Life Ahead Part One Chapter 4
The problem of discipline is really quite complex, because most of us think that through some form of discipline we shall eventually have freedom. Discipline is the cultivation of resistance, is it not? By resisting, by building a barrier within ourselves against something which we consider wrong, we think we shall be more capable of understanding and of being free to live fully; but that is not a fact, is it? The more you resist or struggle against something, the less you comprehend it. Surely, it is only when there is freedom, real freedom to think, to discover - that you can find out anything.
But freedom obviously cannot exist in a frame. And most of us live in a frame, in a world enclosed by ideas, do we not? For instance, you are told by your parents and your teachers what is right and what is wrong, what is bad and what is beneficial. You know what people say, what the priest says, what tradition says and what you have learned in school. All this forms a kind of enclosure within which you live; and, living in that enclosure, you say you are free. Are you? Can a man ever be free as long as he lives in a prison?
So, one has to break down the prison walls of tradition, and find out for oneself what is real, what is true. One has to experiment and discover on one’s own, and not merely follow somebody, however good, however noble and exciting that person may be, and however happy one may feel in his presence. What has significance is to be able to examine and not just accept all the values created by tradition, all the things that people have said are good, beneficial, worth while. The moment you accept, you begin to conform, to imitate; and conforming, imitating, following, can never make one free and happy.
Our elders say that you must be disciplined. Discipline is imposed upon you by yourself, and by others from outside. But what is important is to be free to think, to inquire, so that you begin to find out for yourself. Unfortunately, most people do not want to think, to find out; they have closed minds. To think deeply, to go into things and discover for oneself what is true, is very difficult; it requires alert perception, constant inquiry, and most people have neither the inclination nor the energy for that. They say, “You know better than I do; you are my guru, my teacher, and I shall follow you.”
So, it is very important, that from the tenderest age you are free to find out, and are not enclosed by a wall of do’s and don’ts; for if you are constantly told what to do and what not to do, what will happen to your intelligence? You will be a thoughtless entity who just walks into some career, who is told by his parents whom to marry or not to marry; and that is obviously not the action of intelligence. You may pass your examinations and be very well off, you may have good clothes and plenty of jewels, you may have friends and prestige; but as long as you are bound by tradition, there can be no intelligence.
Surely, intelligence comes into being only when you are free to question, free to think out and discover, so that your mind becomes very active, very alert and clear. Then you are a fully integrated individual - not a frightened entity who, not knowing what to do, inwardly feels one thing and outwardly conforms to something different.
Intelligence demands that you break away from tradition and live on your own; but you are enclosed by your parents’ ideas of what you should do and what you should not do, and by the traditions of society. So there is a conflict going on inwardly, is there not? You are all young, but I don’t think you are too young to be aware of this. You want to do something, but your parents and teachers say, “Don’t”. So there is an inward struggle going on; and as long as you do not resolve that struggle you are going to be caught in conflict, in pain, in sorrow, everlastingly wanting to do something and being prevented from doing it.
If you go into it very carefully you will see that discipline and freedom are contradictory, and that in seeking real freedom there is set going quite a different process which brings its own clarification so that you must do not do certain things.
While you are young it is very important that you be free to find out, and be helped to find out, what you really want to do in life. If you don’t find out while you are young, you will never find out, you will never be free and happy individuals. The seed must be sown now, so that you begin now to take the initiative. On the road you have often passed villagers carrying heavy loads, have you not? What is your feeling about them? Those poor women with torn and dirty clothes, with insufficient food, working day after day for a pittance - do you have any feeling for them? Or are you so frightened, so concerned about yourself, about your examinations, about your looks, about your saris, that you never pay any attention to them? Do you feel you are much better than they, that you belong to a higher class and therefore need have no regard for them? When you see them go by, what do you feel? Don’t you want to help them? No? That indicates how you are thinking. Are you so dulled by centuries of tradition, by what your fathers and mothers say, so conscious of belonging to a certain class, that you do not even look at the villagers? Are you actually so blinded that you do not know what is happening around you?
It is fear - fear of what your parents will say, of what the teachers will say, fear of tradition, fear of life - that gradually destroys sensitivity, is it not? Do you know what sensitivity is? To be sensitive is to feel, to receive impressions, to have sympathy for those who are suffering, to have affection, to be aware of the things that are happening around you. When the temple bell is ringing, are you aware of it? Do you listen to the sound? Do you ever see the sunlight on the water? Are you aware of the poor people, the villagers who have been controlled, trodden down for centuries by exploiters? When you see a servant carrying a heavy carpet, do you give him a helping hand?
All this implies sensitivity. But, you see, sensitivity is destroyed when one is disciplined, when one is fearful or concerned with oneself. To be concerned about one’s looks, about one’s saris, to think about oneself all the time - which most of us do in some form or other - is to be insensitive, for then the mind and heart are enclosed and one loses all appreciation of beauty.
To be really free implies great sensitivity. There is no freedom if you are enclosed by self-interest or by various walls of discipline. As long as your life is a process of imitation there can be no sensitivity, no freedom. It is very important, while you are here, to sow the seed of freedom, which is to awaken intelligence; for with that intelligence you can tackle all the problems of life.
