Banaras 1954, Rajghat School
Banaras, India 13th January 1954 8th Talk to Students at Rajghat School
We have heard people say that, without ambition, we cannot do anything. In our schools, in our social life, in our relationship with each other, in anything we do in life, we feel that ambition is necessary to achieve a certain end, either personal or collective or social, or for the nation. You know what that word `ambition' means? To achieve an end, to have the drive, the personal drive, the feeling that without struggling, without competing, without pushing you cannot get anything done in this world. Please watch yourself and those about you, and you will see how ambitious people are. A clerk wants to become the manager, the manager wants to become the boss, the minister wants to be the prime minister, the lieutenant wants to become the general. So each one has his ambition, We also encourage this feeling in schools. We encourage students to compete, to be better than somebody else.
All our so-called progress is based on ambition. If you draw, you must draw much better than anybody else; if you make an image, it must be better than that made by anybody else; there is this constant struggle. What happens in this process is that you become very cruel. Because you want to achieve an end, you become cruel, ruthless, thoughtless, in your group, in your class, in your nation.
Ambition is really a form of power, the desire for power over myself and over others, the power to do something better than anybody else. In ambition, there is a sense of comparison; and therefore, the ambitious man is never really a creative man, is never a happy man; in himself he is discontented. And yet, we think that without ambition we should be nothing, we should have no progress.
Is there a different way of doing things without ambition, a different way of living, acting, building, inventing, without this struggle of competition in which there is cruelty and which ultimately ends in war? I think there is a different way. But that way requires doing something contrary to all the established customs of thought. When we are seeking a result. to us, the important thing is the result, not the thing we do, in itself. Can we understand and love the thing which we are doing, without caring for what it will produce, what it will get us, or what name or what reputation we will have?
Success is an invention of a society which is greedy, which is acquisitive. Can we, each one of us, as we are growing, find out what we really love to do - whether it is mending a shoe, becoming a cobbler or building a bridge, or being a capable and efficient administrator? Can we have the love of the thing in itself without caring for what it will give us, or what it will do in the world? If we can understand that spirit, that feeling, then, I think, action will not create misery as it does at the present time; then we shall not be in conflict with one another. But it is very difficult to find out what you really love to do, because you have so many contradictory urges. When you see an engine going very fast, you want to be an engine driver. When you are young, there is an extraordinary beauty in the engine. I do not know if you have watched it. But, later on, that stage passes and you want to become an orator, a speaker, a writer, or an engineer, and that too passes. Gradually, because of our rotten education, you are forced into a particular channel, into a particular groove. So you become a clerk or a lawyer or a mischief-monger; and in that job, you live, you compete; you are ambitious, you struggle.
Is it not the function of education, while you are very young, particularly in a school of this kind, to help to bring about such intelligence in each one of you that you will have a job that is congenial to you and which you love and want to do, that you will not do a job which you hate or with which you are bored but which you have to do - because you are already married or because you have the responsibility of your parents, or because your parents say that you must be a lawyer when you really want to be a painter? Is it not very important, while you are young, for the teacher to understand this problem of ambition and to prevent it, by talking it over with each one of you, by explaining, by going into the whole problem of competition? This will help you to find out what you really want to do.
Now, we think in terms of doing something which will give us a personal benefit or a benefit to society or to the nation. We grow to maturity without maturing inwardly, without knowing what we want to do, but being forced to do something in which our heart is not. So, we live in misery. But society - that is, your parents, your guardians, your friends and everybody about you - says what a marvellous person you are, because you are a success.
We are ambitious. Ambition is not only in the outer world, but also in the inner world, in the world of the psyche and of the spirit. There also we want to be a success, we want to have the greatest ideals. This constant struggle to become something is very destructive, it disintegrates, it destroys. Can't you understand this urge to `become', and concern yourself with being whatever you are, and then, from there, move on? If I am jealous, can I know I am jealous or envious, and not try to become non-envious mentally? Jealousy is self-enclosing. If I know I am jealous and watch it, and let it be, then I will see that, out of that, something extraordinary comes.
The becomer, whether in the outer world or in the spiritual world is a machine, he will never know what real joy is. One will know joy only when one sees what one is, and lets that complexity, that beauty. that ugliness, that corruption, act without attempting to become something else. To do this is very difficult, because the mind is always wanting to be something. You want to become philosophers, or become great writers. You may be a great writer, you want to become an M.A. But, you see, such ambition is never a creative thing. In that ambition, there is no initiative, because you are always concerned with success. You worship the god of success, not the thing `that is.' However poor you may be, however empty, however dull, if you can see the thing as it is, then that will begin to transform itself. But a mind occupied in becoming something never understands the being. It is the being, the understanding of the being of what one is, that brings an extraordinary elation, a release of creative thought, creative life.
