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Life Ahead

Part 1

Life Ahead Part One Chapter 18

While we are quite young, most of us are perhaps not greatly affected by the conflicts of life, by the worries, the passing joys, the physical disasters the fear of death and the mental twists that burden the older generation. Fortunately, while we are young most of us are not yet on the battlefield of life. But as we grow older the problems, the miseries, the doubts, the economic and inward struggles all begin to crowd in on us, and then we want to find out the significance of life, we want to know what life is all about. We wonder about the conflicts, the pains, the poverty, the disasters. We want to know why some people are well-placed and others are not; why one human being is healthy, intelligent, gifted, capable, while another is not. And if we are easily satisfied, we soon get caught in some hypothesis, in some theory or belief; we find an answer, but it is never the true answer. We realize that life is ugly, painful, sorrowful, and we start out with an inquiry; but not having enough self-reliance, vigour, intelligence, innocence to go on inquiring, we are soon caught in theories, in beliefs, in some kind of speculation or doctrine which satisfactorily explains all this. Gradually our beliefs and dogmas become deep-rooted and unshakable, because behind them there is a constant fear of the unknown. We never look at that fear; we turn away from it and take refuge in our beliefs. And when we examine these beliefs - the Hindu the Buddhist, the Christian - we find that they divide people. Each set of dogmas and beliefs has a series of rituals, a series of compulsions which bind the mind and separate man from man.

So we start with an inquiry to find out what is true, what is the significance of all this misery, this struggle, this pain, and we end up with a set of beliefs, rituals, theories. We have not the self-reliance, nor the vigour, nor the innocence to push belief aside and inquire; therefore belief begins to act as a deteriorating factor in our lives.

Belief is corruptive, because behind belief and idealistic morality lurks the `me', the self - the self which is constantly growing bigger, more powerful. We think that belief in God is religion. We consider that to believe is to be religious. If you do not believe, you will be regarded as an atheist and condemned by society. One society condemns those who do not believe in God, and another society condemns those who do. They are both the same.

So religion becomes a matter of belief, and belief acts as a limitation on the mind; and the mind then is never free. But it is only in freedom that you can find out what is true, what is God, not through any belief; because your belief projects what you think God ought to be, what you think ought to be true. If you believe God is love, God is good, God is this or that, your very belief prevents you from understanding what is God, what is true. But, you see, you want to forget yourself in a belief; you want to sacrifice yourself; you want to emulate another, to abandon this constant struggle that is going on within you and pursue virtue.

Your life is a constant struggle in which there is sorrow, suffering, ambition, transient pleasure, happiness that comes and goes, so the mind wants something enormous to cling to, something beyond itself with which it can become identified. That something the mind calls God, truth, and it identifies itself with it through belief, through conviction, through rationalization, through various forms of discipline and idealistic morality. But that vast something, which creates speculation, is still part of the `me', it is projected by the mind in its desire to escape from the turmoils of life.

We identify ourselves with a particular country - India, England, Germany, Russia, America. You think of yourself as a Hindu. Why? Why do you identify yourself with India? Have you ever looked at it, gone behind the words that have captured your mind? Living in a city or a small town, leading a miserable life with your struggles and family quarrels, being dissatisfied, discontented, unhappy, you identify yourself with a country called India. This gives you a sense of vastness, of importance, a psychological satisfaction, so you say, "I am an Indian; and for this you are willing to kill, to die or be maimed.

In the same way, because you are very petty, in constant battle with yourself and others, because you are confused, miserable, uncertain, because you know there is death, you identify yourself with something beyond, something vast, significant, full of meaning, which you call God. This identification with what you call God, gives you a sense of enormous importance, and you feel happy. So the identifying of yourself with something vast is a self-expansive process; it is still the struggling of the `me', the self.

Religion as we generally know it, is a series of beliefs, dogmas, rituals, superstitions; it is the worship of idols, of charms and gurus, and we think all this will lead us to some ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is our own projection; it is what we want, what we think will make us happy, a guarantee of the deathless state. Caught in this desire for certainty, the mind creates a religion of dogmas, of priestcraft, of superstitions and idol worship; and there it stagnates. Is that religion? Is religion a matter of belief, a matter of accepting or having knowledge of other people's experiences and assertions? Is religion merely the practice of morality? You know, it is comparatively easy to be moral - to do this and not to do that. You can just imitate a moral system. But behind such morality lurks the aggressive self, growing, expanding, dominating. And is that religion?

