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Think on These Things

Part 1

This Matter of Culture Chapter 23

IS IT NOT a very strange thing in this world, where there is so much distraction, entertainment, that almost everybody is a spectator and very few are players? Whenever we have a little free time, most of us seek some form of amusement. We pick up a serious book, a novel, or a magazine. If we are in America we turn on the radio or the television, or we indulge in incessant talk. There is a constant demand to be amused, to be entertained, to be taken away from ourselves. We are afraid to be alone, afraid to be without a companion, without a distraction of some sort. Very few of us ever walk in the fields and the woods, not talking or singing songs, but just walking quietly and observing things about us and within ourselves. We almost never do that because, you see, most of us are very bored; we are caught in a dull routine of learning or teaching, of household duties or a job, and so in our free time we want to be amused, either lightly or seriously. We read, or go to the cinema - or we turn to a religion, which is the same thing. Religion too has become a form of distraction, a kind of serious escape from boredom, from routine.

I don't know if you have noticed all this. Most people are constantly occupied with something - with puja, with the repetition of certain words, with worrying over this or that - because they are frightened to be alone with themselves. You try being alone, without any form of distraction, and you will see how quickly you want to get away from yourself and forget what you are. That is why this enormous structure of professional amusement, of automated distraction, is so prominent a part of what we call civilization. If you observe you will see that people the world over are becoming more and more distracted, increasingly sophisticated and worldly. The multiplication of pleasures, the innumerable books that are being published, the newspaper pages filled with sporting events - surely, all these indicate that we constantly want to be amused. Because we are inwardly empty, dull, mediocre, we use our relationships and our social reforms as a means of escaping from ourselves. I wonder if you have noticed how lonely most people are? And to escape from loneliness we run to temples, churches, or mosques, we dress up and attend social functions, we watch television, listen to the radio, read, and so on.

Do you know what loneliness means? Some of you may be unfamiliar with that word, but you know the feeling very well. You try going out for a walk alone, or being without a book, without someone to talk to, and you will see how quickly you get bored. You know that feeling well enough, but you don't know why you get bored, you have never inquired into it. If you inquire a little into boredom you will find that the cause of it is loneliness. It is in order to escape from loneliness that we want to be together, we want to be entertained, to have distractions of every kind: gurus, religious ceremonies, prayers, or the latest novels. Being inwardly lonely we become mere spectators in life; and we can be the players only when we understand loneliness and go beyond it.

After all, most people marry ad seek other social relationships because they don't know how to live alone. Not that one must live alone; but, if you marry because you want to be loved, or if you are bored and use your job as a means of forgetting yourself, then you will find that your whole life is nothing but an endless search for distractions. Very few go beyond this extraordinary fear of loneliness; but one must go beyond it, because beyond it lies the real treasure.

You know, there is a vast difference between loneliness and aloneness. Some of the younger students may still be unaware of loneliness, but the older people know it: the feeling of being utterly cut off, of suddenly being afraid without apparent cause. The mind knows this fear when for a moment it realizes that it can rely on nothing, that no distraction can take away the sense of self-enclosing emptiness. That is loneliness. But aloneness is something entirely different; it is a state of freedom which comes into being when you have gone through loneliness and understand it. In that state of aloneness you don't rely on anyone psychologically because you are no longer seeking pleasure, comfort, gratification. It is only then that the mind is completely alone, and only such a mind is creative.

All this is part of education: to face the ache of loneliness, that extraordinary feeling of emptiness which all of us know, and not be frightened when it comes; not to turn on the radio, lose oneself in work, or run to the cinema, but to look at it, go into it, understand it. There is no human being who has not felt or will not feel that quivering anxiety. It is because we try to run away from it through every form of distraction and gratification - through sex, through God, through work, through drink, through writing poems or repeating certain words which we have learnt by heart - that we never understand that anxiety when it comes upon us.

So, when the pain of loneliness comes upon you, confront it, look at it without any thought of running away. If you run away you will never understand it, and it will always be there waiting for you around the corner. Whereas, if you can understand loneliness and go beyond it, then you will find there is no need to escape, no urge to be gratified or entertained, for your mind will know a richness that is incorruptible and cannot be destroyed.

All this is part of education. If at school you merely learn subjects in order to pass examinations, then learning itself becomes a means of escape from loneliness. Think about it a little and you will see. Talk it over with your educators and you will soon find out how lonely they are, and how lonely you are. But those who are inwardly alone, whose minds and hearts are free from the ache of loneliness - they are real people, for they can discover for themselves what reality is, they can receive that which is timeless.

