Banaras 1954, Rajghat School
Banaras, India 22nd January 1954 15th Talk to Students at Rajghat School
You know, one of the strange things of life is what we call religion. You may have wealth, success; you may be very famous, well known; or you may have failures, sorrows, great many frustrations; at the end of it all, there is death that awaits all of us. Whether we live to be 100 or 10 or whatever it is, there is always death. Seeing all these, seeing our own littleness and the sorrows of ours, we, you and I, want to find something beyond ourselves. Because, after all, one gets very soon tired - tired of oneself, of one's success, of one's vanities, of the things that one does, the family, the money, position. When persons get tired of these things, they feel they are deceived. Then, in order to forget themselves, they try to identify themselves with something greater. That is, they like to think that there is something greater and so they say `Perhaps, if I could think about that, live in that, meditate upon that, have an image, a picture, an idol of that, then I could forget myself in that.'
When man tries to go beyond himself, beyond his struggles, beyond his sorrows, beyond all the things that perish round him, beyond all the things that live and die, he begins to search, to invent, to speculate. Actually, he does not really search, he does not really want to find out; but he hopes there is something which he calls god and clings to the belief in that which his mind has created, thus trying to escape from all these troubles. So, he begins to speculate, he begins to have theories of what God is, and he writes books. The more clever, the more cunning, the more subtle you are, the more ideas you have about God and you will build great many philosophies round it, systems of thought; and from that grows the thought `You must have beliefs in order to attain that reality, you must do certain practices, you must give up the world, you must do this and you must not do that in order to get there, in order to forget the troubles, the sorrows and the death that awaits all of us.' So, we have a religion which demands that we shall believe. Society also demands likewise because that is what each one of us wants - to believe in something much greater than ourselves, because we ourselves are very small.
All our conflicts, all our ambitions, are very small, very petty. So, we also want to identify ourselves, call ourselves something - if it is not God, it is the State, the State being the whole of India or the whole world, the government, the people who rule, the society; if it is not that, it is an utopia, a something very far away, a marvellous society that we are going to build. In the building of it, you destroy many people, and it does not matter to you fundamentally if you are going to build that marvellous society. If you do not believe in any of these, you believe in having a good time - cars, refrigerators - thus to forget yourself in the material things. This one is called materialistic and the man who forgets himself in the spiritual world is called spiritual. But both of them have the same intention behind them, one to forget oneself in cinemas and the other in books, in rituals, in sitting on the banks of the river and meditating, in renunciation not to have any burden, to lose oneself in some kind of action, to lose oneself in the worship of something.
So, there is the desire to lose oneself because oneself is very small. The self may not be small to you when you are young. But, as you grow older, you will see how little substance there is in it, how little value it has; it is like the shadow with few qualities, full of struggles, pains, sorrows and that is all. So, one gets soon bored with it and pursues something in order to forget oneself. That, is what all of us are doing. The rich, they too want to forget; only they forget themselves in night clubs, in amusements, in cars, in travelling. The clever ones also want to forget themselves; they are so clever that they begin to invent, to have extraordinary beliefs. The stupid ones also want to forget themselves; and so, they follow people, they have gurus who are going to tell them what to do. The ambitious ones also want to forget themselves in doing something. So, all of us, as we mature as we grow older physically, want to forget ourselves. There is the desire to forget oneself and so we will find something in which we can live, in which or through which we can think, with which to identify, to receive something greater.
When we want to forget ourselves through something, through a State, through a God, through a belief, through a guru, through action, then it creates illusions, it creates a false thing. When I forget myself through an idea, then the idea becomes important, because I am forgetting myself through an idea. The ideal being an invention of the mind, it can also create illusions. So, I multiply illusions. These illusions, superstitions, beliefs are what we call religion, and so many books have been written about it, not how to dispel illusion but how to arrange illusion in order how to sympathise, how to philosophise that. But that is not religion, surely. Religion is not beliefs and dogmas, rituals and puja, putting on sacred threads, muttering some words, however old or however ancient they are. All those methods are a way of escaping from yourself through some kind of illusion. The escape which we call religion is not religion. Religion is something totally different, and the mystery of it is to find that which is not the invention of the mind.
