Life Ahead Introduction
It seems to me that a totally different kind of morality and conduct, and an
action that springs from the understanding of the whole process of living, have
become an urgent necessity, in our world of mounting crises and problems. We
try to deal with these issues through political and organizational methods, through
economic readjustment and various reforms; but none of these things will ever
resolve the complex difficulties of human existence, though they may offer
temporary relief. All reforms, however extensive and seemingly lasting, are in
themselves merely productive of further confusion and further need of
reformation. Without understanding the whole complex being of man, mere
reformation will bring about only the confusing demand for further reforms. There
is no end to reform; and there is no fundamental solution along these lines.
Political, economic or social revolutions are not the answer either, for they
have produced appalling tyrannies, or the mere transfer of power and authority
into the hands of a different group. Such revolutions are not at any time the way
out of our confusion and conflict.
But there is a revolution which is entirely different and which must take place if
we are to emerge from the endless series of anxieties, conflicts and frustrations in
which we are caught. The revolution has to begin, not with theory and ideation,
which eventually prove worthless, but with a radical transformation in the mind
itself. Such a transforation can be brought about only through right education and
the total development of the human being. It is a revolution that must take place
in the whole of the mind and not merely in thought. Thought, after all, is only a
result and not the source. There must be radical transformation in the source and
not mere modification of the result. At present we are tinkering with results, with
symptoms. We are not bringing about a vital change, uprooting the old ways of
thought, freeing the mind from traditions and habits. It is with this vital change we
are concerned and only right education can bring it into being. 4
To inquire and to learn is the function of the mind. By learning I do not mean
the mere cultivation of memory or the accumulation of knowledge, but the
capacity to think clearly and sanely without illusion, to start from facts and not
from beliefs and ideals. There is no learning if thought originates from
conclusions. Merely to acquire information or knowledge, is not to learn. Learning
implies the love of understanding and the love of doing a thing for itself. Learning
is possible only when there is no coercion of any kind. And coercion takes many
forms, does it not? There is coercion through influence, through attachment or
threat, through persuasive encouragement or subtle forms of reward.
Most people think that learning is encouraged through comparison, whereas
the contrary is the fact. Comparison brings about frustration and merely
encourages envy, which is called competition. Like other forms of persuasion,
comparison prevents learning and breeds fear. Ambition also breeds fear.
Ambition, whether personal or identified with the collective, is always antisocial.
So-called noble ambition in relationship is fundamentally destructive.
It is necessary to encourage the development of a good mind – a mind which
is capable of dealing with the many issues of life as a whole, and which does not
try to escape from them and so become self-contradictory, frustrated, bitter or
cynical. And it is essential for the mind to be aware of its own conditioning, its
own motives and pursuits.
Since the development of a good mind is one of our chief concerns, how one
teaches becomes very important. There must be a cultivation of the totality of the
mind, and not merely the giving of information. In the process of imparting
knowledge, the educator has to invite discussion and encourage the students to
inquire and to think independently.
Authority, as `the one who knows,’ has no place in learning. The educator and
the student are both learning through their special relationship with each other;
but this does not mean that the educator disregards the orderliness of thought. 5
Orderliness of thought is not brought about by discipline in the form of assertive
statements of knowledge; but it comes into being naturally when the educator
understands that in cultivating intelligence there must be a sense of freedom.
This does not mean freedom to do whatever one likes, or to think in the spirit of
mere contradiction. It is the freedom in which the student is being helped to be
aware of his own urges and motives, which are revealed to him through his daily
thought and action.
A disciplined mind is never a free mind, noT can a mind that has suppressed
desire ever be free. It is only through understanding the whole process of desire
that the mind can be free. Discipline always limits the mind to a movement within
the framework of a particular system of thought or belief, does it not? And such a
mind is never free to be intelligent. Discipline brings about submission to
authority. It gives the capacity to function within the pattern of a society which
demands functional ability, but it does not awaken the intelligence which has its
own capacity. The mind that has cultivated nothing but capacity through memory
is like the modem electronic computer which, though it functions with astonishing
ability and accuracy, is still only a machine. Authority can persuade the mind to
think in a particular direction. But being guided to think along certain lines, or in
terms of a foregone conclusion is not to think at all; it is merely to function like a
human machine, which breeds thoughtless discontent, bringing with it frustration
and other miseries.
We are concerned with the total development of each human being, helping
him to realize his own highest and fullest capacity – not some fictitious capacity
which the educator has in view as a concept or an ideal. Any spirit of comparison
prevents this full flowering of the individual, whether he is to be a scientist or a
gardener. The fullest capacity of the gardener is the same as the fullest capacity
of the scientist when there is no comparison; but when comparison comes in,
then there is the disparagement and the envious reactions which create conflict
between man and man. Like sorrow, love is not comparative; it cannot be 6
compared with the greater or the lesser. Sorrow is sorrow, as love is love,
whether it be in the rich or in the poor.
The fullest development of every individual creates a society of equals. The
present social struggle to bring about equality on the economic or some spiritual
level has no meaning at all. Social-reforms aimed at establishing equality, breed
other forms of antisocial activity; but with right education, there is no need to seek
equality through social and other reforms, because envy with its comparison of
We must differentiate here between function and status. Status, with all its
emotional and hierarchical prestige, arises only through the comparison of
functions as the high and the low. When each individual is flowering to his fullest
capacity, there L.s then no comparison of functions; there is only the expression
of capacity as a teacher, or a prime minister, or a gardener, and so status loses
its sting of envy.
Functional or technical capacity is now recognized through having a degree
after one’s name; but if we are truly concerned with the total development of the
human being, our approach is entirely different. An individual who has the
capacity may take a degree and add letters after his name, or he may not, as he
pleases. But he will know for himself his own deep capabilities, which will not be
framed by a degree, and their expression. will not bring about that self-centred
confidence which mere technical capacity usually breeds. Such confidence is
comparative and therefore antisocial. Comparison may exist for utilitarian
purpose; but it is not for the educator to compare the capacities of his students
and give greater or lesser evaluation.
Since we are concerned with the total development of the individual, the
student may not be allowed in the beginning to choose his own subjects, because
his choice is likely to be based on passing moods and prejudices, or on finding
the easiest thing to do; or he may choose according to the immediate demands of 7
a particular need. But if he is helped to discover by himself and cultivate his
innate capacities, then he will naturally choose, not the easiest subjects, but
those through which he can express his capacities to the fullest and highest
extent. If the student is helped from the very beginning to look at life as a whole,
with all its psychological, intellectual and emotional problems, he will not be
frightened by it.
Intelligence is the capacity to deal with life as a whole; and giving grades or
marks to the student does not assure intelligence. On the contrary it degrades
human dignity. This comparative evaluation cripples the mind – which does not
mean that the teacher must not observe the progress of every student and keep a
record of it. Parents, naturally anxious to know the progress of their children, will
want a report; but il, unfortunately, they do not understand what the educator is
trying to do, the report will become an instrument of coercion to produce the
results they desire, and so undo the work of the educator.
Parents should understand the kind of education the school intends to give.
Generally they are satisfied to see their children preparing to get a degree of
some kind which will assure them of a livelihood. Very few are concerned with
more than this. Of course, they wish to see their children happy, but beyond this
vague desire very few give any thought to their total development. As most
parents desire above all else that their children should have a successful career,
they frighten or affectionately bully them into acquiring knowledge, and so the
book becomes very important; and with it there is the mere cultivation of memory,
the mere repetition without the quality of real thought behind it.
Perhaps the greatest difficulty the educator has to face is the indifference of
parent to a wider and deeper education. Most parents are concerned only with
the cultivation of some superficial knowledge which will secure their children
respectable positions in a corrupt society. So the educator not only has to
educate the children in the right way, but also to see to it that the parents do not 8
undo whatever good may have been done at the school. Really the school and
the home should be joint centres of right education, and should in no way be
opposed to each other, with the parents desiring one thing and the educator
doing something entirely different. It is very important that the parents be fully
acquainted with what the educator is doing, and be vitally interested in the total
development of their children. It is as much the responsibility of the parents to see
that this kind of education is carried out, as it is of the teachers, whose burden is
already sufficiently heavy. A total development of the child can be brought about
only when there is the right relationship between the teacher, the student and the
parents. As the educator cannot yield to the passing fancies or obstinate
demands of the parents, it is necessary for them to understand the educator and
co-operate with him, and not bring about conflict and confusion in their children.
The child’s natural curiosity, the urge to learn exists from the very beginning,
and surely this should be intelligently encouraged continually, so that it remains
vital and without distortion, and will gradually lead him to the study of a variety of
subjects. If this eagerness to learn is encouraged in the child at all times, then his
study of mathematics, geography, history, science, or any other subject, will not
be a problem to the child or to the educator. Learning is facilitated when there is
an atmosphere of happy affection and thoughtful care.
Emotional openness and sensitivity can be cultivated only when the student
feels secure in his relationship with his teachers. The feeling of being secure in
relationship is a primary need of children. There is a vast difference between the
feeling of being secure and the feeling of dependency. Consciously or
unconsciously, most educators cultivate the feeling of dependency, and thereby
subtly encourage fear – which the parents also do in their own affectionate or
aggressive manner. Dependency in the child is brought about by authoritarian or
dogmatic assertions on the part of parents and teachers as to what the child must
be and do. With dependency there is always the shadow of fear, and this fear
compels the child to obey, to conform, to accept without thought the edicts and 9
sanctions of his elders. In this atmosphere of dependency, sensitivity is crushed;
but when the child knows and feels that he is secure, his emotional flowering not
thwarted by fear.
This sense of security in the child is not the opposite of insecurity. It is the
feeling of being at ease, whether in his own home or at school, the feeling that he
can be what he is, without being compelled in any way; that he can climb a tree
and not be scolded if he falls. He can have this sense of security only when the
parents and the educators are deeply concerned with the total welfare of the
It is important in a school that the child should feel at ease, completely secure
from the very first day. This first impression is of the highest importance. But if the
educator artificially tries by various means to gain the child’s confidence and
allows him to do what he likes, then the educator is cultivating dependency; he is
not giving the child the feeling of being secure, the feeling that he is in a place
where there are people who are deeply concerned with his total welfare.
The very first impact of this new relationship based on confidence, which the
child may never have had before, will help to wards a natural communication,
without the young regarding the elders as a threat to be feared. A child who feels
secure has his own natural ways of expressing the respect which is essential for
learning. This respect is denuded of all authority and fear. When he has a feeling
of security, the child’s conduct or behaviour is not something imposed by an
elder, but becomes part of the process of learning. Because he feels secure in his
relationship with the teacher, the child will naturally be considerate; and it is only
in this atmosphere of security that emotional openness and sensitivity can flower.
Being at ease, feeling secure, the child will do what he likes; but in doing what he
likes, he will find out what is the right thing to do, and his conduct then will not be
due to resistance, or obstinacy, or suppressed feelings, or the mere expression of
a momentary urge. 10
Sensitivity means being sensitive to everything around one – to the plants, the
animals, the trees, the skies, the waters of the river, the bird on the wing; and
also to the moods of the people around one, and to the stranger who passes by.
This sensitivity brings about the quality of uncalculated, unselfish response, which
is the morality and conduct. Being sensitive, the child in his conduct will be open
and not secretive; therefore a mere suggestion on the part of the teacher will be
accepted easily, without resistance or friction.
As we are concerned with the total development of the human being, we must
understand his emotional urges, which are very much stronger than intellectual
reasoning; we must cultivate emotional capacity and not help to suppress it.
When we understand and are therefore capable of dealing with emotional as well
as intellectual issues, there will be no sense of fear in approaching them.
For the total development of the human being, solitude as a means of
cultivating sensitivity becomes a necessity. One has to know what it is to be
alone, what it is to meditate, what it is to die; and the implications of solitude, of
meditation, of death, can be known only by seeking them out. These implications
cannot be taught, they must be learnt. One can indicate, but learning by what is
indicated is not the experiencing of solitude or meditation. To experience what is
solitude and what is meditation, one must be in a state of inquiry; only a mind that
is in a state of inquiry is capable of learning. But when inquiry is suppressed by
previous knowledge, or by the authority and experience of another, then learning
becomes mere imitation, and imitation causes a human being to repeat what is
learnt without experiencing it.
Teaching is not the mere imparting of information but the cultivation of an
inquiring mind. Such a mind will penetrate into the question of what is religion,
and not merely accept the established religions with their temples and rituals. The
search for God, or truth, or whatever one may like to name it – and not the mere
acceptance of belief and dogma – is true religion. 11
Just as the student cleans his teeth every day, bathes every day, learns new
things every day, so also there must be the action of sitting quietly with others or
by himself. This solitude cannot be brought about by instruction, or urged by the
external authority of tradition, or induced by the influence of those who want to sit
quietly but are incapable of being alone. Solitude helps the mind to see itself
clearly as in a mirror, and to free itself from the vain endeavour of ambition with
all its complexities, fears and frustrations, which are the outcome of self-centred
activity. Solitude gives to the mind a stability, a constancy which is not to be
measured in terms of time. Such clarity of mind is character. The lack of
character is the state of self-contradiction. To be sensitive is to love. The word
`love’ is not love. And love is not to be divided as the love of God and the love of
man, nor is it to be measured as the love of the one and of the many. Love gives
itself abundantly as a flower gives its perfume; but we are always measuring love
in our relationship and thereby destroying it.
Love is not a commodity of the reformer or the social worker; it is not a political
instrument with which to create action. When; the politician and the reformer
speak of love, they are using the word and do not touch the reality of it; for love
cannot be employed as a means to an end, whether in the immediate or in the
far-off future. Love is of the whole earth and not of a particular field or forest. The
love of reality is not encompassed by any religion; and when organized religions
use it, it ceases to be. Societies, organized religions and authoritarian
governments, sedulous in their various activities, unknowingly destroy the love
that becomes passion in action.
In the total development of the human being through right education, the
quality of love must be nourished and sustained form the very beginning. Love is
not sentimentality, nor is it devotion. It is as strong as death. Love cannot be
bought through knowledge; and a mind that is pursuing knowledge without love is
a mind that deals in ruthlessness and aims merely at efficiency. 12
So the educator must be concerned from the very beginning with this quality of
love, which is humility, gentleness, consideration, patience and courtesy.
Modesty and courtesy are innate in the man of right education; he is considerate
to all, including the animals and plants, and this is reflected in his behaviour and
manner of talking.
The emphasis on this quality of love frees the mind from its absorption in its
ambition, greed and acquisitiveness. Does not love have about it a refinement
which expresses itself as respect and good taste? Does it not also bring about
the purification of the mind, which otherwise has a tendency to strengthen itself in
pride? Refinement in behaviour is not a self-imposed adjustment or the result of
an outward demand; it comes spontaneously with this quality of love. When there
is the understanding of love, then sex and all the complications and subtleties of
human relationship can be approached with sanity and not with excitement and
The educator to whom the total development of the human being is of primary
importance, must understand the implications of the sexual urge which plays
such an important part in our life, and be able from the very beginning to meet the
children’s natural curiosity without arousing a morbid interest. Merely to impart
biological information at the adolescent age may lead to experimental lust if the
quality of love is not felt. Love cleanses the mind of evil. Without love and
understanding on the part of the educator, merely to separate the boys from the
girls, whether by barbed wire or by edicts, only strengthens their curiosity and
stimulates that passion which is bound to degenerate into mere satisfaction. So it
is important that boys and girls be educated together rightly.
This quality of love must express itself also in doing things with one’s hands,
such as gardening, carpentry, painting, handicrafts; and through the senses, as
seeing the trees, the mountains, the richness of the earth, the poverty that men 13
have created amongst themselves; and in healing music, the song of the birds,
the murmur of running waters.
We are concerned not only with the cultivation of the mind and the awakening
of emotional sensitivity, but also with a well-rounded development a the physique,
and to this we must give considerable thought. For if the body is not healthy, vital,
it will inevitably distort thought and make for insensitivity. This is so obvious that
we need not go into it in detail. It is necessary that the body be in excellent
health, that it be given the right kind of food and have sufficient sleep. If the
senses are not alert, the body will impede the total development of the human
being. To have grace of movement and well-balanced control of the muscles,
there must be various forms of exercise, dancing and games. A body that is not
kept clean, that is sloppy and does not hold itself in good posture, is not
conducive to sensitivity of mind and emotions. The body is not the instrument of
the mind, but body, emotions and mind make up the total human being, and
unless they live together harmoniously, conflict is inevitable.
Conflict makes for insensitivity. The mind may dominate the body and
suppress the senses, but it thereby makes the body insensitive; and an
insensitive body becomes a hindrance to the full flight of the mind. The
mortification of the body is definitely not conducive to the seeking out of the
deeper layers of consciousness; for this is possible only when the mind, the
emotions and the body are not in contradiction with each other, but are integrated
and in unison, effortlessly, without being driven by any concept, belief or ideal.
In the cultivation of the mind, our emphasis should not be on concentration,
but on attention. Concentration is a process of forcing the mind to narrow down to
a point, whereas attention is without frontiers. In that process the mind is always
limited by a frontier or boundary, but when our concern is to understand the
totality of the mind, mere concentration becomes a hindrance. Attention is
limitless, without the frontiers of knowledge. Knowledge comes through 14
concentration, and any extension of knowledge is still within its own frontiers. In
the state of attention the mind can and does use knowledge, which of necessity is
the result of concentration; but the part is never the whole, and adding together
the many parts does not make for the perception of the whole. Knowledge which
is the additive process of concentration, does not bring about the understanding
of the immeasurable. The total is never within the brackets of a concentrated
So attention is of primary importance, but it does not come through the effort
of concentration. Attention is a state in which the mind is ever learning without a
centre around which knowledge gathers as accumulated experience. A mind that
is concentrated upon itself uses knowledge as a means of its own expansion; and
such activity becomes self-contradictory and antisocial.
Learning in the true sense of the word is possible only in that state of
attention, in which there is no outer or inner compulsion. Right thinking can come
about only when the mind is not enslaved by tradition and memory. It is attention
that allows silence to come upon the mind, which is the opening of the door to
creation. That is why attention is of the highest importance.
Knowledge is necessary at the functional level as a means of cultivating the
mind, and not as an end in itself. We are concerned, not with the development of
just one capacity, such as that of a mathematician, or a scientist, or a musician,
but with the total development of the student as a human being.
How is the state of attention to be brought about? It cannot be cultivated
through persuasion, comparison, reward or punishment, all of which are forms of
coercion. The elimination of fear is the beginning of attention. Fear must exist as
long as there is an urge to be or to become, which is the pursuit of success, with
all its frustrations and tortuous contradictions. You can’t teach concentration, but
attention cannot be taught just as you cannot possibly teach freedom from fear;
but we can begin to discover the causes that produce fear, and in understanding 15
these causes there is the elimination of fear. So attention arises spontaneously
when around the student there is an atmosphere of well-being, when he has the
feeling of being secure, of being at ease, and is aware of the disinterested action
that comes with love. Love does not compare, and so the envy and torture of
The general discontent which all of us experience, whether young or old, soon
finds a way to satisfaction, and thus our minds are put to sleep. Discontent is
awakened from time to time through suffering, but the mind again seeks a
gratifying solution. In this wheel of dissatisfaction and gratification the mind is
caught, and the constant awakening through pain is part of our discontent.
Discontent is the way of inquiry, but there can be no inquiry if the mind is tethered
to tradition, to ideals. Inquiry is the flame of attention.
By discontent I mean that state in which the mind understands what is, the
actual, and constantly inquires to discover further. Discontent is a movement to
go beyond the limitations of what is; and if you find ways and means of smoothing
or overcoming discontent, then you will accept the limitations of self-centred
activity and of the society in which you find yourself.
Discontent is the flame which burns away the dross of satisfaction, but most of
us seek to dissipate it in various ways. Our discontent then becomes the pursuit
of `the more’, the desire for a bigger house, a better car, and so on, all of which is
within the field of envy; and it is envy that sustains such discontent. But I am
talking of a discontent in which there is no envy, no greed for `the more’, a
discontent that is not sustained by any desire for satisfaction, This discontent is
an unpolluted state which exists in each one of us, if it is not deadened through
wrong education, through gratifying solutions, through ambition, or through the
pursuit of an ideal. When we understand the nature of real discontent, we shall
see that attention is part of this burning flame which consumes the pettiness and
leaves the mind free of the limitations of self-enclosing pursuits and gratifications. 16
So attention comes into being only when there is inquiry not based on self-
advancement or gratification. This attention must be cultivated in the child, right
from the beginning. You will find that when there is love – which expresses itself
through humility, courtesy, patience, gentleness – you are already free of the
barriers which insensitivity builds; and so you are helping to bring about in the
child this state of attention from a very tender age.
Attention is not something to be~ learnt, but you can help to awaken it in the
student by not creating around him that sense of compulsion which produces a
self-contradictory existence. Then his attention can be focussed at any moment
on any given subject, and it will not be the narrow concentration brought about
through the compulsive urge of acquisition or achievement.
A generation educated in this manner will be free of acquisitiveness and fear,
the psychological inheritance of their parents and of the society in which they are
born; and because they are so educated, they will not depend on the inheritance
of property. This matter of inheritance destroys real independence and limits
intelligence; for it breeds a false sense of security, giving a self-assurance which
has no basis and creating a darkness of the mind in which nothing new can
flourish. But a generation educated in this totally different manner which we have
been considering will create a new society; for they will have the capacity born of
that intelligence which is not hedged about by fear.
