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1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Buenos Aires, Argentina
2nd Public Talk 15th July, 1935

Friends, many questions have been handed in, and before I answer some of them I should like to give a brief introductory talk.

I do not think that any human problem can be solved isolatedly, by itself. Each one of us has many problems, many difficulties, and we try to deal with them exclusively, not as a part of an integral whole. If we have a political problem, we try to solve it apart, let us say, from religion. Or if there is an individual religious problem, we try to solve it apart from the social problem, and so on. That is, there are individual and at the same time collective problems, which we try to deal with separately. Because we do this, we only create further confusion and further misery. By merely solving one problem isolatedly, we create others, and so the mind becomes entangled in a net of unsolved problems.

Now let us understand the problem which must be in the minds of most people: that of individual fulfillment and collective work. If collective work becomes compulsory, as it is becoming, and each individual is forcibly pulled into it, then individual fulfillment disappears and each one becomes merely a slave to a collective idea or a collective system of authority. So the point is, how can we bring about collective work and at the same time realize individual fulfillment? Otherwise, as I said, we become mere machines, cogs that automatically function.

If we can understand the deep significance of individual fulfillment, then collective work will not be a destructive force or an impediment to intelligence.

Each one must discover intelligence for himself, whose expression will then be true fulfillment. If he does not, if he merely follows a plan laid down, then it will not be a fulfillment, but only a conformity through fear. If I laid down a plan or gave you a system whereby you could, by imitating, arrive at fulfillment, it would not be a fulfillment at all; it would be merely an adjustment to a particular pattern. Please see this point very clearly, for otherwise you will think I am but destroying. If you merely imitate, there cannot be fulfillment. The constant conformity to a particular mould is the basis of our religious thought and moral action; and living is no longer a complete and deep fulfillment, an integrated understanding of life, but merely conformity to a certain system, through fear and compulsion. This is the very beginning of authority.

To fulfil, there must be the greatest intelligence. This intelligence is different from knowledge. You may read many books, but it will not give you intelligence. Intelligence can be awakened only through action, through the understanding of action as an integrated whole.

To discuss and intellectually discover what is intelligence would be, I feel, a waste of time and energy, for that would not lift the burden of ignorance and illusion. Instead of inquiring what is intelligence, let us discover for ourselves what are the hindrances placed upon the mind which prevent the full awakening of intelligence. If I were to give an explanation of what is intelligence, and you agreed with my explanation, your mind would make of it a well-defined system, and through fear would twist itself to fit into that system. But if each one can discover for himself the many impediments placed on the mind, then, through awareness, not through self-analysis, the mind will begin to liberate itself, thus awakening true intelligence which is life itself.

Now one of the greatest impediments placed on the mind is authority. Please understand the whole significance of that word, and don't jump to the opposite conclusion. Please don't say, "Must we be free of law; can we do what we like; bow can we be free of morality. authority?" Authority is very subtle; its ways are many; its permeating influence is so delicate, so cunning, that it needs great discernment, not hasty and thoughtless conclusions, to realize its significance.

When there is deep understanding there is no division of authority as the outer and the inner, as applicable to the mass or to the few, as the externally imposed or the inwardly cultivated. But unfortunately there exists this division of external and inward authority. The external is the imposition of standards, traditions, ideals, which merely act as an enclosure to restrain the individual, treating him as an animal to be trained according to certain demands and conditions. You see this happening all the time in the closed morality of religions, in the standards of systems and parties. As a reaction against this imposition of authority we develop an inner guide, a system, a discipline according to which we try to act, and thus force experience to fit itself into this groove of protected desires and hopes.

Where there is authority and a mere adjustment to it, there cannot be fulfillment. Each individual has created this authority, through fear and the desire for security. You have to understand your own desire, which is creating authority and to which you are a slave; you cannot merely disregard it. When the mind discerns the deep significance of authority, and frees itself from fear with its subtle influences, then there is the dawning of intelligence, which is true fulfillment. Where there is intelligence there is true cooperation, and not compulsion; but where there is no intelligence, collective work becomes mere slavery. True collective work is the natural outcome of fulfillment, which is intelligence. in awakening intelligence, each one helps to create the opportunity, the environment for others also to fulfil.

Question: It is being said in some newspapers and elsewhere that you have led a gay and useless life: that you have no real message, but are merely repeating the gibberish of the Theosophists who educated you; that you are attacking all religions except your own; that you are destroying without building anything new: that your purpose is to create doubt, disturbance and confusion in the minds of the people. What have you to say to all this?

