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Life Ahead

Part 1

Life Ahead Part One Chapter 13

What I am saying in all these talks is not something to be merely remembered. It is not intended that you should try to store in your mind what you hear, to be recollected and either thought about or acted upon later. If you merely store in your mind what I am telling you, it will be nothing but memory; it won't be a living thing, something which you really understand. It is understanding that matters, not recollection. I hope you see the difference between the two. Understanding is immediate, direct, it is something which you experience intensely. But if you merely remember what you have heard, it will only serve as a pattern, a guide to be followed, a slogan to be repeated, an idea to be imitated, an ideal on which to base your life. Understanding is not a matter of remembrance. It is a continuous intensity, a constant discovery.

So, if you merely remember what I am talking about, you will compare and try to modify your action or adjust it to what you remember. But if you really understand, that very understanding brings about action, and then you do not have to act according to your remembrance. That is why it is very important not just to remember, but to listen and understand immediately.

When you remember certain words, certain phrases, or recall certain feelings that are awakened here, and compare your action with what you remember, there is always a gap between your action and what is remembered. But if you really understand, there is no copying. Anyone with a certain capacity can remember words and pass examinations; but if you begin to understand all that is involved in what you see, in what you hear, in what you feel, that very understanding brings about an action which you do not have to guide shape or control.

If you merely remember, you will always be comparing; and comparison breeds envy, on which our whole acquisitive society is based. Comparison will never bring about understanding. In understanding there is love, whereas comparison is mere intellectualization; it is a mental process of imitating, following, and in which there is always the danger of the leader and the led. Do you see this?

In this world, the structure of society is based on the leader and the led, the example and the one who follows the example, the hero and the worshipper of the hero. If you go behind this process of leading and being led, you will find that when you follow another, there is no initiative. There is no freedom either for you or for the leader; because you create the leader, and the leader then controls you. As long as you are following an example of self-sacrifice, of greatness, of wisdom, of love, as long as you have an ideal to be remembered and copied there will inevitably be a gap, a division between the ideal and your action. A man who really sees the truth of this, has no ideal, no example; he is not following anybody. For him there is no guru, no Mahatma, no heroic leader. He is constantly understanding what lies within himself and what he hears from others, whether it be from his father or mother, from a teacher, or from a person like myself who occasionally comes into his life.

If you are now listening and understanding, then you are not following or imitating; therefore there is no fear, and so there is love. It is very important to see all this very clearly for yourself, so that you are not bewitched by heroes or mesmerized by examples, ideals. Examples, heroes, ideals have to be remembered and are easily forgotten; therefore you have to have a constant reminder in the form of a picture, an idol, a slogan. In following an ideal, an example, you are merely remembering; and in remembrance there is no understanding. You are comparing what you are with what you want to be, and that very comparison breeds authority; it breeds envy and fear, in which there is no love.

Please listen to all this very carefully and understand it, so that you have no leaders to follow, no examples, no ideals to imitate or copy; for then you are a free individual with human dignity. You cannot be free if you are everlastingly comparing yourself with the ideal, with what you should be. To understand what you actually are - however ugly or beautiful, or however frightened you may be - is not a matter of remembrance, the mere recollection of an ideal. You have to watch, to be aware of yourself from moment to moment in daily relationship. To be conscious of what you actually are, is the process of understanding.

If you really understand what I am talking about, listen to it completely, you will be free of all the utterly false things that past generations have created. You will not be burdened with imitation, the mere recollection of an ideal, which only cripples the mind and heart, breeding fear and envy. Unconsciously you may be listening to all this very deeply. I hope you are; for then you will see what an extraordinary transformation comes with deep listening and freedom from imitation.

Questioner: Is beauty subjective or objective?

Krishnamurti: You see something beautiful, the river from the veranda; or you see a child in tatters, crying. If you are not sensitive, if you are not aware of everything around you, then you just pass by and that incident is of very little value. A woman comes along carrying a burden on her head. Her clothes are dirty; she is hungry and tired. Are you aware of the beauty of her walk, or sensitive to her physical state? Do you see the colour of her sari, however soiled it may be? There are these objective influences all about you; and if you have no sensitivity, you will never appreciate them, will you?

To be sensitive is to be aware not only of the things which are called beautiful, but also of that which is called ugly. The river, the green fields, the trees in the distance, the clouds of an evening - these things we call beautiful. The dirty, half-starved villagers, the people who live in squalor, or who have very little capacity for thought, very little feeling - all this we call ugly. Now, if you observe you will see that what most of us do is to cling to the beautiful and shut out the ugly. But is it not important to be sensitive to what is called ugliness as well as to beauty? It is the lack of this sensitivity that causes us to divide life into the ugly and the beautiful. But if we are Open, receptive, sensitive to the ugly as well as to the beautiful, then we shall see that they are both full of meaning, and this perception gives enrichment to life.