Questioner: What is the difference between awareness and sensitivity?

Krishnamurti:I wonder if there is any difference? You know, when you ask a question, what is important is to find out for yourself the truth of the matter and not merely accept what someone else says. So let us find out together what it is to be aware.

You see a lovely tree with its leaves sparkling after the rain; you see the sunlight shining on the water and on the gay-hued feathers of the birds; you see the villagers walking to town carrying heavy burdens, and hear their laughter; you hear the bark of a dog, or a calf calling to its mother. All this is part of awareness, the awareness of what is around you, is it not? Coming a little closer, you notice your relationship to people, to ideas and to things; you are aware of how you regard the house, the road; you observe your reactions to what people say to you, and how your mind is always evaluating, judging, comparing or condemning. This is all part of awareness, which begins on the surface and then goes deeper and deeper; but for most of us awareness stops at a certain point. We take in the noises, the songs, the beautiful and ugly sights, but we are not aware of our reactions to them. We say, "That is beautiful" or "That is ugly" and pass by; we don't inquire into what beauty is, what ugliness is. Surely, to see what your reactions are, to be more and more alert to every movement of your own thought, to observe that your mind is conditioned by the influence of your parents, of your teachers, of your race and culture - all this is part of awareness, is it not?

The deeper the mind penetrates its own thought processes, the more clearly it understands that all forms of thinking are conditioned; therefore the mind is spontaneously very still - which does not mean that it is asleep. On the contrary, the mind is then extraordinarily alert, no longer being drugged by mantrams, by the repetition of words, or shaped by discipline. This state of silent alertness is also part of awareness; and if you go into it still more deeply you will find that there is no division between the person who is aware and the object of which he is aware.

Now, what does it mean to be sensitive? To be cognizant of colour and form, of what people say and of your response to it; to be considerate, to have good taste, good manners; not to be rough, not to hurt people either physically or inwardly and be unaware of it; to see a beautiful thing and linger with it; to listen tentatively without being bored to everything that is said, so that the mind becomes acute, sharp - all this is sensitivity, is it not? So is there much difference between sensitivity and awareness? I don't think so.

You see, as long as your mind is condemning, judging, forming opinions, concluding, it is neither aware nor sensitive. When you are rude to people, when you pick flowers and throw them away, when you ill-treat animals, when you scratch your name on the furniture or break the leg of a chair, when you are unpunctual to meals and have bad manners in general, it all indicates insensitivity, does it not? It indicates a mind that is not capable of alert adjustment. And surely it is part of education to help the student to be sensitive, so that he will not merely conform or resist, but will be awake to the whole movement of life. The people who are sensitive in life may suffer much more than those who are insensitive; but if they understand and go beyond their suffering they will discover extraordinary things.

Questioner: Why do we laugh when somebody trips and falls?

Krishnamurti: It is a form of insensitivity, is it not? Also there is such a thing as sadism. Do you know what that word means? An author called the Marquis de Sade once wrote a book about a man who enjoyed hurting people and seeing them suffer. From that comes the word `sadism', which means deriving pleasure from the suffering of others. For certain people there is a peculiar satisfaction in seeing others suffer. Watch yourself and see if you have this feeling. It may not be obvious, but if it is there you will find that it expresses itself in the impulse to laugh when somebody falls. You want those who are high to be pulled down; you criticize, gossip thoughtlessly about others, all of which is an expression of insensitivity, a form of wanting to hurt people. One may injure another deliberately, with vengeance, or one may do it unconsciously with a word, with a gesture with a look; but in either case the urge is to hurt somebody, and there are very few who radically set aside this perverted form of pleasure.

Questioner: One of our professors says that what you are telling us is quite impractical. He challenges you to bring up six boys and six girls on a salary of 120 rupees. What is your answer to this criticism?

Krishnamurti: If I had only a salary of 12 rupees I would not attempt to raise six boys and six girls; that is the first thing. Secondly, if I were a professor it would be a dedication and not a job. Do you see the difference? Teaching at any level is not a profession, it is not a mere job; it is an act of dedication. Do you understand the meaning of that word `dedication'? To be dedicated is to give oneself to something completely, without asking anything in return; to be like a monk, like a hermit, like the great teachers and scientists - not like those who pass a few examinations and call themselves professors. I am talking of those who have dedicated themselves to teaching, not for money, but because it is their vocation, it is their love. If there are such teachers, they will find that boys and girls can be taught most practically all the things I am talking about. But the teacher, the educator, the professor to whom teaching is only a job for earning a living - it is he who will tell you that these things are not practical.