Since education is the responsibility of the parents as well as of the teachers,
we must learn the art of working together, and this is possible only when each
one of us perceives what is true. It is perception of the truth that brings us
together, and not opinion, belief or theory. There is a vast difference between the
conceptual and the factual. The conceptual may bring us together temporarily,
but there will again be separation, if our working together is only a matter of
conviction. If the truth is seen by each one of us, there may be disagreement in
detail but there will be no urge to separate. It is the foolish who break away over 17
some detail. When the truth is seen by all, the detail can never become an issue
over which there is dissension.
Most of us are used to working together along the lines of established
authority. We come together to work out a concept, or to advance an ideal, and
this requires conviction, persuasion, propaganda, and so on. Such working
together for a concept, for an ideal, is totally different from the co-operation which
comes from seeing the truth and the necessity of putting that truth into action.
Working under the stimulus of authority – whether it be the authority of an ideal, or
the authority of a person who represents that ideal – is not real cooperation. A
central authority who knows a great deal, or who has a strong personality and is
obsessed with certain ideas, may force or subtly persuade others to work with
him for what he calls the ideal; but surely this is not the working together of alert
and vital individuals. Whereas, when each one of us understands for himself the
truth of any issue, then our common understanding of that truth leads to action,
and such action is cooperation. He who cooperates because he sees the truth as
the truth, the false as the false, and the truth in the false, will also know when not
to co-operate – which is equally important.
If each one of us realizes the necessity of a fundamental revolution in
education and perceives the truth of what we have been considering, then we
shall work together without any form of persuasion. persuasion exists only when
someone takes a stand from which he is unwilling to move. When he is merely
convinced of an idea or entrenched in an opinion, he brings about opposition, and
then he or the other has to be persuaded, influenced or induced to think
differently. Such a situation will never arise when each one of us sees the truth of
the matter for himself. But if we do not see the truth and act on the basis of
merely verbal conviction or intellectual reasoning, then there is bound to be
contention, agreement or disagreement, with all the associated distortion and
useless effort. 18
It is essential that we work together, and it is as if we were building a house. If
some of us are building and others are tearing down, the house will obviously
never be built. So we must individually be very clear that we really see and
understand the necessity of bring about the kind of education that will produce a
new generation capable of dealing with the issues of life as a whole, and not as
isolated parts unrelated to the whole.
To be able to work together in this really co-operative way, we must meet
often and be alert not to get submerged in detail. Those of us who are seriously
dedicated to the bringing about of the right kind of education have the
responsibility not only of carrying out in action all that we have understood, but
also of helping others to come to this understanding. Teaching is the noblest
profession – if it can be called a profession at all. It is an art that requires, not just
intellectual attainments, but infinite patience and love. To be truly educated is to
understand our relationship to all things – to money, to property, to people, to
nature – in the vast field of our existence.
Beauty is part of this understanding, but beauty is not merely a matter of
proportion, form, taste and behaviour. Beauty is that state in which the mind has
abandoned the centre of self in the passion of simplicity. Simplicity has no end;
and there can be simplicity only when there is an austerity which is not the
outcome of calculated discipline and self-denial. This austerity is self-
abandonment, which love alone can bring about. When we have no love we
create a civilization in which beauty of form is sought without the inner vitality and
austerity of simple self-abandonment. There is no self-abandonment if there is an
immolation of oneself in good works, in ideals, in beliefs. These activities appear
to be free of the self, but in reality the self is still working under the cover of
different labels. Only the innocent mind can inquire into the unknown. But the
calculated innocence which may wear a loincloth or the robe of a monk is not that
passion of self-abandonment from which come courtesy, gentleness, humility,
patience – the expressions of love. 19
Most of us know beauty only through that which has been created or put
together – the beauty of a human form, or of a temple. We say a tree, or a house,
or the widely-running river is beautiful. And through comparison we know what
ugliness is – at least we think we do. But is beauty comparable? Is beauty that
which has been made evident, manifest? We consider beautiful a particular
picture, poem, or face, because we already know what beauty is from what we
have been taught, or from what we are familiar with and about which we have
formed an opinion. But does not beauty cease with comparison. Is beauty merely
a familiarity with the known, or is it a state of being in which there may or may not
be the created form?
We are always pursuing beauty and avoiding the ugly, and this seeking of
enrichment through the one and avoidance of the other must inevitably breed
insensitivity. Surely, to understand or to feel what beauty is, there must be
sensitivity to both the so-called beautiful and the so-called ugly. A feeling is not
beautiful or ugly, it is just a feeling. But we look at it through our religious and
social conditioning and give it a label; we say it is a good feeling or a bad feeling,
and so we distort or destroy it. When feeling is not given a label it remains
intense, and it is this passionate intensity that is essential to the understanding of
that which is neither ugliness nor manifested beauty. What has the greatest
importance is sustained feeling, that passion which is not the mere lust of self-
gratification; for it is this passion that creates beauty and, not being comparable, it
has no opposite.
In seeking to bring about a total development of the human being, we must
obviously take into full consideration the unconscious mind as well as the
conscious. Merely to educate the conscious mind without understanding the
unconscious, brings self-contradiction into human lives, with all its frustrations
and miseries. The hidden mind is far more vital than the superficial. Most
educators are concerned only with giving information or knowledge to the
superficial mind, preparing it to acquire a job and adjust itself to society. So the 20
hidden mind is never touched. All that so-called education does, is to
superimpose a layer of knowledge and technique, and a certain capacity to adjust
The hidden mind is far more potent than the superficial mind, however well
educated and capable of adjustment; and it is not something very mysterious.
The hidden or unconscious mind is the repository of racial memories. Religion,
superstition, symbol, peculiar traditions of a particular race, the influence of
literature both sacred and profane, of aspirations, frustrations, mannerisms, and
varieties of food – all these are rooted in the unconscious. The open and secret
desires with their motivations, hopes and fears, their sorrows and pleasures, and
the beliefs which are sustained through the urge for security translating itself in
various ways – these things also are contained in the hidden mind, which not only
has this extraordinary capacity to hold the residual past, but also the capacity to
influence the future. Intimations of all this are given to the superficial mind
through dreams and in various other ways when it is not wholly occupied with
The hidden mind is nothing sacred and nothing to be frightened of, nor does it
demand a specialist to expose it to the superficial mind. But because of the
hidden mind’s enormous potency, the superficial mind cannot deal with it as it
would wish. The superficial mind is to a great extent impotent in relation to its own
hidden part. However much it may try to dominate, shape, control the hidden,
because of its immediate social demands and pursuits, the superficial can only
scratch the surface of the hidden; and so there is a cleavage or contradiction
between the two. We try to bridge this chasm through discipline, through various
practices sanctions and so on; but it cannot so be bridged.
The conscious mind is occupied with the immediate, the limited present,
whereas the unconscious is under the weight of centuries, and cannot be
stemmed or turned aside by an immediate necessity. The unconscious has the 21
quality of deep time, and the conscious mind, with its recent culture, cannot deal
with it according to its passing urgencies. To eradicate self-contradiction, the
superficial mind must understand this fact and be quiescent – which does not
mean giving scope to the innumerable urges of the hidden. When there is no
resistance between the open and the hidden, then the hidden, because it has the
patience of time, will not violate the immediate.
The hidden, unexplored and un-understood mind, with its superficial part
which has been `educated’, comes into contact with the challenges and demands
of the immediate present. The superficial may respond to the challenge
adequately; but because there is a contradiction between the superficial and the
hidden, any experience of the superficial only increases the conflict between itself
and the hidden. This brings about still further experience, again widening the
chasm between the present and the past. The superficial mind, experiencing the
outer without understanding the inner, the hidden, only produces deeper and
Experience does not liberate or enrich the mind, as we generally think it does.
As long as experience strengthens the experiencer, there must be conflict. In
having experiences, a conditioned mind only strengthens its conditioning, and so
perpetuates contradiction and misery. Only for the mind that is capable of
understanding the total ways of itself, can experiencing be a liberating factor.
Once there is perception and understanding of the power and capacities of the
many layers of the hidden, then the details can be looked into wisely and
intelligently. What is important is the understanding of the hidden, and not the
mere education of the superficial mind to acquire knowledge, however necessary.
This understanding of the hidden frees the total mind from conflict, and only then
is there intelligence.
We must awaken the full capacity of the superficial mind that lives in everyday
activity, and also understand the hidden. In understanding the hidden there is a 22
total living in which self-contradiction, with its alternating sorrow and happiness,
ceases. It is essential to be acquainted with the hidden mind and aware of its
workings; but it is equally important not to be occupied with it or give it undue
significance. It is only when the mind understands the superficial and the hidden
that it can go beyond its own limitations and discover that bliss which is not of
Part One Chapter 1
Have you ever thought why you are being educated, why you are learning
history, mathematics, geography or what else? Have you ever thought why you
go to schools and colleges? Is it not very important to find out why you are being
crammed with information, with knowledge? What is all this so-called education?
Your parents send you here, perhaps because they themselves have passed
certain examinations and taken various degrees. Have you ever asked
yourselves why you are here, and have the teachers asked you why you are
here. Do the teachers know why they are here? Should you not try to find out
what all this struggle is about – this struggle to study, to pass examinations, to live
in a certain place away from home and not be frightened, to play games well and
so on? Should your teachers not help you to inquire into all this and not merely
prepare you to pass examinations?
Boys pass examinations because they know they will have to get a job, they
will have to earn a livelihood. Why do girls pass examinations? To be educated in
order to get better husbands. Don’t laugh; just think about this. Do your parents
send you away to school because you are a nuisance at home? By passing
examinations are you going to understand the whole significance of life? Some
people are very clever at passing examinations, but this does not necessarily
mean that they are intelligent. Others who do not know how to pass examinations
may be far more intelligent; they may be more capable with their hands and may
think things out more deeply than the person who merely crams in order to pass
Many boys study merely to get a job, and that is their whole aim in life. But
after getting a job, what happens? They get married, they have children – and for
the rest of their life they are caught in the machine, are they not? They become 24
clerks or lawyers or policemen; they have an everlasting struggle with their wives,
with their children; their life is a constant battle till they die.
And what happens to you girls? You get married – that is your aim, as it is also
the concern of your parents to get you married – and then you have children. If
you have a little money you are concerned about your saris and how you look;
you are worried about your quarrels with your husband and about what people
Do you see all this? Are you not aware of it in your family, in your
neighborhood? Have you noticed how it goes on all the time? Must you not find
out what is the meaning of education, why you want to be educated, why your
parents want you to be educated, why they make elaborate speeches about what
education is supposed to be doing in the world? You may be able to read Bernard
Shaw’s plays, you may be able to quote Shakespeare or Voltaire or some new
philosopher; but if you in yourself are not intelligent, if you are not creative, what
is the point of this education?
So, is it not important for the teachers as well as for the students to find out
how to be intelligent? Education does not consist in merely being able to read
and pass examinations; any clever person can do that. Education consists in
cultivating intelligence, does it not. By intelligence I do not mean cunning, or
trying to be clever in order to outdo somebody else. Intelligence, surely, is
something quite different. There is intelligence when you are not afraid. And when
are you afraid? Fear comes when you think of what people may say about you, or
what your parents may say; you are afraid of being criticized, of being punished,
of failing to pass an examination. When your teacher scolds you, or when you are
not popular in your class, in your school, in your surroundings, fear gradually
Fear is obviously one of the barriers to intelligence, is it not? And surely it is
the very essence of education to help the student – you and me – to be aware of 25
and to understand the causes of fear, so that from childhood onwards he can live
free of fear.
Are you aware that you are afraid? You do have fear, do you not? Or are you
free of fear? Are you not afraid of your parents, of your teachers, of what people
might think? Suppose you did something of which your parents and society
disapprove. Would you not be afraid? Suppose you wanted to marry a person not
of your own caste or class; would you not be afraid of what people might say? If
your future husband did not make the right amount of money, or if he did not have
position or prestige, would you not feel ashamed? Would you not be afraid that
your friends might not think well of you? And are you not afraid of disease, of
Most of us are afraid. Do not say `no’ so quickly. We may not have thought
about it; but if we do think about it we will notice that almost everybody in the
world, grown-ups as well as children, has some kind of fear gnawing at the heart.
And is it not the function of education to help each individual to be free of fear, so
that he can be intelligent? That is what we aim at in a school – which means that
the teachers themselves must really be free of fear. What is the good of teachers
talking about fearlessness if they are themselves afraid of what their neighbour
may say, afraid of their wives or their husbands?
If one has fear there can be no initiative in the creative sense of the word. To
have initiative in this sense is to do something original – to do it spontaneously,
naturally, without being guided, forced, controlled. It is to do something which you
love to do. You may often have seen a stone lying in the middle of the road, and
a car go bumping over it. Have you ever removed that stone? Or have you ever,
when out walking, observed the poor people, the peasants, the villagers, and
done something kind – done it spontaneously, naturally, out of your own heart,
without waiting to be told what to do. 26
You see, if you have fear, then all this is shut out of your life; you become
insensitive and do not observe what is going on around you. If you have fear, you
are bound by tradition, you follow some leader or guru. When you are bound by
tradition, when you are afraid of your husband or your wife, you lose your dignity
as an individual human being.
So, is it not the function of education to free you from fear, and not merely
prepare you to pass certain examinations, however necessary this may be?
Essentially, deeply, that should be the vital aim of education and of every teacher:
to help you from childhood to be completely free of fear so that when you go out
into the world you are an intelligent human being, full of real initiative. Initiative is
destroyed when you are merely copping, when you are bound by tradition,
following a political leader or a religious swami. To follow anybody is surely
detrimental to intelligence. The very process of following creates a sense of fear;
and fear shuts out the understanding of life with all its extraordinary
complications, with its struggles, its sorrows, its poverty, its riches and beauty –
the beauty of the birds, and of the sunset on the water. When you are frightened,
you are insensitive to all this.
May I suggest that you ask your teachers to explain to you what we have been
talking about. Will you do that? Find out for yourself if the teachers have
understood these things – it will help them to help you to be more intelligent, not
to be frightened. In matters of this kind we need teachers who are very intelligent
– intelligent in the right sense, not just in the sense of having passed the M.A. or
B.A. examinations. If you are interested, see if you can arrange to have a period
during the day in which to discuss and talk about all this with your teachers.
Because you are going to grow up, you are going to have husbands, wives,
children, and you will have to know what life is all about – life with its struggle to
earn a living, with its miseries, with its extraordinary beauty. All this you will have
to know and understand; and the school is the place to learn about these things.
If the teachers teach you merely mathematics and geography, history and 27
science, that is obviously not enough. The important thing for you is to be alert, to
question, to find out, so that your own initiative may be awakened. 28
Part One Chapter 2
We have been considering the problem of fear. We saw that most of us are
afraid, and that fear prevents initiative because it makes us cling to people and to
things as a creeper clings to a tree. We cling to our parents, our husbands, our
sons, our daughters, our wives, and to our possessions. That is the outward form
of fear. Being inwardly afraid, we dread to stand alone. We may have a great
many saris, jewels or other property; but inwardly, psychologically, we are very
poor. The poorer we are inwardly, the more we try to enrich ourselves outwardly
by clinging to people, to position, to property.
When we are afraid, we cling not only to outward things, but also to inward
things such as tradition. To most old people, and to people who are inwardly
insufficient and empty, tradition matters a great deal. Have you noticed this
amongst your fiends, parents and teachers? Have you noticed it in yourself? The
moment there is fear, inward fear, you try to cover it up with respectability, by
following a tradition; and so you lose initiative. Because you have no initiative and
are just following, tradition becomes very important – the tradition of what people
say, the tradition that has been handed down from the past, the tradition that has
no vitality, no zest in life because it is a mere repetition without any meaning.
When one is afraid, there is always a tendency to imitate. Have you noticed
that? People who are afraid imitate others; they cling to tradition, to their parents,
to their wives, to their brothers, to their husbands. And imitation destroys
initiative. You know, when you draw or paint a tree, you do not imitate the tree,
you do not copy it exactly as it is, which would be mere photography. To be free
to paint a tree, or a flower, or a sunset, you have to feel what it conveys to you,
the significance, the meaning of it. This is very important – to try to convey the
significance of what you see and not merely copy it, for then you begin to awaken
the creative process. And for this there must be a free mind, a mind that is not 29
burdened with tradition, with imitation. But look at your own lives and the lives
about you, how traditional, how imitative they are!
You are obliged in some matters to be imitative; as in the clothes you put on,
in the books you read, in the language you speak. These are all forms of
imitation. But it is necessary to go beyond this level and feel free to think things
out for yourself so that you do not thoughtlessly accept what somebody else
says, it does not matter who it is – a teacher in the school, a parent, or one of the
great religious teachers. To think out things for yourself, and not follow, is very
important; because following indicates fear, does it not? The moment somebody
offers you something you want – paradise, heaven, or a better job – there is fear of
not getting it; therefore you begin to accept, to follow. So long as you want
something, there is bound to be fear; and fear cripples the mind so that you
cannot be free.
Do you know what a free mind is? Have you ever observed your own mind? It
is not free, is it? You are always watching to see what your friends say about you.
Your mind is like a house enclosed by a fence or by barbed wire. In that state no
new thing can take place. A new thing can happen only when there is no fear.
And it is extremely difficult for the mind to be free of fear, because that implies
being really free of the desire to imitate, to follow, free of the desire to amass
wealth or to conform to a tradition – which does not mean that you do something
Freedom of mind comes into being when there is no fear, when the mind has
no desire to show off and is not intriguing for position or prestige. Then it has no
sense of imitation. And it is important to have such a mind – a mind really free of
tradition, which is the habit-forming mechanism of the mind.
Is this all too difficult? I don’t think it is as difficult as your geography or
mathematics. It is much easier, only you have never thought about it. You spend
perhaps ten or fifteen years of your life in school acquiring information, yet you 30
never take time – not a week, not even a day – to think fully, completely about any
of these things. That is why it all seems so difficult; but it is not really difficult at
all. On the contrary, if you give time to it you can see for yourself how your mind
works, how it operates, responds. And it is very important to begin to understand
your own mind while you are young, otherwise you will grow up following some
tradition which has very little meaning. you will imitate, which is to keep on
cultivating fear, and so you will never be free.
Have you noticed here in India how tradition-bound you are? You must marry
in a certain way, your parents choose the husband or the wife. You must perform
certain rituals; they may have no meaning, but you must perform them. You have
leaders whom you must follow. Everything about you if you have observed it,
reflects a way of life in which authority is very well established. There is the
authority of the guru, the authority of the political group, the authority of parents
and of public opinion. The older the civilization, the greater the weight of tradition
with its series of imitations; and being burdened with this weight, your mind is
never free. You may talk about political or any other kind of freedom, but you as
an individual are never really free to find out for yourself; you are always following
– following an ideal, following some guru or teacher, or some absurd superstition.
So, your whole life is hedged in, limited, confined to certain ideas; and deep
down within yourself there is fear. How can you think freely if there is fear? That
is why it is so important to be conscious of all these things. If you see a snake
and know it is venomous you move away, you don’t go near it. But you do not
know that you are caught in a series of imitations which prevent initiative; you are
caught in them unconsciously. But if you begin to be conscious of them, and of
how they hold you; if you are aware of the fact that you want to imitate because
you are afraid of what people may say, afraid of your parents or your teachers,
then you can look at these imitations in which you are caught, you can examine
them, you can study them as you study mathematics or any other subject. 31
Are you conscious, for example, why you treat women differently from men?
Why do you treat women contemptuously? At least men often do. Why do you go
to a temple, why do you perform rituals, why do you follow a guru?
You see, first you have to be aware of all these things, and then you can go
into them, you can question, study them; but if you blindly accept everything
because for the last thirty centuries it has been so, then it has no meaning, has
it? Surely, what we need in the world is not more imitators, not more leaders and
more followers. What we need now are individuals like you and me who are
beginning to examine all these problems, not superficially or casually, but more
and more deeply so that the mind is free to be creative, free to think, free to love.
Education is a way of discovering our true relationship to things, to other human
beings, and to nature. But the mind creates ideas, and these ideas become so
strong, so dominant, that they prevent us from looking beyond. As long as there
is fear, there is the following of tradition; as long as there is fear, there is imitation.
A mind that merely imitates is mechanical, is it not. It is like a machine in its
functioning; it is not creative, it does not think out problems. It may bring about
certain actions, produce certain results, but it is not creative.
Now, what we all should do – you and I as well as the teachers, the managers
and the authorities – is to go into all these problems together, so that when you
leave here you will be mature individuals, capable of thinking things out for
yourselves, and will not be dependent on some traditional stupidity. Then you will
have the dignity of a human being who is really free. That is the whole intent of
education – not merely to prepare you to pass certain examinations and then be
shunted for the rest of your life into something which you do not love to do, like
becoming a lawyer, or a clerk, or a housewife, or a breeding machine. You should
insist on having the kind of education that encourages you to think freely without
fear, that helps you to inquire, to understand; you should demand it of your
teachers. Otherwise life is a waste, is it not? You are `educated’, you pass the
B.A. or the M.A. examinations, you get a job which you dislike but because you 32
have to earn money; you are married and have children – and there you are,
stuck for the rest of your life. You are miserable, unhappy, quarrelsome; you have
nothing to look forward to except more babies, more hunger, more misery. Do
you call this the purpose of education? Surely, education should help you to be
so keenly intelligent that you do what you love to do, and not get stuck in
something stupid which makes you miserable for the rest of your life.
