Think on These Things
Think on These Things
By J. Krishnamurti
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Part 1: This Matter of Culture
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This Matter of Culture
Culture has many aspects, and we shall plunge straightway into a broad consideration of the matter.
I WONDER IF we have ever asked ourselves what education means. Why do we go to school, why do we learn various subjects, why do we pass examinations and compete with each other for better grades? What does this so-called education mean, and what is it all about? This is really a very important question, not only for the students, but also for the parents, for the teachers, and for everyone who loves this earth. Why do we go through the struggle to be educated? Is it merely in order to pass some examinations and get a job? Or is it the function of education to prepare us while we are young to understand the whole process of life? Having a job and earning one's livelihood is necessary - but is that all? Are we being educated only for that? Surely, life is not merely a job, an occupation; life is something extraordinarily wide and profound, it is a great mystery, a vast realm in which we function as human beings. If we merely prepare ourselves to earn a livelihood, we shall miss the whole point of life; and to understand life is much more important than merely to prepare for examinations and become very proficient in mathematics, physics, or what you will.
So, whether we are teachers or students, is it not important to ask ourselves why we are educating or being educated? And what does life mean? Is not life an extraordinary thing? The birds, the flowers, the flourishing trees, the heavens, the stars, the rivers and the fish therein - all this is life. Life is the poor and the rich; life is the constant battle between groups, races and nations; life is meditation; life is what we call religion, and it is also the subtle, hidden things of the mind - the envies, the ambitions, the passions, the fears, fulfilments and anxieties. All this and much more is life. But we generally prepare ourselves to understand only one small corner of it. We pass certain examinations, find a job, get married, have children, and then become more and more like machines. We remain fearful, anxious, frightened of life. So, is it the function of education to help us understand the whole process of life, or is it merely to prepare us for a vocation, for the best job we can get?
What is going to happen to all of us when we grow to be men and women? Have you ever asked yourselves what you are going to do when you grow up? In all likelihood you will get married, and before you know where you are you will be mothers and fathers; and you will then be tied to a job, or to the kitchen, in which you will gradually wither away. Is that all that your life is going to be? Have you ever asked yourselves this question? Should you not ask it? If your family is wealthy you may have a fairly good position already assured, your father may give you a comfortable job, or you may get richly married; but there also you will decay, deteriorate. Do you see?
Surely, education has no meaning unless it helps you to understand the vast expanse of life with all its subtleties, with its extraordinary beauty, its sorrows and joys. You may earn degrees, you may have a series of letters after your name and land a very good job; but then what? What is the point of it all if in the process your mind becomes dull, weary, stupid? So, while you are young, must you not seek to find out what life is all about? And is it not the true function of education to cultivate in you the intelligence which will try to find the answer to all these problems? Do you know what intelligence is? It is the capacity, surely, to think freely without fear, without a formula, so that you begin to discover for yourself what is real, what is true; but if you are frightened you will never be intelligent. Any form of ambition, spiritual or mundane, breeds anxiety, fear; therefore ambition does not help to bring about a mind that is clear, simple, direct, and hence intelligent.
You know, it is really very important while you are young to live in an environment in which there is no fear. Most of us, as we grow older, become frightened; we are afraid of living, afraid of losing a job, afraid of tradition, afraid of what the neighbours, or what the wife or husband would say, afraid of death. Most of us have fear in one form or another; and where there is fear there is no intelligence. And is it not possible for all of us, while we are young, to be in an environment where there is no fear but rather an atmosphere of freedom - freedom, not just to do what we like, but to understand the whole process of living? Life is really very beautiful, it is not this ugly thing that we have made of it; and you can appreciate its richness, its depth, its extraordinary loveliness only when you revolt against everything - against organized religion, against tradition, against the present rotten society - so that you as a human being find out for yourself what is true. Not to imitate but to discover - that is education, is it not? It is very easy to conform to what your society or your parents and teachers tell you. That is a safe and easy way of existing; but that is not living, because in it there is fear, decay, death. To live is to find out for yourself what is true, and you can do this only when there is freedom, when there is continuous revolution inwardly, within yourself.
But you are not encouraged to do this; no one tells you to question, to find out for yourself what God is, because if you were to rebel you would become a danger to all that is false. Your parents and society want you to live safely, and you also want to live safely. Living safely generally means living in imitation and therefore in fear. Surely, the function of education is to help each one of us to live freely and without fear, is it not? And to create an atmosphere in which there is no fear requires a great deal of thinking on your part as well as on the part of the teacher, the educator.
Do you know what this means - what an extraordinary thing it would be to create an atmosphere in which there is no fear? And we must create it, because we see that the world is caught up in endless wars; it is guided by politicians who are always seeking power; it is a world of lawyers, policemen and soldiers, of ambitious men and women all wanting position and all fighting each other to get it. Then there are the so-called saints, the religious gurus with their followers; they also want power, position, here or in the next life. It is a mad world, completely confused, in which the communist is fighting the capitalist, the socialist is resisting both, and everybody is against somebody, struggling to arrive at a safe place, a position of power or comfort. The world is torn by conflicting beliefs, by caste and class distinctions, by separative nationalities, by every form of stupidity and cruelty - and this is the world you are being educated to fit into. You are encouraged to fit into the framework of this disastrous society; your parents want you to do that, and you also want to fit in.