You have to find out what truth is, because that is what really matters - not whether you are rich or poor, or whether you are happily married and have children, for all these things come to an end; and there is always death. So, without any form of belief, you must have the vigour, the self-reliance, the initiative to find out for yourself what truth is, what God is. Belief will not free your mind; belief only corrupts, binds, darkens. The mind can be free only through its own vigour and self-reliance.

Surely it is one of the functions of education to create individuals who are not bound by any form of belief, by any pattern of morality or respectability. It is the `me' that merely seeks to become moral, respectable. The truly religious individual is he who discovers, who directly experiences what God is, what truth is. That direct experiencing is never possible through any form of belief, through any ritual, through any following or worshipping of another. The truly religious mind is free of all gurus. You as an individual, as you grow and live your life, can discover the truth from moment to moment, and therefore you are capable of being free.

Most people think that to be free from the material things of the world is the first step towards religion. It is not. That is one of the easiest things to do. The first step is to be free to think fully, completely and independently, which means not being bound by any belief or crushed by circumstances, by environment, so that you are an integrated human being, capable, vigorous and self-reliant. Only then can your mind, being free, unbiased, unconditioned, find out what God is. Surely, that is the basic purpose for which any educational centre should exist: to help each individual who comes there to be free to discover reality. This means not following any system, not clinging to any belief or ritual, and not worshipping any guru. The individual has to awaken his intelligence, not through any form of discipline, resistance, compulsion, coercion, but through freedom. It is only through the intelligence born of freedom that the individual can discover that which is beyond the mind. That immensity - the unnameable, the limitless, that which is not measurable by words and in which there is the love that is not of the mind - must be directly experienced. The mind cannot conceive of it; therefore the mind must be very quiet, astonishingly still, without any demand or any desire. Only then is it possible for that which may be called God or reality to come into being.

Questioner: What is obedience? Should we obey an order even without understanding it?

Krishnamurti: Is that not what most of us do? parents, teachers, the older people say, "Do this". They say it politely, or with a stick, and because we are afraid, we obey. That is also what governments, what the military people do to us. We are trained from childhood to obey, not knowing what it is all about. The more authoritarian our parents and the more tyrannical the government, the more we are compelled, shaped from our earliest years; and without understanding why we should do what we are told to do, we obey. We are also told what to think. Our minds are purged of any thought which is not approved by the State, by the local authorities. We are never taught or helped to think, to find out, but are required to obey. The priest tells us what is so, the religious book tells us what is so, and our own inward fear compels us to obey; because if we do not obey we shall be confused, we shall feel lost.

So we obey because we are very thoughtless. We don't want to think because to think is disturbing; to think, we have to question, to inquire, we have to find out for ourselves. And the older people don't want us to inquire, they have not the patience to listen to our questions. They are too busy with their own quarrels, with their ambitions and prejudices, with their do's and don'ts of morality and respectability; and we who are young are afraid to go wrong, because we also want to be respectable. Don't we all want to wear the same kind of clothes, to look alike? We don't want to do anything different, we don't want to think independently, to stand apart, because that is very disturbing; so we join the gang.

Whatever our age, most of us obey, follow, copy, because we are inwardly frightened of being uncertain. We want to be certain, both financially and morally; we want to be approved of. We want to be in a safe position, to be enclosed and never to be confronted with trouble, pain, suffering. It is fear, conscious or unconscious, that makes us obey the master, the leader, the priest, the government. It is fear of being punished that prevents us from doing something harmful to others. So, behind all our actions, our greeds and pursuits, lurks the desire for certainty, this desire to be safe, assured. Without being free of fear, merely to obey has little significance. What has significance is to be aware of this fear from day to day, to observe how it shows itself in different ways. Only when there is freedom from fear can there be that inward quality of understanding, that aloneness in which there is no accumulation of knowledge or experience.

Life Ahead

Part 1

Life Ahead Part One Chapter 18

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