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Life Ahead

Part 1

Life Ahead Part One Chapter 10

I think it is very important to know how to listen. If you know how to listen, you will get to the root of the matter immediately. If you listen to pure sound, you have immediate contact with the beauty of it. Similarly, if you knew how to listen to what is being said, there would be an immediate understanding. Listening the complete focussing of attention. You think that attention is a tiresome thing, that to learn to concentrate is a drawn out process. But if you really know how to listen, then attention is not difficult, and you will find that you get to the heart of the matter immediately with an extraordinary alertness.

Most of us do not really listen. We are distracted by external noises, or we have some prejudice, some bias which gives a twist to the mind, and this prevents us from really listening to what is being said. This is especially so with older people, because they have a long series of achievements and failures behind them; they are somebodies or nobodies in the world, and it is very difficult to penetrate the layers of their formulations, their preconceptions. Their imagination, their conditioning, their sense of achievement will not allow that which is being said to penetrate. But if we know how to listen to what is being said, if we can listen to it without any barrier, without any interpretation, just listen as we would to the song of a bird in the morning, then listening is an extraordinary thing, especially when something true is being said. We may not like it, we may instinctively resist it; but if we can really listen, we will see the truth of it. So real listening unburdens the mind, it clears away the dross of many years of failure, of success, of longing.

You know what propaganda is, don't you? It is to propagate, to sow or constantly repeat an idea. That is how the propa- gandist, the politician, the religious leader imprints on your mind what he wants you to believe. There is a listening involved in this process also. Such people constantly repeat what you should do, what books you should read, whom you should follow, which ideas are right and which are wrong; and this constant repetition leaves a mark on your mind. Even if you do not consciously listen, it is making an imprint, and that is the purpose of propaganda. But you see, propaganda is merely vested interest, it does not bring that truth which you immediately understand when you are really listening, when you are paying attention without effort.

You are now listening to me; you are not making an effort to pay attention, you are just listening; and if there is truth in what you hear, you will find a remarkable change taking place in you - a change that is not premeditated or wished for, a transformation, a complete revolution in which the truth alone is master and not the creations of your mind. And if I may suggest it, you should listen in that way to everything - not only to what I am saying, but also to what other people are saying, to the birds, to the whistle of a locomotive to the noise of the bus going by. You will find that the more you listen to everything, the greater is the silence, and that silence is then not broken by noise. It is only when you are resisting something, when you are putting up a barrier between yourself and that to which you do not want to listen - it is only then that there is a struggle.

Now, is it not very important to be refined, both outwardly and inwardly? Do you know what refinement is? It is to be sensitive to everything about you, and also to the thoughts, the beliefs, the feelings that you have within yourself. Refinement is reflected in your clothes, in your manners, in your gestures, in the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you look at people. And refinement is essential, is it not? For without refinement, there is deterioration.

Do you know what it means to deteriorate? It is the opposite of creating, or building, of having the initiative to move forward, to develop. Deterioration implies slow decay, a withering away - and that is what is happening in the world. In colleges and universities, among nations, among people, in the individual, there is a slow decay; the deteriorating process is going on all the time, and this is because there is no inward refinement. You may have a certain amount of outward refinement, you may wear fine clothes, live in a nice house, eat good food, observe scrupulous cleanliness; but without inner refinement, the outward prediction of form has very little meaning. It is merely another form of deterioration. To have beautiful possessions but to be inwardly gross, that is, to be concerned with one's own vanity and grandeur, with one's ambitions and achievements, is the way of deterioration.

There is beauty of form in poetry, or in a person, or in a lovely tree, but it has meaning only through the inward refinement of love. If there is love, there will be outward as well as inward refinement. Refinement is expressed outwardly in consideration for others, in the way you treat your parents, your neighbours, your servant, your gardener. The gardener may have created for you a beautiful garden, but without that refinement which is love, the garden is merely an expression of your own vanity.

So, it is essential to have both outward and inward refinement. The way you eat matters a great deal; if you make a noise while you are eating, it matters very much. The way you behave, your manners when you are with your friends, the way you talk about others, all these things matter because they point to what you are inwardly, they indicate whether or not there is inward refinement. A lack of inward refinement expresses itself in the outward degeneration of form; so outward refinement has very little meaning if there is no love. And we have seen that love is not a thing we can possess. It comes into being only when the mind understands the complex problems which it has itself created.