After all, what is practical? Think it out. The way we are living now, the way we are teaching, the way our governments are being run with their corruption and incessant wars - do you call that practical? Is ambition practical, is greed practical? Ambition breeds competition and therefore destroys people. A society based on greed and acquisition has always within it the spectre of war, conflict, suffering; and is that practical? Obviously it is not. That is what I am trying to tell you in all the various talks.

Love is the most practical thing in the world. To love, to be kind, not to be greedy, not to be ambitious, not to be influenced by people but to think for yourself - these are all very practical things, and they will bring about a practical, happy society. But the teacher who is not dedicated, who does not love, who may have a few letters after his name but is merely a purveyor of information which he has picked up from books - he will tell you that all this is not practical, because he has not really thought about it. To love is to be practical - far more so than the absurd practicality of this so-called education which produces citizens who are utterly incapable of standing alone and thinking out any problem for themselves.

You see, this is part of awareness: to be cognizant of the fact that they are giggling over there in the corner, and at the same time to continue with one's own seriousness.

The difficulty with most grown-up people is that they have not solved the problem of their own living, and yet they say to you, "I will tell you what is practical and what is not". Teaching is the greatest vocation in life, though now it is the most despised; it is the highest, the noblest of callings. But the teacher must be utterly dedicated, he must give himself to it completely, he must teach with his heart and mind, with his whole being; and out of that dedication things are made possible.

Questioner: What is the good of education if while being educated we are also being destroyed by the luxuries of the modern world?

Krishnamurti: I am afraid you are using wrong words. One must have a certain amount of comfort, must one not? When one sits quietly in a room, it is well that the room be clean and tidy, though it may be utterly empty of all furniture but a mat; it should also be of good proportions and have windows of the right size. If there is a picture in the room it should be of something lovely, and if there is a flower in a vase it should have behind it the spirit of the person who placed it there. One also needs good food and a quiet place to sleep. All this is part of the comfort which is offered by the modern world; and is this comfort destroying the so-called educated man? Or is the so-called educated man, through his ambition and greed, destroying ordinary comfort for every human being? In the prosperous countries modern education is making people more and more materialistic, and therefore luxury in every form is perverting and destroying the mind; and in the poor countries, like India, education is not encouraging you to create a radically new kind of culture, it is not helping you to be a revolutionary. I have explained what I mean by a revolutionary - not the bomb-throwing, murderous kind. Such people are not revolutionaries. A true revolutionary is a man who is free of all inducement, free of ideologies and the entanglements of society which is an expression of the collective will of the many; and your education is not helping you to be a revolutionary of that kind. On the contrary, it is teaching you to conform, or merely to reform what is already there.

So it is your so-called education that is destroying you, not the luxury which the modern world provides. Why should you not have cars and good roads? But, you see, all the modern techniques and inventions are being used either for war, or merely for amusement, as a means of escape from oneself, and so the mind gets lost in gadgets. Modern education has become the cultivation of gadgets, the mechanical devices or machines which help you to cook, to clean, to iron, to calculate and do various other essential things, so that you don't have to think about them all the time. And you should have these gadgets, not to get lost in gadgetry, but to free your mind to do something totally different.

Questioner: I have a very black skin, and most people admire a lighter complexion. How can I win their admiration?

Krishnamurti: I believe there are special cosmetics which are supposed to make your skin lighter; but will that solve your problem? You will still want to be admired, to be socially prominent, you will still long for position, prestige; and in the very demand for admiration, in the struggle for prominence, there is always the sting of sorrow. As long as you want to be admired, to be prominent, your education is going to destroy you, because it will help you to become somebody in this society, and this society is pretty rotten. We have built this destructive society through our greed, through our envy, through our fear, and it is not going to be transformed by ignoring it or calling it an illusion. Only the right kind of education will wipe away greed, fear, acquisitiveness, so that we can build a radically new culture, a different world altogether; and there can be the right kind of education only when the mind really wants to understand itself and be free of sorrow.

Think on These Things

Part 1

This Matter of Culture Chapter 23

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