Now, is it the function of education merely to help you to conform to the pattern of this rotten social order, or is it to give you freedom - complete freedom to grow and create a different society, a new world? We want to have this freedom, not in the future, but now, otherwise we may all be destroyed. We must create immediately an atmosphere of freedom so that you can live and find out for yourselves what is true, so that you become intelligent, so that you are able to face the world and understand it, not just conform to it, so that inwardly, deeply, psychologically you are in constant revolt; because it is only those who are in constant revolt that discover what is true, not the man who conforms, who follows some tradition. It is only when you are constantly inquiring, constantly observing, constantly learning, that you find truth, God, or love; and you cannot inquire, observe, learn, you cannot be deeply aware, if you are afraid. So the function of education, surely, is to eradicate, inwardly as well as outwardly, this fear that destroys human thought, human relationship and love.
Questioner: If all individuals were in revolt, don't you think there would be chaos in the world?
Krishnamurti: Listen to the question first, because it is very important to understand the question and not just wait for an answer. The question is: if all individuals were in revolt, would not the world be in chaos? But is the present society in such perfect order that chaos would result if everyone revolted against it? Is there not chaos now? is everything beautiful, uncorrupted? Is everyone living happily, fully, richly? Is man not against man? Is there not ambition, ruthless competition? So the world is already in chaos, that is the first thing to realize. Don't take it for granted that this is an orderly society; don't mesmerize yourself with words. Whether here in Europe, in America or Russia, the world is in a process of decay. If you see the decay, you have a challenge: you are challenged to find a way of solving this urgent problem. And how you respond to the challenge is important, is it not? If you respond as a Hindu or a Buddhist, a Christian or a communist, then your response is very limited - which is no response at all. You can respond fully, adequately only if there is no fear in you, only if you don't think as a Hindu, a communist or a capitalist, but as a total human being who is trying to solve this problem; and you cannot solve it unless you yourself are in revolt against the whole thing, against the ambitious acquisitiveness on which society is based. When you yourself are not ambitious, not acquisitive, not clinging to your own security - only then can you respond to the challenge and create a new world.
Questioner: To revolt, to learn, to love - are these three separate processes, or are they simultaneous?
Krishnamurti: Of course they are not three separate processes; it is a unitary process. You see, it is very important to find out what the question means. This question is based on theory, not on experience; it is merely verbal, intellectual, therefore it has no validity. A man who is fearless, who is really in revolt, struggling to find out what it means to learn, to love - such a man does not ask if it is one process or three. We are so clever with words, and we think that by offering explanations we have solved the problem.
Do you know what it means to learn? When you are really learning you are learning throughout your life and there is no one special teacher to learn from. Then everything teaches you - a dead leaf, a bird in flight, a smell, a tear, the rich and the poor, those who are crying, the smile of a woman, the haughtiness of a man. You learn from everything, therefore there is no guide, no philosopher, no guru. Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning.
Questioner: It is true that society is based on acquisitiveness and ambition; but if we had no ambition would we not decay?
Krishnamurti: This is really a very important question, and it needs great attention.
Do you know what attention is? Let us find out. In a class room, when you stare out of the window or pull somebody's hair, the teacher tells you to pay attention. Which means what? That you are not interested in what you are studying and so the teacher compels you to pay attention - which is not attention at all. Attention comes when you are deeply interested in something, for then you love to find out all about it; then your whole mind, your whole being is there. Similarly, the moment you see that this question - if we had no ambition, would we not decay? - is really very important, you are interested and want to find out the truth of the matter.
Now, is not the ambitious man destroying himself? That is the first thing to find out, not to ask whether ambition is right or wrong. Look around you, observe all the people who are ambitious. What happens when you are ambitious? You are thinking about yourself, are you not? You are cruel, you push other people aside because you are trying to fulfil your ambition, trying to become a big man, thereby creating in society the conflict between those who are succeeding and those who are falling behind. There is a constant battle between you and the others who are also after what you want; and is this conflict productive of creative living? Do you understand, or is this too difficult?
Are you ambitious when you love to do something for its own sake? When you are doing something with your whole being, not because you want to get somewhere, or have more profit, or greater results, but simply because you love to do it - in that there is no ambition, is there? In that there is no competition; you are not struggling with anyone for first place. And should not education help you to find out what you really love to do so that from the beginning to the end of your life you are working at something which you feel is worthwhile and which for you has deep significance? Otherwise, for the rest of your days, you will be miserable. Not knowing what you really want to do, your mind falls into a routine in which there is only boredom, decay and death. That is why it is very important to find out while you are young what it is you really love to do; and this is the only way to create a new society.
Questioner: In India, as in most other countries, education is being controlled by the government. Under such circumstances is it possible to carry out an experiment of the kind you describe?
Krishnamurti: If there were no government help, would it be possible for a school of this kind to survive? That is what this gentleman is asking. He sees everything throughout the world becoming more and more controlled by governments, by politicians, by people in authority who want to shape our minds and hearts, who want us to think in a certain way. Whether in Russia or in any other country, the tendency is towards government control of education; and this gentleman asks whether it is possible for a school of the kind I am talking about to come into being without government aid.
Now, what do you say? You know, if you think something is important, really worthwhile, you give your heart to it irrespective of governments and the edicts of society - and then it will succeed. But most of us do not give our hearts to anything, and that it why we put this sort of question. If you and I feel vitally that a new world can be brought into being, when each one of us is in complete revolt inwardly, psychologically, spiritually - then we shall give our hearts, our minds, our bodies towards creating a school where there is no such thing as fear with all its implications.