Questioner: Why do we feel a sense of pride when we succeed?

Krishnamurti: With success is there a sense of pride? What is success? Have you ever considered what it is to be successful as a writer, as a poet, as a painter, as a business man or politician? To feel that you have inwardly achieved a certain control over yourself which others do not have, or that you have succeeded where others have failed; to feel that you are better than somebody else, that you have become a successful man, that you are respected, looked up to by others as an example - what does all this indicate? Naturally, when you have this feeling, there is pride: I have done something, I am important. The feeling of `I' is in its very nature a sense of pride. So pride grows with success; one is proud of being very important compared with other people. This comparison of yourself with another exists also in your pursuit of the example, the ideal, and it gives you hope, it gives you strength, purpose, drive, which only strengthens the `I', the pleasurable feeling that you are much more important than anybody else; and that feeling, that sense of pleasure, is the beginning of pride.

Pride brings a great deal of vanity, an egotistic inflation. You can observe this in the older people and in yourself. When you pass an examination and feel that you are a little cleverer than another, a sense of pleasure comes in. It is the same when you outdo somebody in an argument, or when you feel that you are physically much stronger or more beautiful - immediately there is a sense of your own importance. This feeling of the importance of the `me' inevitably brings conflict, struggle, pain, because you have to maintain your importance all the time.

Questioner: How can we be free of pride?

Krishnamurti: If you had really listened to the answer to the previous question, you would have understood how to be free of pride, and you would be free of pride; but you were concerned with how to put the next question, were you not? So you were not listening. If you really listen to what is being said, you will find out for yourself the truth of it.

Suppose I am proud because I have achieved something. I have become the Principal; I have been to England or to America; I have done great things, my photograph has appeared in the newspapers, and so on and so on. Feeling very proud, I say to myself, "How am I to be free of pride?"

Now, why do I want to be free of pride? That is the important question, not how to be free. What is the motive, what is the reason, what is the incentive? Do I want to be free of pride because I find it harmful to me, painful, spiritually not good? If that is the motive, then to try to free myself from pride is another form of pride, is it not? I am still concerned with achievement. Finding that pride is very painful, spiritually ugly, I say that I must be free of it. The `I must be free' contains the same motive as the `I must be successful'. The `I' is still important, it is the centre of my struggle to be free.

So, what matters is not how to be free of pride, but to understand the `I; and the `I' is very subtle. It wants one thing this year and another thing next year; and when that turns out to be painful, it then wants something else. So, as long as the centre of the `I' exists, whether one is proud or so-called humble is of very little significance. They are only different coats to put on. When a particular coat appeals to me I put it on; and next year, according to my fancies, my desires, I put on another coat.

What you have to understand is how this `I' comes into being. The `I' comes into being through the sense of achievement in various forms. This does not mean that you must not act; but the feeling that you are acting, that you are achieving, that you must be without pride, has to be understood. You have to understand the structure of the `I'. You have to be aware of your own thinking; you have to observe how you treat your servant, your mother and father, your teacher and the servant; you have to be conscious of how you regard those who are above you and those who are below you, those whom you respect and those whom you despise. All this reveals the ways of the `I'. Through understanding the ways of the `I' there is freedom from the `I'. That is what matters, not just how to be free of pride.

Questioner: How can a thing of beauty be a joy forever?

Krishnamurti: Is that your original thought, or are you quoting somebody? Do you want to find out if beauty is perishable, and whether there can be everlasting joy?

Questioner: Beauty comes in certain forms.

Krishnamurti: The tree, the leaf, the river, the woman, the man, those villagers carrying a burden on their heads and walking beautifully. Is beauty perishable?

Questioner: The villagers walk by, but they leave an impression of beauty.

Krishnamurti: They walk by, and the memory of it remains. You see a tree, a leaf, and the memory of that beauty remains.

Now, is the memory of beauty a living thing? When you see something beautiful, there is immediate joy; you see a sunset and there is an immediate response of joy. That joy, a few moments later, has become a memory. Is the memory of that joy a living thing? Is your memory of the sunset a living thing? It is a dead imprint, is it not? And through that dead imprint of the sunset, you want to recapture the joy. But memory has no joy; it is only the image of something which has gone and which once created joy. There is joy as the immediate response to beauty, but memory comes in and destroys it. If there is constant perception of beauty without the accumulations of memory - only then is there a possibility of joy everlasting.

