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Think on These Things

Part 1

This Matter of Culture Chapter 9

YOU KNOW, IT is very interesting to find out what learning is. We learn from a book or from a teacher about mathematics, geography, history; we learn where London is, or Moscow, or New York; we learn how a machine works, or how the birds build their nests, care for their young, and so on. By observation and study we learn. That is one kind of learning.

But is there not also another kind of learning - the learning that comes through experience? When we see a boat on the river with its sails reflected on the quiet waters, is that not an extraordinary experience? And then what happens? The mind stores up an experience of that kind, just as it stores up knowledge, and the next evening we go out there to watch the boat, hoping to have the same kind of feeling - an experience of joy, that sense of peace which comes so rarely in our lives. So the mind is sedulously storing up experience; and it is this storing up of experience as memory that makes us think, is it not? What we call thinking is the response of memory. Having watched that boat on the river and felt a sense of joy, we store up the experience as memory and then want to repeat it; so the process of thinking is set going, is it not?

You see, very few of us really know how to think. Most of us merely repeat what we have read in a book, or what somebody has told us, or our thinking is the outcome of our own very limited experience. Even if we travel all over the world and have innumerable experiences, meet many different people and hear what they have to say, observe their customs, their religions, their manners, we retain the remembrance of all that, from which there is what we call thinking. We compare, judge, choose, and through this process we hope to find some reasonable attitude towards life. But that kind of thinking is very limited, it is con- fined to a very small area. We have an experience like seeing the boat on the river, or a corpse being carried to the burning ghats, or a village woman carrying a heavy burden - all these impressions are there, but we are so insensitive that they don't sink into us and ripen; and it is only through sensitivity to everything around us that there is the beginning of a different kind of thinking which is not limited by our conditioning.

If you hold firmly to some set of beliefs or other, you look at everything through that particular prejudice or tradition; you don't have any contact with reality. Have you ever noticed the village women carrying heavy burdens to the town? When you do notice it, what happens to you, what do you feel? Or is it that you have seen these women going by so often that you have no feeling at all because you have become used to it and, so, hardly notice them? And even when you observe something for the first time, what happens? You automatically translate what you see according to your prejudices, don't you? You experience it according to your conditioning as a communist, a socialist, a capitalist, or some other `ist'. Whereas, if you are none of these things and therefore do not look through the screen of any idea or belief, but actually have the direct contact, then you will notice what an extraordinary relationship there is between you and what you observe. If you have no prejudice, no bias, if you are open, then everything around you becomes extraordinarily interesting, tremendously alive.

That is why it is very important, while you are young, to notice all these things. Be aware of the boat on the river, watch the train go by, see the peasant carrying a heavy burden, observe the insolence of the rich, the pride of the ministers, of the big people, of those who think they know a lot - just watch them, don't criticize. The moment you criticize, you are not in relationship, you already have a barrier between yourself and them, but if you merely observe, then you will have a direct relationship with people and with things. If you can observe alertly, keenly, but without judging, without concluding, you will find that your thinking becomes astonishingly acute. Then you are learning all the time.

Everywhere around you there is birth and death, the struggle for money, position, power, the unending process of what we call life; and don't you sometimes wonder, even while you are very young, what it is all about? You see, most of us want an answer, we want to be told what it is all about, so we pick up a political or religious book, or we ask somebody to tell us; but no one can tell us, because life is not something which can be understood from a book, nor can its significance be gathered by following another, or through some form of prayer. You and I must understand it for ourselves - which we can do only when we are fully alive, very alert, watchful, observant, taking interest in everything around us; and then we shall discover what it is to be really happy.

Most people are unhappy; and they are unhappy because there is no love in their hearts. Love will arise in your heart when you have no barrier between yourself and another, when you meet and observe people without judging them, when you just see the sailboat on the river and enjoy the beauty of it. Don't let your prejudices cloud your observation of things as they are; just observe, and you will discover that out of this simple observation, out of this awareness of trees, of birds, of people walking, working, smiling, something happens to you inside. Without this extraordinary thing happening to you, without the arising of love in your heart, life has very little meaning; and that is why it is so important that the educator should be educated to help you understand the significance of all these things.

Questioner: Why do we want to live in luxury?

Krishnamurti: What do you mean by luxury? Having clean clothes, keeping your body clean, eating good food - do you call that luxury? It may seem to be luxury to the man who is starving, clothed in rags, and who can't take a bath every day. So luxury varies according to one's desires; it is a matter of degree.