Sir, anything truly revolutionary is created by a few who see what is true and are willing to live according to that truth; but to discover what is true demands freedom from tradition, which means freedom from all fears.
I WOULD LIKE to discuss with you the problem of freedom. It is a very complex problem, needing deep study and understanding. We hear much talk about freedom, religious freedom, and the freedom to do what one would like to do. Volumes have been written on all this by scholars. But I think we can approach it very simply and directly, and perhaps that will bring us to the real solution.
I wonder if you have ever stopped to observe the marvellous glow in the west as the sun sets, with the shy young moon just over the trees? Often at that hour the river is very calm, and then everything is reflected on its surface: the bridge, the train that goes over it, the tender moon, and presently, as it grows dark, the stars. It is all very beautiful. And to observe, to watch, to give your whole attention to something beautiful, your mind must be free of preoccupations, must it not? It must not be occupied with problems, with worries, with speculations. It is only when the mind is very quiet that you can really observe, for then the mind is sensitive to extraordinary beauty; and perhaps here is a clue to our problem of freedom.
Now, what does it mean to be free? Is freedom a matter of doing what happens to suit you, going where you like, thinking what you will? This you do anyhow. Merely to have independence, does that mean freedom? Many people in the world are independent, but very few are free. Freedom implies great intelligence, does it not? To be free is to be intelligent, but intelligence does not come into being by just wishing to be free; it comes into being only when you begin to understand your whole environment, the social, religious, parental and traditional influences that are continually closing in on you. But to understand the various influences - the influence of your parents, of your government, of society, of the culture to which you belong, of your beliefs, your gods and superstitions, of the tradition to which you conform unthinkingly - to understand all these and become free from them requires deep insight; but you generally give in to them because inwardly you are frightened. You are afraid of not having a good position in life; you are afraid of what your priest will say; you are afraid of not following tradition, of not doing the right thing. But freedom is really a state of mind in which there is no fear or compulsion, no urge to be secure.
Don't most of us want to be safe? Don't we want to be told what marvellous people we are, how lovely we look, or what extraordinary intelligence we have? Otherwise we would not put letters after our names. All that kind of thing gives us self-assurance, a sense of importance. We all want to be famous people - and the moment we want to be something, we are no longer free.
Please see this, for it is the real clue to the understanding of the problem of freedom. Whether in this world of politicians, power, position and authority, or in the so-called spiritual world where you aspire to be virtuous, noble, saintly, the moment you want to be somebody you are no longer free. But the man or the woman who sees the absurdity of all these things and whose heart is therefore innocent, and therefore not moved by the desire to be somebody - such a person is free. If you understand the simplicity of it you will also see its extraordinary beauty and depth.
After all, examinations are for that purpose: to give you a position, to make you somebody. Titles, position and knowledge encourage you to be something. Have you not noticed that your parents and teachers tell you that you must amount to something in life, that you must be successful like your uncle or your grandfather? Or you try to imitate the example of some hero, to be like the Masters, the saints; so you are never free. Whether you follow the example of a Master, a saint, a teacher, a relative, or stick to a particular tradition, it all implies a demand on your part to be something; and it is only when you really understand this fact that there is freedom.
The function of education, then, is to help you from childhood not to imitate anybody, but to be yourself all the time. And this is a most difficult thing to do: whether you are ugly or beautiful, whether you are envious or jealous, always to be what you are, but understand it. To be yourself is very difficult, because you think that what you are is ignoble, and that if you could only change what you are into something noble it would be marvellous; but that never happens. Whereas, if you look at what you actually are and understand it, then in that very understanding there is a transformation. So freedom lies, not in trying to become something different, nor in doing whatever you happen to feel like doing, nor in following the authority of tradition, of your parents, of your guru, but in understanding what you are from moment to moment.
You see, you are not educated for this; your education encourages you to become something or other - but that is not the understanding of yourself. Your `self' is a very complex thing; it is not merely the entity that goes to school, that quarrels, that plays games, that is afraid, but it is also something hidden, not obvious. It is made up, not only of all the thoughts that you think, but also of all the things that have been put into your mind by other people, by books, by the newspapers, by your leaders; and it is possible to understand all that only when you don't want to be somebody, when you don't imitate, when you don't follow - which means, really, when you are in revolt against the whole tradition of trying to become something. That is the only true revolution, leading to extraordinary freedom. To cultivate this freedom is the real function of education.
Your parents, your teachers and your own desires want you to be identified with something or other in order to be happy, secure. But to be intelligent, must you not break through all the influences that enslave and crush you?
The hope of a new world is in those of you who begin to see what is false and revolt against it, not just verbally but actually. And that is why you should seek the right kind of education; for it is only when you grow in freedom that you can create a new world not based on tradition or shaped according to the idiosyncrasy of some philosopher or idealist. But there can be no freedom as long as you are merely trying to become somebody, or imitate a noble example.
Questioner: What is intelligence?
Krishnamurti: Let us go into the question very slowly, patiently, and find out. To find out is not to come to a conclusion. I don't know if you see the difference. The moment you come to a conclusion as to what intelligence is, you cease to be intelligent. That is what most of the older people have done: they have come to conclusions. Therefore they have ceased to be intelligent. So you have found out one thing right off: that an intelligent mind is one which is constantly learning, never concluding.
What is intelligence? Most people are satisfied with a definition of what intelligence is. Either they say, "That is a good explanation", or they prefer their own explanation; and a mind that is satisfied with an explanation is very superficial, therefore it is not intelligent.
