Think on These Things
This Matter of Culture Chapter 5
HAVE YOU EVER sat very quietly without any movement? You try it, sit really still, with your back straight, and observe what your mind is doing. Don`t try to control it, don't say it should not jump from one thought to another, from one interest to another, but just be aware of how your mind is jumping. Don't do anything about it, but watch it as from the banks of a river you watch the water flow by. In the flowing river there are so many things - fishes, leaves, dead animals - but it is always living, moving, and your mind is like that. It is everlastingly restless, flitting from one thing to another like a butterfly.
When you listen to a song, how do you listen to it? You may like the person who is singing, he may have a nice face, and you may follow the meaning of the words; but behind all that, when you listen to a song, you are listening to the tones and to the silence between the tones, are you not? In the same way, try sitting very quietly without fidgeting, without moving your hands or even your toes, and just watch your mind. It is great fun. If you try it as fun, as an amusing thing, you will find that the mind begins to settle down without any effort on your part to control it. There is then no censor, no judge, no evaluator; and when the mind is thus very quiet of itself, spontaneously still, you will discover what it is to be gay. Do you know what gaiety is? It is just to laugh, to take delight in anything or nothing, to know the joy of living, smiling, looking straight into the face of another without any sense of fear.
Have you ever really looked anybody in the face? Have you ever looked into the face of your teacher, of your parent, of the big official, of the servant, the poor coolie, and seen what happens? Most of us are afraid to look directly into the face of an- other; and others don't want us to look at them in that way, because they also are frightened. Nobody wants to reveal himself; we are all on guard, hiding behind various layers of misery, suffering, longing, hope, and there are very few who can look you straight in the face and smile. And it is very important to smile, to be happy; because, you see, without a song in one's heart life becomes very dull. One may go from temple to temple, from one husband or wife to another, or one may find a new teacher or guru; but if there is not this inward joy, life has very little meaning. And to find this inward joy is not easy, because most of us are only superficially discontented.
Do you know what it means to be discontented? It is very difficult to understand discontent, because most of us canalize discontent in a certain direction and thereby smother it. That is, our only concern is to establish ourselves in a secure position with well-established interests and prestige, so as not to be disturbed. It happens in homes and in schools too. The teachers don't want to be disturbed, and that is why they follow the old routine; because the moment one is really discontented and begins to inquire, to question, there is bound to be disturbance. But it is only through real discontent that one has initiative.
Do you know what initiative is? You have initiative when you initiate or start something without being prompted. It need not be anything very great or extraordinary - that may come later; but there is the spark of initiative when you plant a tree on your own, when you are spontaneously kind, when you smile at a man who is carrying a heavy load, when you remove a stone from the path, or pat an animal along the way. That is a small beginning of the tremendous initiative you must have if you are to know this extraordinary thing called creativeness. Creativeness has its roots in the initiative which comes into being only when there is deep discontent.
Don't be afraid of discontent, but give it nourishment until the spark becomes a flame and you are everlastingly discontented with everything - with your jobs, with your families, with the traditional pursuit of money, position, power - so that you really begin to think, to discover. But as you grow older you will find that to maintain this spirit of discontent is very difficult. You have children to provide for and the demands of your job to consider; the opinion of your neighbours, of society closing in upon you, and soon you begin to lose this burning flame of discontent. When you feel discontented you turn on the radio, you go to a guru, do puja, join a club, drink, run after women - anything to smother the flame. But, you see, without this flame of discontent you will never have the initiative which is the beginning of creativeness. To find out what is true you must be in revolt against the established order; but the more money your parents have and the more secure your teachers are in their jobs, the less they want you to revolt.
Creativeness is not merely a matter of painting pictures or writing poems, which is good to do, but which is very little in itself. What is important is to be wholly discontented, for such total discontent is the beginning of the initiative which becomes creative as it matures; and that is the only way to find out what is truth, what is God, because the creative state is God.
So one must have this total discontent - but with joy. Do you understand? One must be wholly discontented, not complainingly, but with joy, with gaiety, with love. Most people who are discontented are terrible bores; they are always complaining that something or other is not right, or wishing they were in a better position, or wanting circumstances to be different, because their discontent is very superficial. And those who are not discontented at all are already dead.
If you can be in revolt while you are young, and as you grow older keep your discontent alive with the vitality of joy and great affection, then that flame of discontent will have an extraordinary significance because it will build, it will create, it will bring new things into being. For this you must have the right kind of education, which is not the kind that merely prepares you to get a job or to climb the ladder of success, but the education that helps you to think and gives you space - space, not in the form of a larger bedroom or a higher roof, but space for your mind to grow so that it is not bound by any belief, by any fear. Questioner: Discontent prevents clear thinking. How are we to overcome this obstacle?
Krishnamurti: I don't think you can have listened to what I was saying; probably you were concerned with your question, worrying about how you were going to put it. That is what you are all doing in different ways. Each one has a preoccupation, and if what I say is not what you want to hear you push it aside because your mind is occupied with your own problem. If the questioner had listened to what was being said, if he had really felt the inward nature of discontent, of gaiety, of being creative, then I don't think he would have put this question.
Now, does discontent prevent clear thinking? And what is clear thinking? is it possible to think very clearly if you want to get something out of your thinking? If your mind is concerned with a result, can you think very clearly? Or can you think very clearly only when you are not seeking an end, a result, not trying to gain something?
