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1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Ojai, California
8th Public Talk 25th June, 1934

This morning I am going to answer questions.

Question: Do I understand you to mean that the ego, made from the effects of environment, is the visible shell, surrounding a unique and immortal nut? Does that nut grow or shrivel or change?

Krishnamurti: You know some of you bring the spirit of speculation, the spirit of gambling into your inquiry as to what is truth. Just as you speculate in the stock market to get rich quickly, and thus exploit others, cheat others, through this pernicious habit of gambling, so does a philosophical mind indulge in its habit of speculation. With that attitude of mind you begin to inquire if there is an immortal and enduring soul, entity or being which is complete in itself, or an ever increasing, growing, expanding individuality.

Now why do you want to know? What lies behind this inquiry, this spirit of speculation? Wouldn't it be better not to inquire, not to speculate, but rather to ascertain if the environment creates that conflict resulting in that individual consciousness, of which I spoke yesterday? Would that not be better than merely to speculate, because all speculation about these matters must be utterly false, since one cannot possibly conceive, in that state of limitation, in that state of conflict between the result of environment and environment itself, one cannot conceive that reality, that eternal life which is truth. If you say that it is consciousness ever increasing, ever expanding, or that it is complete in itself, eternal, I think it is incorrect, because it is neither of these two things from the point of view of that which is intelligence. If you are merely speculating to discover whether that being grows, or eternally is, then the result will be a pattern, a metaphysical or philosophical concept according to which you will, consciously or unconsciously, mould your lives. Therefore such a pattern will be merely an escape, an escape from that conflict which alone can free man from his speculation, from his gambling.

So if you become conscious of the conflict, then you will see in its intensity the meaning of eternity; that is, when you begin to free the mind and heart from all conflict there is intelligence, and then timelessness has a different significance altogether. It is a fulfillment, not a growth. It is ever becoming, not towards an end, but inherently. You can understand this intellectually, superficially, but you cannot understand it fundamentally in all its depth, richness, if the mind and heart are merely seeking a metaphysical refuge, or taking delight in philosophical speculations.

Question: If the eternal is intelligence and therefore truth, then it is not bothered by the false which is the "I" and the environment. Similarly, there is no inducement to the false, the "I", the environment, to be troubled about the eternal, truth, intelligence; for, as you have said repeatedly, the one cannot be reached by the other, no matter how great is the effort. And it also appears that throughout the thousands of years of human life, the eternal has not made much headway in dissipating the false and creating truth. As they seem to be unrelated according to you, why not let the eternal be the eternal, and let the false get worse if it pleases? In a word, why bother about anything at all?

Krishnamurti: Why bother about it? Why do you bother about anything in life? Because there is conflict, because man is caught in sorrow, in pain, transient joys, innumerable struggles, vain gropings, subtle fancies and romanticisms which are always collapsing; because there is continual strife in the mind, you begin to inquire why this struggle exists. If there is not a struggle, why bother about it? I quite agree with the questioner, why bother about anything if there is not this struggle, the struggle of earning money and keeping that money, the struggle of adjusting yourself to your neighbours, environment and conditions and demands, the struggle to be yourself, to express what you feel. If you don't feel that there is a struggle, then don't bother, let it alone. But I do not think there is a single human being in the world - except perhaps the savages in remote places away from civilization - who is not in the struggle, in the ceaseless search for security, for comfort, driven by fear. In that struggle man begins to create ideas concerning truth as ways of escape.

I say there is a mode of life in which conflict ceases altogether, a way to live spontaneously, naturally, ecstatically. This to me is a fact, not a theory. And I would like to help those who are in sorrow, who are not seeking an end, who are trying to discover the cause of this conflict; those who are not seeking a solution - because there is no solution - to awaken in themselves that intelligence which dissipates, through understanding, the cause of conflict. But if you are not in conflict then there is nothing more to be said. Then you have ceased to think, then you have ceased to live, because you have merely found a security, a shelter away from this constant movement of life, which without understanding becomes a conflict, but when understood becomes a delight, an ecstasy, a continual movement, timeless; and that is eternity.