So, while you are young you should awaken within yourself the flame of
discontent; you should be in a state of revolution. This is the time to inquire, to
discover, to grow; therefore insist that your parents and your teachers educate
you properly. Do not be satisfied merely to sit in a classroom and absorb
information about this king or that war. Be discontented, go to your teachers and
inquire, find out. If they are not intelligent, by inquiring you will help them to be
intelligent; and when you leave the school you will be growing into maturity, into
real freedom. Then you will continue to learn right through life till you die, and you
will be a happy, intelligent human being.
Questioner: How are we to gain the habit of fearlessness?
Krishnamurti: Look at the words you have used. `Habit’ implies a movement
which is repeated over and over again. If you do something over and over again,
does that ensure anything except monotony? Is fearlessness a habit? Surely,
fearlessness comes only when you can meet the incidents of life and thrash them
out, when you can see them and examine them, but not with a jaded mind that is
caught in habit.
If you do things habitually, if you live in habits, then you are merely an imitative
machine. Habit is repetition, thoughtlessly doing the same thing over and over
again, which is a process of building a wall round yourself. If you have built a wall
round yourself through some habit, you are not free of fear, and it is the very
living within the wall that makes you afraid. When you have the intelligence to
look at everything that happens in life, which means examining every problem, 33
every incident, every thought and emotion, every reaction – only then is there
freedom from fear. 34
Part One Chapter 3
We have been talking about fear and how to be rid of it, and we have seen
how fear perverts the mind so that it is not free, creative, and is therefore without
the enormously important quality of initiative.
I think we should also consider the question of authority. You know what
authority is; but do you know how authority comes into being? The government
has authority, has it not? There is the authority of the State, of the law, of the
policeman and the solider. Your parents and your teachers have a certain
authority over you, they make you do what they think you ought to do – go to bed
at a certain time, eat the right kind of food, meet the right kind of people. They
discipline you, do they not? Why? They say it is good for your own good. Is it?
We will go into that. But first we must understand how authority arises – authority
being coercion, compulsion, the power of one person over another, of the few
over the many or the many over the few.
Because you happen to be my father or mother, have you a right over me?
What right has anyone to treat another like dirt? What do you think creates
First, obviously, there is the desire on the part of each one of to find a safe
way of behaviour; we want to be told what to do. Being confused, worried, and
not knowing what to do, we go to priest, to a teacher, to a parent or to somebody
else, seeking a way out of our confusion. Because we think he knows better then
we do, we go to the guru, or some learned man, and ask him to tell us what to do.
So, it is the desire in us to find a particular way of life, a way of conduct that
creates authority, is it not?
Say, for instance, I go to a guru. I go to him because I think he is a great man
who knows the truth, who knows God, and who can therefore give me peace. I
don’t know anything about all this for myself, so I go to him, I prostrate myself, 35
offer him flowers, I give him my devotion. I have the desire to be comforted, to be
told what to do, so I create an authority. That authority does not really exist
outside of me.
While you are young, the teacher may point out that you do not know. But if he
is at all intelligent he will help you to grow to be intelligent also; he will help you to
understand your confusion so that you do not seek authority, his own or another.
There is outward authority of the State, of the law, of the police. We create this
authority outwardly because we have property which we want to protect. The
property is ours and we don’t want anyone else to have it, so we create a
government which protects what we own. The government becomes our
authority; it is our invention, to protect us, to protect our way of life, our system of
thought. Gradually, through centuries, we establish a system of law, of authority –
the State, the government, the police, the army – to protect `me’ and `mine’.
There is also the authority of the ideal, which is not outward but inward. When
we say, «I must be good, I must not be envious, I must feel brotherly to
everybody,» we create in our minds the authority of the ideal, do we not?
Suppose I am intriguing, stupid, cruel, I want everything for myself, I want power.
That is the fact, it is what I actually am. But I think I must be brotherly because
religious people have said so, and also because it is convenient, it is profitable to
say so; therefore I create brotherhood as an ideal. I am not brotherly, but for
various reasons I want to be, so the ideal becomes my authority.
Now, in order to live according to that ideal, I discipline myself. I feel very
envious of you because you have a better coat, or a prettier sari, or more titles;
therefore I say, «I must not have envious feelings, I must be brotherly.» The ideal
has become my authority, and according to that ideal I try to live. So what
happens? My life becomes a constant battle between what I am and what I
should be. I discipline myself – and the State also disciplines me. Whether it is
communist, capitalist or socialist, the State has ideas as to how I should behave. 36
There are those who say the State is all-important. If I live in such a State and do
anything contrary to the official ideology, I am coerced by the State – that is, by
the few who control the State.
There are two parts of us, the conscious part and the unconscious part. Do
you understand what that means? Suppose you are walking along the road,
talking to a friend. Your conscious mind is occupied with your conversation, but
there is another part of you which is unconsciously absorbing innumerable
impressions – the trees, the leaves, the birds, the sunlight on the water. This
impact on the unconscious from outside is going on all the time, though your
conscious mind is occupied; and what the unconscious absorbs is much more
important than what the conscious absorbs. The conscious mind can absorb
comparatively little. You consciously absorb what is taught in school, for example,
and that is really not very much. But the unconscious mind is constantly
absorbing the interactions between you and the teacher, between you and your
friends; all this is going on underground, and this matters much more than the
mere absorption of facts on the surface. Similarly, during these talks every
morning the unconscious mind is constantly absorbing what is being said, and
later on, during the day or the week, you will suddenly remember it. That will have
a far greater effect on you than what you listen to consciously.
To come back: we create authority – the authority of the State, of the police,
the authority of the ideal, the authority of tradition. You want to do something, but
your father says, «Don’t do it.» you have to obey him, otherwise he will get angry,
and you are dependent on him for your food. He controls you through your fear,
does he not? Therefore he becomes your authority. Similarly, you are controlled
by tradition – you must do this and not that, you must wear your sari in a certain
way, you must not look at the boys or at the girls. Tradition tells you what to do;
and tradition, after all, is knowledge, is it not? There are books which tell you
what to do, the State tells you what to do, your parents tell you what to do, society
and religion tell you what to do. And what happens to you? You get crushed, you 37
are just broken. You never think, act, live vitally, for you are afraid of all these
things. You say that you must obey, otherwise you will be helpless. Which means
what? That you create authority because you are seeking a safe way of conduct,
a secure manner of living. The very pursuit of security creates authority, and that
is why you become a mere slave, a cog in a machine, living without any capacity
to think, to create.
I do not know if you paint. If you do, generally the art teacher tells you how to
paint. You see a tree and you copy it. But to paint is to see the tree and to
express on canvas or on paper what you feel about the tree, what it signifies – the
movement of the leaves with the whisper of the wind among them. To do that, to
catch the movement of light and shade, you must be very sensitive. And how can
you be sensitive to anything if you are afraid and are all the time saying, «I must
do this, I must do that, otherwise what will people think?» Any sensitivity to what is
beautiful is gradually destroyed by authority.
So, the problem arises as to whether a school of this kind should discipline
you. See the difficulties which the teachers, if they are true teachers, have to
face. You are a naughty girl or boy; if I am a teacher, should I discipline you. If I
discipline you, what happens? Being bigger than you are, having more authority
and all the rest of it, and because I am paid to do certain things, I force you to
obey. In doing so, am I not crippling your mind? Am I not beginning to destroy
your intelligence? If I force you to do a thing because I think it is right, am I not
making you stupid? And you like to be disciplined, to be forced to do things, even
though outwardly you may object. It gives you a sense of security. If you were not
forced, you think you would be really bad, you would do things which are not
right; therefore you say, «Please discipline me, help me to behave rightly.»
Now, should I discipline you, or rather help you to understand why you are
naughty, why you do this or that? This means, surely, that as a teacher or a
parent I must have no sense of authority. I must really want to help you to 38
understand your difficulties, why you are bad, why you run away; I must want you
to understand yourself. If I force you, I do not help you. If as a teacher I really
want to help you to understand yourself, it means that I can look after only a few
boys and girls. I cannot have fifty students in my class. I must have only a few, so
that I can pay individual attention to each child. Then I shall not create the
authority which coerces you to do something which you will probably do on your
own, once you understand yourself.
So, I hope you see how authority destroys intelligence. After all, intelligence
can come only when there is freedom – freedom to think, to feel, to observe, to
question. But if I compel you, I make you as stupid as I am; and this is generally
what happens in a school. The teacher thinks that he knows and that you do not
know. But what does the teacher know? Little more than mathematics or
geography. He has not solved any vital problems, he has not questioned the
enormously important things of life – and he thunders like Jupiter, or like a
So, in a school of this kind, it is important that, instead of merely being
disciplined to do what you are told, you are helped to understand, to be intelligent
and free, for then you will be able to meet all the difficulties of life without fear.
This requires a competent teacher, a teacher who is really interested in you, who
is not worried about money, about his wife and children; and it is the responsibility
of the students as well as of the teachers to create such a state of affairs. Do not
trust obey, but find out how to think through a problem for yourself. Do not say, «I
am doing this thing because my father wants me to», but find out why he wants
you to do it, why he thinks one thing is good and something else is bad. Question
him, so that you not only awaken your own intelligence, but you help him also to
But what generally happens if you begin to question your father? He
disciplines you, does he not? He is preoccupied with his work and he has not the 39
patience, he has not the love to sit down and talk over with you the enormous
difficulties of existence, of earning a livelihood, of having a wife or a husband. He
does not want to take the time to go into all this; so he pushes you away, or
sends you off to school. And in this matter the teacher is like your father, he is like
everybody else. But it is the responsibility of the teachers, of your parents, and of
all you students, to help to bring about intelligence.
Questioner: How is one to be intelligent?
Krishnamurti: What is implied in this question? You want a method by which to
be intelligent – which implies that you know what intelligence is. When you want to
go some place, you already know your destination and you only have to ask the
way. Similarly, you think you know what intelligence is, and you want a method by
which you can be intelligent. Intelligence is the very questioning of the method.
Fear destroys intelligence, does it not? Fear prevents you from examining,
questioning, inquiring; it prevents you from finding out what is true. Probably you
will be intelligent when there is no fear. So you have to inquire into the whole
question of fear, and be free of fear; and then there is the possibility of your being
intelligent. But if you say, «How am I to be intelligent?» you are merely cultivating
a method, and so you become stupid. Questioner: Everybody knows we are all
going to die. Why are we afraid of death?
Krishnamurti: Why are you afraid of death? Is it perhaps because you do not
know how to live? If you knew how to live fully, would you be afraid of death? If
you loved the trees, the sunset, the birds, the falling leaf; if you were aware of
men and women in tears, of poor people, and really felt love in your heart, would
you be afraid of death? Would you? Don’t be persuaded by me. Let us think
about it together. You do not live with joy, you are not happy, you are not vitally
sensitive to things; and is that why you ask what is going to happen when you
die. Life for you is sorrow, and so you are much more interested in death. You
feel that perhaps there will be happiness after death. But that is a tremendous 40
problem, and I do not know if you want to go into it. After all, fear is at the bottom
of all this – fear of dying, fear of living, fear of suffering. If you cannot understand
what it is that causes fear and be free of it, then it does not matter very much
whether you are living or dead.
Questioner: How can we live happily?
Krishnamurti: Do you know when you are living happily ? You know when you
are suffering, when you have physical pain. When somebody hits you or is angry
with you, you know suffering. But do you know when you are happy? Are you
conscious of your body when you are healthy? Surely, happiness is a state of
which you are unconscious, of which you are not aware. The moment you are
aware that you are happy, you cease to be happy, don’t you? But most of you
suffer; and being conscious of that, you want to escape from suffering into what
you call happiness. You want to be consciously happy; and the moment you are
consciously happy, happiness is gone. Can you ever say that you are joyous? It
is only afterwards, a moment or a week later that you say, «How happy I was,
how joyous I have been». In the actual moment you are unconscious of
happiness, and that is the beauty of it. 41
Part One Chapter 4
The problem of discipline is really quite complex, because most of us think that
through some form of discipline we shall eventually have freedom. Discipline is
the cultivation of resistance, is it not? By resisting, by building a barrier within
ourselves against something which we consider wrong, we think we shall be
more capable of understanding and of being free to live fully; but that is not a fact,
is it? The more you resist or struggle against something, the less you
comprehend it. Surely, it is only when there is freedom, real freedom to think, to
discover – that you can find out anything.
But freedom obviously cannot exist in a frame. And most of us live in a frame,
in a world enclosed by ideas, do we not? For instance, you are told by your
parents and your teachers what is right and what is wrong, what is bad and what
is beneficial. You know what people say, what the priest says, what tradition says
and what you have learned in school. All this forms a kind of enclosure within
which you live; and, living in that enclosure, you say you are free. Are you? Can a
man ever be free as long as he lives in a prison?
So, one has to break down the prison walls of tradition, and find out for oneself
what is real, what is true. One has to experiment and discover on one’s own, and
not merely follow somebody, however good, however noble and exciting that
person may be, and however happy one may feel in his presence. What has
significance is to be able to examine and not just accept all the values created by
tradition, all the things that people have said are good, beneficial, worth while.
The moment you accept, you begin to conform, to imitate; and conforming,
imitating, following, can never make one free and happy.
Our elders say that you must be disciplined. Discipline is imposed upon you by
yourself, and by others from outside. But what is important is to be free to think,
to inquire, so that you begin to find out for yourself. Unfortunately, most people do 42
not want to think, to find out; they have closed minds. To think deeply, to go into
things and discover for oneself what is true, is very difficult; it requires alert
perception, constant inquiry, and most people have neither the inclination nor the
energy for that. They say, «You know better than I do; you are my guru, my
teacher, and I shall follow you.»
So, it is very important, that from the tenderest age you are free to find out,
and are not enclosed by a wall of do’s and don’ts; for if you are constantly told
what to do and what not to do, what will happen to your intelligence? You will be
a thoughtless entity who just walks into some career, who is told by his parents
whom to marry or not to marry; and that is obviously not the action of intelligence.
You may pass your examinations and be very well off, you may have good
clothes and plenty of jewels, you may have friends and prestige; but as long as
you are bound by tradition, there can be no intelligence.
Surely, intelligence comes into being only when you are free to question, free
to think out and discover, so that your mind becomes very active, very alert and
clear. Then you are a fully integrated individual – not a frightened entity who, not
knowing what to do, inwardly feels one thing and outwardly conforms to
Intelligence demands that you break away from tradition and live on your own;
but you are enclosed by your parents’ ideas of what you should do and what you
should not do, and by the traditions of society. So there is a conflict going on
inwardly, is there not? You are all young, but I don’t think you are too young to be
aware of this. You want to do something, but your parents and teachers say,
«Don’t». So there is an inward struggle going on; and as long as you do not
resolve that struggle you are going to be caught in conflict, in pain, in sorrow,
everlastingly wanting to do something and being prevented from doing it.
If you go into it very carefully you will see that discipline and freedom are
contradictory, and that in seeking real freedom there is set going quite a different 43
process which brings its own clarification so that you must do not do certain
While you are young it is very important that you be free to find out, and be
helped to find out, what you really want to do in life. If you don’t find out while you
are young, you will never find out, you will never be free and happy individuals.
The seed must be sown now, so that you begin now to take the initiative. On the
road you have often passed villagers carrying heavy loads, have you not? What
is your feeling about them? Those poor women with torn and dirty clothes, with
insufficient food, working day after day for a pittance – do you have any feeling for
them? Or are you so frightened, so concerned about yourself, about your
examinations, about your looks, about your saris, that you never pay any
attention to them? Do you feel you are much better than they, that you belong to
a higher class and therefore need have no regard for them? When you see them
go by, what do you feel? Don’t you want to help them? No? That indicates how
you are thinking. Are you so dulled by centuries of tradition, by what your fathers
and mothers say, so conscious of belonging to a certain class, that you do not
even look at the villagers? Are you actually so blinded that you do not know what
is happening around you?
It is fear – fear of what your parents will say, of what the teachers will say, fear
of tradition, fear of life – that gradually destroys sensitivity, is it not? Do you know
what sensitivity is? To be sensitive is to feel, to receive impressions, to have
sympathy for those who are suffering, to have affection, to be aware of the things
that are happening around you. When the temple bell is ringing, are you aware of
it? Do you listen to the sound? Do you ever see the sunlight on the water? Are
you aware of the poor people, the villagers who have been controlled, trodden
down for centuries by exploiters? When you see a servant carrying a heavy
carpet, do you give him a helping hand? 44
All this implies sensitivity. But, you see, sensitivity is destroyed when one is
disciplined, when one is fearful or concerned with oneself. To be concerned about
one’s looks, about one’s saris, to think about oneself all the time – which most of
us do in some form or other – is to be insensitive, for then the mind and heart are
enclosed and one loses all appreciation of beauty.
To be really free implies great sensitivity. There is no freedom if you are
enclosed by self-interest or by various walls of discipline. As long as your life is a
process of imitation there can be no sensitivity, no freedom. It is very important,
while you are here, to sow the seed of freedom, which is to awaken intelligence;
for with that intelligence you can tackle all the problems of life. Questioner: Is it
practicable for a man to free himself from all sense of fear and at the same time
to stay with society?
Krishnamurti: What is society? A set of values a set of rules, regulations and
traditions, is it not? You see these conditions from outside and you say, «Can I
have a practical relationship with all that?» Why not? After all, if you merely fit into
that framework of values, are you free? And what do you mean by `practicable’?
Do you mean earning a livelihood? There are many things you can do to earn a
livelihood; and if you are free, can you not choose what you want to do? Is that
not practicable? Or would you consider it practicable to forget your freedom and
just fit into the framework, becoming a lawyer, a banker, a merchant, or a road
sweeper? Surely, if you are free and have cultivated your intelligence, you will
find out what is the best thing for you to do. You will brush aside all traditions and
do something which you really love to do, regardless of whether your parents and
society approve or disapprove. Because you are free, there is intelligence, and
you will do something which is completely your own, you will act as an integrated
Questioner: What is God? 45
Krishnamurti: How are you going to find out? Are you going to accept
somebody else’s information? Or are you going to try to discover for yourself what
God is? It is easy to ask questions, but to experience the truth requires a great
deal of intelligence, a great deal of inquiry and search.
So the first question is, are you going to accept what another says about God?
It does not matter who it is, Krishna, Buddha or Christ, because they may all be
mistaken – and so may your own particular guru be mistaken. Surely, to find out
what is true your mind must be free to inquire, which means that it cannot merely
accept or believe. I can give you a description of the truth, but it will not be the
same thing as your experiencing the truth for yourself. All the sacred books
describe what God is, but that description is not God. The word `God’ is not God,
is it? To find out what is true you must never accept, you must never be
influenced by what the books, the teachers or anyone else may say. If you are
influenced by them, you will find only what they want you to find. And you must
know that your own mind can create the image of what it wants; it can imagine
God with a beard, or with one eye; it can make him blue or purple. So you have to
be aware of your own desires and not be deceived by the projections of your own
wants and longings. If you long to see God in a certain form the image you see
will be according to your wishes; and that image will not be God, will it? If you are
in sorrow and want to be comforted, or if you feel sentimental and romantic in
your religious aspirations, eventually you will create a God who will supply what
you want; but it will still not be God.
So, your mind must be completely free, and only then can you find out what is
true – not by the acceptance of some superstition, nor by the reading of the so-
called sacred books, nor by the following of some guru. Only when you have this
freedom, this real freedom from external influences as well as from your own
desires and longings so that your mind is very clear – only then is it possible to
find out what God is. But if you merely sit down and speculate, then your guess is
as good as your guru’s, and equally illusory. 46
Questioner: Can we be aware of our unconscious desires?
Krishnamurti: First of all, are you aware of your conscious desires? Do you
know what desire is? Are you aware that usually you do not listen to anyone who
is saying something contrary to what you believe? Your desire prevents you from
listening. If you desire God, and somebody points out that the God you desire is
the outcome of your frustrations and fears, will you listen to him? Of course not.
You want one thing, and the truth is something quite different. You limit yourself
within your own desires. You are only half-aware of your conscious desires, are
you not? And to be aware of the desires that are deeply hidden is much more
difficult. To find out what is hidden, to discover what its own motives are the mind
which is seeking must be fairly clear and free. So, first be fully aware of your
Conscious desires; then, as you become increasingly aware of what is on the
surface, you can go deeper and deeper.
Questioner: Why are some people born in poor circumstances, while others
are rich and well-to-do?
Krishnamurti: What do you think? Instead of asking me and waiting for my
answer, why do you not find out what you feel about it? Do you think it is some
mysterious process which you call karma? In a former life you lived nobly and
therefore you are now being rewarded with wealth and position! Is that it? Or,
having acted very badly in a former life, you are paying for it in this life!