But it is not easy to be free from the accumulations of memory, because the moment you see something very pleasurable, you make it into a memory which you hold on to. When you see a beautiful object, a beautiful child, a beautiful tree, there is immediate joy; but then you want more of it. Wanting more of it is the accumulation of memory. In wanting more you have already started the process of disintegration, and in that there is no joy. Memory can never produce everlasting joy. There is everlasting joy only when there is a constant and spontaneous response to beauty, to ugliness, to everything, without the activating impulse of memory - which implies great inward and outward sensitivity, having real love.

Questioner: Why are the poor happy and the rich unhappy?

Krishnamurti: Are the poor particularly happy? They may sing, they may dance; but are they happy? They have insufficient food, they have little or no clothing, they cannot be clean, they have to work from morning till night year after year. They may have occasional moments of happiness; but they are not really happy, are they?

And are the rich unhappy? They have an abundance if everything, they have high positions, they travel. They are unhappy when they are frustrated in some way, when they are hindered and cannot get what they want.

What do you mean by happiness? Some will say that happiness consists in getting what you want. If you want a car and you get it, you are happy, at least for the time being. It is the same whether you want a sari, or a trip to Europe: if you can get what you want, you are happy. If you want to be the best known professor, or the greatest politician, you are happy if you can get there, and unhappy if you cannot.

So, what you call happiness is the outcome of getting what you want, of achieving success, or becoming noble. You want something, and as long as you can get it you feel perfectly happy, you are not frustrated; but if you cannot get what you want, then unhappiness begins.

All of us are concerned with this problem, not only the rich and the poor. The rich and the poor alike want to get something for themselves, and if they are prevented, they are unhappy. I am not saying that the poor should not have what they want or need. That is not the question we are considering. We are trying to find out what happiness is, and whether happiness is something of which you are conscious.

When you are conscious that you are happy, is that happiness? It is not happiness, is it? It is like humility: the moment you are conscious that you are humble, you are not humble. So you cannot go after happiness; it is not a thing to be pursued. It comes; but if you seek it, it will elude you.

Questioner: Though there is progress in different directions, why is there no brotherhood?

Krishnamurti: What do you mean by `progress'. Questioner: Scientific progress.

Krishnamurti: From the bullock cart to the jet plane - that is progress, is it not? Centuries ago there was only the bullock cart; but gradually, through time, we have developed the jet plane. The means of transport in ancient times was very slow, and now it is very rapid; you can be in London within a few hours. Through sanitation, through proper nutrition and medical care, there has been a great improvement also in matters of physical health. All this is scientific progress; and yet we are not developing or progressing equally in brotherhood.

Now, is brotherhood a matter of progress? We know what we mean by `progress'. It is evolution, achieving something through time. The scientists say that we have evolved from the monkey; they say that, through millions of years, we have progressed from the lowest forms of life to the highest, which is man. But is brotherhood a matter of progress? Is it something which can be evolved through time? There is the unity of the family and the unity of a particular society or nation; from the nation the next step is internationalism, and then comes the idea of one world. The one-world concept is what we call brotherhood. But is brotherly feeling a matter of evolution? Is the feeling of brotherhood to be slowly cultivated through the stages of family, community, nationalism, internationalism and world unity? Brotherliness is love, is it not? And is love to be cultivated step by step? Is love a matter of time? Do you understand what I am talking about?

If I say there will be brotherhood in ten, or thirty, or a hundred years, what does that indicate? It indicates, surely, that I do not love, I do not feel brotherly. When I say, "I will be brotherly, I will love", the actual fact is that I do not love, I am not brotherly. As long as I think in terms of `I will be', I am not. Whereas, if I remove from my mind this concept of being brotherly in the future, then I can see what I actually am; I can see that I am not brotherly, and begin to find out why.

Which is important, to see what I am, or to speculate about what I will be? Surely, the important thing is to see what I am, because then I can deal with it. What I will be is in the future, and the future is unpredictable. The actual fact is that I have no brotherly feeling, I do not really love; and with that fact I can begin, I can immediately do something about it. But to say that one will be something in the future is mere idealism, and the idealist is an individual who is escaping from what is; he is running away from the fact, which can be altered only in the present.

Life Ahead

Part 1

Life Ahead Part One Chapter 10

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