All this is probably a bit difficult for the average student. As I said yesterday you should discuss this with your teachers. Did you ask your teachers? Did you take ten minutes of your class time for this? What happened to you and what happened to the teacher? Could you tell me? Could you understand, through the teacher, what was said?
This morning, we are talking about something which is entirely different from the usual traditional approach to life. All the religious books, all our education, all our social, cultural approaches are to achieve, to become something. But that has not created a happy world, it has brought enormous misery. Hitler, Stalin, Roosevelt are all the result of that; so also are your particular leaders, past and present.
Ambition is the outcome of an unhappy person, not of a happy person. But to live, to do, to act, to think, to create, without ambition is extremely difficult. Without understanding ambition, there cannot be creativity. An ambitious person is never a creative, joyous person; he is always tortured. But a man who feels the love of the thing, the being of the thing, is really creative; such a person is a revolutionary. A person who is a communist, a socialist, a congressman, or an imperialist, cannot be revolutionary. The creative human being is inwardly very rich and, out of that richness, he acts and he has his being in it.
Ask your teachers the implications of all that I have said, and find out if one can live without ambition.
We live with ambition. That is our daily bread. But that bread poisons us, produces in us all kinds of misery, mentally and physically, so that the moment we are thwarted and prevented from carrying out our ambition, we fall ill. But a man who has the inward feeling of doing the thing which he loves, without thinking of an end, without thinking of a result - that man has no frustrations, he has no hindrances, he is the real creator.
Question: Why do we feel shy?
Krishnamurti: It is good to be a little shy, is it not? A boy or a girl who is just pushing everyone without reservation, without a sense of hesitation is not as tender and sensitive as a shy person. A little shyness is good, because that indicates sensitivity. But to be very shy implies also self-consciousness, does it not? What does that word, `self-conscious', mean. To be conscious of oneself, to be conscious of one's person, to be conscious of one's own dignity. Such a person is shy in the wrong way, because he is the centre of comparison. He is the centre from which he looks out. When a boy is always comparing himself with somebody, he becomes self-conscious, he is conscious of himself. Most young people are self-conscious; as they grow to adulthood, they feel a little awkward, a little shy and sensitive.
I think, one has to have throughout life that sensitivity, that sense of being tender, being slightly timid, because that implies great sensitivity. This is denied when I say `I belong to this class; I have position, authority; I am somebody'. When you think you are somebody, you have lost all sensitivity, all tenderness; and the beauty of being timid goes out of life. You know, one must be hesitant, timid, to enquire, to find out. If you be hesitant in approach, very sensitive, then you will find out the whole complication, the beauty, the struggle of life. But without that feeling of hesitancy, a timidity which is not tinged with fear, you will never see the things of life, you will never see the trees and their shades, or the bird sitting quietly on a telegraph post.
Question: How can human beings progress when there is no ambition?
Krishnamurti: Do you think inventions are the result of ambition? Do you think the inventor, the scientist who really thinks out a problem, or the true research-worker has ambition? Do you think the man who invented the jet plane, the jet engine, was ambitious? He invents; then the ambitious people come along, and use the invention for their purpose - to make money, to make wars, to make an end for themselves.
Have you done anything through ambition? You may have moved from here to there. You may get a better job, or a better position; you may become the Principal or the Governor or the Collector. But is that doing, is that living, is that progress? There is the bullock cart and there is the jet plane; that is generally called progress. There has really been a tremendous progress from the bullock cart to the jet plane, from the postchaise to teletype and instantaneous communication. Our idea of progress is always in one particular direction, we do not take into account all the implications of ambition. Suppose an oil well is discovered here. Then, what do you think will happen? There will be all the machinery of exploitation. It is not that there should not be an oil-field in Benaras, but the idea of progress is to use that oil and produce more and more without understanding the whole complex problem of ambition.
Take a very simple. example. A missionary in the South Seas regularly held Sunday classes and read the Bible to his parishioners. When he read the Bible stories they listened very attentively. After some time, he thought `how good it would be if they all knew how to read.' So he went to America to collect money. He came back and taught them how to read and write. But, to his great disappointment, he found that they were reading comic magazines, and not the Bible.
So, real progress is in what is happening to your mind. Are you making progress there, or are you just gramophone records, repeating over and over again the same old comic, tragic, or stupid stories?
Question: Why are people born in the world?