So, we have to find out what is real religion - the true religion which is not merely an invention of the mind; it does not matter whether it is the invention of Shankara or of anybody else as all such invention is still just a theory. Religion is something which is a state of being, which each one of us must find. That state of being cannot be understood, it may not come into being if we do not know how the mind creates illusions in its various subtle desires. As I said the other day, the mind is not just a superficial activity. Ganga is not just what we see on the top. Ganga is the whole river from the beginning to the end, from where it starts till it goes to the sea and you will be foolish to think that Ganga is just the water on the top. Similarly, we are very very complex entities and the inventions and the ideas, the theories, the superstitions, the rituals, the repetitions, the mantrams, those are just on the top. We have to go through and push all that aside, all of it, not just one or two ideas, not one or two beliefs or rituals that we do not like. That is very arduous, very difficult because most of us are afraid - afraid of what society, friends, parents say. But if one wants really to find out what is reality, God, one must go beyond all that, push all that aside. You can only push it aside if you understand and so go beyond.
So religion is something which is entirely different from that in which we have been brought up. But, you see, very few of us are free from fear, and it is fear that prevents the discovery of what is God. Also, when we have fear, we become very insensitive. After all, when we look at a tree or a beautiful cloud or a beggar or a woman in tears or when we see something beautiful, the love of that thing, the love for itself, is the beginning of real religion. But, we do not live that way, we live in order to get something. I love my country because it is my country; this love of my country is a very subtle form of loving myself. But if you can love a tree, an animal, a human being - not for what it will give you but just to love it, without asking a thing in return - that is the beginning of religion. You can know that love only when there is no fear. When the mind is no longer afraid, then the mind can go beyond its own imaginations, its own projections, its own ideas.
So, religion is something which is not an invention of the mind. It is a state of being in which the mind is not inventing as it does now because it functions in fear, in desire, in success, in ambition, in various forms of activities. Only when the mind has understood the whole working of itself, then there is a possibility of the mind being quiet, being very still. That stillness is not the peace of death; that stillness is very active, very alert, very watchful, intensive, passive. Then alone, one can find out; then alone that which we call God, truth, or whatever name you like, comes into being. But, one cannot come to it. One has to understand the trees, the love of the trees, the love of the beautiful; one has to understand sorrow, joy and all the struggles of human existence; and then one can go beyond all that when the mind is really a cessation of the self, `the me', it is only then that which we all worship, that which we are all seeking or trying to find out, comes into being.
Question: What is emotion? Is it good or bad since human beings have it?
Krishnamurti: Don't you know what emotions are? When somebody punches you, you cry; when somebody dies, you cry. When you see something beautiful, you laugh. It is a form of sensation, it is not right or wrong.
You see, sirs and ladies, we always like to think in terms of good or bad - `this is right,' `this is wrong', `this is bad', `this is good' - and we think we have solved the whole problem of existence by giving it a name as good or bad. We want to suppress emotion in order not to feel, because emotion creates pain; or we say it is bad. But if it was a pleasurable emotion, we do not want to suppress it, we want to run with it, want to have more and more and more of it.
So, emotion is a thing to be understood, to be watched over, to be cared for, so that you will understand it, so that you will not say it is good or bad. You know the instinct or rather the conditioning of the mind; it makes us call anything good or bad, as though you have really understood the little child if you call him good or bad, or call him naughty. If you want to understand the child, you study him, you watch him when he is playing when he is crying, when he is sleeping; you do not condemn him. But, you see, condemning something or somebody or some quality is so easy. You say `that is bad' and there it ends; but, to understand the thing requires a great deal of care, patience, attention; that means watchfulness.
Question: What is a giant? Why are we afraid of it?
Krishnamurti: You know, fairy tales are good to read, because they contain a lot of things very instructive. As there is always a reward, a boon, you ask for something; but, after asking you are always punished. You know, there is a fairy, a good angel or the good judge or the good something from whom you ask something, in all fairy stories. It gives you, but there is always a snag behind. Similarly in fairy tales, there is a giant.
Question: When we are on the stage and acting, why is it that we cannot act freely?
Krishnamurti: Do you act freely and easily all the time? Do you? When you are with older people, with people who are criticizing you, with people who are watching, do you act freely? No. We are shy, are we not? We put on airs. We become self-conscious. What happens? On the stage, you are confronted with a lot of people and you are shy. But, acting is all right when you are young and when you play with all this. But most of us, as we grow older, begin to act; we are posing; we think we are somebody and we must live up to that part; and we are always putting on a mask. Have you not noticed it? You think you are a great saint, a great idealist, and you put on that mask which is a pose. That is really one of our great misfortunes - which is, we are always taught to become something. The becoming something is posing, pretending. But if you do not become anything, if you are really simple as you are, there is no posing, there is no pretending, you are just what you are; and from there, you can go really far. Have I answered your question?