You see, this is really a very complex problem. Poverty is the, fault of society –
a society in which the greedy and the cunning exploit and rise to the top. We want
the same thing, we also want to climb the ladder and get to the top. And when all
of us want to get to the top, what happens? We tread on somebody; and the man
who is trodden on, who is destroyed, asks, «Why is life so unfair? You have
everything and I have no capacity, I have nothing». As long as we go on climbing
the ladder of success, there will always be the sick and the unfed. It is the desire
for success that has to be understood, and not why there are the rich and the 47
poor, or why some have talent and others have none. What has to be changed is
our own desire to climb, our desire to be great, to be a success. We all aspire to
succeed, do we not? There lies the fault, and not in karma or any other
explanation. The actual fact is that we all want to be at the top – perhaps not right
at the top, but at least as high up the ladder as we can climb. As long as there is
this dive to be great, to be somebody in the world, we are going to have the rich
and the poor, the exploiter and those who are exploited.
Questioner: Is God a man or a woman, or something completely mysterious?
Krishnamurti: I have just answered that question, and I am afraid you did not
listen. This country is dominated by men. Suppose I said that God is a lady, what
would you do? You would reject it because you are full of the idea that God is a
man. So you have to find out for yourself; but to find out, you must be free of all
Part One Chapter 5
We have been talking the last three or four times about fear; and as it is one of
the fundamental causes of our deterioration, I think we ought to look at it from a
different angle, a different point of view.
You know, we are always told what to think and what not to think. Books,
teachers, parents, the society around us, all tell us what to think, but they never
help us to find out how to think. To know what to think is comparatively easy,
because from early childhood our minds are conditioned by words, by phrases,
by established attitudes and prejudices. I do not know if you have noticed how the
minds of most older people are fixed; they are set like clay in a mould, and it is
very difficult to break through this mould. This moulding of the mind is its
Here in India you are conditioned to think in a certain way by centuries of
tradition; your conditioning has economic, social and religious causes. In Europe
the mind is conditioned in a somewhat different way; and in Russia, since the
revolution, the political leaders have set about conditioning the mind in still
another way. So, everywhere the mind is being conditioned, not only superficially,
consciously, but also deeply. The hidden or unconscious mind is conditioned by
the race, by the climate, by un-verbalized and un-uttered imitations.
Now, the mind cannot be free as long as it remains moulded or conditioned.
And most people think that you can never free your mind from its conditioning
that it must always be conditioned. They say that you cannot help having certain
ways of thinking, certain prejudices, and that there can be no release, no freedom
for the mind. Furthermore, the older the civilization, the greater the weight of
tradition, of authority, of discipline which burdens the mind. People who belong to
an old race, as in India, are more conditioned than those who live in America, for 49
example, where there is more social and economic freedom, and where the
people have fairly recently been pioneers.
A conditioned mind is not free because it can never go beyond its own
borders, beyond the barriers it has built around itself; that is obvious. And it is
very difficult for such a mind to free itself from its conditioning and go beyond,
because this conditioning is imposed upon it, not only by society, but by itself.
You like your conditioning because you dare not go beyond. You are frightened of
what your father and mother would say, of what society and the priest would say;
therefore you help to create the barriers which hold you. This is the prison in
which most of us are caught, and that is why your parents are always telling you –
as you in turn will tell your children – to do this and not do that.
What does generally happen in a school, especially if you like your teacher? If
you like your teacher, you want to follow him, you want to imitate him; therefore
the conditioning of your mind becomes more and more rigid, permanent. Say, for
instance, you are in a hostel under a teacher who performs his daily religious
ritual. You like the show of it, or the beauty of it, so you begin to do it too. In other
words, you are being further conditioned; and such conditioning is very effective,
because when one is young, one is eager, impressionable, imitative. I do not
know if you are creative – probably not, because your parents will not allow you to
go outside the wall, they do not want you to look beyond your conditioning. Then,
you are married off and fitted into a mould, and there you are stuck for the rest of
While you are young, you are easily conditioned, shaped, forced into a
pattern. It is said that if a child – a good, intelligent, alert child – is trained by a
priest for only seven years, the child will be so conditioned that for the rest of his
life he will continue essentially in the same way. That can happen in a school of
this kind, where the teachers themselves are not free of conditioning. They are
just like everybody else. They do their rituals, they have their fears, their desire 50
for a guru; and as you are taught by them – and also because you may like a
particular teacher, or because you see a beautiful ritual and want to do it too –
unconsciously you get caught in imitation.
Why do older people perform rituals? Because their fathers did it before them,
and also because it gives them certain feelings, sensations, it makes them
inwardly quiet. They chant some prayers, thinking that if they do not do so they
might be lost. And the young people copy them, so your imitation begins.
If the teacher himself would question all this ritualism, if he would really think
about it – which very few people ever do – , if he would use his intelligence to
examine it without prejudice, he would soon find out that it has no meaning. But
to investigate and discover the truth of the matter requires a great deal of
freedom. If you are already prejudiced in favour of something and then proceed to
investigate it, there can obviously be no investigation. You will only strengthen
your bias, your prejudice.
So, it is very important for the teachers to set about unconditioning
themselves, and also to help the children to be free of conditioning. Knowing the
conditioning influence of parents, of tradition, of society, the teacher must
encourage the children not thoughtlessly to accept, but to investigate, to question.
If you observe as you grow, you will begin to see how various influences are
moulding you, how you are not helped to think, but are told what to think.
Ultimately, if you do not revolt against this process, you become like an automatic
machine, functioning without creativity, without much original thought.
You are all afraid that if you do not fit into society, you will be unable to earn a
livelihood. If your father is a lawyer, you think that you also must be a lawyer. If
you are a girl, you submit to being married off. So what happens? You start out
as a young person with lots of vitality, and enthusiasm, but all this is gradually
destroyed by the conditioning influence of your parents and teachers with their 51
prejudices, fears and superstitions. You leave school and go out into the world
filled with information, but you have lost the vitality to inquire, the vitality to revolt
against the traditional stupidities of society. You sit here listening to all this – and
what is going to happen when you have finally passed your B.A. or M.A.
examinations? you know very well what is going to happen. Unless you are in
revolt, you will be just like the rest of the world because you dare not be
otherwise. You will be so conditioned, so moulded, that you will be afraid to strike
out on your own. Your husband will control you, or your wife will control you, and
society will tell you what you must do; so, generation after generation, imitation
goes on. There is no real initiative, there is no freedom, there is no happiness;
there is nothing but slow death. What is the point of being educated, of learning to
read and write, if you are just going to carry on like a machine? But that is what
your parents want, and it is what the world wants. The world does not want you to
think, it does not want you to be free to find out, because then you would be a
dangerous citizen, you would not fit into the established pattern. A free human
being can never feel that he belongs to any particular country, class, or type of
thinking. Freedom means freedom at every level, right through, and to think only
along a particular line is not freedom.
So while you are young it is very important to be free, not only at the
conscious level, but also deep inside. This means that you must be watchful of
yourself, more and more aware of the influences which seek to control or
dominate you; it means that you must never thoughtlessly accept, but always
question, investigate and be in revolt.
Questioner: How can we make our minds free when we live in a society full of
Krishnamurti: First you must have the urge, the demand to be free. It is like the
longing of the bird to fly, or of the waters of the river to flow. Have you this urge to
be free? If you have, then what will happen? Your parents and society try to force 52
you into a mould. Can you resist them? You will find it difficult, because you are
afraid. You are afraid of not getting a job, of not finding the right husband or the
right wife; you are afraid you will starve, or that people will talk about you. Though
you want to be free, you are afraid, so you are not going to resist. Your fear of
what people may say, or of what your parents may do, blocks you, and so you
are forced into the mould.
Now, can you say, «I want to know, and I do not mind standing. Whatever
happens, I am going to battle against the barriers of this rotten society, because I
want to be free to find out.» Can you say that? When you are frightened, can you
withstand all these barriers, all these impositions?
So, it is very important from the tenderest age to help the child to see the
implications of fear, and be free of it. The moment you are frightened, there is an
end to freedom.
Questioner: Since we have been brought up in a society based on fear, how is
it possible for us to be free of fear?
Krishnamurti: Are you aware that you are frightened? If you are, how are you
going to be free of fear? You and I have to find out, so do think it out with me.
When you are conscious that you are frightened, what do you actually do?
You run away from it, don’t you? You pick up a book, or go out for a walk; you try
to forget it. You are afraid of your parents, of society; you are conscious of that
fear, and you do not know how to resolve it. You are really frightened even to look
at it, so you run away from it in various directions. That is why you keep on
studying and passing examinations till the last moment, when you have to face
the inevitable and act. You continually try to escape from your problem, but that
will not help you to resolve it. You have to face it.
Now, can you look at your fear? If you want to examine a bird, observe the
shape of its wings, its legs, its beak, you must go very close to it, must you not? 53
Similarly, if you are afraid, you must look very closely at your fear. When you run
away from it you only increase fear.
Say, for instance, you want to give your life to something which you really
love, but your parents tell you that you must not do it and threaten you with
something terrible if you do. They say they will not give you any money, and you
are frightened. You are so frightened that you dare not even look at your fear. So
you give way, and fear continues. Questioner: What is real freedom, and how is
one to acquire it?
Krishnamurti: Real freedom is not something to be acquired, it is the outcome
of intelligence. You cannot go out and buy freedom in the market. You cannot get
it by reading a book, or by listening to someone talk. Freedom comes with
But what is intelligence? Can there be intelligence when there is fear, or when
the mind is conditioned? When your mind is prejudiced, or when you think you
are a marvellous human being, or when you are very ambitious and want to climb
the ladder of success, wordily or spiritual, can there be intelligence? When you
are concerned about yourself, when you follow or worship somebody, can there
be intelligence? Surely, intelligence comes when you understand and break away
from all this stupidity. So you have to set about it; and the first thing is to be
aware that your mind is not free. You have to observe how your mind is bound by
all these things, and then there is the beginning of intelligence, which brings
freedom. You have to find the answer for yourself. What is the use of someone
else being free when you are not, or of someone else having food when you are
To be creative, which is to have real initiative, there must be freedom; and for
freedom there must be intelligence. So you have to inquire and find out what is
preventing intelligence. You have to investigate life, you have to question social
values, everything, and not accept anything because you are frightened. 54 55
Part One Chapter 6
Perhaps we can approach the problem of fear from still another angle. Fear
does extraordinary things to most of us. It creates all kinds of illusions and
problems. Until we go into it very deeply and really understand it, fear will always
distort our actions. Fear twists our ideas and makes crooked the way of our life; it
creates barriers between people, and it certainly destroys love. So the more we
go into fear, the more we understand and are really free of it, the greater will be
our contact with all that is around us. At present our vital contacts with life are
very few, are they not? But if we can free ourselves of fear we shall have wide
contacts, deep understanding, real sympathy, loving consideration, and great will
be the extension of our horizon. So let us see if we can talk about fear from a
different point of view.
I wonder if you have noticed that most of us want some kind of psychological
safety. We want security, somebody on whom to lean. As a small child holds on
to the mother’s hand, so we want something to cling to; we want somebody to
love us. Without a sense of security, without a mental safeguard, we feel lost, do
we not? We are used to leaning on others, looking to others to guide and help us,
and without this support we feel confused, afraid, we do not know what to think,
how to act. The moment we are left to ourselves, we feel lonely, insecure,
uncertain. From this arises fear, does it not?
So we want something to give us a sense of certainty and we have safeguards
of many different kinds. We have inward as well as outward protection. When we
close the windows and doors of our house and stay inside, we feel very secure,
we feel safe, unmolested. But life is not like that. Life is constantly knocking at our
door, trying to push open our windows so that we may see more; and if out of fear
we lock the doors, bolt all the windows, the knocking only grows louder. The
closer we cling to security in any form, the more life comes and pushes us. The
more we are afraid and enclose ourselves, the greater is our suffering, because 56
life won’t leave us alone. We want to be secure but life says we cannot be; and so
our struggle begins. We seek security in society, in tradition, in our relationship
with our fathers and mothers, with our wives or husbands; but life always breaks
through the walls of our security.
We also seek security or comfort in ideas, do we not? Have you observed how
ideas come into being and how the mind clings to them? You have an idea of
something beautiful you saw when you were out for a walk, and your mind goes
back to that idea, that memory. You read a book and you get an idea to which
you cling. So you must see how ideas arise, and how they become a means of
inward comfort, security, something to which the mind clings.
Have you ever thought about this question of ideas? If you have an idea and I
have an idea, and each of us thinks that his own idea is better than the other’s,
we struggle, don’t we? I try to convince you, and you try to convince me. The
whole world is built on ideas and the conflict between them; and if you go into it,
you will find that merely clinging to an idea has no meaning. But have you noticed
how your father, your mother, your teachers, your aunts and uncles all cling hard
to what they think?
Now, how does an idea come into being? How do you get an idea? When you
have the idea of going out for a walk, for example, how does it arise? It is very
interesting to find out. If you observe you will see how an idea of that kind arises,
and how your mind clings to it, pushing everything else aside. The idea of going
out for a walk is a response to a sensation, is it not? You have gone out for a
walk before and it has left a pleasurable feeling or sensation; you want to do it
again, so the idea is created and then put into action. When you see a beautiful
car, there is a sensation, is there not? The sensation comes from the very looking
at the car. The seeing creates the sensation. From the sensation there is born the
idea, «I want that car, it is my car», and the idea then becomes very dominant. 57
We seek security in outward possessions and relationships, and also in inward
ideas or beliefs. I believe in God, in rituals, I believe that I should be married in a
certain way, I believe in reincarnation, in life after death, and so on. These beliefs
are all created by my desires, by my prejudices, and to these beliefs I cling. I
have external securities, outside the skin as it were, and also inward securities;
remove or question them, and I am afraid; I will push you away, I will battle with
you if you threaten my security.
Now, is there any such thing as security? Do you understand? We have ideas
about security. We may feel safe with our parents, or in a particular job. The way
we think, the way of our life, the way we look at things – with all this we may feel
satisfied. Most of us are very content to be enclosed in safe ideas. But can we
ever be safe, can we ever be secure, however many outward or inward
safeguards we may have? Outwardly, one’s bank may fail tomorrow, one’s father
or mother may die, there may be a revolution. But is there any safety in ideas?
We like to think we are safe in our ideas, in our beliefs, in our prejudices; but are
we? They are walls which are not real; they are merely our conceptions, our
sensations. We like to believe there is a God who is looking after us, or that we
are going to be reborn richer, more noble than we are now. That may be, or it
may not be. So we can see for ourselves, if we look into both the outward and the
inward securities, that there is no safety in life at all.
If you ask the refugees from Pakistan or from Eastern Europe, they will
certainly tell you that there is no outward security. But they feel there is security
inwardly, and they cling to that idea. You may lose your outward security, but you
are then all the more eager to build your security inwardly, and you do not want to
let it go. This implies greater fear.
If tomorrow, or in a few years time, your parents tell you whom they want you
to marry, will you be frightened? Of course not, because you have been brought
up to do exactly as you are told; you have been taught by your parents, by the 58
guru, by the priest to think along certain lines, to act in a certain manner, to hold
certain beliefs. But if you were asked to decide for yourself, would you not be
completely at a loss? If your parents told you to marry whom you like, you would
shiver, wouldn’t you? Having been thoroughly conditioned by tradition, by fears,
you don’t want to be left to decide things for yourself. In being left alone there is
danger, and you never want to be left alone. You never want to think out anything
for yourself. You never want to go out for a walk by yourself. You all want to be
doing something like active ants. You are afraid to think out any problem, to face
any of life’s demands; and being frightened, you do chaotic and absurd things.
Like a man with a begging bowl, you thoughtlessly accept whatever is offered.
Seeing all this, a really thoughtful person begins to free himself from every
kind of security, inward or outward. This is extremely difficult, because it means
that you are alone – alone in the sense that you are not dependent. The moment
you depend, there is fear; and where there is fear, there is no love. When you
love, you are not lonely. The sense of loneliness arises only when you are
frightened of being alone and of not knowing what to do. When you are controlled
by ideas, isolated by beliefs, then fear is inevitable; and when you are afraid, you
are completely blind.
So, the teachers and the parents together have to solve this problem of fear.
But unfortunately your parents are afraid of what you might do if you don’t get
married, or if you don’t get a job. They are afraid of your going wrong, or of what
people might say, and because of this fear they want to make you do certain
things. Their fear is clothed in what they call love. They want to look after you,
therefore you must do this or that. But if you go behind the wall of their so-called
affection and consideration, you will find there is fear for your safety, for your
respectability; and you also are afraid because you have depended on other
people for so long. 59
That is why it is very important that you should, from the tenderest age, begin
to question and break down these feelings of fear so that you are not isolated by
them, and are not enclosed in ideas, in traditions, in habits, but are a free human
being with creative vitality.
Questioner: Why are we afraid, even though we know that God protects us?
Krishnamurti: That is what you have been told. Your father, your mother, your
older brother have all told you that God protects you; it is an idea, to which you
cling, and still there is fear. Though you have this idea, this thought, this feeling
that God protects you, the fact is that you are afraid. Your fear is the real thing,
not your idea that you are going to be protected by God because your parents
and your tradition assert that you will be.
Now, what is actually happening? Are you being protected? Look at the
millions of people who are not protected, who are starving. Look at the villagers
who carry heavy burdens, who are hungry, dirty, with torn clothes. Are they
protected by God? Because you have more money than others, because you
have a certain social position, because your father is an official, or a collector, or
a merchant who has cleverly cheated somebody, should you be protected while
millions in the world are going without sufficient food, without proper clothing and
shelter. You hope that the poor and the starving are going to be protected by the
State, by their employers, by society, by God; but they are not going to be
protected. Really there is no protection, even though you like to feel that God will
protect you. It is just a nice idea to pacify your fear; so you do not question
anything, but just believe in God. To start with the idea that you are going to be
protected by God, has no meaning. But if you really go into this whole problem of
fear, then you will find out whether God will protect you or not.
When there is the feeling of affection, there is no fear, no exploitation, and
then there is no problem. 60
Questioner: What is society?
Krishnamurti: What is society? And what is the family? Let us find out, step by
step, how society is created, how it comes into being.
What is the family? When you say, «This is my family», what do you mean?
Your father, your mother, your brother and sister, the sense of closeness, the fact
that you are living together in the same house, the feeling that your parents are
going to protect you, the ownership of certain property, of jewels, saris, clothes –
all this is the basis of the family. There are other families like yours living in other
houses, feeling exactly the same things you feel, having the sense of `my wife’,
`my husband’, `my children’, `my house’, `my clothes’, `my car; there are many
such families living on the same piece of earth, and they come to have the feeling
that they must not be invaded by still other families. So they begin to make laws.
The powerful families build themselves into high positions, they acquire big
properties, they have more money, more clothes, more cars; they get together
and frame the laws, they tell the rest of us what to do. So gradually there comes
into being a society, with laws, regulations, police- men, with an army and a navy.
Ultimately the whole earth becomes populated by societies of various kinds. Then
people get antagonistic ideas and want to overthrow those who are established in
high positions, who have all the means of power. They break down that particular
society and form another.
Society is the relationship between people – the relationship between one
person and another, between one family and another, between one group and
another, and between the individual and the group. Human relationship is society,
the relationship between you and me. If I am very greedy, very cunning, if I have
great power and authority, I am going to push you out; and you will try to do the
same to me. So we make laws. But others come and break our laws, establishing
another set of laws, and this goes on all the time. In society, which is human
relationship, there is constant conflict. This is the simple basis of society, which 61
becomes more and more complex as human beings themselves become more
and more complex in their ideas, in their wants, in their institutions and their
Questioner: Can you be free while living in this society?
Krishnamurti: If I depend on society for my satisfaction, for my comfort, can I
ever be free? If I depend on my father for affection, for money, for the initiative to
do things, or if I depend in some way on a guru, I am not free, am I? So, is it
possible to be free as long as I am psychologically dependent? Surely, freedom is
possible only when I have capacity, initiative, when I can think independently,
when I am not afraid of what anyone says, when I really want to find out what is
true and am not greedy, envious, jealous. As long as I am envious, greedy, I am
psychologically depending on society; and as long as I depend on society in that
way, I am not free. But if I cease to be greedy, I am free.
Questioner: Why do people want to live in society when they can live alone?
Krishnamurti: Can you live alone? Questioner: I live in society because my
father and mother live in society.
Krishnamurti: To get a job, to earn a livelihood, have you not to live in society?
Can you live alone? For your food, clothing and shelter you depend on
somebody. You cannot live in isolation. No entity is completely alone. It is only in
death that you are alone. In living you are always related – related to your father,
to your brother, to the beggar, to the road-mender, to the merchant, to the
collector. You are always related; and because you do not understand that
relationship, there is conflict. But if you understand the relationship between
yourself and another, there is no conflict, and then the question of living alone
does not arise.
Questioner: Since we are always related to one another, is it not true that we
can never be absolutely free? 62
Krishnamurti: We don’t understand what relationship is, right relationship.
Suppose I depend on you for my gratification, for my comfort, for my sense of
security; how can I ever be free? But if I do not depend in that way, I am still
related to you, am I not? I depend on you for some kind of emotional, physical or
intellectual comfort, therefore I am not free. I cling to my parents because I want
some kind of safety, which means that my relationship to them is one of
dependence and is based on fear. How then can I have any relationship which is
free? There is freedom in relationship only when there is no fear. So, to have right
relationship, I must set about freeing myself from this psychological dependency
which breeds fear.
