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1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Santiago, Chile
3nd Public Talk 8th September, 1935

Question: What have you to say about the treatment of criminals?

Krishnamurti: Now it all depends upon whom you call a criminal. A pathological person is not a criminal, and it is folly to put him in a prison. He needs medical attention and care. A person who deliberately steals is generally called a criminal. Unless he is a pathological case, he steals because there is for him an insufficiency of the necessities of life. So what is the sense of turning him into a criminal by throwing him into prison? He is the result of cruel absurd and exploiting economic conditions. He is not the real culprit, but the whole system of acquisitiveness which creates the exploiter.

There is yet another type of man who also is called a criminal; his ideas, being true, become dangerous, and you get rid of him by sending him to prison or by killing him.

Through one's own action one either creates conditions which produce the so-called criminal, or destroys those limitations which create sorrow.

Question: It is being said that you are an Agent of the British Government, and that your talk against nationalism is part of a vast plan of propaganda directed towards keeping India within and subject to the British Empire. Is this true?

Krishnamurti: I am afraid this is not true. It is rather absurd to be told, when one says what one thinks, that one is an agent for some cause or country. (Laughter) To me, nationalism, whether in Chile, England or India, is destructive. It separates human beings, causes many evils. Nationalism is an ugly disease; and when I say this, those people from other countries who have vested interests here or in any country not their own are very much in agreement with it; and those for whom nationalism is a means of exploiting their own people are very much opposed to it. Nationalism is, after all, a false sentiment, stimulated by vested interests and used for imperialism and war. Question: Is not what you say against nationalism detrimental to the welfare of the smaller nations? How can we in Chile hope to uphold our national integrity and well-being unless we feel intensely nationalistic and defend ourselves against the larger nations who seek to control and dominate us?

Krishnamurti: When you talk about upholding your national integrity and well-being, you mean developing your own particular class of exploiters. (Laughter) Do not think in terms of Chile or any other country, but think of humanity as a whole.

Yesterday I was walking in the country, and there was a lovely sunset. The mountains and the snow were aglow, clear, beautiful. A labourer, literally in rags, passed by. Some have money to live comfortably and enjoy the luxury and the beauty of life; others have to work from morning till night, from a tender age until they die, without leisure, without hope. We allow in every country all this cruelty and horror. We have lost our delicate feelings, we are frustrated and are destroying ourselves through fear and acquisitiveness.

Surely, to abolish poverty, you must think as human beings, not as nationals. There can only be humanity, and not the cruel division of races and the childish absurdity of nationalism. Why cannot this happy and intelligent state be brought about? Who is preventing it? Each one of you, because you think in terms of Chile, England, India or some other country. As beliefs divide people, so you have let frontiers destroy the unity of man. It rests with you, not with a vague thing called the mass, to bring about human unity and happiness.

Question: You apparently believe that all priests are scoundrels. (Laughter) In the Catholic Church there are many great and saintly men. Do you call these also exploiters?

Krishnamurti: Through fear one creates authority; and yielding to it must bring about exploitation. So each one, through fear, creates exploiters. By your own desires and fears you have created religions, with their dogmas, creeds, and all their pageantry and show. Religions as organized beliefs, with their vested interest, do not lead man to reality. They have become engines of exploitation. (Applause) But you are responsible for their existence. Mind must be free from those illusions which fear has created, those illusions that now appear as reality; and when the mind is simple, direct, capable of thinking truly, then it will not create exploiters.

Question: Your teaching concerning the family seems to be heartless and cold. Is not the family a most natural outcome of affection between human beings? Why then are you against it?

Krishnamurti: What is the family now? It is based on possessiveness, which destroys love. Where there is a sense of possession, there must be exploitation. Where there is love, there is no imposition or possessiveness. But if you consider our present morality, you will see that it is based on maintaining this possessive attitude towards life. By our egotistic craving we are destroying the perfume and the beauty of life. Where there is love, family does not become a centre of exploitation.

Question: If one lives free of such vices as the use of alcohol and tobacco and follows a strictly vegetarian diet, can this not be a great factor in helping one to understand your teachings?

Krishnamurti: Please. it is not what you put into your mouth that gives you understanding. (Laughter) What gives you understanding is facing life directly, simply and truly. But by merely giving up meat, alcohol or tobacco you are not going to understand reality. A great many people have given up these things, hoping for happiness. Fulfilment lies not in giving up but in understanding. Mind cannot be a slave to fear and to illusions. Discover first the impediments, the limitations which cripple the mind and heart, and when you liberate yourself from them, then there will be intelligent and natural existence.

Question: How can there possibly be individual well-being until there is a mass movement to remove the capitalistic exploiters from power? Surely the mass movement must come first in order to clear the way for the underdog, and only then will there be an equal opportunity for all.