Question: Why do the birds fly away when they see us?
Krishnamurti: Why do you run away, when you see a big cow or when you meet a stranger? It is the same thing.
Question: What is conflict and how does it arise in our mind?
Krishnamurti: You want to be the captain of a Cricket team. But there is somebody else better than you. You do not like that. So, you have a conflict. Have you not? You want to get something and you cannot; and so, there is conflict. If you can get what you want, then the difficulty is to keep it; so, you struggle again or you want more of it. So, there is always a conflict going on, because you are always wanting something. If you are a clerk, you want to become a manager; if you have a cycle, you want a motor car and so on and on. If you are miserable, you want to be happy. So, what you want is not important, but what you are is important. The understanding of what you are, going into it, seeing all the implications of what you are - that frees you from conflict.
Question: What is interest?
Krishnamurti: When you have a toy, you are very interested in the working of that toy, are you not? Your whole mind is there, you do not think about any thing else. When you are interested in something, in a toy, in a play, in a dance, in an idea, you are completely absorbed in that. That is interest.
Most of us have very little interest in life; as we grow older, we are not interested in anything really. So, we have trouble to prevent the mind from wandering away. So, we learn discipline, control, concentration. In a school of this kind, what we should find out - each one of us, including the teachers and the students - is what we are interested in, the thing which we love; and that creates no conflict in life afterwards. That is our vocation, that is what we want to do. If you are an artist and your parents and society want you to become a clerk, then you are forced to become a clerk and all the rest of your life you are struggling, struggling. Really, you have never been able to do what you want to do.
Education is a way of helping each student to find out what he wants, which is quite a difficult thing, because we want so many things at different times. Education of the right kind can help you to find out amongst all the various interests what really gives you interest, that which you love, that which is one of the requisites, one of the necessities of life.
Question: Why do we fear death?
Krishnamurti: You have asked that question `Why do we fear death,' and do you know what death is? You see the green leaf; it has lived all the summer, danced in the wind, absorbed the sun light; the rains have washed it clean; and the winter comes, it withers and dies. The bird on the wing is a beautiful thing and it too withers and dies. You see human bodies being carried to the river, to be burnt. So, you know what death is. Why are you afraid of it? Because, you are living like the leaf, like the bird - a disease or something else happens to you, and you are finished. So, you say `I want to live, I want to enjoy, I want to have this thing called life to go on in me.' So, the fear of death is the fear of coming to an end, is it not?, your not playing cricket, not enjoying the sun light, not seeing the river again, not putting on your old clothes, not reading books, not meeting your friends constantly; all that comes to an end. So, you are frightened of death.
Being frightened of death, knowing that death is inevitable, we think of how to go beyond death, we have various theories. But, if we know how to end, there is no fear; if we know how to die each day, then there is no fear. You understand this? It is a little bit out of the line, we do not know how to die because we are always gathering, gathering, gathering. We always think in terms of tomorrow - `I am this and I will be that.' We are never complete in a day, we do not live as though there is only one day to be lived. You understand what I am talking about? We are always living in the tomorrow or in the yesterday. If somebody told you that you are going to die at the end of the day, what would you do? Would you not live richly for that day? We do not live the rich fulness of a day. We do not worship the day; we are always thinking of what we will be tomorrow - the cricket game that we are going to finish tomorrow, the examination that we are going to finish in six months, what we are going to do tomorrow, how we are going to enjoy our food, what kind of clothes we are going to buy and so on - always tomorrow or yesterday; and so, we are never living, we are always really dying in the wrong sense.
If we live one day and finish with it and begin again another day as if it were something new, fresh, then there is no fear of death. To die, each day, to all the things that we have acquired, to all knowledge, to all the memories, to all the struggles, not to carry them over to the next day - in that there is beauty even though there is an ending, there is a renewal.
Question: When we see new things, why do we like having them?
Krishnamurti: New clothes, new toys, new bicycles, new pictures, new books, new pencils - you see something new and you want it. It is the same thing with the young and with the old. We all want to possess, we all want to acquire, and the shops are full of things we want to possess. We are never content with what we have or what we are. If I am stupid, I want to become clever. The man who is becoming clever is really a stupid person please think about it and you will see how true it is; because, a stupid person can never become clever, he will always remain stupid; but, if he understands, if he is aware that he is stupid, then that very awareness of his stupidity is the beginning of intelligence. But, we never think in those ways. You say `I am stupid, or I am told I am stupid. I must become clever like my brother or like that boy over there!' So, you get to acquire, to possess. But if you see you are stupid, if you know you are stupid, then you can begin; then that very awareness that you are stupid, does something.