Questioner: Is it practicable for a man to free himself from all sense of fear and at the same time to stay with society?
Krishnamurti: What is society? A set of values a set of rules, regulations and traditions, is it not? You see these conditions from outside and you say, “Can I have a practical relationship with all that?” Why not? After all, if you merely fit into that framework of values, are you free? And what do you mean by `practicable’? Do you mean earning a livelihood? There are many things you can do to earn a livelihood; and if you are free, can you not choose what you want to do? Is that not practicable? Or would you consider it practicable to forget your freedom and just fit into the framework, becoming a lawyer, a banker, a merchant, or a road sweeper? Surely, if you are free and have cultivated your intelligence, you will find out what is the best thing for you to do. You will brush aside all traditions and do something which you really love to do, regardless of whether your parents and society approve or disapprove. Because you are free, there is intelligence, and you will do something which is completely your own, you will act as an integrated human being.
Questioner: What is God?
Krishnamurti: How are you going to find out? Are you going to accept somebody else’s information? Or are you going to try to discover for yourself what God is? It is easy to ask questions, but to experience the truth requires a great deal of intelligence, a great deal of inquiry and search.
So the first question is, are you going to accept what another says about God? It does not matter who it is, Krishna, Buddha or Christ, because they may all be mistaken - and so may your own particular guru be mistaken. Surely, to find out what is true your mind must be free to inquire, which means that it cannot merely accept or believe. I can give you a description of the truth, but it will not be the same thing as your experiencing the truth for yourself. All the sacred books describe what God is, but that description is not God. The word `God’ is not God, is it? To find out what is true you must never accept, you must never be influenced by what the books, the teachers or anyone else may say. If you are influenced by them, you will find only what they want you to find. And you must know that your own mind can create the image of what it wants; it can imagine God with a beard, or with one eye; it can make him blue or purple. So you have to be aware of your own desires and not be deceived by the projections of your own wants and longings. If you long to see God in a certain form the image you see will be according to your wishes; and that image will not be God, will it? If you are in sorrow and want to be comforted, or if you feel sentimental and romantic in your religious aspirations, eventually you will create a God who will supply what you want; but it will still not be God.
So, your mind must be completely free, and only then can you find out what is true - not by the acceptance of some superstition, nor by the reading of the so-called sacred books, nor by the following of some guru. Only when you have this freedom, this real freedom from external influences as well as from your own desires and longings so that your mind is very clear - only then is it possible to find out what God is. But if you merely sit down and speculate, then your guess is as good as your guru’s, and equally illusory.
Questioner: Can we be aware of our unconscious desires?
Krishnamurti: First of all, are you aware of your conscious desires? Do you know what desire is? Are you aware that usually you do not listen to anyone who is saying something contrary to what you believe? Your desire prevents you from listening. If you desire God, and somebody points out that the God you desire is the outcome of your frustrations and fears, will you listen to him? Of course not. You want one thing, and the truth is something quite different. You limit yourself within your own desires. You are only half-aware of your conscious desires, are you not? And to be aware of the desires that are deeply hidden is much more difficult. To find out what is hidden, to discover what its own motives are the mind which is seeking must be fairly clear and free. So, first be fully aware of your Conscious desires; then, as you become increasingly aware of what is on the surface, you can go deeper and deeper.
Questioner: Why are some people born in poor circumstances, while others are rich and well-to-do?
Krishnamurti: What do you think? Instead of asking me and waiting for my answer, why do you not find out what you feel about it? Do you think it is some mysterious process which you call karma? In a former life you lived nobly and therefore you are now being rewarded with wealth and position! Is that it? Or, having acted very badly in a former life, you are paying for it in this life!
You see, this is really a very complex problem. Poverty is the, fault of society - a society in which the greedy and the cunning exploit and rise to the top. We want the same thing, we also want to climb the ladder and get to the top. And when all of us want to get to the top, what happens? We tread on somebody; and the man who is trodden on, who is destroyed, asks, “Why is life so unfair? You have everything and I have no capacity, I have nothing”. As long as we go on climbing the ladder of success, there will always be the sick and the unfed. It is the desire for success that has to be understood, and not why there are the rich and the poor, or why some have talent and others have none. What has to be changed is our own desire to climb, our desire to be great, to be a success. We all aspire to succeed, do we not? There lies the fault, and not in karma or any other explanation. The actual fact is that we all want to be at the top - perhaps not right at the top, but at least as high up the ladder as we can climb. As long as there is this dive to be great, to be somebody in the world, we are going to have the rich and the poor, the exploiter and those who are exploited.
Questioner: Is God a man or a woman, or something completely mysterious?
Krishnamurti: I have just answered that question, and I am afraid you did not listen. This country is dominated by men. Suppose I said that God is a lady, what would you do? You would reject it because you are full of the idea that God is a man. So you have to find out for yourself; but to find out, you must be free of all prejudice.
Life Ahead Part One Chapter 4
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