So, is beauty subjective or objective? If you were blind, if you were deaf and could not hear any music, would you be without beauty? Or is beauty something inward? You may not see with your eyes, you may not hear with your ears; but if there is the experiencing of this state of being really open, sensitive to everything, if you are deeply aware of all that is happening inside you, of every thought, of every feeling - is there not beauty also in that? But you see, we think beauty is something outside of us. That is why we buy pictures and hang them on the wall. We want to possess beautiful saris, suits, turbans, we want to surround ourselves with beautiful things; for we are afraid that without an objective reminder we shall lose something inwardly. But can you divide life, the whole process of existence, into the subjective and the objective? Is it not an unitary process? Without the outer there is not the inner; without the inner there is not the outer.

Questioner: Why do the strong suppress the weak?

Krishnamurti: Do you suppress the weak? Let us find out. In an argument, or in matters of physical strength, don't you push away your younger brother, the one smaller than yourself? Why? Because you want to assert yourself. You want to show your strength, you want to show how much better or more powerful you are, so you dominate, you push the little child away; you throw your weight around. It is the same with the older people. They are bigger than you are, they know a little more from reading books, they have position, money, authority, so they suppress, they push you aside; and you accept being pushed aside; and then you in your turn suppress somebody below you. Each one wants to assert himself, to dominate, to show that he has power over others. Most of us do not want to be as nothing. We want to be somebodies; and the showing of power over others gives us that satisfaction the feeling that we are somebodies.

Questioner: Is that why the bigger fish swallow the smaller fish?

Krishnamurti: In the animal world it may perhaps be natural for the big fish to live on the small fish. It is something we cannot alter. But the big human being need not live on the little human being. If we know how to use our intelligence, we can stop living on each other, not only physically but also in the psychological sense. To see this problem and understand it, which is to have intelligence, is to stop living on another. But most of us want to live on another, so we take advantage of somebody who is weaker than ourselves. Freedom does not mean being free to do anything you like. There can be real freedom only when there is intelligence; and intelligence comes through the understanding of relationship - the relationship between you and me, and between each one of us and somebody else.

Questioner: Is it true that scientific discoveries make our lives easier to live?

Krishnamurti: Have they not made your life easier? You have electricity, have you not? You snap a switch and you have light. There is a telephone in that room, and you can talk, if you wish, to a friend in Bombay or New York. Is that not easy? Or you can take a plane and go very quickly to Delhi or to London. These things are all the outcome of scientific discoveries, and they have made life easier. Science has helped to cure diseases; but it has also given us the hydrogen-bomb which can kill thousands of human beings. So, as science is constantly discovering more and more, if we do not begin to use scientific knowledge with intelligence, with love, we are going to destroy ourselves.

Questioner: What is death?

Krishnamurti: What is death? This question from a little girl!

You have seen dead bodies being carried to the river; you have seen dead leaves, dead trees; you know that fruits wither and decay. The birds that are so full of life in the morning, chattering away, calling to each other, by evening may be dead. The person who is alive today may be struck down by disaster tomorrow. We see all this going on. Death is common to us all. We will all end that way. You may live for thirty, fifty, or eighty years, enjoying, suffering, being fearful; and at the end of it you are no more.

What is it that we call living, and what is it that we call death? It is really a complex problem and I do not know if you want to go into it. If we can find out, if we can understand what living is, then perhaps we shall understand what death is. When we lose someone whom we love, we feel bereft, lonely; therefore we say that death has nothing to do with living. We separate death from life. But is death separate from life? Is not living a process of dying?

For most of us, living means what? It means accumulating, choosing, suffering, laughing. And in the background, behind all the pleasure and pain, there is fear - the fear of coming to an end, the fear of what is going to happen tomorrow, the fear of being without name and fame, without property and position, all of which we want to continue. But death is inevitable; so we say, "What happens after death?"

Now, what is it that comes to an end in death? Is it life? What is life? Is life merely a process of breathing in air and expelling it? Eating, hating, loving, acquiring, possessing, comparing, being envious - this is what most of us know as life. For most of us life is suffering, a constant battle of pain and pleasure, hope and frustration. And can that not come to an end? Should we not die? In the autumn, with the coming of cold weather, the leaves fall from the trees, and reappear in the spring. Similarly, should we not die to everything of yesterday, to all our accumulations and hopes, to all the successes that we have gathered? Should we not die to all that and live again tomorrow, so that, like a new leaf, we are fresh, tender, sensitive? To a man who is constantly dying, there is no death. But the man who says, "I am somebody and I must continue" - to him there is always death and the burning ghat; and that man knows no love.

Life Ahead

Part 1

Life Ahead Part One Chapter 13

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