You have begun to see that an intelligent mind is a mind which is not satisfied with explanations, with conclusions; nor is it a mind that believes, because belief is again another form of conclusion. An intelligent mind is an inquiring mind, a mind that is watching, learning, studying. Which means what? That there is intelligence only when there is no fear, when you are willing to rebel, to go against the whole social structure in order to find out what God is, or to discover the truth of anything.
Intelligence is not knowledge. If you could read all the books in the world it would not give you intelligence. Intelligence is something very subtle; it has no anchorage. It comes into being only when you understand the total process of the mind - not the mind according to some philosopher or teacher, but your own mind. Your mind is the result of all humanity, and when you understand it you don't have to study a single book, because the mind contains the whole knowledge of the past. So intelligence comes into being with the understanding of yourself; and you can understand yourself only in relation to the world of people, things and ideas. Intelligence is not something that you can acquire, like learning; it arises with great revolt, that is, when there is no fear - which means, really, when there is a sense of love. For when there is no fear, there is love.
If you are only interested in explanations, I am afraid you will feel that I have not answered your question. To ask what is intelligence is like asking what is life. Life is study, play, sex, work, quarrel, envy, ambition, love, beauty, truth - life is everything, is it not? But you see, most of us have not the patience earnestly and consistently to pursue this inquiry.
Questioner: Can the crude mind become sensitive?
Krishnamurti: Listen to the question, to the meaning behind the words. Can the crude mind become sensitive? If I say my mind is crude and I try to become sensitive, the very effort to become sensitive is crudity. Please see this. Don't be intrigued, but watch it. Whereas, if I recognize that I am crude without wanting to change, without trying to become sensitive, if I begin to understand what crudeness is, observe it in my life from day to day - the greedy way I eat, the roughness with which I treat people, the pride, the arrogance, the coarseness of my habits and thoughts - then that very observation transforms what is.
Similarly, if I am stupid and I say I must become intelligent, the effort to become intelligent is only a greater form of stupidity; because what is important is to understand stupidity. However much I may try to become intelligent, my stupidity will remain. I may acquire the superficial polish of learning, I may be able to quote books, repeat passages from great authors, but basically I shall still be stupid. But if I see and understand stupidity as it expresses itself in my daily life - how I behave towards my servant, how I regard my neighbour, the poor man, the rich man, the clerk - then that very awareness brings about a breaking up of stupidity. You try it. Watch yourself talking to your servant, observe the tremendous respect with which you treat a governor, and how little respect you show to the man who has nothing to give you. Then you begin to find out how stupid you are; and in understanding that stupidity there is intelligence, sensitivity. You do not have to become sensitive. The man who is trying to become something is ugly, insensitive; he is a crude person.
Questioner: How can the child find out what he is without the help of his parents and teachers?
Krishnamurti: Have I said that he can, or is this your interpretation of what I said? The child will find out about himself if the environment in which he lives helps him to do so. If the parents and teachers are really concerned that the young person should discover what he is, they won't compel him; they will create an environment in which he will come to know himself.
You have asked this question; but is it a vital problem to you? If you deeply felt that it is important for the child to find out about himself, and that he cannot do this if he is dominated by authority, would you not help to bring about the right environment? It is again the same old attitude: tell me what to do and I will do it. We don't say, "Let us work it out together". This problem of how to create an environment in which the child can have knowledge of himself is one that concerns everybody - the parents, the teachers and the children themselves. But self-knowledge cannot be imposed, understanding cannot be compelled; and if this is a vital problem to you and me, to the parent and the teacher, then together we shall create schools of the right kind.
Questioner: The children tell me that they have seen in the villages some weird phenomena, like obsession, and that they are afraid of ghosts, spirits, and so on. They also ask about death. What is one to say to all this?
Krishnamurti: In due course we shall inquire into what death is. But you see, fear is an extraordinary thing. You children have been told about ghosts by your parents, by older people, otherwise you would probably not see ghosts. Somebody has told you about obsession. You are too young to know about these things. It is not your own experience, it is the reflection of what older people have told you. And the older people themselves often know nothing about all this. They have merely read about it in some book, and think they have understood it. That brings up quite a different question: is there an experience which is uncontaminated by the past? If an experience is contaminated by the past it is merely a continuity of the past, and therefore not an original experience.
What is important is that those of you who are dealing with children should not impose upon them your own fallacies, your own notions about ghosts, your own particular ideas and experiences. This is a very difficult thing to avoid, because older people talk a great deal about all these inessential things that have no importance in life; so gradually they communicate to the children their own anxieties, fears and superstitions, and the children naturally repeat what they have heard. It is important that the older people, who generally know nothing about these things for themselves, do not talk about them in front of children, but instead help to create an atmosphere in which the children can grow in freedom and without fear.
PERHAPS SOME of you do not wholly understand all that I have been saying about freedom; but, as I have pointed out, it is very important to be exposed to new ideas, to something to which you may not be accustomed. It is good to see what is beautiful, but you must also observe the ugly things of life, you must be awake to everything. Similarly, you must be exposed to things which you perhaps don't quite understand, for the more you think and ponder over these matters which may be somewhat difficult for you, the greater will be your capacity to live richly.
