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1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Buenos Aires, Argentina
3rd Public Talk 19th July, 1935

Friends, if our actions are merely the outcome of some superficial reactions, then they must lead to confusion, misery, and to selfish individual expressions. If we can understand the fundamental cause of our action and free it from its limitations, then action will inevitably bring about intelligence and co-operation in the world.

Much of our action is born of compulsion, influence, domination or fear, but there is an action which is the outcome of voluntary understanding. Each one of us is faced with the question: Are we capable of this voluntary action of intelligence, or must we be forced, directed and controlled? To fulfil, to understand life completely, there must be voluntary action.

Action born out of some superficial reaction inevitably makes the mind shallow and limited. Take jealousy. By dealing superficially with it we hope to end it, be free of it. We try to control, sublimate or forget it. This action is only dealing with a superficial symptom, without understanding the fundamental cause from which the reaction of jealousy is born. The cause is possessiveness. Action born of a reaction, of a symptom, without understanding the cause, must lead to greater conflict and suffering. When the mind is free from the cause, which is possessiveness, then the symptom, which is jealousy, disappears. it is utterly futile to deal with a symptom, with a reaction.

Again, we have to discover and understand for ourselves how we act towards the established system of exploitation; whether we are merely dealing with it superficially, and so increasing its problems; or whether our action is born out of freedom from acquisitiveness which causes exploitation. If we deeply consider the cause of exploitation, we shall discern it to be the outcome of acquisitiveness; and though we may sometimes solve superficial problems, until we are truly free of the cause other problems and conflicts will continually arise.

To take an example. We go from one puzzling sect to another, large or small, with their dogmas, creeds, and with their organized authority and exploitation. We go from one teacher to another; from one cage of organized belief we fall into another. The fundamental cause of the existence of organized belief, which controls and dominates man, is fear; and until he is really free from it, his action must be limited, thus creating further suffering. Each one of us is confronted with this problem: Are we to act superficially through reaction, or, through understanding the cause of exploitation, awaken intelligence? If we merely act through superficial reactions, we shall inevitably create greater divisions. conflicts and miseries; but if we truly understand the fundamental cause of all this chaos and act from that comprehension, then there will be true intelligence which alone can create the right environment for each individual to fulfil.

Question: If you have renounced possessions, money, properties, as you say you have, what do you think of the Commission that organized your tour and is selling your books in the very theatre where you give your lectures? Are you not also exploiting and exploited?

Krishnamurti: Neither the Commission nor I make any money out of these sales. The expense of hiring this theatre is borne by some friends. Whatever money is received from the sale of these books is used to print further books and pamphlets. As some of us think that these ideas will be of great help to man, we desire to spread them, and to me this desire is not exploitation. You needn't buy the books, nor need you come to these talks. (Applause) You are not going to miss a spiritual opportunity by not coming here.

Exploitation exists where a person, or some unquestioned value or idea, dominates and urges you, subtly or grossly, towards a particular action. What we are trying to do is to help you to awaken your own intelligence so that you will discern for yourself the fundamental cause which creates suffering. If you do not discern for yourself and free yourself from all those limitations that crush your mind and heart, there cannot be true happiness or intelligence.

Question: To give up all authority, discipline, creed and dogma, may be right for the educated man, but would it not be pernicious for the uneducated?

Krishnamurti: Who is the uneducated and who is the educated is very difficult to determine. But what we can do is to find out for ourselves, individually, whether authority, with all its significance, is really beneficial. Please understand the deep significance of authority. One creates one's own authority when there is the desire to protect oneself or take shelter in a hope or in an ideal or in a certain set of values. This authority, this self-defensive system of thought, prevents one from living completely, from fulfilling. Out of the desire to be secure arise disciplines, beliefs, ideals and dogmas. If you who are supposed to be educated are truly free from authority, with all its significance, then you will naturally create the right environment for those who are still held down by authority, by tradition, by fear.

So the question is, not what will happen to the unfortunate man who is not educated, but whether you, as individuals, have understood the deep significance of authority, discipline, belief and creed, and are truly free from all these. To consider what will happen to the uneducated man if he is not controlled is fundamentally a false way of seeking to help him. This attitude is the very spirit of exploitation. If you gave the opportunity for the so-called uneducated man to awaken his own intelligence and not be dominated by you or forced to follow your particular system or pattern of thought, then there would be fulfillment for all.

