Think on These Things
This Matter of Culture Chapter 6
MOST OF US cling to some small part of life, and think that through that part we shall discover the whole. Without leaving the room we hope to explore the whole length and width of the river and perceive the richness of the green pastures along its banks. We live in a little room, we paint on a little canvas, thinking that we have grasped life by the hand or understood the significance of death; but we have not. To do that we must go outside. And it is extraordinarily difficult to go outside, to leave the room with its narrow window and see everything as it is without judging, without condemning, without saying, "This I like and that I don't like; because most of us think that through the part we shall understand the whole. Through a single spoke we hope to understand the wheel; but one spoke does not make a wheel, does it? it takes many spokes, as well as a hub and a rim, to make the thing called a wheel, and we need to see the whole wheel in order to comprehend it. In the same way we must perceive the whole process of living if we are really to understand life.
I hope you are following all this, because education should help you to understand the whole of life and not just prepare you to get a job and carry on in the usual way with your marriage, your children, your insurance, your pujas and your little gods. But to bring about the right kind of education requires a great deal of intelligence, insight, and that is why it is so important for the educator himself to be educated to understand the whole process of life and not merely to teach you according to some formula, old or new.
Life is an extraordinary mystery - not the mystery in books, not the mystery that people talk about, but a mystery that one has to discover for oneself; and that is why it is so grave a matter that you should understand the little, the narrow, the petty, and go beyond it.
If you don't begin to understand life while you are young, you will grow up inwardly hideous; you will be dull, empty inside, though outwardly you may have money, ride in expensive cars, put on airs. That is why it is very important to leave your little room and perceive the whole expanse of the heavens. But you cannot do that unless you have love - not bodily love or divine love, but just love; which is to love the birds, the trees, the flowers, your teachers, your parents, and beyond your parents, humanity.
Will it not be a great tragedy if you don't discover for yourselves what it is to love? If you don't know love now, you will never know it, because as you grow older, what is called love will become something very ugly - a possession, a form of merchandise to be bought and sold. But if you begin now to have love in your heart, if you love the tree you plant, the stray animal you pat, then as you grow up you will not remain in your small room with its narrow window, but will leave it and love the whole of life.
Love is factual, it is not emotional, something to be cried over; it is not sentiment. Love has no sentimentality about it at all. And it is a very grave and important matter that you should know love while you are young. Your parents and teachers perhaps don't know love, and that is why they have created a terrible world, a society which is perpetually at war within itself and with other societies. Their religions, their philosophies and ideologies are all false because they have no love. They perceive only a part; they are looking out of a narrow window from which the view may be pleasant and extensive, but it is not the whole expanse of life. Without this feeling of intense love you can never have the perception of the whole; therefore you will always be miserable, and at the end of your life you will have nothing but ashes, a lot of empty words.
Questioner: Why do we want to be famous?
Krishnamurti: Why do you think you want to be famous? I may explain; but, at the end of it, will you stop wanting to be famous? You want to be famous because everybody around you in this society wants to be famous. Your parents, your teachers, the guru, the yogi - they all want to be famous, well known, and so you do too.
Let us think this out together. Why do people want to be famous? First of all, it is profitable to be famous; and it gives you a great deal of pleasure, does it not? If you are known all over the world you feel very important, it gives you a sense of immortality. You want to be famous, you want to be known and talked about in the world because inside yourself you are nobody. Inwardly there is no richness, there is nothing there at all, therefore you want to be known in the world outside; but, if you are inwardly rich, then it does not matter to you whether you are known or unknown.
To be inwardly rich is much more arduous than to be outwardly rich and famous; it needs much more care, much closer attention. If you have a little talent and know how to exploit it, you become famous; but inward richness does not come about in that way. To be inwardly rich the mind has to understand and put away the things that are not important, like wanting to be famous. Inward richness implies standing alone; but the man who wants to be famous is afraid to stand alone because he depends on people's flattery and good opinion.
Questioner: When you were young you wrote a book in which you said: "These are not my words, they are the words of my Master." How is it that you now insist upon our thinking for ourselves? And who was your Master?
Krishnamurti: One of the most difficult things in life is not to be bound by an idea; being bound is called being consistent. If you have the ideal of non-violence, you try to be consistent with that ideal. Now, the questioner is saying in effect, "You tell us to think for ourselves, which is contrary to what you said when you were a boy. Why are you not consistent?"
What does it mean to be consistent? This is really a very important point. To be consistent is to have a mind that is unvaryingly following a particular pattern of thinking - which means that you must not do contradictory things one thing today and the opposite thing tomorrow. We are trying to find out what is a consistent mind. A mind which says "I have taken a vow to be something and I am going to be that for the rest of my life" is called consistent; but it is really a most stupid mind, because it has come to a conclusion and it is living according to that conclusion. It is like a man building a wall around himself and letting life go by.