Krishnamurti: For various reasons - sex passion, the desire to have children. It is a very simple reason. You look at a tree or a bush that flowers. Nature wants to keep on breeding its own species, does it not? You understand? The mango tree has flowers; the flower is pollinated and becomes the fruit. There is a stone in the mango and that stone you throw away; it falls in fertile soil and grows into a tree which produces many more mangoes. There is a continuity in this process, is there not? So in human beings also, there is continuity of the species. But the mangoes do not fight amongst themselves; tigers do not kill each other; only we, human beings, destroy each other; we are the only species that kill each other; and the capacity to kill each other; and the capacity to kill is, by us, called progress. Is this progress?
Question: Some say `Cruelty, thy name is woman?'
Krishnamurti: Is this a conundrum or a puzzle that you are asking me? Do you know what a conundrum is? It is a puzzling question which you have to think over and work out. Why do you bother about all this? You see, first we read something in a book and then we try to work it out. Some say `Mystery, thy name is woman.' What does that mean? Women are not so mysterious in their organisms, are they? The real mystery is not that. But we are satisfied with superficial mysteries, we like a conjurer, a dark room, mysterious people. We look for mysteries. But, there are no mysteries. What we think are mysteries are all inventions of the mind.
If you can understand the workings of the mind and go beyond them, there is the real mystery. But very few of us go beyond and reach that mystery. You are all satisfied with the superficial mysteries of a detective story or of a shrine. If one can understand the workings of one's own mind and go beyond that, then one will find extraordinary things.
Question: How do we dream?
Krishnamurti: Do you have dreams? What kind of dreams do you have? If you go to bed with a full stomach, you have some kind of dream. There are various kinds of dreams.
What do you think dreams are? A dream is a very complex thing. Even while you are awake, while you are wandering along a street or sitting quietly, you may be dreaming because your mind thinks of various things. You may be sitting here but you think you are in your home and you imagine what your mother is doing, or what your father is doing, or what your younger brother is doing at home. That is a kind of dream, is it not? Though you are sitting quietly, your mind is off, imagining, speculating, wandering 47
Similarly, when you are asleep, your mind goes off imagining, wandering, speculating. Then there are dreams born out of your deep unconscious. And there are dreams which foretell, which give you a warning, which give you hints. It is possible for human beings to have no dreams at all but to sleep very profoundly and, in that deep profundity, to discover something which no conscious or unconscious mind can ever discover, an intimation of something which no mind can ever conjure up.
The mind is such an extraordinary thing. You spend eighteen or twenty years learning the same subjects and passing several examinations; but you do not spend an hour or even ten minutes to understand this extraordinary thing called the mind. Without understanding the mind, your passing examinations, your getting jobs, or your becoming a minister, has very little meaning. It is the mind that creates illusions; and if you do not understand the maker of illusions, your life has little meaning.
Do you understand all the things that I am talking about? The difficulty is I am speaking in English. But I doubt very much whether you would understand even if I speak in Hindi. You would understand the words, but not the meaning, the implications that lie behind the words. You have to find out the implications by asking your teachers or your parents.
What I have said is a question of your whole existence. It is not enough to find out for a day or two, you have to find out the implications as you live, throughout life. But you cannot live, you cannot find out if you are merely driven by ambition, by fear. To find out, there must be a sensitivity, a freedom in the psyche; and all that is denied, if you do not understand the workings of your mind. Question: How should we think out any problem?
Krishnamurti: That is quite an intelligent question - how should we think out a problem?
What is the answer to a problem? Most people want an answer to a problem. But that boy wants to know how to think out a problem - which is quite different. He is not looking for an answer, at least I hope not.
There is no answer at all to a problem, and so it is foolish to seek an answer. But if I know how to think out a problem, then the answer is the very thinking out of the problem. Look, Sirs. You have a mathematical problem. You do not know the answer but the answer is at the end of the book; so, you keep turning to the end of the book to find the answer. But life is not like that. Nobody is going to give you the answer. If anybody gives you the answer, he is stupid. But if you know how to think out a problem, how to look at it, how to approach it, the very thinking, the very looking at it, is the solution.
You want to know how to think out a problem. The first thing, obviously, is not to be afraid of the problem. You understand? Because, if you are afraid, you won't look, you will run away from it. The second thing is not to condemn it, not to say how terrible, how awful, how miserable it is. Then, not to compare that problem with any other problem or have a comparative value when you approach that problem. This is a bit difficult. When you have a problem, if you have already got a clear judgment and an answer to that problem you do not understand the problem So, to understand the problem, there must be no comparison, no fear, no judgment; those are the essential things which will help you to understand the problem. There is really no problem but what is created by comparison fear and judgment.
Please discuss all this with your teachers and amongst yourselves. Let these ideas, let these words, go through your mind, so that you are familiar with all these issues. Then, you will be able to face the problems of life.
January 13, 1954
Banaras 1954, Rajghat School
Banaras, India 13th January 1954 8th Talk to Students at Rajghat School
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