Krishnamurti: Now, to put one or the other first, individual well- being or collective action, must ultimately hinder man's fulfilment, True fulfilment brings about the welfare of the whole as well as of the individual. What is it that we call the mass? It is you. There cannot be true collective action without individual comprehension. The mass movement is really the result of clear thought and action on the part of every individual. If each one of you merely says that there ought to be collective action, then such action will never take place, because you are merely avoiding your individual responsibility of action. When a man relies on the action of the mass, he himself is truly afraid to act.

If there is to be a radical, complete change, you, the individual, must awaken to the limitations that now cripple your mind and heart. In liberating yourself from those egotistic, illusory hopes, ambitions and cruelties, there will be intelligent co-operation and not compulsion and exploitation.

Question: I have a friend who is mediumistic. When she goes into a trance, many great spirits talk through her, including Napoleon, Plato and Jesus, and their advice is very helpful in the spiritual life. Why do you not speak about the value of spiritualism and mediumship?

Krishnamurti: I have been talking about authority and its destructive influence upon intelligence, whether it be the authority of the living or of the dead. It does not become any the holier because it is of the past or of the dead. Authority, compulsion, destroys fulfilment, whether it is exercised by religion, by society or by mediums. What is behind this desire for guidance? One is afraid that by one's own act one will be caught up in suffering; so, in order to avoid it - in fact, not to live - one says, "I must follow, I must be guided." There is the movement of truth only when the mind is no longer held by fear, with all its illusions, when it is no longer seeking guidance or being guided. This aloneness is not exclusiveness; it comes into being when there is the discernment of the false.

Question: You say that spiritual organizations are useless. Is this true for all people, or only for those persons who have gone beyond the spiritual level of mankind in general? Krishnamurti: When you think that what I say is applicable only to the few, you make of me an exploiter. You think that another needs the falseness, the illusions of organized belief. If it is false, if it is unspiritual for you, then it is unspiritual and false for all. There is no relative stupidity. Because we do not desire to think directly and clearly, we pacify ourselves by saying that intelligence is a matter of slow growth. For example, acquisitiveness, if you really think about it profoundly, is a poison in itself. But if you thought about it deeply, it would involve action and suffering, so you say that freedom from acquisitiveness is progressive, relative, to be realized by degrees. In other words, you are not at all sure that acquisitiveness is a poison. In the same way, you are not at all sure that religions, sects are inherently stupid. If a thing is false, it is false for everyone, under all circumstances.

Question: If the idea of individual immortality is false, what is the purpose of individual existence?

Krishnamurti: To understand this problem of individual immortality you must come to it without any bias. The very craving for immortality prevents its deep comprehension. To understand this deeply, mind must have the power of complete discernment, not choice based on identification. Our cravings are so strong, our egotistic self-protective impulses are so vital, that our very want blinds us. Where there is craving there cannot be discernment. True culture is action for its own beauty, without seeking reward.

When you say "I", what do you mean by that? You mean the form, the name, certain unfulfilled desires, qualities and defensive reactions which you call virtue; all these make up that limited consciousness which we call the "I". The mind has enclosed itself within the many walls of illusion and limitation, and the many layers of memories cause frustration. What you are trying to do is to immortalize this frustration which is the "I". There cannot be immortality for illusion. Life is eternal, ever becoming. To discern this deeply, mind must liberate itself from all the impediments that cause frustration. By being fully aware, all the hidden, secret desires, fears and pursuits come into consciousness; then only can there be true freedom from them. Then there is reality. Question: I have a daughter who was formerly very studious and loved her music, but now she does nothing but read your books. What do you advise her mother to do? (Laughter)

Krishnamurti: I wonder why your daughter has given up her music? It may be because she has discovered that it was not her deep fulfilment, and she is trying to find her true expression. But if she merely reads what I have said, without the fullness of action, then my words will become a hindrance.

We often think that living according to a certain idea will awaken intelligence. What really awakens intelligence is action without the fear of not adjusting oneself to a standard or an ideal. This demands great awareness and pliability of mind.

Question: Have you attained to what you are in this life, through a series of past lives?

Krishnamurti: You are asking me if one can understand truth, life or God through accumulation of experience.

Experience has merely taught us to be cunningly self-protective, to create defences against the movement of life. In this enclosure the mind takes shelter, guarding itself more and more against the continual becoming of life, These defensive barriers divide the movement of life into the past, the present and the future. It is this division that destroys the continuity of life as a whole. From this there arises fear, which is covered over by illusions, hopes. So long as the mind-heart is caught up in this division there cannot be the understanding of truth; for then experience merely becomes a source of conflict and sorrow, whereas it should wear down these self-protective barriers and so liberate the mind and heart to the movement of life.

1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Santiago, Chile
3nd Public Talk 8th September, 1935

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


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