So what is this conflict? Conflict, as I said, can only exist between two false things, conflict cannot exist between understanding and ignorance, conflict cannot exist between truth and that which is false. So man's whole conflict, his pain and his suffering, lies between two false things, between what he considers the essential and the inessential. Let us consider what these two false things are; not what was created first, not the old question: which came first - the chicken or the egg? That is again a metaphysical laziness of the speculative mind which is not really thinking.

So long as we do not understand the true worth of the environment which creates the individual who battles against it, there must be struggle, there must be conflict, there must be ever increasing restraint and limitation. Therefore action, as I said yesterday, creates further barriers. And mind and heart - which to me are the same, I divide them for convenience of speech - are impaired and clouded over by memory, and memory is the result born of the search for security, it is the outcome of adjustment to environment, and that memory is continually clouding the mind that is intelligence itself, and therefore dividing it from intelligence; that memory creates the lack of understanding, that memory creates the conflict between the mind and environment. But if you can approach environment anew and not burdened by this memory of the past which is but a careful adjustment and therefore merely a warning; if you are that intelligence, that mind which is continually renewing itself, not adjusting, modifying itself to a condition, but meeting everything anew, like the sun on a fresh morning, like the evening stars, then in that freshness, in that alertness, there comes the comprehension of all things. Therefore conflict ceases altogether, because intelligence and conflict cannot exist to- gether. Disharmony ceases when intelligence is functioning in its plenitude.

Question: When a person I love, without attachment or longing, comes into my thoughts and I dwell on them pleasantly for a moment, is this what you decry as not living fully in the present?

Krishnamurti: What is living fully in the present? I will try again to explain what I mean. A mind that is in conflict, in struggle, is continually seeking an escape; either the memory of the past unconsciously precipitates itself in the mind, or the mind deliberately turns back into the past and lives in the delight of that past, which is one form of escape. Or else the mind in conflict, in struggle, which is without understanding, seeks a future, a future that you call a belief, a goal, a culmination, an achievement, a success, and escapes to that. It is the function of memory to be cunning and to escape from the present. This process of looking back is but one of the tricks of memory which you call self-analysis, which but perpetuates memory, and therefore limits and confines the mind, banishing intelligence.

So there are these various forms of escape, and when mind has ceased to escape through memory, when memory no longer clouds the mind and heart, there is then that ecstasy of living in the present. This can only be when mind is no longer taking delight in the past or the future, when mind does not create division; in other words, when that supreme intelligence which is truth, which is beauty, which is love itself, is functioning normally, without effort - then in that state intelligence is timeless, and then there is not this fear of not living in the present.

Question: When love is freed of all possessiveness, does this not necessarily result in asceticism and hence abnormality?

Krishnamurti: If you were free of possessiveness, you would not ask this question. Before you have come to that immense thing, you are already afraid, and are therefore building a protective wall which you call asceticism. So let us consider first, not whether it will be asceticism and therefore abnormality, when you are free of possessiveness, but whether that possessiveness itself creates the struggle and produces the abnormal.

Why is there this idea of possession? Is it not born out of insufficiency, out of incompleteness? And because of that insufficiency, sex and other problems assume great importance, and hence possessiveness plays a tremendous part in the lives of people. In completeness, which is intelligence itself, there is no abnormality. But being insufficient, incomplete, knowing poverty, emptiness, utter loneliness and shallowness of thought and emotion, we depend on other people, on books, on literature, on ideas, on philosophy to enrich our lives, and thus we begin to acquire, store up. This process of storing up for guidance in the present is but the functioning of memory which depends on knowledge which is of the past and therefore dead.

As a man of many possessions looks for comfort in his things, so the man of poverty, of shallowness, of incompleteness, looks to the possession of his friend, of his wife or of his love; and out of this possessiveness comes the battle and the constant gnawings of mind and heart. And when there is freedom from these conflicts, which can come only through awareness, through the understanding of environment, and not through effort - when there is this freedom, this understanding, then there is no possessiveness and hence there is no abnormality. After all, the ascetic is one who eschews life because he does not understand it. He runs away from life, from life with all its expressions; whereas intelligence does not seek to escape from anything, because there is nothing to be put away; intelligence is complete, and in that completeness there is no division.