Questioner: How can we be free when our parents depend on us in their old
Krishnamurti: Because they are old, they depend on you to support them. So
what happens? They expect you to earn a livelihood that will enable you to clothe
and feed them; and if what you want to do is to become a carpenter or an artist,
even though you may earn no money at all, they will say that you must not do it
because you have to support them. Just think about this. I am not saying it is
good or bad. By saying it is good or bad we put an end to thinking. Your parents
demand that you should provide for them prevents you from living your own life,
and living your own life is considered selfish; so you become the slave of your
You may say that the State should look after old people through old age
pensions and various other means of security. But in a country where there is
overpopulation, insufficiency of national income, lack of productivity and so on,
the State cannot look after old people. So elderly parents depend on the young,
and the young always fit into the groove of tradition and are destroyed. But this is
not a problem to be discussed by me. You all have to think about it and work it
I naturally want to support my parents within reasonable limits. But suppose I
also want to do something which pays very little. Suppose I want to become a
religious person and live my life to finding out what God is, what truth is. That way
of living may not bring me any money, and if I pursue it I may have to give up my
family – which means they will probably starve, like millions of other people. What
am I to do? As long as I am afraid of what people will say – that I am not a dutiful
son, that I am an unworthy son – I shall never be a creative human being. To be a
happy, creative human being, I must have a great deal of initiative.
Questioner: Would it be good on our part to allow our parents to starve?
Krishnamurti: You are not putting it in the right way. Suppose I really want to
become an artist, a painter, and I know painting will bring me very little money.
What am I to do? Sacrifice my deep urge to paint and become a clerk? That is
what generally happens, is it not? I become a clerk, and for the rest of my life I
am in great conflict, I am in misery; and because I am suffering, frustrated, I make
life miserable for my wife and children. But if, as a young artist, I see the
significance of all this, I say to my parents, «I want to paint and I will give you what
I can from the little I have; that is all I can do».
You have asked certain questions, and I have answered them. But if you do
not really think about these questions, if you do not go into them for yourself more
and more deeply and approach them from different angles, look at them in
different ways, then you will only say, «This is good and that is bad; this is duty
and that is not duty; this is right and that is wrong» – and this will not lead you any
further. Whereas, if you and I think about all these questions together, and if you
and your parents and teachers discuss them, go into them, then your intelligence
will be awakened, and when these problems arise in your daily life you will be
able to meet them. But you will not be able to meet them if you merely accept
what I am saying. My answers to your questions are only intended to awaken 64
your intelligence, so that you will think out these problems for yourself and thus
be capable of meeting life rightly. 65
Part One Chapter 7
You know I have been talking about fear; and it is very important for us to be
conscious and aware of fear. Do you know how it comes into being? Throughout
the world we can see that people are perverted by fear, twisted in their ideas, in
their feelings, in their activities. So we ought to go into the problem of fear from
every possible angle, not only from the moral and economic viewpoint of society,
but also from the point of view of our inward, psychological struggles.
As I have said, fear for outward and inward security twists the mind and
distorts our thinking. I hope you have thought a little about this, because the more
clearly you consider this and see the truth of it, the freer you will be from all
dependence. The older people have not brought about a marvellous society; the
parents, the ministers, the teachers, the rulers, the priests have not created a
beautiful world. On the contrary, they have created a frightful, brutal world in
which everybody is fighting somebody; in which one group is against another,
one class against another, one nation against another, one ideology or set of
beliefs against another. The world in which you are growing up is an ugly world, a
sorrowful world, where the older people try to smother you with their ideas, their
beliefs, their ugliness; and if you are merely going to follow the ugly pattern of the
older people who have brought about this monstrous society, what is the point of
being educated, what is the point of living at all?
If you look around you will see that throughout the world there is appalling
destruction and human misery. You may read about wars in history, but you do
not know the actuality of it, how cities are completely destroyed, how the
hydrogen bomb, when dropped on an island, causes the whole island to
disappear. Ships are bombed and they go up into thin air. There is appalling
destruction due to this so-called advancement, and it is in such a world you are
growing up. You may have a good time while you are young, a happy time; but
when you grow older, unless you are very alert, watchful of your thoughts, of your 66
feelings, you will perpetuate this world of battles, of ruthless ambitions, a world
where each one is competing with another, where there is misery, starvation,
overpopulation and disease.
So, while you are young, is it not very important for you to be helped by the
right kind of teacher to think about all these things, and not just be taught to pass
some dull examinations? Life is sorrow, death, love, hate, cruelty, disease,
starvation, and you have to begin to consider all these things. That is why I feel it
is good that you and I should go into these problems together, so that your
intelligence is awakened and you begin to have some real feeling about all these
things. Then you will not grow up just to be married off and become a thoughtless
clerk or a breeding machine, losing yourself in this ugly pattern of life like waters
in the sands.
One of the causes of fear is ambition, is it not? And are you all not ambitious?
What is your ambition? To pass some examination? To become a governor? Or,
if you are very young, perhaps you just want to become an engine-driver, to drive
engines across a bridge. But why are you ambitious? What does it mean? Have
you ever thought about it? Have you noticed older people, how ambitious they
are? In your own family, have you not heard your father or your uncle talk about
getting more salary, or occupying some prominent position? In our society – and I
have explained what our society is, everybody is doing that, trying to be on top.
They all want to become somebody, do they not? The clerk wants to become the
manager, the manager wants to become something bigger, and so on and so on –
the continual struggle to become. If I am a teacher, I want to become the
principal; if I am the principal, I want to become the manager. If you are ugly, you
want to be beautiful. Or you want to have more money, more saris, more clothes,
more furniture, houses, property – more and more and more. Not only outwardly,
but also inwardly, in the so-called spiritual sense, you want to become somebody,
though you cover that ambition by a lot of words. Have you not noticed that? And 67
you think it is perfectly all right, don’t you? You think it is perfectly normal,
Now, what has ambition done in the world? So few of us have ever thought
about it. When you see a man struggling to gain, to achieve, to get ahead of
somebody else, have you ever asked yourself what is in his heart? If you will look
into your own heart when you are ambitious, when you are struggling to become
somebody, spiritually or in the wordily sense, you will find there the worm of fear.
The ambitious man is the most frightened of men, because he is afraid to be what
he is. He says, «If remain what I am, I shall be nobody, therefore I must be
somebody, I must become a magistrate, a judge, a minister». If you examine this
process very closely, if you go behind the screen of words and ideas, beyond the
wall of status and success, you will find there is fear; because the ambitious man
is afraid to be what he is. He thinks that what he is in himself is insignificant, poor,
ugly; he feels lonely, utterly empty, therefore he says, «I must go and achieve
something». So either he goes after what he calls God, which is just another form
of ambition, or he tries to become somebody in the world. In this way his
loneliness, his sense of inward emptiness – of which he is really frightened – is
covered up. He runs away from it, and ambition becomes the means through
which he can escape.
So, what is happening in the world? Everybody is fighting somebody. One
man feels less than another and struggles to get to the top. There is no love,
there is no consideration, there is no deep thought. Or society is a constant battle
of man against man. This struggle is born of the ambition to become somebody,
and the older people encourage you to be ambitious. They want you to amount to
something, to marry a rich man or a rich woman, to have influential friends. Being
frightened, ugly in their hearts, they try to make you like themselves; and you in
turn want to be like them, because you see the glamour of it all. When the
governor comes, everybody bows down to the earth to receive him, they give him
garlands, make speeches. He loves it, and you love it too. You feel honoured if 68
you know his uncle or his clerk, and you bask in the sunshine of his ambition, his
achievements. So you are easily caught in the ugly web of the older generation,
in the pattern of this monstrous society. Only if you are very alert, constantly
watchful, only if you are not afraid and do not accept, but question all the time –
only then will you not be caught, but go beyond and create a different world.
That is why it is very important for you to find your true vocation. Do you know
what `vocation’ means? Something which you love to do, which is natural to you.
After all, that is the function of education – to help you to grow independently so
that you are free of ambition and can find your true vocation. The ambitious man
has never found his true vocation; if he had, he would not be ambitious.
So, it is the responsibility of the teachers, of the principal, to help you to be
intelligent, unafraid, so that you can find your true vocation, your own way of life,
the way you really want to live and earn your livelihood. This implies a revolution
in thinking; because, in our present society, the man who can talk, the man who
can write, the man who can rule, the man who has a big car, is thought to be in a
marvellous position; and the man who digs in the garden, who cooks, who builds
a house, is despised. Are you aware of your own feelings when you look at a
mason, at the man who mends the road, or drives a taxi, or pulls a cart? Have
you noticed how you regard him with absolute contempt? To you he hardly even
exists. You disregard him; but when a man has a title of some kind, or is a
banker, a merchant, a guru, or a minister, you immediately respect him. But if you
really find your true vocation, you will help to break down this rotten system
completely; because then, whether you are a gardener, or a painter, or an
engineer, you will be doing something which you love with your whole being; and
that is not ambition. To do something marvellously well, to do it completely, truly,
according to what you deeply think and feel – that is not ambition and in that there
is no fear. 69
To help you to discover your true vocation is very difficult, because it means
that the teacher has to pay a great deal of attention to each student to find out
what he is capable of. He has to help him not to be afraid, but to question, to
investigate. You may be a potential writer, or a poet, or a painter. Whatever it is, if
you really love to do it, you are not ambitious; because in love there is no
So, is it not very important while you are young that you should be helped to
awaken your own intelligence and thereby find your true vocation? Then you will
love what you do, right through life, which means there will be no ambition, no
competition, no fighting another for position, for prestige; and then perhaps you
will be able to create a new world. In that new world all the ugly things of the older
generation will cease to exist – their wars, their mischief, their separative gods,
their rituals which mean absolutely nothing, their sovereign governments, their
violence. That is why the responsibility of the teachers, and of the students, is
Questioner: If somebody has an ambition to be an engineer, does it not mean
that he is interested in engineering?
Krishnamurti: Would you say that being interested in something is ambition?
We can give to that word `ambition’ various meanings. To me, ambition is the
outcome of fear. But if as a boy I am interested in being an engineer because I
want to build beautiful structures, marvellous irrigation systems, splendid roads, it
means I love engineering; and that is not ambition. In love there is no fear.
So, ambition and interest are two different things, are they not? If I am really
interested in painting, if I love to paint, then I do not compete to be the best or the
most famous painter. I just love painting. You may be better at painting than I, but
I do not compare myself with you. When I paint, I love what I am doing, and for
me that is sufficient in itself. 70
Questioner: What is the easiest way of finding God?
Krishnamurti: I am afraid there is no easy way, because to find God is a most
difficult, a most arduous thing. Is not what we call God something which the mind
creates? You know what the mind is. The mind is the result of time, and it can
create anything, any illusion. It has the power of creating ideas, of projecting itself
in fancies, in imagination; it is constantly accumulating, discarding, choosing.
Being prejudiced, narrow, limited, the mind can picture God, it can imagine what
God is according to its own limitations. Because certain teachers, priests and so-
called saviours have said there is God and have described him, the mind can
imagine God in those terms; but that image is not God. God is something that
cannot be found by the mind.
To understand God, you must first understand your own mind – which is very
difficult. The mind is very complex, and to understand it is not easy. But it is easy
enough to sit down and go into some kind of dream, have various visions,
illusions, and then think that you are very near to God. The mind can deceive
itself enormously. So, to really experience that which may be called God, you
must be completely quiet; and have you not found out how extremely difficult that
is? Have you not noticed how even the older people never sit quietly, how they
fidget, how they wiggle their toes and move their hands? It is difficult physically to
sit still; and how much more difficult it is for the mind to be still ! You may follow
some guru and force your mind to be quiet; but your mind is not really quiet. It is
still restless, like a child that is made to stand in the corner. It is a great art for the
mind to be completely silent without coercion; and only then is there a possibility
of experiencing that which may be called God.
Questioner: Is God everywhere?
Krishnamurti: Are you really interested to find out? You ask questions, and
then subside; you do not listen. Have you noticed how the older people almost
never listen to you? They rarely listen to you because they are so enclosed in 71
their own thoughts, in their own emotions, in their own satisfactions and sorrows.
I hope you have noticed this. If you know how to observe and how to listen, really
listen, you will find out a lot of things, not only about people but about the world.
Here is this boy asking if God is everywhere. He is rather young to be asking
that question. He does not know what it really means. He probably has a vague
inkling of something – the feeling of beauty, an awareness of the birds in the sky,
of running waters, of a nice, smiling face, of a leaf dancing in the wind, of a
woman carrying a burden. And there is anger, noise, sorrow – all that is in the air.
So he is naturally interested and anxious to find out what life is all about. He
hears the older people talking about God, and he is puzzled. It is very important
for him to ask such a question, is it not? And it is equally important for you all to
seek the answer; because, as I said the other day, you will begin to catch the
meaning of all this inwardly, unconsciously, deep down; and then, as you grow
up, you will have hints of other things besides this ugly world of struggle. The
world is beautiful, the earth is bountiful; but we are the spoilers of it.
Questioner: What is the real goal of life?
Krishnamurti: It is, first of all, what you make of it. It is what you make of life.
Questioner: As far as reality is concerned, it must be something else. I am not
particularly interested in having a personal goal, but I want to know what is the
goal for everybody.
Krishnamurti: How will you find out? Who will show you? Can you discover
that by reading? If you read, one author may give you a particular method, while
another author may offer quite a different method. If you go to a man who is
suffering, he will say that the goal of life is to be happy. If you go to a man who is
starving, who has not had sufficient food for years, his goal will be to have a full
tummy. If you go to a politician, his goal will be to become one of the directors,
one of the rulers of the world. If you ask a young woman, she will say, «My goal is
to have a baby». If you go to a sannyasi, his goal is to find God. The goal, the 72
underlying desire of people is generally to find something gratifying, comforting;
they want some form of security, safety, so that they will have no doubts, no
questions, no anxiety, no fear. Most of us want something permanent to which we
can cling, do we not.
So, the general goal of life for man is some kind of hope, some kind of safety,
some kind of permanency. Don’t say, «Is that all?» That is the immediate fact, and
you must first be fully acquainted with that. You must question all that – which
means, you must question yourself. The general goal of life for man is embedded
in you, because you are part of the whole. You yourself want safety, permanency,
happiness; you want something to which to cling.
Now, to find out if there is something else beyond, some truth which is not of
the mind, all the illusions of the mind must be finished with; that is, you must
understand them and put them aside. Only then can you discover the real thing,
whether there is a goal or not. To stipulate that there must be a goal, or to believe
that there is a goal, is merely another illusion. But if you can question all your
conflicts, struggles, pains, vanities, ambitions, hopes, fears, and go through them,
go beyond and above them, then you will find out. Questioner: If I develop higher
influences will I eventually see the ultimate?
Krishnamurti: How can you see the ultimate as long as there are many
barriers between you and that? First you must remove the barriers. You cannot
sit in a closed room and know what fresh air is like. To have fresh air you must
open the windows. Similarly, you must see all the barriers all the limitations and
conditionings within yourself; you must understand them and put them aside.
Then you will find out. But to sit on this side and try to find out what is on the
other, has no meaning. 73
Part One Chapter 8
As you know, we have been talking a great deal about fear, because it is a
very powerful factor in our lives. Let us now talk for a while about love; let us find
out whether behind this word and this feeling – which for all of us has so much
significance – there is also that peculiar element of apprehension, of anxiety, the
thing which grownup people know as loneliness.
Do you know what love is? Do you love your father, your mother, your brother,
your teacher, your friend? Do you know what it means to love? When you say
that you love your parents, what does it mean? You feel safe with them, you feel
at home with them. Your parents are protecting you, they are giving you money,
shelter, food and clothing, and you feel with them a sense of close relationship,
don’t you? You also feel that you can trust them – or you may not. Probably you
do not talk to them as easily and happily as you do to your own friends. But you
respect them, you are guided by them, you obey them, you have a certain sense
of responsibility towards them, feeling that you must support them when they are
old. They in turn love you, they want to protect you, to guide you, to help you – at
least they say so. They want to marry you off so that you will lead a so-called
moral life and stay out of trouble, so that you will have a husband to look after
you, or a wife to cook for you and bear your children. All this is called love, is it
We cannot immediately say what is love, because love is not readily explained
by words. It does not come to us easily. Yet without love, life is very barren;
without love, the trees, the birds, the smile of men and women, the bridge across
the river, the boatmen and the animals have no meaning. Without love, life is like
a shallow pool. In a deep river there is richness and many fish can live; but the
shallow pool is soon dried up by the strong sun, and nothing remains except mud
and dirt. 74
For most of us, love is an extraordinarily difficult thing to understand because
our lives are very shallow. We want to be loved, and also we want to love, and
behind that word there is a lurking fear. So, is it not very important for each one of
us to find out what this extraordinary thing really is? And we can find out only if
we are aware of how we regard other human beings, how we look at the trees, at
the animals, at a stranger, at the man who is hungry. We must be aware of how
we regard our friends, of how we regard our guru, if we have one, of how we
regard our parents.
When you say, «I love my father and my mother, I love my guardian, my
teacher», what does it mean? When you respect somebody tremendously and
look up to them, when you feel it is your duty to obey them and they in turn
expect your obedience, is that love? Is love apprehensive? Surely, when you look
up to somebody, you also look down upon somebody else, don’t you? And is that
love? In love is there any sense of looking up or looking down, any compulsion to
When you say you love somebody, don’t you inwardly depend on that person?
While you are a child you naturally depend on your father, on your mother, on
your teacher, on your guardian. You need to be cared for, to be provided with
food, clothing and shelter. You need a sense of security, the feeling that someone
is looking after you.
But what generally happens? As we grow older, this feeling of dependence
continues, does it not? Haven’t you noticed it in older people, in your parents and
teachers? Haven’t you observed how they depend emotionally on their wives or
husbands, on their children, or on their own parents? When they grow up, most
people still cling to somebody; they continue to be dependent. Without someone
to lean on, to give them a sense of comfort and security, they feel lonely, do they
not? They feel lost. This dependency on another is called love; but if you observe
it very closely you will see that dependency is fear, it is not love. 75
Most people are afraid to stand alone; they are afraid to think things out for
themselves, afraid to feel deeply, to explore and discover the whole meaning of
life. Therefore they say they love God, and they depend on what they call God;
but it is not God, the unknown, it is a thing created by the mind.
We do the same with an ideal or a belief. I believe in something, or I hold on to
an ideal, and that gives me great comfort; but remove the ideal, remove the belief
and I am lost. It is the same thing with a guru. I depend because I want to
receive, so there is the ache of fear. Again it is the same when you depend on
your parents or teachers. It is natural and right that you should do so when you
are young; but if you keep on depending when you have grow to maturity, that will
make you incapable of thinking, of being free. Where there is dependence there
is fear, and where there is fear there is authority; there is no love. When your
parents say that you must obey, that you must follow certain traditions, that you
must take only a certain job or do only a particular kind of work – in all this there is
no love. And there is no love in your heart when you depend on society in the
sense that you accept the structure of society as it is, without question.
Ambitious men and women do not know what love is – and we are dominated
by ambitious people. That is why there is no happiness in the world, and why it is
very important that you, as you grow up, should see and understand all this, and
find out for yourself if it is possible to discover what love is. You may have a good
position, a very fine house, a marvellous garden, clothes; you may become the
prime minister; but without love, none of these things have any meaning.
So, you have to begin to find out now – not wait until you are old, for you will
never find out then – what it is you actually feel in your relationship with your
parents, with your teachers, with the guru. You cannot merely accept the word
`love’ or any other word, but must go behind the meaning of words to see what
the reality is – the reality being that which you actually feel, not what you are
supposed to feel. If you actually feel jealous, or angry, to say, «I must not be 76
jealous, I must not be angry» is merely a wish, it has no reality. What matters is to
see very honestly and very clearly exactly what it is you are feeling at the
moment, without bringing in the ideal of how you should feel or will feel at some
future date, for then you can do something about it. But to say, «I must love my
parents, I must love my teachers», has no meaning, has it? Because your real
feelings are quite different, and those words become a screen behind which you
So, is it not the way of intelligence to look beyond the accepted meaning of
words? Words like `duty’, `responsibility’, `God’, `love’, have acquired a traditional
meaning; but an intelligent person, a truly educated person looks beyond the
traditional meaning of such words. For instance, if someone told you that he did
not believe in God, you would be shocked, would you not? You would say,
«Goodness, how awful!», because you believe in God – at least you think you do.
But belief and non-belief have very little meaning.
What is important is for you to go behind the word `love’ to see whether you
actually do love your parents, and whether your parents actually do love you.
Surely, if you and your parents really loved one another, the world would be
entirely different. There would be no wars, no starvation, no class differences.
There would be no rich and no poor. You see, without love we try to reform
society economically, we try to put things right, but as long as we have no love in
our heads we cannot bring about a social structure free of conflict and misery.
That is why we have to go into these things very carefully; and perhaps then we
shall find out what love is.
Questioner: Why is there sorrow and misery in the world?
