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Think on These Things

Part 1

This Matter of Culture Chapter 7

WE HAVE BEEN discussing how essential it is to have love, and we saw that one cannot acquire or buy it; yet without love, all our plans for a perfect social order in which there is no exploitation, no regimentation, will have no meaning at all, and I think it is very important to understand this while we are young.

Wherever one goes in the world, it does not matter where, one finds that society is in a perpetual state of conflict. There are always the powerful, the rich, the well-to-do on the one hand, and the labourers on the other; and each one is enviously competing, each one wants a higher position, a bigger salary, more power, greater prestige. That is the state of the world, and so there is always war going on both within and without.

Now, if you and I want to bring about a complete revolution in the social order, the first thing we have to understand is this instinct for the acquisition of power. Most of us want power in one form or another. We see that through wealth and power we shall be able to travel, associate with important people and become famous; or we dream of bringing about a perfect society. We think we shall achieve that which is good through power; but the very pursuit of power - power for ourselves, power for our country, power for an ideology - is evil, destructive, because it inevitably creates opposing powers, and so there is always conflict.

Is it not right, then, that education should help you, as you grow up to perceive the importance of bringing about a world in which there is no conflict either within or without, a world in which you are not in conflict with your neighbour or with any group of people because the drive of ambition, which is the desire for position and power, has utterly ceased? And is it possible to create a society in which there will be no inward or out- ward conflict? Society is the relationship between you and me; and if our relationship is based on ambition each one of us wanting to be more powerful than the other, then obviously we shall always be in conflict. So, can this cause of conflict be removed? Can we all educate ourselves not to be competitive, not to compare ourselves with somebody else, not to want this or that position - in a word, not to be ambitious at all?

When you go outside the school with you parents, when you read the newspapers or talk to people, you must have noticed that almost everybody wants to bring about a change in the world. And have you not also noticed that these very people are always in conflict with each other over something or other - over ideas, property, race, caste or religion? Your parents, your neighbours, the ministers and bureaucrats - are they not all ambitious, struggling for a better position, and therefore always in conflict with somebody? Surely, it is only when all this competitiveness is removed that there will be a peaceful society in which all of us can live happily, creatively.

Now, how is this to be done? Can regulation, legislation, or the training of your mind not to be ambitious, do away with ambition? Outwardly you may be trained not to be ambitious, socially you may cease to compete with others; but inwardly you will still be ambitious, will you not? And is it possible to sweep away completely this ambition, which is bringing so much misery to human beings? Probably you have not thought about it before, because nobody has talked to you like this; but now that somebody is talking to you about it, don't you want to find out if it is possible to live in this world richly, fully, happily, creatively, without the destructive drive of ambition, without competition? Don't you want to know how to live so that your life will not destroy another or cast a shadow across his path?

You see, we think this is a Utopian dream which can never be brought about in fact; but I am not talking about Utopia, that would be nonsense. Can you and I, who are simple, ordinary people, live creatively in this world without the drive of ambition which shows itself in various ways as the desire for power, position? You will find the right answer when you love what you are doing. If you are an engineer merely because you must earn a livelihood, or because your father or society expects it of you, that is another form of compulsion; and compulsion in any form creates a contradiction, conflict. Whereas, if you really love to be an engineer, or a scientist or if you can plant a tree, or paint a picture, or write a poem, not to gain recognition but just because you love to do it, then you will find that you never compete with another. I think this is the real key: to love what you do.

But when you are young it is often very difficult to know what you love to do, because you want to do so many things. You want to be an engineer, a locomotive driver, an airplane pilot zooming along in the blue skies; or perhaps you want to be a famous orator or politician. You may want to be an artist, a chemist, a poet or a carpenter. You may want to work with your head, or do something with your hands. Is any of these things what you really love to do, or is your interest in them merely a reaction to social pressures? How can you find out? And is not the true purpose of education to help you to find out, so that as you grow up you can begin to give your whole mind, heart and body to that which you really love to do?

To find out what you love to do demands a great deal of intelligence; because, if you are afraid of not being able to earn a livelihood, or of not fitting into this rotten society, then you will never find. But,if you are not frightened, if you refuse to be pushed into the groove of tradition by your parents, by your teachers, by the superficial demands of society, then there is a possibility of discovering what it is you really love to do. So, to discover, there must be no fear of not surviving.

But most of us are afraid of not surviving, we say, "What will happen to me if I don't do as my parents say, if I don't fit into this society?" Being frightened, we do as we are told, and in that there is no love, there is only contradiction; and this inner contradiction is one of the factors that bring about destructive ambition.

So, it is a basic function of education to help you to find out what you really love to do, so that you can give your whole mind and heart to it, because that creates human dignity, that sweeps away mediocrity, the petty bourgeois mentality. That is why it is very important to have the right teachers, the right atmosphere so that you will grow up with the love which expresses itself in what you are doing. Without this love your examinations, your knowledge, your capacities your position and possessions are just ashes, they have no meaning; without this love your actions are going to bring more wars, more hatred, more mischief and destruction.

All this may mean nothing to you, because outwardly you are still very young, but I hope it will mean something to your teachers - and also to you, somewhere inside.

Questioner: Why do you feel shy?