I don't know if any of you have noticed, early in the morning, the sunlight on the waters. How extraordinarily soft is the light, and how the dark waters dance, with the morning star over the trees, the only star in the sky. Do you ever notice any of that? Or are you so busy, so occupied with the daily routine, that you forget or have never known the rich beauty of this earth - this earth on which all of us have to live? Whether we call ourselves communists or capitalists, Hindus or Buddhists, Moslems or Christians, whether we are blind, lame, or well and happy, this earth is ours. Do you understand? It is our earth, not somebody else's; it is not only the rich man's earth, it does not belong exclusively to the powerful rulers, to the nobles of the land, but it is our earth, yours and mine. We are nobodies, yet we also live on this earth, and we all have to live together. It is the world of the poor as well as of the rich, of the unlettered as well as of the learned; it is our world, and I think it is very important to feel this and to love the earth, not just occasionally on a peaceful morning, but all the time. We can feel that it is our world and love it only when we understand what freedom is.
There is no such thing as freedom at the present time; we don't know what it means. We would like to be free but, if you notice, everybody - the teacher, the parent, the lawyer, the policeman, the soldier, the politician, the business man - is doing something in his own little corner to prevent that freedom. To be free is not merely to do what you like, or to break away from outward circumstances which bind you, but to understand the whole problem of dependence. Do you know what dependence is? You depend on your parent, don't you? You depend on your teachers, you depend on the cook, on the postman, on the man who brings you milk, and so on. That kind of dependence one can understand fairly easily. But there is a far deeper kind of dependence which one must understand before one can be free: the dependence on another for one's happiness. Do you know what it means to depend on somebody for your happiness? It is not the mere physical dependence on another which is so binding, but the inward, psychological dependence from which you derive so-called happiness; for when you depend on somebody in that way, you become a slave. If, as you grow older, you depend emotionally on your parents, on your wife or husband, on a guru, or on some idea, there is already the beginning of bondage. We don't understand this - although most of us, especially when we are young, want to be free.
To be free we have to revolt against all inward dependence, and we cannot revolt if we don't understand why we are dependent. Until we understand and really break away from all inward dependence we can never be free, for only in that understanding can there be freedom. But freedom is not a mere reaction. Do you know what a reaction is? If I say something that hurts you, if I call you an ugly name and you get angry with me, that is a reaction - a reaction born of dependence; and independence is a further reaction. But freedom is not a reaction, and until we understand reaction and go beyond it, we are never free.
Do you know what it means to love somebody? Do you know what it means to love a tree, or a bird, or a pet animal, so that you take care of it, feed it, cherish it, though it may give you nothing in return though it may not offer you shade, or follow you, or depend on you? Most of us don't love in that way, we don't know what that means at all because our love is always hedged about with anxiety, jealousy, fear - which implies that we depend inwardly on another, we want to be loved. We don't just love and leave it there, but we ask something in return; and in that very asking we become dependent.
So freedom and love go together. Love is not a reaction. If I love you because you love me, that is mere trade, a thing to be bought in the market; it is not love. To love is not to ask anything in return, not even to feel that you are giving something - and it is only such love that can know freedom. But, you see, you are not educated for this. You are educated in mathematics, in chemistry, geography, history, and there it ends, because your parents' only concern is to help you get a good job and be successful in life. If they have money they may send you abroad, but like the rest of the world their whole purpose is that you should be rich and have a respectable position in society; and the higher you climb the more misery you cause for others, because to get there you have to compete, be ruthless. So parents send their children to schools where there is ambition, competition, where there is no love at all, and that is why a society such as ours is continually decaying, in constant strife; and though the politicians, the judges, the so-called nobles of the land talk about peace, it does not mean a thing.
Now, you and I have to understand this whole problem of freedom. We must find out for ourselves what it means to love; because if we don't love we can never be thoughtful, attentive; we can never be considerate. Do you know what it means to be considerate? When you see a sharp stone on a path trodden by many bare feet, you remove it, not because you have been asked, but because you feel for another - it does not matter who he is, and you may never meet him. To plant a tree and cherish it, to look at the river and enjoy the fullness of the earth, to observe a bird on the wing and see the beauty of its flight, to have sensitivity and be open to this extraordinary movement called life - for all this there must be freedom; and to be free you must love. Without love there is no freedom; without love, freedom is merely an idea which has no value at all. So it is only for those who understand and break away from inner dependence, and who therefore know what love is, that there can be freedom; and it is they alone who will bring about a new civilization, a different world.
Questioner: What is the origin of desire, and how can I get rid of it?
Krishnamurti: It is a young man who is asking this question; and why should he get rid of desire? Do you understand? He is a young man, full of life, vitality; why should he get rid of desire? He has been told that to be free of desire is one of the greatest virtues, and that through freedom from desire he will realize God, or whatever that ultimate something may be called; so he asks, "What is the origin of desire, and how can I get rid of it?" But the very urge to get rid of desire is still part of desire, is it not? It is really prompted by fear.
What is the origin, the source, the beginning of desire? You see something attractive, and you want it. You see a car, or a boat, and you want to possess it; or you want to achieve the position of a rich man, or become a sannyasi. This is the origin of desire: seeing, contacting, from which there is sensation, and from sensation there is desire. Now, recognizing that desire brings conflict, you ask, "How can I be free of desire?" So what you really want is not freedom from desire, but freedom from the worry, the anxiety, the pain which desire causes. You want freedom from the bitter fruits of desire, not from desire itself, and this is a very important thing to understand. If you could strip desire of pain, of suffering, of struggle, of all the anxieties and fears that go with it, so that only the pleasure remained, would you then want to be free of desire?