Krishnamurti: I think I had better answer this question point by point. (Shouts from the audience: "It is an infamy! The question is libellous!") Sirs, just a minute. Please don't feel that I am insulted, and that you have to defend me. (Applause)

Someone has said that I have led a gay and useless life. I am afraid he cannot judge. To judge another is entirely false, for to judge means that your mind is a slave to a particular standard. As a matter of fact, I have not led a so-called gay life, fortunately or unfortunately; but that doesn't make me an object of worship. I say that the tendency in people to worship another, no matter who it is, is destructive of intelligence; but to understand and love another cannot be included in worship which is born of subtle fear. Only a limited mind will judge another, and such a mind cannot understand the living quality of life.

It is said that I have no real message, but am merely repeating "the gibberish of the Theosophists who educated me". As a matter of fact, I do not belong to the Theosophical Society, or to any other society. To belong to any religious organization is detrimental to intelligence. (Objections from the audience) Sirs, that is my opinion. You need not agree with it. But you have to find out whether or not what I say is true, and not merely object. it happens that when I talk in India, they tell me that I am teaching Hinduism, and when I talk in the Buddhist countries, they tell me that what I say is Buddhism, and the Theosophists and others say that I am explaining anew their own special doctrines. What matters is that you who are listening understand the significance of what I am saying, and not whether someone thinks that I am repeating; the gibberish of a particular society. Out of your own suffering. through your own understanding of action, comes true intelligence, which is true fulfillment. So what is of great importance is not whether I belong to any society or am merely rehashing old ideas, but that you deeply understand the significance of the ideas which I have put forward, thus completing them in action. Then you will discover for yourself whether what I am saying is true or false, whether it has any essential value in life. Unfortunately, we are very apt to believe anything that appears in print. If you can really think through one idea completely, then you will find the real beauty of action, of life.

It is said that I am attacking all religions except my own. I do not belong to any religion. For me, all religions are but defensive reactions against life, against intelligence.

The questioner suggests that my purpose is to create doubt, disturbance and confusion in the minds of the people. Now, you must have the purifying balm of doubt in order to understand; otherwise you merely become slaves of vested interest, whether it be of organized religion or of money and social tradition. If you begin to question truly the values which now enclose and hold you, though it may cause confusion and disturbance, if you persist in deeply understanding them in action, there will be clarity and happiness. But clarity or comprehension does not come about superficially, artificially; there must be deep questioning.

Doubt is the awakener of intelligence, born of suffering. But the man whose mind is held in the vice of vested interest, of power and exploitation, declares doubt to be pernicious, a fetter which causes confusion and brings about destruction. If you would truly awaken intelligence, you must begin to understand the significance of values through doubt and suffering. If you would realize the movement of life, of reality, mind must be denuded of all self-defensive values.

Question: It is clear to me that you are determined to destroy all our cherished ideals. If these are destroyed, will not civilization collapse and man return to savagery? Krishnamurti: First of all, I cannot destroy your ideals which you have created. If I could destroy them, you would create others in their place and so be prisoners to these. What we have to find out is, not whether by destruction of ideals there is going to be savagery, but whether ideals really help man to live completely, intelligently. Is there not savagery, chaos, misery, exploitation, war, in spite of your ideals, religions and closed morality? So let us find out whether ideals are a help or a hindrance. To understand this, your mind must not be prejudiced or on the defensive.

When we talk about ideals, we mean those points of light by which we seek to guide ourselves across the confusion and mystery of life. That is what we mean by ideals: those future conceptions which will help man to direct himself across the chaos of present existence.

The subtle desire for ideals and their permanence indicates that you want to cross the ocean of life without suffering. As you do not fully comprehend the present, you desire to have guides in the form of ideals. So you say, "As life is such a conflict, as there is so much misery and suffering in it, ideals will give me encouragement, hope." Thus ideals become an escape from the present. Your mind and heart are crippled and burdened by them, giving you a subtle means of escape from the ever living present, thus covering up and dodging the conflict and the suffering of the now. So gradually you come to live in theories and cannot understand the actuality.

Let me take an example which I hope will make my meaning clear. As Christians you profess to love your neighbours: that is the ideal. Now what is happening in actuality? Love doesn't exist, but we have fear, domination, cruelty, and all the horrors and absurdities of nationalism and war. In theory it is one thing, and in fact it is quite the opposite. But if you put aside for the moment your ideals and really confront the actual; if instead of living in a romantic future you face without illusion that which is ever taking place, giving your whole mind and heart to it, then you will act and know the movement of reality.