This is a very complex problem; I may be oversimplifying it, but I don't think so. When the mind is merely consistent it becomes mechanical and loses the vitality, the glow, the beauty of free movement. It is functioning within a pattern. That is one side of the question.
The other is: who is the Master? You don't know the implications of all this. It is just as well. You see, it has been said that I wrote a certain book when I was a boy, and that gentleman has quoted from the book a statement which says that a Master helped to write it. Now, there are groups of people, like the Theosophists, who believe that there are Masters living in the remote Himalayas who guide and help the world; and that gentleman wants to know who the Master is. Listen carefully, because this applies to you also.
Does it matter very much who a Master or a guru is? What matters is life - not your guru, not a Master, a leader or a teacher who interprets life for you. It is you who have to understand life; it is you who are suffering, who are in misery; it is you who want to know the meaning of death, of birth, of meditation, of sorrow, and nobody can tell you. Others can explain, but their explanations may be entirely false, altogether wrong.
So it is good to be sceptical, because it gives you a chance to find out for yourself whether you need a guru at all. What is important is to be a light unto yourself, to be your own Master and disciple, to be both the teacher and the pupil. As long as you are learning, there is no teacher. It is only when you have stopped exploring, discovering, understanding the whole process of life, that the teacher comes into being - and such a teacher has no value. Then you are dead, and therefore your teacher is also dead. Questioner: Why is man proud?
Krishnamurti: Are you not proud if you write a nice hand, or when you win a game or pass some examination? Have you ever written a poem or painted a picture, and then shown it to a friend? If your friend says it is a lovely poem or a marvellous picture, don't you feel very pleased? When you have done something which somebody says is excellent, you feel a sense of pleasure, and that is all right, that is nice; but what happens the next time you paint a picture, or write a poem, or clean a room? You expect someone to come along and say what a wonderful boy you are; and, if no one comes, you no longer bother about painting or writing, or cleaning. So you come to depend on the pleasure which others give you by their approbation. It is as simple as that. And then what happens? As you grow older you want what you do to be acknowledged by many people. You may say, "I will do this thing for the sake of my guru, for the sake of my country, for the sake of man, for the sake of God", but you are really doing it to gain recognition, out of which grows pride; and when you do anything in that way, it is not worth doing. I wonder if you understand all this?
To understand something like pride, you must be capable of thinking right through; you must see how it begins and the disaster it brings, see the whole of it, which means that you must be so keenly interested that your mind follows it to the end and does not stop half way. When you are really interested in a game you play it to the end, you don't suddenly stop in the middle and go home. But your mind is not used to this kind of thinking, and it is part of education to help you to inquire into the whole process of life and not just study a few subjects.
Questioner: As children we are told what is beautiful and what is ugly, with the result that all through life we go on repeating, " This is beautiful, that is ugly". How is one to know what is real beauty and what is ugliness?
Krishnamurti: Suppose you say that a certain arch is beautiful, and someone else says it is ugly. Now, which is import- ant: to fight over your conflicting opinions as to whether something is beautiful or ugly, or to be sensitive to both beauty and ugliness? In life there is filth, squalor, degradation, sorrow, tears, and there is also joy, laughter, the beauty of a flower in the sunlight. What matters, surely, is to be sensitive to everything, and not merely decide what is beautiful and what is ugly and remain with that opinion. If I say, "I am going to cultivate beauty and reject all ugliness", what happens? The cultivation of beauty then makes for insensitivity. It is like a man developing his right arm, making it very strong, and letting his left arm wither. So you must be awake to ugliness as well as to beauty. You must see the dancing leaves, the water flowing under the bridge, the beauty of an evening, and also be aware of the beggar in the street; you must see the poor woman struggling with a heavy load and be ready to help her, give her a hand. All this is necessary, and it is only when you have this sensitivity to everything that you can begin to work, to help and not reject or condemn.
Questioner: Pardon me, but you have not said who was your Master.
Krishnamurti: Does it matter very much? Burn the book, throw it away. When you give importance to something so trivial as who the Master is, you are making the whole of existence into a very petty affair. You see, we always want to know who the Master is, who the learned person is, who the artist is that painted the picture. We never want to discover for ourselves the content of the picture irrespective of the identity of the artist. It is only when you know who the poet is that you say the poem is lovely. This is snobbishness, the mere repetition of an opinion, and it destroys your own inward perception of the reality of the thing. If you perceive that a picture is beautiful and you feel very grateful, does it really matter to you who painted it? If your one concern is to find the content, the truth of the picture, then the picture communicates its significance.
Think on These Things
This Matter of Culture Chapter 6
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