Krishnamurti: I wonder if that boy knows what those words mean. He has
probably seen an over-loaded donkey with his legs almost breaking, or another
boy crying, or a mother beating her child. perhaps he has seen older people
quarrelling with each other. And there is death, the body being carried away to be 77
burnt; there is the beggar; there is poverty, disease, old age; there is sorrow, not
only outside, but also inside us. So he asks, «Why is there sorrow?» Don’t you
want to know too? Have you never wondered about the cause of your own
sorrow? What is sorrow, and why does it exist? If I want something and cannot
get it, I feel miserable; if I want more saris, more money, or if I want to be more
beautiful, and cannot have what I want, I am unhappy. If I want to love a certain
person and that person does not love me, again I am miserable. My father dies,
and I am in sorrow. Why?
Why do we feel unhappy when we cannot have what we want? Why should
we necessarily have what we want? We think it is our right, do we not? But do we
ever ask ourselves why we should have what we want when millions have not got
even what they need? And besides, why do we want it? There is our need of
food, clothing and shelter; but we are not satisfied with that. We want much more.
We want success, we want to be respected, loved, looked up to, we want to be
powerful, we want to be famous poets, saints, orators, we want to be prime
ministers, presidents. Why? Have you ever looked into it? Why do we want all
this? Not that we must be satisfied with what we are. I do not mean that. That
would be ugly, silly. But why this constant craving for more and more and more?
This craving indicates that we are dissatisfied, discontented; but with what? With
what we are? I am this, I do not like it, and I want to be that. I think I shall look
much more beautiful in a new coat or a new sari, so I want it. This means I am
dissatisfied with what I am, and I think I can escape from my discontent by
acquiring more clothes, more power, and so on. But the dissatisfaction is still
there, is it not? I have only covered it up with clothes, with power, with cars.
So, we have to find out how to understand what we are. Merely to cover
ourselves with possessions, with power and position, has no meaning, because
we will still be unhappy. Seeing this, the unhappy person, the person who is in
sorrow, does not run away to gurus, he does not hide in possessions, in power;
on the contrary, he wants to know what lies behind his sorrow. If you go behind 78
your own sorrow you will find that you are very small, empty, limited, and that you
are struggling to achieve, to become. This very struggle to achieve to become
something is the cause of sorrow. But if you begin to understand what you
actually are, go deeper and deeper into it, then you will find that something quite
different takes place.
Questioner: If a man is starving and I feel that I can be helpful to him, is this
ambition or love?
Krishnamurti: It all depends on the motive with which you help him. By saying
he is for helping the poor man, the politician gets to New Delhi, lives in a big
house and shows himself off. Is that love? Do you understand? Is that love?
Questioner: If I relieve his starvation by my helpfulness, isn’t that love?
Krishnamurti: He is starving and you help him with food. Is that love? Why do
you want to help him? Have you no motive, no incentive other than the desire to
help him? Do you not get any benefit out of it? Think this out, do not say `yes’ or
`no’. If you are looking for some benefit out of it, politically or otherwise, some
inward or outward benefit, then you do not love him. If you feed him in order to
become more popular, or in the hope that your friends will help you to go to New
Delhi, then that is not love, is it? But if you love him, you will feed him without any
ulterior motive, without wanting anything in return. If you feed him and he is
ungrateful, do you feel hurt? If so, you do not love him. If he tells you and the
villagers that you are a wonderful man, and you feel very flattered, it means you
are thinking about yourself; and surely that is not love. So, one has to be very
alert to find out if one is deriving any kind of benefit from one’s helpfulness, and
what the motive is that leads one to feed the hungry. Questioner: Suppose I want
to go home and the Principal says `no’. If I disobey him, I will have to face the
consequences. If I obey the Principal, it will break my heart. What am I to do? 79
Krishnamurti: Do you mean to say that you cannot talk it over with the
Principal, that you cannot take him into your confidence and show him your
problem? If he is the right kind of Principal you can trust him, talk over your
problem with him. If he still says you must not go, it is possible that he is just
being obstinate, which means there is something wrong with the principal; but he
may have good reasons for saying `no’, and you have to find out. So it requires
mutual confidence. You must have confidence in the Principal, and the Principal
must have confidence in you. Life is not just a one-sided relationship. You are a
human being; so is the Principal a human being, and he also may make
mistakes. So both of you must be willing to talk it over. You may want very much
to go home but that may not be quite enough; your parents may have written to
the Principal not to let you come home. It must be a mutual inquiry, must it not?,
so that you do not get hurt, so that you do not feel ill-treated or brutally pushed
aside; and that can happen only when you have confidence in the teacher and he
has confidence in you. In other words, there has to be real love; and such an
environment is what a school should provide.
Questioner: Why should we not do puja?
Krishnamurti: Have you found out why the older people do puja? They are
copying, are they not? The more immature we are, the more we want to copy.
Have you noticed how people love uniforms? So, before you ask why you should
not do puja, ask the older people why they do it. They do it, first of all, because it
is a tradition; their grandfathers did it. Then the repetition of words gives them a
certain sense of peace. Do you understand this? Words constantly repeated
make the mind dull, and that gives you a sense of quietness. Sanskrit words
especially have certain vibrations which make you feel very quiet. The older
people also do puja because everybody else is doing it; and you, being young,
want to copy them. Do you want to do puja because somebody tells you it is the
right thing to do? Do you want to do it because you find a pleasant hypnotic effect
in repeating certain words? Before you do anything, should you not find out why 80
you want to do it? Even if millions of people believe in puja, should you not use
your own mind to discover the true significance of it?
You see, the mere repetition of Sanskrit words, or of certain gestures, will not
really help you to find out what truth is, what God is. To find that out, you must
know how to meditate. But this is quite a different matter – quite different from
doing puja. Millions of people do puja; and has it brought about a happier world?
Are such people creative? To be creative is to be full of initiative, full of love, of
kindness, of sympathy and consideration. If as a little boy you begin to do puja
and go on repeating it, you will become like a machine. But if you begin to
question, to doubt, to inquire, then perhaps you will find out how to meditate. And
meditation, if you know how to do it properly, is one of the greatest blessings. 81
Part One Chapter 9
I do not think we shall understand the complex problem of love till we
understand the equally complex problem which we call the mind. Have you
noticed, when we are very young, how inquisitive we are? We want to know, and
we see many more things than the older people do. If we are at all awake, we
observe things that the older people do not even notice. The mind, when we are
young, is much more alert, much more curious and wanting to know. That is why
we learn so easily mathematics, geography, or whatever it is. As we grow older,
the mind becomes more and more crystallized, heavy, dull. Have you noticed
how prejudiced most older people are? Their minds are not open, they approach
everything from a fixed point of view. You are young now; but if you are not very
watchful, your mind also will become like that. Is it not then very important to
understand the mind, and to see whether, instead of gradually becoming dull, you
can be supple, capable of instant adjustments, of extraordinary initiative, of deep
research and understanding in every department of life? Must you not know the
ways of the mind to understand the way of love? Because it is the mind that
destroys love. People who are merely clever, cunning, do not know what love is,
because their minds, although sharp, are superficial; they live on the surface, and
love is not a thing that rests on the surface.
What is the mind? I do not mean just the brain, the physical organism which
reacts to stimuli through various nervous responses, and about which any
physiologist can tell you. Rather we are going to find out what the mind is. The
mind which says, ` I think; `it is mine; `I am hurt; `I am jealous; `I love; `I hate; `I
am an Indian; `I am a Moslem; `I believe in this and I do not believe in that; `I
know and you do not know; `I respect; `I despise; `I want; `I do not want’ – what is
this thing? Unless you begin now to understand and make yourself thoroughly
familiar with the whole process of thinking which is called the mind, unless you 82
are fully aware of it in yourself, you will gradually, as you grow older, become
hard, crystallized, dull, fixed in a certain pattern of thought.
What is this thing which we call the mind? It is the way of our thinking, is it
not? I am talking of your mind, not somebody else’s mind – the way you think and
feel, the way you look at the trees, at the fishermen, the way you consider the
villager. Your mind, as you grow older, gradually becomes warped or fixed in a
certain pattern. You want something, you crave it, you desire to be or become
something, and this desire sets a pattern; that is, your mind creates a pattern and
gets caught in it. Your desire crystallizes your mind.
Say, for example, you want to be a very rich man. The desire to be wealthy
creates a pattern, and your thinking then gets caught in it; you can think only in
those terms, and you cannot go beyond them. Therefore your mind slowly
becomes crystallized, it gets hard, dull. Or, if you believe in something – in God, in
Communism, in a certain political system – that very belief sets the pattern,
because it is the outcome of your desire; and your desire strengthens the walls of
the pattern. Gradually your mind becomes incapable of quick adjustment, of deep
penetration, of real clarity, because you are caught in the labyrinth of your own
So, until we begin to investigate this process which we call the mind, until we
are familiar with and understand our own ways of thinking, we cannot possibly
find out what love is. There can be no love as long as our minds desire certain
things of love, or demand that it act in a certain way. When we imagine what love
should be and give to it certain motives, we gradually create a pattern of action
with regard to love; but that is not love, it is merely our idea of what love should
Say, for example, I possess my wife or husband, as you possess a sari or a
coat. If somebody took away your coat, you would be anxious, irritated, angry.
Why? Because you regard that coat as your property; you possess it, and 83
through its possession you feel enriched, don’t you? Through possessing many
clothes you feel enriched, not only physically but inwardly; and when somebody
takes away your coat, you feel irritated because inwardly you are being deprived
of that feeling of richness, that sense of possession.
Now, the feeling of possession creates a barrier with regard to love, does it
not? If I own you, possess you, is that love? I possess you as I possess a car, a
coat, a sari, because in possessing, I feel very gratified, and I depend on that
feeling; it is very important to me inwardly. This sense of owning, possessing
someone, this emotional dependence on another, is what we call love; but if you
examine it, you will find that, behind the word `love’, the mind is taking satisfaction
in possession. After all, when you possess many beautiful saris, or a fine car, or a
big house, the feeling that it is yours, inwardly gives you great satisfaction.
So, in desiring, wanting, the mind creates a pattern, and in that pattern it gets
caught; and then it grows weary, dull, stupid, thoughtless. The mind is the centre
of this feeling of possession, the feeling of the `me’ and the `mine: `I own
something’, `I am a big man’, `I am a little man’, `I am insulted’, `I am flattered’, `I
am clever’, `I am very beautiful’, `I want to be somebody’, `I am the son or the
daughter of somebody’. This feeling of the `me’ and the `mine’ is the very core of
the mind, it is the mind itself. The more the mind has this feeling of being
somebody, of being great, or very clever, or very stupid, and so on, the more it
builds walls around itself and becomes enclosed, dull. Then it suffers, for in that
enclosure inevitably there is pain. Because it is suffering, the mind says, «What
am I to do?» But instead of removing the enclosing walls by awareness, by careful
thought, by going into and understanding the whole process by which they are
created, it struggles to find something else outside with which to enclose itself
again. So the mind gradually becomes a barrier to love; and without
understanding what the mind is, which is to understand the ways of our own
thinking, the inner source from which there is action, we cannot possibly find out
what love is. 84
Is not the mind also an instrument of comparison? You know what it means to
compare. You say, «This is better than that; you compare yourself with somebody
who is more beautiful, or less clever. There is comparison when you say, «I
remember a river which I saw a year ago, and it is still more beautiful than this
one». You compare yourself with a saint or a hero, with the ultimate ideal. This
comparative judgment makes the mind dull; it does not quicken the mind, it does
not make the mind comprehensive inclusive. When you are constantly
comparing, what happens? When you see the sunset and immediately compare it
with a previous sunset, or when you say, «That mountain is beautiful, but I saw a
still more beautiful mountain two years ago», you are really not looking at the
beauty which is there before you. So comparison prevents you from looking fully.
If, in looking at you, I say, «I know a much nicer person», I am not really looking at
you, am I? My mind is occupied with something else. To really look at a sunset,
there must be no comparison; to really look at you, I must not compare you with
someone else. It is only when I look at you fully, not with comparative judgment,
that I can understand you. When I compare you with another, I do not understand
you, I merely judge you, I say you are this or that. So, stupidity arises when there
is comparison, because in comparing you with somebody else there is a lack of
human dignity. But when I look at you without comparing, then my only concern is
to understand you, and in that very concern, which is not comparative, there is
intelligence, there is human dignity.
As long as the mind is comparing, there is no love; and the mind is always
comparing, weighing, judging, is it not? It is always looking to find out where the
weakness is; so there is no love. When the mother and father love their children,
they do not compare one child with another. But you compare yourself with
someone better, nobler, richer; you are all the time concerned with yourself in
relation to somebody else, so you create in yourself a lack of love. In this way the
mind becomes more and more comparative, more and more possessive, more
and more dependent, thereby establishing a pattern in which it gets caught. 85
Because it cannot look at anything anew, afresh, it destroys the very perfume of
life, which is love.
Questioner: What should we ask God to give us?
Krishnamurti: You are very interested in God, are you not? Why? Because
your mind is asking for something, wanting something. So it is constantly
agitated. If I am asking or expecting something from you, my mind is agitated, is it
This boy wants to know what he should ask of God. He does not know, what
God is, or what it is he really wants. But there is a general feeling of
apprehension, the feeling, «I must ask, I must pray, I must be protected». The
mind is always seeking in every corner to get something; it is always wanting,
grasping, watching pushing, comparing, judging, and so it is never still. Observe
your own mind and you will see what it is doing, how it tries to control itself, to
dominate, to suppress, to find some form of satisfaction, how it is constantly
asking, begging, struggling, comparing. We call such a mind very alert; but is it
alert? Surely, an alert mind is a still mind, not one that, like a butterfly is chasing
all over the place. And it is only a still mind that can understand what God is. A
still mind never asks anything of God. It is only the impoverished mind that begs,
that asks. What it asks, it can never have, because what it really wants is security
comfort, certainty. If you ask anything of God, you will never find God.
Questioner: What is real greatness and how can I be great?
Krishnamurti: You see, the unfortunate thing is that we want to be great. We
all want to be great. We want to be a Gandhi or a prime minister, we want to be
great inventors, great writers. Why? In education, in religion, in all the
departments of our life, we have examples. The great poet, the great orator, the
great statesman, the great saint, the great hero – such people are held up as
examples, and we want to be like them. 86
Now, when you want to be like another, you have created a pattern of action,
have you not? You have set a limitation on your thought, bound it within certain
limits. So your thought has already become crystallized, narrow, limited, stifled.
Why do you want to be great? Why do you not look at what you are and
understand that? You see, the moment you want to be like another, there is
misery, conflict, there is envy, sorrow. If you want to be like the Buddha, what
happens? You struggle everlastingly to achieve that ideal. If you are stupid and
crave to be clever, you constantly try to leave what you are and go beyond it. If
you are ugly and want to be beautiful, you long to be beautiful till you die, or you
deceive yourself into thinking you are beautiful. So, as long as you are trying to
be something other than what you actually are, your mind merely wears itself out.
But if you say, «This is what I am, it is a fact, and I am going to investigate,
understand it», then you can go beyond; for you will find that the understanding of
what you are brings great peace and contentment, great insight, great love.
Questioner: Is not love based on attraction?
Krishnamurti: Suppose you are attracted to a beautiful woman or a handsome
man. What is wrong with that? We are trying to find out. You see, when you are
attracted to a woman, to a man, or to a child, what generally happens? you not
only want to be with that person, but you want to possess, to call that person your
own. Your body must be near that persons body. So what have you done? The
fact is that when you are attracted, you want to possess, you do not want that
person to look at anybody else; and when you consider another human being as
yours, is there love? Obviously not. The moment your mind creates a hedge as
the `mine’ around that person, there is no love.
The fact is that our minds are doing this all the time. That is why we are
discussing these things – to see how the mind is working; and perhaps, being
aware of its own movements, the mind will be quiet of its own accord.
Questioner: What is prayer? Has it any importance in daily life? 87
Krishnamurti: Why do you pray? And what is prayer? Most prayer is merely a
petitioning, an asking. You indulge in this kind of prayer when you suffer. When
you feel all alone, when you are depressed and in sorrow, you ask God for help;
so what you call prayer is a petition. The form of prayer may vary, but the intent
behind it is generally the same. Prayer, with most people, is a petition, a begging,
an asking. Are you doing that? Why do you pray? I am not saying that you should
or should not pray. But why do you pray? Is it for more knowledge, for more
peace? Do you pray that the world may be free from sorrow? Is there any other
kind of prayer? There is prayer which is really not a prayer, but the sending out of
good will, the sending out of love the sending out of ideas. What is it you are
When you pray, generally you are asking God, or some saint, to fill your empty
bowl, are you not? You are not satisfied with what happens, with what is given,
but you want your bowl filled according to your wishes. So your prayer is merely a
petition, it is a demand that you should be satisfied, therefore it is not prayer at
all. You say to God, «I am suffering, please gratify me; please give me back my
brother, my son. please make me rich». You are perpetuating your own demands,
and that is obviously not prayer.
The real thing is to understand yourself, to see why you are perpetually asking
for something, why there is in you this demand, this urge to beg. The more you
know yourself through awareness of what you are thinking, what you are feeling,
the more you will discover the truth of what is; and it is this truth that will help you
to be free. 88
Part One Chapter 10
I think it is very important to know how to listen. If you know how to listen, you
will get to the root of the matter immediately. If you listen to pure sound, you have
immediate contact with the beauty of it. Similarly, if you knew how to listen to
what is being said, there would be an immediate understanding. Listening the
complete focussing of attention. You think that attention is a tiresome thing, that
to learn to concentrate is a drawn out process. But if you really know how to
listen, then attention is not difficult, and you will find that you get to the heart of
the matter immediately with an extraordinary alertness.
Most of us do not really listen. We are distracted by external noises, or we
have some prejudice, some bias which gives a twist to the mind, and this
prevents us from really listening to what is being said. This is especially so with
older people, because they have a long series of achievements and failures
behind them; they are somebodies or nobodies in the world, and it is very difficult
to penetrate the layers of their formulations, their preconceptions. Their
imagination, their conditioning, their sense of achievement will not allow that
which is being said to penetrate. But if we know how to listen to what is being
said, if we can listen to it without any barrier, without any interpretation, just listen
as we would to the song of a bird in the morning, then listening is an
extraordinary thing, especially when something true is being said. We may not
like it, we may instinctively resist it; but if we can really listen, we will see the truth
of it. So real listening unburdens the mind, it clears away the dross of many years
of failure, of success, of longing.
You know what propaganda is, don’t you? It is to propagate, to sow or
constantly repeat an idea. That is how the propa- gandist, the politician, the
religious leader imprints on your mind what he wants you to believe. There is a
listening involved in this process also. Such people constantly repeat what you
should do, what books you should read, whom you should follow, which ideas are 89
right and which are wrong; and this constant repetition leaves a mark on your
mind. Even if you do not consciously listen, it is making an imprint, and that is the
purpose of propaganda. But you see, propaganda is merely vested interest, it
does not bring that truth which you immediately understand when you are really
listening, when you are paying attention without effort.
You are now listening to me; you are not making an effort to pay attention, you
are just listening; and if there is truth in what you hear, you will find a remarkable
change taking place in you – a change that is not premeditated or wished for, a
transformation, a complete revolution in which the truth alone is master and not
the creations of your mind. And if I may suggest it, you should listen in that way to
everything – not only to what I am saying, but also to what other people are
saying, to the birds, to the whistle of a locomotive to the noise of the bus going
by. You will find that the more you listen to everything, the greater is the silence,
and that silence is then not broken by noise. It is only when you are resisting
something, when you are putting up a barrier between yourself and that to which
you do not want to listen – it is only then that there is a struggle.
Now, is it not very important to be refined, both outwardly and inwardly? Do
you know what refinement is? It is to be sensitive to everything about you, and
also to the thoughts, the beliefs, the feelings that you have within yourself.
Refinement is reflected in your clothes, in your manners, in your gestures, in the
way you walk, the way you talk, the way you look at people. And refinement is
essential, is it not? For without refinement, there is deterioration.
Do you know what it means to deteriorate? It is the opposite of creating, or
building, of having the initiative to move forward, to develop. Deterioration implies
slow decay, a withering away – and that is what is happening in the world. In
colleges and universities, among nations, among people, in the individual, there
is a slow decay; the deteriorating process is going on all the time, and this is
because there is no inward refinement. You may have a certain amount of 90
outward refinement, you may wear fine clothes, live in a nice house, eat good
food, observe scrupulous cleanliness; but without inner refinement, the outward
prediction of form has very little meaning. It is merely another form of
deterioration. To have beautiful possessions but to be inwardly gross, that is, to
be concerned with one’s own vanity and grandeur, with one’s ambitions and
achievements, is the way of deterioration.
There is beauty of form in poetry, or in a person, or in a lovely tree, but it has
meaning only through the inward refinement of love. If there is love, there will be
outward as well as inward refinement. Refinement is expressed outwardly in
consideration for others, in the way you treat your parents, your neighbours, your
servant, your gardener. The gardener may have created for you a beautiful
garden, but without that refinement which is love, the garden is merely an
expression of your own vanity.
So, it is essential to have both outward and inward refinement. The way you
eat matters a great deal; if you make a noise while you are eating, it matters very
much. The way you behave, your manners when you are with your friends, the
way you talk about others, all these things matter because they point to what you
are inwardly, they indicate whether or not there is inward refinement. A lack of
inward refinement expresses itself in the outward degeneration of form; so
outward refinement has very little meaning if there is no love. And we have seen
that love is not a thing we can possess. It comes into being only when the mind
understands the complex problems which it has itself created.