Krishnamurti: You know, it is an extraordinary thing in life to be anonymous - not to be famous or great, not to be very learned, not to be a tremendous reformer or revolutionary, just to be nobody; and when one really feels that way, to be suddenly surrounded by a lot of curious people creates a sense of withdrawal. That is all.

Questioner: How can we realize truth in our daily life?

Krishnamurti: You think that truth is one thing and your daily life is something else, and in your daily life you want to realize what you call truth. But is truth apart from daily life? When you grow up you will have to earn a livelihood, will you not? After all, that is what you are passing your examinations for: to prepare yourself to earn a livelihood. But many people don't care what field of work they enter as long as they are earning some money. As long as they get a job it does not matter to them if it means being a soldier, a policeman, a lawyer, or some kind of crooked business man.

Now, to find the truth of what constitutes a right means of livelihood is important, is it not? Because truth is in your life, not away from it. How you talk, what you say, how you smile, whether you are deceitful, playing up to people - all that is the truth in your daily life. So, before you become a soldier, a policeman, a lawyer or a sharp business man, must you not perceive the truth of these professions? Surely, unless you see the truth of what you do and are guided by that truth, your life becomes a hideous mess.

Let us look at the question of whether you should become a soldier, because the other professions are a little more complex. Apart from propaganda and what other people say, what is the truth concerning the profession of a soldier? If a man becomes a soldier it means that he must fight to protect his country, he must discipline his mind not to think but to obey. He must be prepared to kill or be killed - for what? For an idea that certain people, great or petty, have said is right. So you become a soldier in order to sacrifice yourself and to kill others. Is that a right profession? Don't ask somebody else, but find out for yourself the truth of the matter. You are told to kill for the sake of a marvellous Utopia in the future - as if the man who tells you knew all about the future! Do you think that killing is a right profession, whether it be for your country or for some organized religion? Is killing ever right at all?

So, if you want to discover the truth in that vital process which is your own life, you will have to inquire deeply into all these things; you will have to give your mind and heart to it. You will have to think independently, clearly, without prejudice; for truth is not away from life, it is in the very movement of your daily living.

Questioner: Don't images, Masters and saints help us to meditate rightly?

Krishnamurti: Do you know what right meditation is? Don't you want to discover for yourself the truth of the matter? And will you ever discover that truth if you accept on authority what right meditation is?

This is an immense question. To discover the art of meditation you must know the whole depth and breadth of this extraordinary process called thinking. If you accept some authority who says, "Meditate along these lines", you are merely a follower, the blind servant of a system or an idea. Your acceptance of authority is based on the hope of gaining a result, and that is not meditation. Questioner: What are the duties of a student?

Krishnamurti: What does the word `duty' mean? Duty to what? Duty to your country according to a politician? Duty to your father and mother according to their wishes? They will say it is your duty to do as they tell you; and what they tell you is conditioned by their background, their tradition, and so on. And what is a student? Is it a boy or a girl who goes to school and reads a few books in order to pass some examination? Or is only he a student who is learning all the time and for whom there is therefore no end to learning? Surely, the person who merely reads up on a subject, passes an examination, and then drops it, is not a student. The real student is studying, learning, inquiring, exploring, not just until he is twenty or twenty-five, but throughout life.

To be a student is to learn all the time; and as long as you are learning, there is no teacher, is there? The moment you are a student there is no one in particular to teach you, because you are learning from everything. The leaf that is blown by the wind, the murmur of the waters on the banks of a river, the flight of a bird high in the air, the poor man as he walks by with a heavy load, the people who think they know everything about life - you are learning from them all, therefore there is no teacher and you are not a follower.

So the duty of a student is just to learn. There was once a famous painter in Spain whose name was Goya. He was one of the greatest, and when he was a very old man he wrote under one of his paintings, "I am still learning". You can learn from books, but that does not take you very far. A book can give you only what the author has to tell. But the learning that comes through self-knowledge has no limit, because to learn through your own self-knowledge is to know how to listen, how to observe, and therefore you learn from everything: from music, from what people say and the way they say it, from anger, greed, ambition.

This earth is ours, it does not belong to the communists, the socialists, or the capitalists; it is yours and mine, to be lived on happily, richly, without conflict. But that richness of life, that happiness, that feeling, "This earth is ours", cannot be brought about by enforcement, by law. It must come from within because we love the earth and all the things thereof; and that is the state of learning.

Questioner: What is the difference between respect and love?

Krishnamurti: You can look up `respect' and `love' in a dictionary and find the answer. Is that what you want to know? Do you want to know the superficial meaning of those words, or the significance behind them?

When a prominent man comes around, a minister or a governor, have you noticed how everybody salutes him? You call that respect, don't you? But such respect is phony, because behind it there is fear, greed. You want something out of the poor devil, so you put a garland around his neck. That is not respect, it is merely the coin with which you buy and sell in the market. You don't feel respect for your servant or the villager, but only for those from whom you hope to get something. That kind of respect is really fear; it is not respect at all, it has no meaning. But if you really have love in your heart, then to you the governor, the teacher, your servant and the villager are all the same; then you have respect, a feeling for them all, because love does not ask anything in return.

Think on These Things

Part 1

This Matter of Culture Chapter 7

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