And can you think clearly if you have a prejudice, a particular belief - that is, if you think as a Hindu, a communist, or a Christian? Surely, you can think very clearly only when your mind is not tethered to a belief as a monkey might be tethered to a stake; you can think very clearly only when you are not seeking a result; you can think very clearly only when you have no prejudice - all of which means, really, that you can think clearly, simply and directly only when your mind is no longer pursuing any form of security and is therefore free of fear.
So, in one way, discontent does prevent clear thinking. When through discontent you pursue a result, or when you seek to smother discontent because your mind hates to be disturbed and wants at all costs to be quiet, peaceful, then clear thinking is not possible. But if you are discontented with everything - with your prejudice, with your beliefs, with your fears - and are not seeking a result, then that very discontent brings your thought into focus, not upon any particular object or in any particular direction, but your whole thinking process becomes very simple, direct and clear. Young or old, most of us are discontented merely because we want something - more knowledge, a better job, a finer car, a bigger salary. Our discontent is based upon our desire for `the more'. It is only because we want something more that most of us are discontented. But I am not talking about that kind of discontent. It is the desire for `the more' that prevents clear thinking. Whereas if we are discontented, not because we want something, but without knowing what we want; if we are dissatisfied with our jobs, with making money, with seeking position and power, with tradition, with what we have and with what we might have; if we are dissatisfied, not with anything in particular but with everything, then I think we shall find that our discontent brings clarity. When we don't accept or follow, but question, investigate, penetrate, there is an insight out of which comes creativity, joy.
Questioner: What is self-knowledge, and how can we get it?
Krishnamurti: Do you see the mentality behind this question? I am not speaking out of disrespect for the questioner, but let us look at the mentality that asks, "How can I get it, for how much can I buy it? What must I do, what sacrifice must I make, what discipline or meditation must I practise in order to have it?" It is a machine-like, mediocre mind which says, "I shall do this in order to get that". The so-called religious people think in these terms; but self-knowledge is not come by in this way. You cannot buy it through some effort or practice. Self-knowledge comes when you observe yourself in your relationship with your fellow students and your teachers, with all the people around you; it comes when you observe the manner of another, his gestures, the way he wears his clothes, the way he talks, his contempt or flattery and your response; it comes when you watch everything in you and about you and see yourself as you see your face in a mirror. When you look into the mirror you see yourself as you are, don't you? You may wish your head were a different shape, with a little more hair, and your face a little less ugly; but the fact is there, clearly reflected in the mirror, and you can't push it aside and say, "How beautiful I am!" Now, if you can look into the mirror of relationship exactly as you look into the ordinary mirror, then there is no end to self-knowledge. it is like entering a fathomless ocean which has no shore. Most of us want to reach an end, we want to be able to say, "I have arrived at self-knowledge and I am happy; but it is not like that at all. If you can look at yourself without condemning what you see, without comparing yourself with somebody else, without wishing to be more beautiful or more virtuous; if you can just observe what you are and move with it, then you will find that it is possible to go infinitely far. Then there is no end to the journey, and that is the mystery, the beauty of it.
Questioner: What is the soul?
Krishnamurti: Our culture, our civilization has invented the word `soul' - civilization being the collective desire and will of many people. Look at the Indian civilization. Is it not the result of many people with their desires, their wills? Any civilization is the outcome of what may be called the collective will; and the collective will in this case has said that there must be something more than the physical body which dies, decays, something much greater, vaster, something indestructible immortal; therefore it has established this idea of the soul. Now and then there may have been one or two people who have discovered for themselves something about this extraordinary thing called immortality, a state in which there is no death, and then all the mediocre minds have said, "Yes, that must be true, he must be right; and because they want immortality they cling to the word `soul'.
You also want to know if there is something more than mere physical existence, do you not? This ceaseless round of going to an office, working at something in which you have no vital interest, quarrelling, being envious, bearing children, gossiping with your neighbour, uttering useless words - you want to know if there is something more than all this. The very word `soul' embodies the idea of a state which is indestructible, timeless, does it not? But, you see, you never find out for yourself whether or not there is such a state. You don't say, "I am not concerned with what Christ, Shankara, or anybody else has said, nor with the dictates of tradition of so-called civilization; I am going to find out for myself whether or not there is a state beyond the framework of time". You don't revolt against what civilization or the collective will has formulated; on the contrary, you accept it and say, "Yes, there is a soul". You call that formulation one thing, another calls it something else, and then you divide yourselves and become enemies over your conflicting beliefs.
The man who really wants to find out whether or not there is a state beyond the framework of time, must be free of civilization; that is, he must be free of the collective will and stand alone. And this is an essential part of education: to learn to stand alone so that you are not caught either in the will of the many or in the will of one, and are therefore capable of discovering for yourself what is true.
Don't depend on anybody. I or another may tell you there is a timeless state, but what value has that for you? If you are hungry you want to eat, and you don't want to be fed on mere words. What is important is for you to find out for yourself. You can see that everything about you is decaying, being destroyed. This so-called civilization is no longer being held together by the collective will; it is going to pieces. Life is challenging you from moment to moment, and if you merely respond to the challenge from the groove of habit, which is to respond in terms of acceptance, then your response has no validity. You can find out whether or not there is a timeless state, a state in which there is no movement of `the more' or of `the less', only when you say, "I am not going to accept, I am going to investigate, explore" - which means that you are not afraid to stand alone.
Think on These Things
This Matter of Culture Chapter 5
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