Questioner: Why do we feel a sense of pride when we succeed?
Krishnamurti: With success is there a sense of pride? What is success? Have
you ever considered what it is to be successful as a writer, as a poet, as a
painter, as a business man or politician? To feel that you have inwardly achieved
a certain control over yourself which others do not have, or that you have
succeeded where others have failed; to feel that you are better than somebody 91
else, that you have become a successful man, that you are respected, looked up
to by others as an example – what does all this indicate? Naturally, when you
have this feeling, there is pride: I have done something, I am important. The
feeling of `I’ is in its very nature a sense of pride. So pride grows with success;
one is proud of being very important compared with other people. This
comparison of yourself with another exists also in your pursuit of the example, the
ideal, and it gives you hope, it gives you strength, purpose, drive, which only
strengthens the `I’, the pleasurable feeling that you are much more important than
anybody else; and that feeling, that sense of pleasure, is the beginning of pride.
Pride brings a great deal of vanity, an egotistic inflation. You can observe this
in the older people and in yourself. When you pass an examination and feel that
you are a little cleverer than another, a sense of pleasure comes in. It is the same
when you outdo somebody in an argument, or when you feel that you are
physically much stronger or more beautiful – immediately there is a sense of your
own importance. This feeling of the importance of the `me’ inevitably brings
conflict, struggle, pain, because you have to maintain your importance all the
Questioner: How can we be free of pride?
Krishnamurti: If you had really listened to the answer to the previous question,
you would have understood how to be free of pride, and you would be free of
pride; but you were concerned with how to put the next question, were you not?
So you were not listening. If you really listen to what is being said, you will find
out for yourself the truth of it.
Suppose I am proud because I have achieved something. I have become the
Principal; I have been to England or to America; I have done great things, my
photograph has appeared in the newspapers, and so on and so on. Feeling very
proud, I say to myself, «How am I to be free of pride?» 92
Now, why do I want to be free of pride? That is the important question, not
how to be free. What is the motive, what is the reason, what is the incentive? Do I
want to be free of pride because I find it harmful to me, painful, spiritually not
good? If that is the motive, then to try to free myself from pride is another form of
pride, is it not? I am still concerned with achievement. Finding that pride is very
painful, spiritually ugly, I say that I must be free of it. The `I must be free’ contains
the same motive as the `I must be successful’. The `I’ is still important, it is the
centre of my struggle to be free.
So, what matters is not how to be free of pride, but to understand the `I; and
the `I’ is very subtle. It wants one thing this year and another thing next year; and
when that turns out to be painful, it then wants something else. So, as long as the
centre of the `I’ exists, whether one is proud or so-called humble is of very little
significance. They are only different coats to put on. When a particular coat
appeals to me I put it on; and next year, according to my fancies, my desires, I
put on another coat.
What you have to understand is how this `I’ comes into being. The `I’ comes
into being through the sense of achievement in various forms. This does not
mean that you must not act; but the feeling that you are acting, that you are
achieving, that you must be without pride, has to be understood. You have to
understand the structure of the `I’. You have to be aware of your own thinking;
you have to observe how you treat your servant, your mother and father, your
teacher and the servant; you have to be conscious of how you regard those who
are above you and those who are below you, those whom you respect and those
whom you despise. All this reveals the ways of the `I’. Through understanding the
ways of the `I’ there is freedom from the `I’. That is what matters, not just how to
be free of pride.
Questioner: How can a thing of beauty be a joy forever? 93
Krishnamurti: Is that your original thought, or are you quoting somebody? Do
you want to find out if beauty is perishable, and whether there can be everlasting
Questioner: Beauty comes in certain forms.
Krishnamurti: The tree, the leaf, the river, the woman, the man, those villagers
carrying a burden on their heads and walking beautifully. Is beauty perishable?
Questioner: The villagers walk by, but they leave an impression of beauty.
Krishnamurti: They walk by, and the memory of it remains. You see a tree, a
leaf, and the memory of that beauty remains.
Now, is the memory of beauty a living thing? When you see something
beautiful, there is immediate joy; you see a sunset and there is an immediate
response of joy. That joy, a few moments later, has become a memory. Is the
memory of that joy a living thing? Is your memory of the sunset a living thing? It is
a dead imprint, is it not? And through that dead imprint of the sunset, you want to
recapture the joy. But memory has no joy; it is only the image of something which
has gone and which once created joy. There is joy as the immediate response to
beauty, but memory comes in and destroys it. If there is constant perception of
beauty without the accumulations of memory – only then is there a possibility of
But it is not easy to be free from the accumulations of memory, because the
moment you see something very pleasurable, you make it into a memory which
you hold on to. When you see a beautiful object, a beautiful child, a beautiful tree,
there is immediate joy; but then you want more of it. Wanting more of it is the
accumulation of memory. In wanting more you have already started the process
of disintegration, and in that there is no joy. Memory can never produce
everlasting joy. There is everlasting joy only when there is a constant and
spontaneous response to beauty, to ugliness, to everything, without the activating 94
impulse of memory – which implies great inward and outward sensitivity, having
Questioner: Why are the poor happy and the rich unhappy?
Krishnamurti: Are the poor particularly happy? They may sing, they may
dance; but are they happy? They have insufficient food, they have little or no
clothing, they cannot be clean, they have to work from morning till night year after
year. They may have occasional moments of happiness; but they are not really
happy, are they?
And are the rich unhappy? They have an abundance if everything, they have
high positions, they travel. They are unhappy when they are frustrated in some
way, when they are hindered and cannot get what they want.
What do you mean by happiness? Some will say that happiness consists in
getting what you want. If you want a car and you get it, you are happy, at least for
the time being. It is the same whether you want a sari, or a trip to Europe: if you
can get what you want, you are happy. If you want to be the best known
professor, or the greatest politician, you are happy if you can get there, and
unhappy if you cannot.
So, what you call happiness is the outcome of getting what you want, of
achieving success, or becoming noble. You want something, and as long as you
can get it you feel perfectly happy, you are not frustrated; but if you cannot get
what you want, then unhappiness begins.
All of us are concerned with this problem, not only the rich and the poor. The
rich and the poor alike want to get something for themselves, and if they are
prevented, they are unhappy. I am not saying that the poor should not have what
they want or need. That is not the question we are considering. We are trying to
find out what happiness is, and whether happiness is something of which you are
When you are conscious that you are happy, is that happiness? It is not
happiness, is it? It is like humility: the moment you are conscious that you are
humble, you are not humble. So you cannot go after happiness; it is not a thing to
be pursued. It comes; but if you seek it, it will elude you.
Questioner: Though there is progress in different directions, why is there no
Krishnamurti: What do you mean by `progress’. Questioner: Scientific
Krishnamurti: From the bullock cart to the jet plane – that is progress, is it not?
Centuries ago there was only the bullock cart; but gradually, through time, we
have developed the jet plane. The means of transport in ancient times was very
slow, and now it is very rapid; you can be in London within a few hours. Through
sanitation, through proper nutrition and medical care, there has been a great
improvement also in matters of physical health. All this is scientific progress; and
yet we are not developing or progressing equally in brotherhood.
Now, is brotherhood a matter of progress? We know what we mean by
`progress’. It is evolution, achieving something through time. The scientists say
that we have evolved from the monkey; they say that, through millions of years,
we have progressed from the lowest forms of life to the highest, which is man.
But is brotherhood a matter of progress? Is it something which can be evolved
through time? There is the unity of the family and the unity of a particular society
or nation; from the nation the next step is internationalism, and then comes the
idea of one world. The one-world concept is what we call brotherhood. But is
brotherly feeling a matter of evolution? Is the feeling of brotherhood to be slowly
cultivated through the stages of family, community, nationalism, internationalism
and world unity? Brotherliness is love, is it not? And is love to be cultivated step
by step? Is love a matter of time? Do you understand what I am talking about? 96
If I say there will be brotherhood in ten, or thirty, or a hundred years, what
does that indicate? It indicates, surely, that I do not love, I do not feel brotherly.
When I say, «I will be brotherly, I will love», the actual fact is that I do not love, I
am not brotherly. As long as I think in terms of `I will be’, I am not. Whereas, if I
remove from my mind this concept of being brotherly in the future, then I can see
what I actually am; I can see that I am not brotherly, and begin to find out why.
Which is important, to see what I am, or to speculate about what I will be?
Surely, the important thing is to see what I am, because then I can deal with it.
What I will be is in the future, and the future is unpredictable. The actual fact is
that I have no brotherly feeling, I do not really love; and with that fact I can begin,
I can immediately do something about it. But to say that one will be something in
the future is mere idealism, and the idealist is an individual who is escaping from
what is; he is running away from the fact, which can be altered only in the
Part One Chapter 11
You will remember that we have been talking about fear. Now, is not fear
responsible for the accumulation of knowledge? This is a difficult subject, so let
us see if we can go into it, let us consider it very carefully.
Human beings accumulate and worship knowledge, not only scientific but so-
called spiritual knowledge. They think that knowledge is so important in life –
knowledge of what has happened, and of what is going to happen. This whole
process of accumulating information, worshipping knowledge – does it not arise
from the background of fear? We are afraid that without knowledge we would be
lost, we would not know how to conduct ourselves. So, through reading what the
sages have said, through other people’s beliefs and experiences, and also
through our own experiences, we gradually build up a background of knowledge
which becomes tradition; and behind this tradition we take refuge. We think this
knowledge or tradition is essential, and that without it we would be lost, we would
not know what to do.
Now, when we talk about knowledge, what do we mean by that word? What is
it that we know? What do you really know, when you come to consider the
knowledge you have accumulated? At a certain level, in science, engineering,
and so on, knowledge is important; but beyond that, what is it that we know?
Have you ever considered this process of accumulating knowledge? Why is it
that you study, why do you pass examinations? Knowledge is necessary at a
certain level, is it not? Without a knowledge of mathematics and other subjects,
one could not be an engineer or a scientist. Social relationship is built upon such
knowledge, and we would not be able to earn a livelihood without it. But beyond
that kind of knowledge, what do we know? Beyond that, what is the nature of
What do we mean when we say that knowledge is necessary to find God, or
that knowledge is necessary to understand oneself, or that knowledge is essential
to find a way through all the turmoils of life? Here we mean knowledge as
experience; and what is this experience? What is it that we know through
experience? Is not this knowledge used by the ego, by the `me’, to strengthen
Say, for instance, that I have achieved a certain social standing. This
experience, with its feelings of success, of prestige, of power, gives me a certain
sense of assurance, of comfort. So the knowledge of my success the knowledge
that I am somebody, that I have position, power, strengthens the `me’, the ego,
does it not?
Have you not noticed how knowledge-puffed the pundits are, or how
knowledge gives to your father, your mother, your teacher the attitude, `I have
experienced more than you have; I know and you do not’? So knowledge, which
is merely information, gradually becomes the sustenance of vanity, the
nourishment of the ego, the `me’. For the ego cannot exist without this or some
other form of parasitical dependence.
The scientist uses his knowledge to feed his vanity, to feel that he is
somebody, just as the pundit does. Teachers, parents, gurus – they all want to be
somebody in this world, so they use knowledge as a means to that end, to fulfil
that desire; and when you go behind their words, what is it that they really know?
They know only what the books contain, or what they have experienced; and their
experiences depend on the background of their conditioning. Like them, most of
us are filled with words, with information which we call knowledge, and without it
we are lost; so there is always fear lurking behind this screen of words, of
Where there is fear, there is no love; and knowledge without love destroys us.
That is what is happening in the world at the present time. For example, we now 99
have sufficient knowledge to feed human beings throughout the world; we know
how to feed, clothe and shelter mankind, but we are not doing it because we are
divided into nationalistic groups, each with its own egotistic pursuits. If we really
had the desire to stop war we could do so; but we have not that desire, and for
the same reason. So knowledge without love becomes a means of destruction.
Until we understand this, merely to pass examinations and achieve positions of
prestige and power inevitably leads to deterioration, to corruption, to the slow
withering away of human dignity.
It is obviously essential to have knowledge at certain levels, but it is even
more important to see how knowledge is used egotistically, for selfish purposes.
Observe yourself and you will see how experience is employed by the mind as a
means of self-expansion, as a means of power and prestige. Watch the grown-
ups and you will see how they hanker after position and cling to their success.
They want to build a nest of safety for themselves, they want power, prestige,
authority – and most of us, in various ways, are after the same thing. We don’t
want to be ourselves, whatever we are; we want to be somebodies. There is a
difference, surely between being and wanting to be. The desire to be or to
become is continued and strengthened through knowledge, which is used for self-
It is important for all of us, as we are maturing, to go into these problems and
understand them, so that we do not respect a person merely because he has a
title or a high position, or is supposed to have a great deal of knowledge. Actually,
we know very little. We may have read many books, but very few have direct
experience of anything. It is the direct experiencing of reality, of God, that is of
vital importance; and for that, there must be love. 100
Part One Chapter 12
Is it not very important, while we are young, to be loved, and also to know
what it means to love? But it seems to me that most of us do not love, nor are we
loved. And I think it is essential, while we are young, to go into this problem very
seriously and understand it; for then perhaps we can be sensitive enough to feel
love, to know its quality, its perfume, so that when we grow older it will not be
entirely destroyed. So let us consider this question.
What does it mean to love? Is it an ideal, something far away, unattainable?
Or can love be felt by each one of us at odd moments of the day? To have the
quality of sympathy, of understanding, to help someone naturally, without any
motive, to be spontaneously kind, to care for a plant or a dog, to be sympathetic
to the villager, generous to your friend, to a neighbour – is this not what we mean
by love? Is not love a state in which there is no sense of resentment, but
everlasting forgiveness? And is it not possible, while we are young to feel it?
While we are young many of us do experience this feeling – a sudden outgoing
sympathy for the villager, for a dog, for those who are little or helpless. And
should it not be constantly tended? Should you not always give some part of the
day to aiding another, to caring for a tree or a garden, to helping in the house or
in the hostel, so that, as you grow to maturity, you will know what it means to be
considerate naturally, without enforcement, without motive? Should you not have
this quality of real affection?
Real affection cannot be brought into being artificially, you have to feel it; and
your guardian, your parents, your teachers must also feel it. Most people have no
real affection; they are too concerned with their achievements, their longings,
their knowledge, their success. They give to what they have done and want to do,
such colossal importance that it ultimately destroys them. 101
That is why it is very important, while you are young, to help look after the
rooms, or to care for a number of trees which you yourself have planted, or to go
to the assistance of a sick friend, so that there is a subtle feeling of sympathy, of
concern, of generosity – real generosity which is not just of the mind, and which
makes you want to share with somebody whatever you may have, however little.
If you do not have this feeling of love, of generosity, of kindness, of gentleness,
while you are young, it will be very difficult to have it when you are older; but if
you begin to have it now, then perhaps you can awaken it in others.
To have sympathy and affection implies freedom from fear, does it not? But
you see, it is very difficult to grow up in this world without fear, without having
some personal motive in action. The older people have never thought about this
problem of fear, or they have thought about it only abstractly, without acting upon
it in daily existence. You are still very young, you are watching, inquiring,
learning, but if you do not see and understand what causes fear, you will become
as they are. Like some hidden weed, fear will grow and spread and twist your
mind. You should therefore be aware of everything that is happening around you
and within yourself – how the teachers talk, how our parents behave, and how you
respond – so that this question of fear is seen and understood.
Most grown-up people think that some kind of discipline is necessary. Do you
know what discipline is? It is a process of making you do something which you do
not want to do. Where there is discipline, there is fear; so discipline is not the way
of love. That is why discipline at all costs should be avoided – discipline being
coercion, resistance, compulsion, making you do something which you really do
not understand, or persuading you to do it by offering you a reward. If you don’t
understand something, don’t do it, and don’t be compelled to do it. Ask for an
explanation; don’t just be obstinate, but try to find out the truth of the matter so
that no fear is involved and your mind becomes very pliable, very supple. 102
When you do not understand and are merely compelled by the authority of
grown-up people, you are suppressing your own mind, and then fear comes into
being; and that fear pursues you like a shadow throughout life. That is why it is so
important not to be disciplined according to any particular type of thought or
pattern of action. But most older people can think only in those terms. They want
to make you do something for your so-called good. This very process of making
you do something for your own `good’, destroys your sensitivity, your capacity to
understand, and therefore your love. To refuse to be coerced or compelled is very
difficult, because the world about us is so strong; but if we merely give in and do
things without understanding, we fall into a habit of thoughtlessness, and then it
becomes still more difficult for us to break away.
So, in your school, should you have authority, discipline? Or should you be
encouraged by your teachers to discuss these questions, go into them,
understand them so that, when you are grown up and go out into the world, you
will be a mature human being who is capable of meeting intelligently the world’s
problems? You cannot have that deep intelligence if there is any kind of fear.
Fear only makes you dull, it curbs your initiative, it destroys that flame which we
call sympathy generosity, affection, love. So do not allow yourself to be
disciplined into a pattern of action, but find out – which means that you must have
the time to question, to inquire; and the teachers must also have the time; if there
is no time, then time must be made. Fear is a source of corruption, it is the
beginning of degeneration, and to be free of fear is more important than any
examination or any scholastic degree.
Questioner: What is love in itself?
Krishnamurti: What is intrinsic love? Is that what you mean? What is love
without motive, without incentive? Listen carefully and you will find out. We are
examining the question, we are not looking for the answer. In studying
mathematics, or in putting a question, most of you are more concerned with 103
finding the answer than with understanding the problem. If you study the problem,
look into it, examine it, understand it, you will find that the answer is in the
problem. So let us understand what the problem is, and not look for an answer,
either in the Bhagavad Gita, in the Koran, in the Bible, or from some professor or
lecturer. If we can really understand the problem, the answer will come out of it;
because the answer is in the problem, it is not separate from the problem.
The problem is: what is love without motive? Can there be love without any
incentive, without wanting something for oneself out of love? Can there be love in
which there is no sense of being wounded when love is not returned? If I offer
you my friendship and you turn away, am I not hurt? Is that feeling of being hurt
the outcome of friendship, of generosity, of sympathy? Surely, as long as I feel
hurt, as long as there is fear, as long as I help you hoping that you may help me –
which is called service – , there is no love.
If you understand this, the answer is there.
Questioner: What is religion?
Krishnamurti: Do you want an answer from me, or do you want to find out for
yourself? Are you looking for an answer from somebody, however great or
however stupid? Or are you really trying to find out the truth of what religion is?
To find out what true religion is, you have to push aside everything that stands
in the way. If you have many coloured or dirty windows and you want to see the
clear sunlight, you must clean or open the windows, or go outside. Similarly, to
find out what true religion is, you must first see what it is not, and put that aside.
Then you can find out, because then there is direct perception. So let us see what
is not religion.
Doing puja, performing a ritual – is that religion? You repeat over and over
again a certain ritual, a certain mantram in front of an altar or an idol. It may give
you a sense of pleasure, a sense of satisfaction; but is that religion? putting on 104
the sacred thread, calling yourself a Hindu a Buddhist, or a Christian, accepting
certain traditions, dogmas, beliefs – has all this got anything to do with religion?
Obviously not. So religion must be something which can be found only when the
mind has understood and put all this aside.
Religion, in the true sense of the word, does not bring about separation, does
it? But what happens when you are a Moslem and I am a Christian, or when I
believe in something and you do not believe in it? Our beliefs separate us;
therefore our beliefs have nothing to do with religion. Whether we believe in God
or do not believe in God has very little significance; because what we believe or
disbelieve is determined by our conditioning is it not? The society around us, the
culture in which we are brought up, imprints upon the mind certain beliefs, fears
and superstitions which we call religion; but they have nothing to do with religion.
The fact that you believe in one way and I in another, largely depends on where
we happen to have been born, whether in England, in India, in Russia or
America. So belief is not religion, it is only the result of our conditioning.
Then there is the pursuit of personal salvation. I want to be safe; I want to
reach Nirvana, or heaven; I must find a place next to Jesus, next to Buddha, or
on the right hand of a particular God. Your belief does not give me deep
satisfaction, comfort, so I have my own belief which does. And is that religion?
Surely, one’s mind must be free of all these things to find out what true religion is.
And is religion merely a matter of doing good, of serving or helping others? Or
is it something more? Which does not mean that we must not be generous or
kind. But is that all? Is not religion something much greater, much purer, vaster,
more expansive than anything conceived by the mind?
So, to discover what is true religion, you must inquire deeply into all these
thing; and be free of fear. It is like going out of a dark house into the sunshine.
Then you will not ask what is true religion; you will know. There will be the direct
experiencing of that which is true. 105
Questioner: If somebody is unhappy and wants to be happy, is that ambition?
Krishnamurti: When you are suffering, you want to be free of suffering. That is
not ambition, is it? That is the natural instinct of every person. It is the natural
instinct of us all not to have fear, not to have physical or emotional pain. But our
life is such that we are constantly experiencing pain. I eat something which does
not agree with me, and I have a tummyache. Somebody says something to me,
and I feel hurt. I am prevented from doing something which I long to do, and I feel
frustrated, miserable. I am unhappy because my father or my son is dead, and so
on. Life is constantly acting upon me, whether I like it or not, and I am always
getting hurt, frustrated, having painful reactions. So what I have to do is to
understand this whole process. But you see, most of us rum away from it.