If I know I am blind, then I know what to do. I will walk very carefully, I will have a stick, move very quietly, very gently. But if I do not know I am blind, I will go all over the place. We do not acknowledge that we are stupid. I may be a little stupid, but I am trying to become very clever. Wisdom lies in understanding `what is.'
Question: What is love?
Krishnamurti: You have listened to me for three weeks. I have talked every morning, for five days a week, and then you ask me what is love? I have talked to you of love in different ways, of truth, of the mind, of the fears. You ask what is love? It is very sad, is it not?, because you do not know how careless you are when you ask that question. What matters is not what love is but not to know your own state, what you are. Do you mean to say that by asking another, a man knows what love is? The man who says `I want to know what love is' in order to have it, will never have loved. If you know that you have no love, then love will come to you. But to know it, you must know what you are, you must not try to become something which you are not.
Do think about all these things. Do not spend your days merely studying, reading some books, playing games, but think about all these things. We are trying to arrange for some of the teachers to talk to you every day, to have an assembly at which all the teachers talk from time to time about all these matters. You may be bored with the teachers and with what they say. What they say may have some importance or no importance. But you have to listen to find out, have you not? If what they say is true or false or absurd or silly, you have to listen to find out; and to listen, you have to pay attention. So, do not accept anything they say. Find out.
To be critical is very important, because it is the only way you will find out. You merely accept or listen with a bored air, because you are tired; if you are bored, you can never find out. If you pay attention to everything that the teacher tells you, what everybody tells you including myself - not to accept, but to understand, to find out - then, that sharpens your mind and quickens your heart. Then, when you have finished with the school, when you go to the college, you have a mind which can deal with the complexities of life.
Question: How can we shake off national and provincial feelings?
Krishnamurti: First understand if you have got them, how you have created them. It is no good saying `I must put them off.' Why have you got them? Because your parents, your society, your neighbours, your teachers, your newspapers, your books, have all set up nationalism, provincialism, for various complicated and subtle reasons - to control you, to shape you, to make you do things they think you ought to do. A general will say nationalism is important, because then he can use you, through nationalism, to fight, to kill. There are various reasons why you have these feelings of nationalism, of provincialism; and also, you like them. You like to say `I am a Hindu, I am a Brahmin, I belong to this little part of India.' And the parties, the priests, the clever ones, use you to get what they want.
If you understand it, then there will be no problem, it will drop away; then, you will laugh at the whole thing. If you do not understand, it will be very difficult to put away this stupid nationalism and provincialism.
Question: Why is there danger?
Krishnamurti: Is there no danger when you go near the precipice? Is there no danger of getting drowned when you do not know how to swim? Is there no danger when you meet a snake? Are you listening?
Danger means fear of something, is it not? It is a natural thing to be aware of danger, that is a habit, protection, natural physical resistance. Otherwise, if you have no sense of danger, you might kill yourself any moment when a car dashes by; if you are not aware of the danger that it might destroy you, then you will be killed.
So, this kind of awareness of danger is a form of self-protection, a response which is natural; but what is abnormal is when we want to protect ourselves inwardly; then, all the mischief, all the misery, begins.
Question: Are you happy or not?
Krishnamurti: The boy asks `Are you happy or not? I never thought about it. I never thought `Am I or not?'
Happiness is not something of which you are conscious, you cannot ask yourself `Am I happy?' The moment you ask that question, you are unhappy. Happiness is something that comes, not because you are seeking it but because you are doing something which really interests you. You are doing something because you love it; in the very doing of it, there is something which is called happiness; but, if you are conscious that you are happy, it is already gone. The moment you say `I am happy', is not happiness already gone?
You understand what I am talking about? Please ask your teachers to explain all these things; and if they do not understand and they do not explain it you search it out, do not accept anything. Do not be browbeaten, do not be bullied by the older people. Find out, enquire, search and never be satisfied; then, you will find out what it is to be happy.
January 22, 1954
Banaras 1954, Rajghat School
Banaras, India 22nd January 1954 15th Talk to Students at Rajghat School
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