As long as there is the desire to gain, to achieve, to become, at whatever level, there is inevitably anxiety, sorrow, fear. The ambition to be rich, to be this or that, drops away only when we see the rottenness, the corruptive nature of ambition itself. The moment we see that the desire for power in any form - for the power of a prime minister, of a judge, of a priest, of a guru - is fundamentally evil, we no longer have the desire to be powerful. But we don't see that ambition is corrupting, that the desire for power is evil; on the contrary, we say that we shall use power for good - which is all nonsense. A wrong means can never be used towards a right end. If the means is evil, the end will also be evil. Good is not the opposite of evil; it comes into being only when that which is evil has utterly ceased.
So, if we don't understand the whole significance of desire, with its results, its by-products, merely to try to get rid of desire has no meaning.
Questioner: How can we be free of dependence as long as we are living in society?
Krishnamurti: Do you know what society is? Society is the relationship between man and man, is it not? Don't complicate it, don't quote a lot of books; think very simply about it and you will see that society is the relationship between you and me and others. Human relationship makes society; and our present society is built upon a relationship of acquisitiveness, is it not? Most of us want money, power, property, authority; at one level or another we want position, prestige, and so we have built an acquisitive society. As long as we are acquisitive, as long as we want position prestige, power and all the rest of it, we belong to this society and are therefore dependent on it. But if one does not want any of these things and remains simply what one is with great humility, then one is out of it; one revolts against it and breaks with this society.
Unfortunately, education at present is aimed at making you conform, fit into and adjust yourself to this acquisitive society. That is all your parents, your teachers and your books are concerned with. As long as you conform, as long as you are ambitious, acquisitive, corrupting and destroying others in the pursuit of position and power, you are considered a respectable citizen. You are educated to fit into society; but that is not education, it is merely a process which conditions you to conform to a pattern. The real function of education is not to turn you out to be a clerk, or a judge, or a prime minister, but to help you understand the whole structure of this rotten society and allow you to grow in freedom, so that you will break away and create a different society, a new world. There must be those who are in revolt, not partially but totally in revolt against the old, for it is only such people who can create a new world - a world not based on acquisitiveness, on power and prestige.
I can hear the older people saying, "It can never be done. Human nature is what it is, and you are talking nonsense". But we have never thought about unconditioning the adult mind, and not conditioning the child. Surely, education is both curative and preventive. You older students are already shaped, already conditioned, already ambitious; you want to be successful like your father, like the governor, or somebody else. So the real function of education is not only to help you uncondition yourself, but also to understand this whole process of living from day to day so that you can grow in freedom and create a new world - a world that must be totally different from the present one. Unfortunately, neither your parents, nor your teachers, nor the public in general are interested in this. That is why education must be a process of educating the educator as well as the student.
Questioner: Why do men fight?
Krishnamurti: Why do young boys fight? You sometimes fight with your brother, or with the other boys here, don't you? Why? You fight over a toy. Perhaps another boy has taken your ball, or your book, and therefore you fight. Grown-up people fight for exactly the same reason, only their toys are position, wealth and power. If you want power and I also want power, we fight, and that is why nations go to war. It is as simple as that, only philosophers, politicians and the so-called religious people complicate it. You know, it is a great art to have an abundance of knowledge and experience - to know the richness of life, the beauty of existence, the struggles, the miseries, the laughter, the tears - and yet keep your mind very simple; and you can have a simple mind only when you know how to love.
Questioner: What is jealousy?
Krishnamurti: Jealousy implies dissatisfaction with what you are and envy of others, does it not? To be discontented with what you are is the very beginning of envy. You want to be like somebody else who has more knowledge, or is more beautiful, or who has a bigger house, more power, a better position than you have. You want to be more virtuous, you want to know how to meditate better, you want to reach God, you want to be something different from what you are; therefore you are envious, jealous. To understand what you are is immensely difficult, because it requires complete freedom from all desire to change what you are into something else. The desire to change yourself breeds envy, jealousy; whereas, in the understanding of what you are, there is a transformation of what you are. But, you see, your whole education urges you to try to be different from what you are. When you are jealous you are told, "Now, don't be jealous, it is a terrible thing". So you strive not to be jealous; but that very striving is part of jealousy, because you want to be different.
You know, a lovely rose is a lovely rose; but we human beings have been given the capacity to think, and we think wrongly. To know how to think requires a great deal of penetration, understanding, but to know what to think is comparatively easy. Our present education consists in telling us what to think, it does not teach us how to think, how to penetrate, explore; and it is only when the teacher as well as the student knows how to think that the school is worthy of its name.
Questioner: Why am I never satisfied with anything?
Krishnamurti: A little girl is asking this question, and I am sure she has not been prompted. At her tender age she wants to know why she is never satisfied. What do you grown-up people say? It is your doing; you have brought into existence this world in which a little girl asks why she is never satisfied with anything. You are supposed to be educators, but you don't see the tragedy of this. You meditate, but you are dull, weary, inwardly dead.
Why are human beings never satisfied? Is it not because they are seeking happiness, and they think that through constant change they will be happy? They move from one job to another, from one relationship to another, from one religion or ideology to another, thinking that through this constant movement of change they will find happiness; or else they choose some backwater of life and stagnate there. Surely, contentment is something entirely different. It comes into being only when you see yourself as you are without any desire to change, without any condemnation or comparison - which does not mean that you merely accept what you see and go to sleep. But when the mind is no longer comparing, judging, evaluating, and is therefore capable of seeing what is from moment to moment without wanting to change it - in that very perception is the eternal.