Question: Do you think that the exploited and unemployed should organize themselves and destroy capitalism?

Krishnamurti: If you think that the capitalistic system is crushing and destroying individual intelligence and fulfillment, then you as individuals must free yourselves from it by truly understanding the causes which created it. it is, as I said, based on acquisitiveness, on individual security, both religious and economic. Now if you as individuals fully discern this and are free from it, then a true organization of intelligent co-operation will naturally come into existence. But if you merely create an organization without discernment, then you will become slaves to it. If each individual really tries to free himself from egotistic desires, ambitions and success, then, whatever may be the expressions of that intelligence, they will not dominate and oppress man.

Question: What do you mean by morality and love?

Krishnamurti: Let us examine the present-day morality in order to find out what should be the true morality. What is our whole system of morality, both the religious and the economic, based on? It is based on individual security, the search for one's own safety. The present-day morality is based on utter selfishness. There are happily few who are outside this closed morality.

To find out what is true morality, we must individually begin to free ourselves, through comprehension, from this closed morality, which means that you must begin to doubt, to question the values of the present-day morality. You must discover according to what moral standards you are acting; whether your action is the result of compulsion, of tradition, or of your own desire to be safe, secure. Now if you are merely conforming to a morality of individual security, then there cannot be intelligence, nor can there be true human happiness. As individuals you must come intelligently into conflict with this selfish system of morality, because it is only through intelligent conflict, through suffering, that you discern the true significance of these moral standards. You cannot discover merely intellectually their true worth.

Now most of us are afraid to question, to doubt, because such questioning will bring about definite action, demanding definite alteration in our daily life. So we prefer to discuss merely intellectually what is true morality.

The questioner also wants to know what is love. To understand what true love is, we must understand our present attitude, thought and action towards love. If you truly thought about it you would see that our love is based on possessiveness, and our laws and ethics are founded on this desire to hold and to control. How can there be deep love when there is this desire to possess, to hold? When the mind is free from possessiveness, then there is that loveliness, the bliss of love,

Question: Should we give in to those who are against us, or avoid them?

Krishnamurti: Neither. If you merely give in, surely in that there is no comprehension; and if you merely avoid them, in that there is fear. If your action is based, not on a reaction, but on the full understanding of fundamental causes, then there is no question of giving in or of running away. Then you are acting intelligently, truly. Question: You are giving us chaotic theories and inciting us to useless revolt. I should like to have your answer to this statement.

Krishnamurti: I am not giving you any theories or inciting you to revolt. If I am capable of urging you towards rebellion, and if you yield to it, then another will come and put you to sleep again. (Laughter) So the important thing is to find out whether you are suffering. Now, a man who is suffering doesn't need to be urged towards rebellion; but he must keep awake to understand the cause of suffering, and not be put to sleep by explanations and ideals. If you consider very carefully you will see that, when there is suffering, there is a desire to be comforted, to be put to sleep. When you suffer, your immediate reaction is to seek comfort; and those who give you comfort, consolation, become for you an authority whom you blindly follow. Through that authority your suffering is explained away. The function of real suffering, which is to awaken intelligence, is denied through the search for comfort.

Now you have to ask yourself whether you as an individual are satisfied with the religious, social and economic conditions as they are, and if not, what your action is towards them. Not as a group or a mass, but as individuals. When you ask yourself this question, you must inevitably come into conflict with all those religious authorities and dogmas, with all those moralities based on selfish desires, and with that system which exploits the individual for the few. I am not inciting you to rebellion, or giving you new theories. I say that you can live with plenitude and intelligence when the mind frees itself from the stupidities of selfish, limited desires. When you begin to discover the true significance of the values that you have built about yourself, when the mind and heart free themselves from fear which has created doctrines, beliefs, ideals, which are continually impeding you, then there is fulfilment. the flow of reality.

Question: Is it natural that men should kill each other in war?

Krishnamurti: To discover whether it is natural or not, you must find out whether war is essential, whether war is the most intelligent way of solving political or economic problems. You must question the whole system that leads up to war.

Now, as I said, nationalism is a disease. Nationalism is used as a means of exploiting the mass. it is the outcome of vested interest. please think this over and act individually.