Question: If priests are exploiters, why did Christ found the apostolic succession and Buddha his sangha?

Krishnamurti: First of all, how do you know? You have been told, you have read of it in books. How do you know they are not the fabrications of priests for their own profession, for their own benefit? An authority seasoned through the mists of time becomes invulnerable, and then man accepts that authority as being final. Why accept the Christ or the Buddha, or anyone, including myself? Let us rather ascertain whether priests are exploiters, not merely accept that they are not, simply because Christ is supposed to have established the apostolic succession. That is only the habit of a lazy mind that wants to settle everything by authority, by precedent, saying that because someone has said it, therefore it must be true, it does not matter whether that someone is great or small.

So let us find out. As I tried to explain yesterday, religions are the outcome of man's search for security. And therefore when a mind is seeking shelter, certainty, a place where it can rest, an assurance of immortality, when a mind seeks these, then there must be those to comfort and satisfy that mind. You may call them priests, exploiters, mediators, swamis; all these are of the same type. Now when you are seeking shelter, there is always the fear of losing it; when you are seeking gain, naturally with it comes the fear of loss. So the fear of loss drives you continually to this search for security, which to me is utterly false. And therefore a false cause creates a false product; and this product is the priest, the swami, the exploiter.

Why do you want a priest at all? As a convenient person for marrying you or burying you, or to give you a blessing which will wash away all your so-called sins? There is no such thing as sin - there is only the lack of understanding, and that lack of understanding cannot be washed away by any priest, whether he claims apostolic succession or not. Intelligence alone can free you from that lack of understanding, not the benedictions of a priest, or going to an altar or to the grave.

Do you go to a priest because he will awaken your intelligence, give you stimulation? Then treat this as you treat drink. If you are addicted to drink, it is a pity, because all dependence reveals a lack of intelligence, and then there must be suffering. And man is caught up in this suffering continually, although he does not and will not see the cause; he therefore multiplies means and ways of escape. But the cause is the very search for security, for this certainty which does not exist.

The mind which is intelligent seeks no security, because there is no place, no abode where it can rest. Intelligence itself is tranquillity, creativeness, and as long as there is not that intelligence there must be suffering. Running away from the cause of suffering is not going to give you that intelligence; on the contrary, it makes you more blind, more ignorant; and more and more you will suffer. What gives you perception immediately, directly, is that full intensity of awareness in the present. To understand the environment, whatever it be, is intelligence. Then you are really beyond all priests, then you are beyond all limitations, beyond the gods themselves.

Question: You refer to two forms of action: reaction to environment, which creates conflict, and penetration of environment, which brings freedom from conflict. I understand the first, but not the second. What do you mean by the penetration of environment?

Krishnamurti: There is the reaction to environment when the mind does not understand the environment, and acts without understanding, thereby further increasing the limitation of environment. That is one form of action in which most people are caught up. You react to one environment which creates a conflict, and to escape from that conflict you create another environment which you hope will bring you peace, which is but acting in environment without understanding that the environment may change. That is one form of action.

Then there is the other which is to understand environment and to act, which does not mean that you understand first and then act, but the very understanding itself is action; that is, it is without the calculation, modification, adjustment, which are the functions of memory. You see environment as it is, with all its significance, in the mirror of intelligence, and in that spontaneity of action there is freedom. After all, what is freedom? To move so that there are no barriers, to leave no barriers behind, or create them as you go along. Now the creation of barriers, the creation of environment is the function of memory, which is self-consciousness, which divides mind from intelligence. To put it again differently: action between two false things, the environment and the result of environment, action between these must ever create, must ever increase barriers and therefore diminish, banish intelligence. Whereas, if you recognize this - recognition is not a matter of intellect, recognition must be born of your complete being - then in that full awareness there takes place a different action, which is not burdened by memory - and I have explained what I mean by memory. Therefore every movement of thought and emotion takes a different nuance, a different significance. Then intelligence is not a division between the object which is environment and the creator which you call the self. Then intelligence does not divide, and therefore is itself the spontaneity of action.

1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Ojai, California
8th Public Talk 25th June, 1934

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


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