Now, you are confusing actuality with theories. You have to separate the actual from the theoretical, from hopes and longings. When you are confronted with the actual, there is action; but if you escape into ideals, into the security of illusion, then you will not act. The greater the ideal, the greater is its power to hold man in an illusion, in a prison. it is only in understanding life, with all its suffering, joy and deep movement that the mind can free itself from illusions and ideals. When the mind is crippled with hopes and longings which become ideals, it cannot understand the present. But when the mind begins to free itself from these future hopes and illusions, then action will awaken that intelligence which is life itself, the everbecoming.

Question: I am deeply interested in your ideas, but I am opposed by my family and the priest. What should be my attitude towards them?

Krishnamurti: If you desire to understand truth, life, then family as an influence, as a shelter, doesn't exist; and the priest, as an imposition with subtle exploitation, ceases to be a determining factor in life. So it is you yourself who have to answer this question. If you would understand the beauty of life and live deeply and ecstatically, without this continual creation of limitation, then you must be free from organized beliefs, as in religion with its exploitation, and from the possessiveness of family with its cunning and self-defensive shelters - which does not mean throwing away all things and becoming a licentious person. If you desire to understand profoundly and live intelligently with fulfillment, then family, priest or public opinion cannot stand in the way.

What is public opinion, what are priests, what is family, when you really come to consider it? To discern, has not each one to stand alone, without support? This in no way means that you cannot love, that you cannot marry and have children. Because of your own desire for security and comfort you begin to create an environment which influences, limits and dominates your mind and heart through fear. A man who would understand truth must be free from the desire for security and comfort.

Question: Some say you are the Christ, others that you are the Antichrist. What, in fact, are you?

Krishnamurti: I don't think it matters very much what I am. What matters is whether you intelligently understand what I say. If you have a deep appreciation of beauty, it is of little importance to know who painted the picture or wrote the poem. (Applause and objections) Sirs, I am not evading the question, because I don't think it matters in the least who I am. For if I began to assert or deny, I should become an authority. But if you, through your own discern- ment, understand and live what is true and vital in that which I am saying, then there will be fulfillment. This, after all, is of the greatest importance: that you shall live fully, completely - not what I am.

Question: Is there any difference between true religious feeling and religion as organized belief?

Krishnamurti: Before I answer this question we must understand what we mean by organized belief. A structure of creeds, dogmas and beliefs based on authority, with its pageantry, sensation and exploitation - this I call organized religion, with its many vested interests And there are those personal feelings and reactions which one calls religious experiences. You may not belong to an organized religion with all its subtle influences of authority, imposition and fear, but you may have personal experiences which you call religious feeling. I need not again explain how organized belief, that is, religion, fundamentally cripples thought and love, for I have already gone into that fairly thoroughly.

Those experiences which we call religious may be the outcome of an illusion; so we have to understand how they come into being. If there is conflict, suffering, the mind naturally seeks comfort. in search of comfort away from suffering, the mind creates illusions from which it derives certain experiences and feelings which it calls religious, or by some other term. In understanding and freeing itself from the cause of suffering, the mind shall realize, not an objective experience which acts on a limited and subjective mind, but that movement of life itself, of reality, from which it is not separate. As most people suffer, and as most people have religious experiences of some kind, these experiences are merely an escape from the cause of suffering into an illusion which assumes, through constant contact and habit, a reality, You have to find out for yourself whether what you call your religious experience is an escape from suffering, or whether it is the freedom from the cause of suffering, and hence the movement of reality. If you seek religious experience, then it must be false, because you are merely craving to escape from life and actuality; but when the mind frees itself from fear and its many limitations, then there is the flow of the ecstasy of life.

Question: How can I be free of fear? Krishnamurti: I think the questioner wants to know how to free himself from the deep and significant cause of fear.

To be truly free of fear, you must lose all sense of egotism; and that is a very difficult thing to do. Egotism is so subtle, it expresses itself in so many ways, that we are almost unconscious of it. it expresses itself through the search for security, whether in this world or in some other world which is called the hereafter. it craves to be secure, now and in the future, and thus hinders intelligence and fulfillment. As long as this desire for security exists, there must be fear. A mind that seeks immortality, the continuance of its own limited consciousness, must create fear, ignorance and illusion. If the mind can free itself from the desire for security, then fear ceases; and to discover if the mind is pursuing security, it must become aware, fully conscious.

1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Buenos Aires, Argentina
2nd Public Talk 15th July, 1935

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


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