Questioner: Why must we read?
Krishnamurti: Why must you read? Just listen quietly. You never ask why you must play, why you must eat, why you must look at the river, why you are cruel - do you? You rebel and ask why you must do something only when you don't like to do it. But reading, playing, laughing, being cruel, being good, seeing the river, the clouds - all this is part of life; and if you don't know how to read, if you don't know how to walk, if you are unable to appreciate the beauty of a leaf, you are not living. You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand; for all that is life.
Questioner: What is shyness?
Krishnamurti: Don't you feel shy when you meet a stranger? Didn't you feel shy when you asked that question? Wouldn't you feel shy if you had to be on this platform, as I am, and sit here talking? Don't you feel shy, don't you feel a bit awkward and want to stand still when you suddenly come upon a lovely tree, or a delicate flower, or a bird sitting on its nest? You see, it is good to be shy. But for most of us shyness implies self-consciousness. When we meet a big man, if there is such a person, we become conscious of ourselves. We think, "How important he is, so well known, and I am nobody; so we feel shy, which is to be conscious of oneself. But there is a different kind of shyness, which is really to be tender, and in that there is no self-consciousness.
WHY ARE YOU here listening to me? Have you ever considered why you listen to people at all? And what does listening to somebody mean? All of you here are sitting in front of one who is speaking. Are you listening to hear something that will confirm, tally with your own thoughts or are you listening to find out? Do you see the difference? Listening to find out has quite a different significance from listening merely to hear that which will confirm what you think. If you are here merely to have confirmation, to be encouraged in your own thinking, then your listening has very little meaning. But, if you are listening to find out, then your mind is free, not committed to anything; it is very acute, sharp, alive, inquiring, curious, and therefore capable of discovery. So, is it not very important to consider why you listen, and what you are listening to?
Have you ever sat very silently, not with your attention fixed on anything, not making an effort to concentrate, but with the mind very quiet, really still? Then you hear everything, don't you? You hear the far-off noises as well as those that are nearer and those that are very close by, the immediate sounds - which means, really that you are listening to everything. Your mind is not confined to one narrow little channel. If you can listen in this way, listen with ease, without strain, you will find an extraordinary change taking place within you, a change which comes without your volition, without your asking; and in that change there is great beauty and depth of insight.
Just try it sometime, try it now. As you are listening to me, listen not only to me, but to everything about you. Listen to all those bells, the bells of the cows and the temples; listen to the distant train and the carts on the road; and if you then come nearer still and listen to me also, you will find there is a great depth to listening. But to do this you must have a very quiet mind. If you really want to listen, your mind is naturally quiet, is it not? You are not then distracted by something happening next to you; your mind is quiet because you are deeply listening to everything. If you can listen in this way with ease, with a certain felicity, you will find an astonishing transformation taking place in your heart, in your mind - a transformation which you have not thought of, or in any way produced.
Thought is a very strange thing, is it not? Do you know what thought is? Thought or thinking for most people is something put together by the mind, and they battle over their thoughts. But if you can really listen to everything - to the lapping of the water on the bank of a river, to the song of the birds, to the crying of a child, to your mother scolding you, to a friend bullying you, to your wife or husband nagging you - then you will find that you go beyond the words, beyond the mere verbal expressions which so tear one's being.
And it is very important to go beyond the mere verbal expressions because, after all, what is it that we all want? Whether we are young or old, whether we are inexperienced or full of years, we all want to be happy, don't we? As students we want to be happy in playing our games, in studying, in doing all the little things we like to do. As we grow older we seek happiness in possessions, in money, in having a nice house, a sympathetic wife or husband, a good job. When these things no longer satisfy us, we move on to something else. We say, "I must be detached and then I shall be happy". So we begin to practise detachment. We leave our family, give up our property and retire from the world. Or we join some religious society, thinking that we shall be happy by getting together and talking about brotherhood, by following a leader, a guru, a Master, an ideal, by believing in what is essentially a self-deception, an illusion, a superstition.
Do you understand what I am talking about?
When you comb your hair, when you put on clean clothes and make yourself look nice, that is all part of your desire to be happy, is it not? When you pass your examinations and add a few letters of the alphabet after your name, when you get a job, acquire a house and other property, when you marry and have children, when you join some religious society whose leaders claim they have messages from unseen Masters - behind it all there is this extraordinary urge, this compulsion to find happiness.
But, you see, happiness does not come so easily, because happiness is in none of these things. You may have pleasure, you may find a new satisfaction, but sooner or later it becomes wearisome. Because there is no lasting happiness in the things we know. The kiss is followed by the tear, laughter by misery and desolation. Everything withers, decays. So, while you are young you must begin to find out what is this strange thing called happiness. That is an essential part of education.
Happiness does not come when you are striving for it - and that is the greatest secret, though it is very easily said. I can put it in a few simple words; but, by merely listening to me and repeating what you have heard, you are not going to be happy. Happiness is strange; it comes when you are not seeking it. When you are not making an effort to be happy, then unexpectedly, mysteriously happiness is there, born of purity, of a loveliness of being. But that requires a great deal of understanding - not joining an organization or trying to become somebody. Truth is not something to be achieved. Truth comes into being when your mind and heart are purged of all sense of striving and you are no longer trying to become somebody; it is there when the mind is very quiet, listening timelessly to everything that is happening. You may listen to these words but, for happiness to be, you have to find out how to free the mind of all fear.
