surround yourself artificially with these expressions in order that they may become in your life, influences for refinement, culture and harmony. Isn't that the process the mind goes through? As I said, through conflict we have divided intelligence from mind and emotion, and then there comes the consciousness of that insufficiency, that void. Then we begin to seek happiness, completeness, in art, in music, in nature, in religious ideals, and these begin to influence our lives, to control, to dominate and to guide us, and we think that in this way we shall arrive at that completeness; we hope through the accumulation of positive influences and experiences that we can overcome disharmony and conflict. This is merely going further and further away from that which is intelligence, and therefore from truth, beauty and love, which is completeness itself.

That is, in our feeling of insufficiency, incompleteness, we begin to accumulate, hoping to become complete through this gathering of experiences and the enjoyment of other people's ideas and patterns. Whereas to me incompleteness disappears when there is intelligence, and intelligence itself is beauty and truth. We cannot see this so long as mind and heart are divided, and they divide themselves through conflict. We separate intelligence itself from mind and heart, and this process goes on continually, this process of separation and the search for fulfillment. But fulfillment lies in intelligence itself, and to awaken that intelligence is to find out what creates disharmony and therefore division.

What creates disharmony in our lives? The lack of understanding of environment, of our surroundings. When you begin to question and understand environment, its full worth and significance, not try to imitate or follow it or adjust yourselves to it or escape from it, then there is born intelligence, which is beauty, truth and love.

Question: In your opinion, would it be better for me to become a deaconess of the Protestant Episcopal Church, or could I be of greater service to the world by remaining as I am?

Krishnamurti: I suppose the questioner wants to know how to help the world, not whether she should join some church or other, which is of little importance.

How is one to help the world? Surely by not creating more sectarian divisions, by not creating more nationalism. Nationalism is, after all, the growth, the fulfillment of economic exploitation, and religions are the crystallized outcome of certain sets of beliefs and creeds. If one wants really to help the world, it cannot be, from my point of view, through any organized religion, whether it be Christianity with its innumerable sects, or Hinduism with its innumerable sects, or any other religion. These are in reality pernicious divisions of mind, of humanity. And yet we think that if all the world became Christian, then there would be the brotherhood of religions, and the unity of life. To me religion is the false result of a false cause, the cause being conflict, and religion merely a means of escape from that conflict. So the more you develop and strengthen the sectarian divisions of religion, the less true brotherhood there will be; and the more you strengthen nationalism, the less will be the unity of man.

Question: Is greed the product of environment or of human nature?

Krishnamurti: What is human nature? Isn't it itself the product of environment? Why divide them? Is there such a thing as human nature apart from environment? Some believe that the distinction between human nature and environment is artificial, for by altering the environment they say that human nature can be changed and moulded. After all, greed is merely the result of false environment, therefore of human nature itself.

When the individual tries to understand his environment, the conditions in which he lives, then because there is intelligence there can be no greed. Then greed would not be a vice or a sin to be overcome. You do not understand and alter the environment which produces greed, but you fear the result and call it sin. But the mere search for perfect environment, therefore perfect human nature, cannot produce intelligence; but where there is intelligence there is the understanding of the environment, therefore freedom from its reactions. Now environment or society forces you, urges you to be self-protective. But if you begin to understand the environment which produces greed, then in seeing the significance of environment, greed vanishes altogether, and you do not then replace it by its opposite.

Question: I understand you to say that conflict ceases when it is faced without the desire to escape. I love someone who doesn't love me, and I am lonely and miserable. I honestly think I am facing my conflict, and I am not seeking an escape; but I am still lonely and miserable. So what you say has not worked. Can you tell me why?

Krishnamurti: Perhaps you are merely trying to use my words as a means of escape; perhaps you are using my words, my ideas to fill your own emptiness.

Now you say you have faced the conflict. I wonder if you really have. You say you love someone; but you really want to possess that person, therefore there is conflict. And why do you want to possess? Because you have the idea that through possession you will find happiness, completeness.

So the questioner has not really faced the problem, he desires to possess the other and hence is limiting his own affection. Because after all, when you really love someone, in that love there is freedom from possession. We have occasionally, rarely, that sense of intense affection in which there is no possessiveness, acquisitiveness. And this leads us back to what I just now said in my talk, that possessiveness exists so long as there is insufficiency, the lack of inward richness; and that inward richness exists not in accumulations but in intelligence, in the awareness of action in conflict, caused by the lack of understanding of environment.

Question: Does not the very fact that people come to hear you make of you a teacher? And yet you say we should not have teachers. Should we then stay away?

Krishnamurti: You should stay away if you make of me a teacher, if you make of me your guide. If I am creating in your lives an influence, if by my words and actions I am compelling you towards a certain action, then you should stay away, then what I say is to you worthless, it has no meaning, then you will make of me a teacher who exploits you. And in that there can be no understanding, no richness, no ecstasy, nothing but sorrow and emptiness. But if you come to listen so that you can find out how to awaken intelligence, then I am not your exploiter, then I am merely an incident, an experience which enables you to penetrate the environment that is holding you in bondage.

But most people want teachers, most people want guides, masters, either here on the physical plane or on some other plane; they want to be guided, to be compelled, to be influenced to do right, to act rightly, because in themselves they have no understanding. They do not understand environment, they do not understand the various subtleties of their own thoughts and emotions; therefore they feel that if they follow another they will come to fulfillment; which, as I explained yesterday, is another form of compulsion. As there is compulsion here forcing you into a certain groove because there is no intelligence, so you seek teachers in order to be influenced, to be guided, to be moulded, and again in that there is no intelligence. Intelligence is truth, completeness, beauty and love itself. And no teacher, no discipline can lead you to it; because they are all forms of compulsion, modifications of environment. It is only when you fully understand the significance of environment and see its value, only then is there intelligence.

Question: How can one determine what shall fill the vacuum created in the process of eliminating self-consciousness?

Krishnamurti: Sir, why do you want to eliminate self-consciousness? Why do you think it is important to dissolve self-consciousness, or that "I", that egotistic limitation? Why do you think it is necessary? If you say it is necessary because you seek happiness, then that self-consciousness, that limited particularity of the ego will still continue. But if you say, "I see conflict, my mind and heart are caught up in disharmony, but I see the cause of this disharmony, which is the lack of understanding of environment which has created that self-consciousness", then there is no void to be filled. I am afraid the questioner has not understood this at all.

Please let me explain this once again. What we call self-consciousness, or that "I" consciousness, is nothing else but the result of environment; that is, when the mind and heart do not understand environment, the surroundings, the conditions in which an individual finds himself, then through the lack of that understanding, conflict is created. Mind is clouded by this conflict, and this continual conflict creates memory and becomes identified with mind and thus this idea of "I", of ego consciousness, becomes hardened. Hence further conflict, suffering and pain. But the understanding of the circumstances, the surroundings, the conditions which create this conflict does not come through substitution but through intelligence, which is mind and love; that intelligence which is ever self-creating, ever in movement. And that to me is eternity, a timeless reality. Whereas, you are seeking the perpetuation of that consciousness which is the result of environment, which you call the "I", and that "I" can disappear only when there is the understanding of environment. Intelligence then functions normally, without restraint or compulsion. Then there is not this frightful struggle, this search for beauty, search for truth, and the constant battle of possessive love, because intelligence itself is complete.

1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Ojai, California
6th Public Talk 23rd June, 1934

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


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