Nationalism, with its separative, sovereign governments which do not consider humanity as a whole, and which are based on class distinctions and vested interests - do you think that this nationalism is natural, human, intelligent? Is it not the outcome of exploitation and the instrument for inciting people to fight in order that a few may benefit? Also, we have built up a psychological necessity for wars. which is the grossest form of stupidity. As long as we are capable of being incited through patriotism, we shall inevitably yield to a false reaction; and from that arise innumerable problems. If you deeply question the whole idea of nationalism and acquisitiveness, you will never ask whether war is natural. There are some who are against what I am saying because they think that their vested interest is being disturbed; and others are delighted when I speak against nationalism, only because they have vested interests in other countries.

To live intelligently, without the distinctions of nationalities, classes, without the divisions that religions create between man and man, you as individuals must free yourselves from acquisitiveness. This demands great awareness, interest and action on your part. As long as the individual is not free from the search for self-security there will be suffering, wars and confusion.

Question: You promise us a new paradise on earth, but it is unreachable. Do you not think that we need immediate solutions, and not some far-off hopes? Would not universal Communism be the immediate solution?

Krishnamurti: I am not promising you a future paradise on earth, but I am telling you that you can make of this world a paradise by your own intelligent awakening and action, by your own questioning of those things about you that are false. No system is ever going to save man, but only his own voluntary intelligence. If you merely accept a system, you become a slave to it; but if, out of your own suffering, out of your own questioning of those values and traditions, you begin to awaken true intelligence, then you will create that which cannot exploit man.

Sirs, what is preventing each one of us from living intelligently, humanly, sacredly? Each one of us is seeking immortality, security in another world; so religions become a necessity, with all their exploitations, dominations and fears. And, here in this world, we are seeking security of a different kind, so we have built a ruthless, competitive system of wars, class distinctions, and all the rest of it. You as individuals have created this agony of distinction and suffering, and you as individuals will have to alter it. But if you merely look to a group to alter the present conditions, then you will not realize that ecstasy of deep fulfilment.

So what will bring about in the world a happy, intelligent condition is your own awakening, your intense questioning of values, from which alone comes action. When you as individuals, through action, begin to understand the true significance of life, then there will be paradise on earth.

Question: Do you believe in the immortality of the soul?

Krishnamurti: The idea of the soul is based on authority and hope. Please, before I go further into this, don't be on the defensive. We are trying to find out what is true, not what is traditional, not what you believe; so we must first inquire if there is such a thing as the soul. To discern, you must come without prejudice, either for or against it.

We have created through our desire for immortality, the idea of the soul. As we think that we cannot understand this world, with all its agonies, miseries and exploitations, we want to live in another world more fully, more completely. We think that there must be some other entity which is more spiritual than this. The idea of the soul is based fundamentally on egotistic continuance.

Now reality or truth or God, or whatever name you like to give to it, is not egotistic, personal consciousness. When you seek security, continuance, you think of the soul as different from reality. Having created this separation you ask, "is it immortal?" When the mind is free from its limited consciousness, with its desire for continuance, then there is immortality, not of personal, individual continuance, but of life.

Illusion can divide itself into many, but truth cannot. As the mind creates illusion, it divides itself into the permanent, which it calls the soul, and the impermanent, the transient existence. This division merely creates further illusion.

When the mind is free from all limitation, there is immortality. But you have to discern what are the limitations that prevent the mind from living completely. The very desire for continuance is the greatest of limitations. This desire is the outcome of memory which acts as a guide, as a warning of self-protection against life, experience. Out of this is born the force that makes you imitate, conform, submit yourself to authority, and so there is constant fear. All this goes to make up the idea of the `I' which craves for continuance. When the mind is free from this egotism, which expresses itself in many ways, then there is reality, or call it what you will. When there is that sense of Godhood, you do not belong to any religion, to any set of people, to any family. it is only when you have lost that sense of Godhood that you become religious, and submit yourself to all the absurdities and cruelties, to exploitation and suffering. As long as mind is not vulnerable to the movement, to the swift current of life. there cannot be reality. Mind must be utterly naked, unprotected, to follow the wanderings of truth.

1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Buenos Aires, Argentina
3rd Public Talk 19th July, 1935

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


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