As long as you are afraid of anyone or anything, there can be no happiness. There can be no happiness as long as you are afraid of your parents, your teachers, afraid of not passing examinations, afraid of not making progress, of not getting nearer to the Master, nearer to truth, or of not being approved of patted on the back. But if you are really not afraid of anything, then you will find - when you wake up of a morning, or when you are walking alone - that suddenly a strange thing happens: uninvited, unsolicited, unlooked for, that which may be called love, truth, happiness, is suddenly there. That is why it is so important for you to be educated rightly while you are young. What we now call education is not education at all, because nobody talks to you about all these things. Your teachers prepare you to pass examinations, but they do not talk to you about living, which is most important; because very few know how to live. Most of us merely survive, we somehow drag along, and therefore life becomes a dreadful thing. Really to live requires a great deal of love, a great feeling for silence, a great simplicity with an abundance of experience; it requires a mind that is capable of thinking very clearly, that is not bound by prejudice or superstition, by hope or fear. All this is life, and if you are not being educated to live, then education has no meaning. You may learn to be very tidy, have good manners, and you may pass all your examinations; but, to give primary importance to these superficial things when the whole structure of society is crumbling, is like cleaning and polishing your fingernails while the house is burning down. You see, nobody talks to you about all this, nobody goes into it with you. As you spend day after day studying certain subjects - mathematics, history, geography - so also you should spend a great deal of time talking about these deeper matters, because this makes for richness of life.
Questioner: Is not the worship of God true religion?
Krishnamurti: First of all, let us find out what is not religion. Isn't that the right approach? If we can understand what is not religion, then perhaps we shall begin to perceive something else. It is like cleaning a dirty window - one begins to see through it very clearly. So let us see if we can understand and sweep out of our minds that which is not religion; don't let us say, "I will think about it" and just play around with words. Perhaps you can do it, but most of the older people are already caught; they are comfortably established in that which is not religion and they do not want to be disturbed.
So, what is not religion? Have you ever thought about it? You have been told over and over again what religion is supposed to be - belief in God and a dozen other things - but nobody has asked you to find out what is not religion; and now you and I are going to find out for ourselves.
In listening to me, or to anyone else, do not merely accept what is said, but listen to discern the truth of the matter. If once you perceive for yourself what is not religion, then throughout your life no priest or book can deceive you, no sense of fear will create an illusion which you may believe and follow. To find out what is not religion you have to begin on the everyday level, and then you can climb. To go far you must begin near, and the nearest step is the most important one. So what is not religion? Are ceremonies religion? Doing puja over and over again - is that religion?
True education is to learn how to think, not what to think. If you know how to think, if you really have that capacity, then you are a free human being - free of dogmas, superstitions ceremonies - and therefore you can find out what religion is.
Ceremonies are obviously not religion, because in performing ceremonies you are merely repeating a formula which has been handed down to you. You may find a certain pleasure in performing ceremonies, just as others do in smoking or drinking; but is that religion? In performing ceremonies you are doing something about which you know nothing. Your father and your grandfather do it, therefore you do it, and if you don't they will scold you. That is not religion, is it?
And what is in a temple? A graven image fashioned by a human being according to his own imagination. The image may be a symbol, but it is still only an image, it is not the real thing. A symbol, a word, is not the thing it represents. The word `door' is not the door, is it? The word is not the thing. We go to the temple to worship - what? An image which is supposed to be a symbol; but the symbol is not the real thing. So why go to it? These are facts; I am not condemning; and, since they are facts, why bother about who goes to the temple, whether it be the touchable or the untouchable, the brahman or the non-brahman? Who cares? You see, the older people have made the symbol into a religion for which they are willing to quarrel, fight, slaughter; but God is not there. God is never in a symbol. So the worship of a symbol or of an image is not religion. And is belief religion? This is more complex. We began near, and now we are going a little bit farther. Is belief religion? The Christians believe in one way, the Hindus in another, the Moslems in another, the Buddhists in still another, and they all consider themselves very religious people; they all have their temples, gods, symbols, beliefs. And is that religion? Is it religion when you believe in God, in Rama, Sita, Ishwara, and all that kind of thing? How do you get such a belief? You believe because your father and your grandfather believe; or having read what some teacher like Shankara or Buddha is supposed to have said, you believe it and say it is true. Most of you just believe what the Gita says, therefore you don't examine it clearly and simply as you would any other book; you don't try to find out what is true.
We have seen that ceremonies are not religion that going to a temple is not religion, and that belief is not religion. Belief divides people. The Christians have beliefs and so are divided both from those of other beliefs and among themselves; the Hindus are everlastingly full of enmity because they believe themselves to be brahmans or non-brahmans, this or that. So belief brings enmity, division, destruction, and that is obviously not religion.
Then what is religion? If you have wiped the window clean - which means that you have actually stopped performing ceremonies, given up all beliefs, ceased to follow any leader or guru - then your mind, like the window, is clean, polished, and you can see out of it very clearly. When the mind is swept clean of image of ritual, of belief, of symbol, of all words, mantrams and repetitions, and of all fear, then what you see will be the real, the timeless, the everlasting, which may be called God; but this requires enormous insight, understanding, patience, and it is only for those who really inquire into what is religion and pursue it day after day to the end. Only such people will know what is true religion. The rest are merely mouthing words, and all their ornaments and bodily decorations, their pujas and ringing of bells - all that is just superstition without any significance. It is only when the mind is in revolt against all so-called religion that it finds the real.
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 another; 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.