Now, do you know what happens to you if you are fond of luxury if you are attached to comfort and always want to sit on a sofa or in an overstuffed chair? Your mind goes to sleep. It is good to have a little bodily comfort; but to emphasize comfort, to give it great importance, is to have a sleepy mind. Have you noticed how happy most fat people are? Nothing seems to disturb them through their many layers of fat. That is a physical condition, but the mind also puts on layers of fat; it does not want to be questioned or otherwise disturbed, and such a mind gradually goes to sleep. What we now call education generally puts the student to sleep, because if he asks really sharp, penetrating questions the teacher gets very disturbed and says, "Let us get on with our lesson".

So, when the mind is attached to any form of comfort, when it is attached to a habit, to a belief, or to a particular spot which it calls `my home', it begins to go to sleep; and to understand this fact is more important than to ask whether or not we live luxuriously. The mind which is very active, alert, watchful, is never attached to comfort; luxury means nothing to it. But merely having very few clothes does not mean that one has an alert mind. The sannyasi who outwardly lives very simply may be inwardly very complex, cultivating virtue, wanting to attain truth, God. What is important is to be inwardly very simple, very austere, which is to have a mind not clogged with beliefs, with fears, with innumerable wants, for only such a mind is capable of real thinking, of exploration and discovery.

Questioner: Can there be peace in our life as long as we are struggling with our environment?

Krishnamurti: Must you not struggle with your environment? Must you not break through it? What your parents believe, your social background, your traditions, the kind of food you eat, and the things around you like religion, the priest, the rich man the poor man - all that is your environment. And must you not break through that environment by questioning it, by being in revolt against it? If you are not in revolt, if you merely accept your environment, there is a kind of peace, but it is the peace of death; whereas, if you struggle to break through the environment and find out for yourself what is true, then you will discover a different kind of peace which is not mere stagnation. it is essential to struggle with your environment. You must. Therefore peace is not important. What is important is to understand and break through your environment; and from that comes peace. But, if you seek peace by merely accepting your environment, you will be put to sleep, and then you may as well die. That is why from the tenderest age there should be in you a sense of revolt. Otherwise you will just decay, won't you?

Questioner: Are you happy or not?

Krishnamurti: I don't know. I have never thought about it. The moment you think you are happy, you cease to be happy, don't you? When you are playing and shouting with joy, what happens the moment you become conscious that you are joyous? You stop being joyous. Have you noticed it? So happiness is something which is not within the field of self-consciousness.

When you try to be good, are you good? Can goodness be practised? Or is goodness something that comes naturally because you see, observe, understand? Similarly, when you are conscious that you are happy, happiness goes out of the window. To seek happiness is absurd, because there is happiness only when you don't seek it.

Do you know what the word `humility' means? And can you cultivate humility? If you repeat every morning, "I am going to be humble", is that humility? Or does humility arise of itself when you no longer have pride, vanity? In the same way, when the things that prevent happiness are gone, when anxiety, frustration, the search for one's own security have ceased, then happiness is there, you don't have to seek it.

Why are most of you so silent? Why don't you discuss with me? You know, it is important to express your thoughts and feelings, however badly, because it will mean a great deal to you, and I will tell you why. If you begin to express your thoughts and feelings now, however hesitantly, as you grow up you will not be smothered by your environment, by your parents by society, tradition. But unfortunately your teachers don't encourage you to question, they don't ask you what you think. Questioner: Why do we cry, and what is sorrow?

Krishnamurti: A little boy wants to know why we cry and what is sorrow. When do you cry? You cry when somebody takes away your toy, or when you get hurt, or when you don't win a game, or when your teacher or your parents scold you, or when somebody hits you. As you grow older you cry less and less, because you harden yourself against life. Very few of us cry when we are older because we have lost the extraordinary sensitivity of childhood. But sorrow is not merely the loss of something, it is not just the feeling of being stopped, frustrated; sorrow is something much deeper. You see, there is such a thing as having no understanding. If there is no understanding, there is great sorrow. If the mind does not penetrate beyond its own barriers, there is misery.

Questioner: How can we become integrated without conflict?

Krishnamurti: Why do you object to conflict? You all seem to think conflict is a dreadful thing. At present you and I are in conflict, are we not? I am trying to tell you something and you don't understand; so there is a sense of friction, conflict. And what is wrong with friction, conflict, disturbance? Must you not be disturbed? Integration does not come when you seek it by avoiding conflict. It is only through conflict, and the understanding of conflict, that there is integration.

Integration is one of the most difficult things to come by, because it means a complete unification of your whole being in all that you do, in all that you say, in all that you think. You cannot have integration without understanding relationship - your relationship with society, your relationship with the poor man, the villager, the beggar, with the millionaire and the governor. To understand relationship you must struggle with it, you must question and not merely accept the values established by tradition, by your parents, by the priest, by the religion and the economic system of the society about you. That is why it is essential for you to be in revolt, otherwise you will never have integration.

Think on These Things

Part 1

This Matter of Culture Chapter 9

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