When you suffer inwardly, psychologically, what do you do? You look to
somebody for consolation; you read a book, or turn on the radio, or go and do
puja. These are all indications of your running away from suffering. If you run
away from something, obviously you do not understand it. But if you look at your
suffering, observe it from moment to moment, you begin to understand the
problem involved in it, and this is not ambition. Ambition arises when you run
away from your suffering, or when you cling to it, or when you fight it, or when
around it you gradually build theories and hopes. The moment you run away from
suffering, the thing to which you run becomes very important because you identify
yourself with it. You identify yourself with your country, with your position, with
your God, and this is a form of ambition. 106
Part One Chapter 13
What I am saying in all these talks is not something to be merely remembered.
It is not intended that you should try to store in your mind what you hear, to be
recollected and either thought about or acted upon later. If you merely store in
your mind what I am telling you, it will be nothing but memory; it won’t be a living
thing, something which you really understand. It is understanding that matters,
not recollection. I hope you see the difference between the two. Understanding is
immediate, direct, it is something which you experience intensely. But if you
merely remember what you have heard, it will only serve as a pattern, a guide to
be followed, a slogan to be repeated, an idea to be imitated, an ideal on which to
base your life. Understanding is not a matter of remembrance. It is a continuous
intensity, a constant discovery.
So, if you merely remember what I am talking about, you will compare and try
to modify your action or adjust it to what you remember. But if you really
understand, that very understanding brings about action, and then you do not
have to act according to your remembrance. That is why it is very important not
just to remember, but to listen and understand immediately.
When you remember certain words, certain phrases, or recall certain feelings
that are awakened here, and compare your action with what you remember, there
is always a gap between your action and what is remembered. But if you really
understand, there is no copying. Anyone with a certain capacity can remember
words and pass examinations; but if you begin to understand all that is involved in
what you see, in what you hear, in what you feel, that very understanding brings
about an action which you do not have to guide shape or control.
If you merely remember, you will always be comparing; and comparison
breeds envy, on which our whole acquisitive society is based. Comparison will
never bring about understanding. In understanding there is love, whereas 107
comparison is mere intellectualization; it is a mental process of imitating,
following, and in which there is always the danger of the leader and the led. Do
you see this?
In this world, the structure of society is based on the leader and the led, the
example and the one who follows the example, the hero and the worshipper of
the hero. If you go behind this process of leading and being led, you will find that
when you follow another, there is no initiative. There is no freedom either for you
or for the leader; because you create the leader, and the leader then controls
you. As long as you are following an example of self-sacrifice, of greatness, of
wisdom, of love, as long as you have an ideal to be remembered and copied
there will inevitably be a gap, a division between the ideal and your action. A man
who really sees the truth of this, has no ideal, no example; he is not following
anybody. For him there is no guru, no Mahatma, no heroic leader. He is
constantly understanding what lies within himself and what he hears from others,
whether it be from his father or mother, from a teacher, or from a person like
myself who occasionally comes into his life.
If you are now listening and understanding, then you are not following or
imitating; therefore there is no fear, and so there is love. It is very important to
see all this very clearly for yourself, so that you are not bewitched by heroes or
mesmerized by examples, ideals. Examples, heroes, ideals have to be
remembered and are easily forgotten; therefore you have to have a constant
reminder in the form of a picture, an idol, a slogan. In following an ideal, an
example, you are merely remembering; and in remembrance there is no
understanding. You are comparing what you are with what you want to be, and
that very comparison breeds authority; it breeds envy and fear, in which there is
Please listen to all this very carefully and understand it, so that you have no
leaders to follow, no examples, no ideals to imitate or copy; for then you are a 108
free individual with human dignity. You cannot be free if you are everlastingly
comparing yourself with the ideal, with what you should be. To understand what
you actually are – however ugly or beautiful, or however frightened you may be –
is not a matter of remembrance, the mere recollection of an ideal. You have to
watch, to be aware of yourself from moment to moment in daily relationship. To
be conscious of what you actually are, is the process of understanding.
If you really understand what I am talking about, listen to it completely, you will
be free of all the utterly false things that past generations have created. You will
not be burdened with imitation, the mere recollection of an ideal, which only
cripples the mind and heart, breeding fear and envy. Unconsciously you may be
listening to all this very deeply. I hope you are; for then you will see what an
extraordinary transformation comes with deep listening and freedom from
Questioner: Is beauty subjective or objective?
Krishnamurti: You see something beautiful, the river from the veranda; or you
see a child in tatters, crying. If you are not sensitive, if you are not aware of
everything around you, then you just pass by and that incident is of very little
value. A woman comes along carrying a burden on her head. Her clothes are
dirty; she is hungry and tired. Are you aware of the beauty of her walk, or
sensitive to her physical state? Do you see the colour of her sari, however soiled
it may be? There are these objective influences all about you; and if you have no
sensitivity, you will never appreciate them, will you?
To be sensitive is to be aware not only of the things which are called beautiful,
but also of that which is called ugly. The river, the green fields, the trees in the
distance, the clouds of an evening – these things we call beautiful. The dirty, half-
starved villagers, the people who live in squalor, or who have very little capacity
for thought, very little feeling – all this we call ugly. Now, if you observe you will
see that what most of us do is to cling to the beautiful and shut out the ugly. But is 109
it not important to be sensitive to what is called ugliness as well as to beauty? It is
the lack of this sensitivity that causes us to divide life into the ugly and the
beautiful. But if we are Open, receptive, sensitive to the ugly as well as to the
beautiful, then we shall see that they are both full of meaning, and this perception
gives enrichment to life.
So, is beauty subjective or objective? If you were blind, if you were deaf and
could not hear any music, would you be without beauty? Or is beauty something
inward? You may not see with your eyes, you may not hear with your ears; but if
there is the experiencing of this state of being really open, sensitive to everything,
if you are deeply aware of all that is happening inside you, of every thought, of
every feeling – is there not beauty also in that? But you see, we think beauty is
something outside of us. That is why we buy pictures and hang them on the wall.
We want to possess beautiful saris, suits, turbans, we want to surround ourselves
with beautiful things; for we are afraid that without an objective reminder we shall
lose something inwardly. But can you divide life, the whole process of existence,
into the subjective and the objective? Is it not an unitary process? Without the
outer there is not the inner; without the inner there is not the outer.
Questioner: Why do the strong suppress the weak?
Krishnamurti: Do you suppress the weak? Let us find out. In an argument, or
in matters of physical strength, don’t you push away your younger brother, the
one smaller than yourself? Why? Because you want to assert yourself. You want
to show your strength, you want to show how much better or more powerful you
are, so you dominate, you push the little child away; you throw your weight
around. It is the same with the older people. They are bigger than you are, they
know a little more from reading books, they have position, money, authority, so
they suppress, they push you aside; and you accept being pushed aside; and
then you in your turn suppress somebody below you. Each one wants to assert
himself, to dominate, to show that he has power over others. Most of us do not 110
want to be as nothing. We want to be somebodies; and the showing of power
over others gives us that satisfaction the feeling that we are somebodies.
Questioner: Is that why the bigger fish swallow the smaller fish?
Krishnamurti: In the animal world it may perhaps be natural for the big fish to
live on the small fish. It is something we cannot alter. But the big human being
need not live on the little human being. If we know how to use our intelligence, we
can stop living on each other, not only physically but also in the psychological
sense. To see this problem and understand it, which is to have intelligence, is to
stop living on another. But most of us want to live on another, so we take
advantage of somebody who is weaker than ourselves. Freedom does not mean
being free to do anything you like. There can be real freedom only when there is
intelligence; and intelligence comes through the understanding of relationship –
the relationship between you and me, and between each one of us and
Questioner: Is it true that scientific discoveries make our lives easier to live?
Krishnamurti: Have they not made your life easier? You have electricity, have
you not? You snap a switch and you have light. There is a telephone in that room,
and you can talk, if you wish, to a friend in Bombay or New York. Is that not
easy? Or you can take a plane and go very quickly to Delhi or to London. These
things are all the outcome of scientific discoveries, and they have made life
easier. Science has helped to cure diseases; but it has also given us the
hydrogen-bomb which can kill thousands of human beings. So, as science is
constantly discovering more and more, if we do not begin to use scientific
knowledge with intelligence, with love, we are going to destroy ourselves.
Questioner: What is death?
Krishnamurti: What is death? This question from a little girl! 111
You have seen dead bodies being carried to the river; you have seen dead
leaves, dead trees; you know that fruits wither and decay. The birds that are so
full of life in the morning, chattering away, calling to each other, by evening may
be dead. The person who is alive today may be struck down by disaster
tomorrow. We see all this going on. Death is common to us all. We will all end
that way. You may live for thirty, fifty, or eighty years, enjoying, suffering, being
fearful; and at the end of it you are no more.
What is it that we call living, and what is it that we call death? It is really a
complex problem and I do not know if you want to go into it. If we can find out, if
we can understand what living is, then perhaps we shall understand what death
is. When we lose someone whom we love, we feel bereft, lonely; therefore we
say that death has nothing to do with living. We separate death from life. But is
death separate from life? Is not living a process of dying?
For most of us, living means what? It means accumulating, choosing,
suffering, laughing. And in the background, behind all the pleasure and pain,
there is fear – the fear of coming to an end, the fear of what is going to happen
tomorrow, the fear of being without name and fame, without property and
position, all of which we want to continue. But death is inevitable; so we say,
«What happens after death?»
Now, what is it that comes to an end in death? Is it life? What is life? Is life
merely a process of breathing in air and expelling it? Eating, hating, loving,
acquiring, possessing, comparing, being envious – this is what most of us know
as life. For most of us life is suffering, a constant battle of pain and pleasure,
hope and frustration. And can that not come to an end? Should we not die? In the
autumn, with the coming of cold weather, the leaves fall from the trees, and
reappear in the spring. Similarly, should we not die to everything of yesterday, to
all our accumulations and hopes, to all the successes that we have gathered?
Should we not die to all that and live again tomorrow, so that, like a new leaf, we 112
are fresh, tender, sensitive? To a man who is constantly dying, there is no death.
But the man who says, «I am somebody and I must continue» – to him there is
always death and the burning ghat; and that man knows no love. 113
Part One Chapter 14
There are various factors involved in human disintegration, and various ways
in which human beings disintegrate. To integrate is to bring together, to make
complete. If you are integrated, your thoughts, feelings and actions are entirely
one, moving in one direction; they are not in contradiction with each other. You
are a whole human being, without conflict. That is what is implied by integration.
To disintegrate is the opposite of that; it is to go to pieces, to tear asunder, to
scatter that which has been put together. And there are many ways in which
human beings disintegrate, go to pieces, destroy themselves. I think one of the
major factors is the feeling of envy, which is so subtle that it is regarded, under
different names, as being worth while, beneficial, a creditable element in human
Do you know what envy is? It begins when you are still very small – you feel
envious of a friend who looks better than you do, who has better things or a better
position. You are jealous if another boy or girl surpasses you in class, has richer
parents, or belongs to a more distinguished family. So, envy or jealousy begins at
a very tender age, and it gradually takes the form of competition. You want to do
something to distinguish yourself – get better marks be a better athlete than
someone else; you want to outdo, to outshine others.
As you grow older, envy gets stronger and stronger. The poor envy the rich,
and the rich envy the richer. There is the envy of those who have had experience
and want more experience, and the envy of the writer who wants to write still
better. The very desire to be better, to become something worth while, to have
more of this or more of that, is acquisitiveness, the process of gathering, holding.
If you observe you will notice that the instinct in most of us is to acquire, to get
more and more saris, clothes, houses, property. If it is not that, then we want
more experience, more knowledge; we want to feel that we know more than
anyone else, that we have read much more than another. We want to be nearer 114
than others to some big official high up in the government, or to feel that we are
spiritually, inwardly more evolved than another. We want to be conscious that we
are humble, that we are virtuous, that we can explain and others cannot.
So, the more we acquire, the greater is our disintegration. The more property,
the more fame, the more experience, the more knowledge we gather, the swifter
is our deterioration. From the desire to be or to acquire more, springs the
universal disease of jealousy, envy. Have you not observed this in yourself, and
in the older people around you? Have you not noticed how the teacher wants to
be a professor, and the professor wants to be the principal? Or how your own
father or mother wants more property, a bigger name?
In the struggle to acquire we become cruel. In acquisition there is no love. The
acquisitive way of life is an endless battle with one’s neighbour, with society, in
which there is constant fear; but all this we justify, and we accept jealousy as
inevitable. We think that we must be acquisitive – though we call it by a better
sounding word. We call it evolution growth, development, progress, and we say it
You see, most of us are unconscious of all this; we are unaware that we are
greedy, acquisitive, that our hearts are being eaten away by envy, that our minds
are deteriorating. And when for a moment we do become aware of this, we justify
it, or merely say it is wrong; or we try to run away from it in various ways.
Envy is a very difficult thing to uncover or discover in oneself, because the
mind is the centre of envy. The mind itself is envious. The very structure of the
mind is built on acquisition and envy. If you watch your own thoughts, observe the
way you think, you will see that what we call thinking is generally a process of
comparison: «I can explain better, I have greater knowledge, more wisdom».
Thinking in terms of `the more’ is the working of the acquisitive mind; it is its way
of existence. If you do not think in terms of `the more’, you will find it extremely
difficult to think at all. The pursuit of `the more’ is the comparative movement of 115
thought, which creates time – time in which to become, to be somebody; it is the
process of envy, of acquisition. Thinking comparatively, the mind says, «I am this,
and someday I shall be that; «I am ugly, but I am going to be beautiful in the
future». So acquisitiveness, envy, comparative thinking produce discontent,
restlessness; and our reaction to that is to say we must be satisfied with our lot,
we must be content with what we have. That is what the people say who are at
the top of the ladder. Religions universally preach contentment.
Real contentment is not a reaction, it is not the opposite of acquisitiveness; it
is something much vaster and far more significant. The man whose contentment
is the opposite of acquisitiveness, of envy, is like a vegetable; inwardly he is a
dead entity, as most people are. Most people are very quiet because inwardly
they are dead; and they are inwardly dead because they have cultivated the
opposite – the opposite of everything they actually are. Being envious, they say, «I
must not be envious». You may deny the everlasting struggle of envy by wearing
a loincloth and saying you are not going to acquire; but this very desire to be
good to be non-acquisitive, which is the pursuit of the opposite, is still within the
field of time; it is still part of the feeling of envy, because you still want to be
something. Real contentment is not like that; it is something much more creative
and profound. There is no contentment when you choose to be content;
contentment does not come that way. Contentment comes when you understand
what you actually are and do not pursue what you should be.
You think you will be content when you have achieved all that you want. You
may want to be a governor, or a great saint, and you think you will have
contentment by achieving that end. In other words, through the process of envy
you hope to arrive at contentment. Through a wrong means you expect to
achieve a right result. Contentment is not satisfaction. Contentment is something
very vital; it is a state of creativeness in which there is the understanding of what
actually is. If you begin to understand what you actually are from moment to
moment, from day to day, you will find that out of this understanding there comes 116
an extraordinary feeling of vastness, of limitless comprehension. That is, if you
are greedy, what matters is to understand your greed and not try to become non-
greedy; because the very desire to become non-greedy is still a form of greed.
Our religious structure, our ways of thinking, our social life, everything we do is
based on acquisitiveness, on an envious outlook, and for centuries we have been
brought up like that. We are so conditioned to it that we cannot think apart from
`the better’, `the more; therefore we make envy desirable. We do not call it envy,
we call it by some euphemistic term; but if you go behind the word you will see
that this extraordinary desire for `the more’ is egocentric, self-enclosing. It is
The mind that is limited by envy, by the `me’ by the acquisitive desire for
things or for virtue, can never be a truly religious mind. The religious mind is not a
comparative mind. The religious mind sees and understands the full significance
of what is. That is why it is very important to understand yourself, which is to
perceive the workings of your own mind: the motives, the intentions, the longings,
the desires, the constant pressure of pursuance which creates envy,
acquisitiveness and comparison. When all these have come to an end through
the understanding of what is, only then will you know true religion, what God is.
Questioner: Is truth relative or absolute?
Krishnamurti: First of all, let us look through the words at the significance of
the question. We want something absolute, don’t we? The human craving is for
something permanent, fixed, immovable, eternal, something that does not decay,
that has no death – an idea, a feeling, a state that is everlasting, so that the mind
can cling to it. We must understand this craving before we can understand the
question and answer it rightly. 117
The human mind wants permanency in everything – in relationship, in property,
in virtue. It wants something which cannot be destroyed. That is why we say God
is permanent, or truth is absolute.
But what is truth? Is truth some extraordinary mystery, something far away,
unimaginable, abstract? Or is truth something which you discover from moment
to moment, from day to day? If it can be accumulated, gathered through
experience, then it is not truth; for behind this gathering lies the same spirit of
acquisitiveness. If it is something far away which can be found only through a
system of meditation, or through the practice of denial and sacrifice, again it is not
truth for that also is a process of acquisitiveness.
Truth is to be discovered and understood in every action, in every thought, in
every feeling, however trivial or transient; it is to be observed at each moment of
every day; it is to be listened to in what the husband and the wife say, in what the
gardener says, in what your friends say, and in the process of your own thinking.
Your thinking may be false, it may be conditioned, limited; and to discover that
your thinking is conditioned, limited, is truth. That very discovery sets your mind
free from limitation. If you discover that you are greedy – if you discover it, and are
not just told by somebody else – that discovery is truth, and that truth has its own
action upon your greed.
Truth is not something which you can gather, accumulate, store up and then
rely on as a guide. That is only another form of possession. And it is very difficult
for the mind not to acquire, not to store up. When you realize the significance of
this, you will find out what an extraordinary thing truth is. Truth is timeless, but the
moment you capture it – as when you say, «I have found truth, it is mine» – it is no
So, whether truth is `absolute’ or timeless depends on the mind. When the
mind says, «I want the absolute, something which never decays, which knows no
death», what it really wants is something permanent to cling to; so it creates the 118
permanent. But in a mind that is aware of everything that is happening outwardly
and within itself, and sees the truth of it – such a mind is timeless; and only such a
mind can know that which is beyond names, beyond the permanent and the
Questioner: What is external awareness?
Krishnamurti: Are you not aware that you are sitting in this hall? Are you not
aware of the trees, of the sunshine? Are you not aware that the crow is cawing,
the dog is barking? Do you not see the colour of the flowers, the movement of the
leaves, the people walking by? That is external awareness. When you see the
sunset, the stars at night, the moonlight on the water, all that is external
awareness, is it not? And as you are externally aware, so also you can be
inwardly aware of your thoughts and feelings, of your motives and urges, of your
prejudices, envies, greed and pride. If you are really aware outwardly, the inward
awareness also begins to awaken, and you become more and more conscious of
your reaction to what people say, to what you read, and so on. The external
reaction or response in your relationship with other people is the outcome of an
inward state of wanting, of hope, of anxiety, fear. This outward and inward
awareness is an unitary process which brings about a total integration of human
Questioner: What is real and eternal happiness?
Krishnamurti: When you are completely healthy, you are not conscious of your
body, are you? It is only when there is disease, discomfort, pain, that you become
conscious of it. When you are free to think completely, without resistance, there is
no consciousness of thinking. It is only when there is friction, a blockage, a
limitation, that you begin to be conscious of a thinker. Similarly, is happiness
something of which you are aware? In the moment of joy, are you aware that you
are joyous? It is only when you are unhappy that you want happiness; and then
this question arises, «What is real and eternal happiness?» 119
You see how the mind plays tricks on itself. Because you are unhappy,
miserable, in poor circumstances, and so on, you want something eternal, a
permanent happiness. And is there such a thing? Instead of asking about
permanent happiness, find out how to be free of the diseases which are gnawing
at you and creating pain, both physical and psychological. When you are free,
there is no problem, you don’t ask whether there is eternal happiness or what that
happiness is. It is a lazy, foolish man who, being in prison, wants to know what
freedom is; and lazy, foolish people will tell him. To the man in prison, freedom is
mere speculation. But if he gets out of that prison, he does not speculate about
freedom: it is there.
So, is it not important, instead of asking what happiness is, to find out why we
are unhappy? Why is the mind crippled? Why is it that our thoughts are limited,
small, petty? If we can understand the limitation of thought, see the truth of it, in
that discovery of the truth there is liberation.
Questioner: Why do people want things?
Krishnamurti: Don’t you want food when you are hungry? Don’t you want
clothes and a house to shelter you? These are normal wants, are they not?
Healthy people naturally recognize that they need certain things. It is only the
diseased or unbalanced man who says, «I do not need food». It is a perverted
mind that must either have many houses, or no house at all to live in.
Your body gets hungry because you are using energy, so it wants more food;
that is normal. But if you say, «I must have the tastiest food, I must have only the
food that my tongue takes pleasure in», then perversion begins. All of us – not
only the rich, but everybody in the world – must have food, clothing and shelter;
but if these physical necessities are limited, controlled and made available only to
the few, then there is perversion; an unnatural process is set going. If you say, «I
must accumulate, I must have everything for myself», you are depriving others of
that which is essential for their daily needs. 120
You see, the problem is not simple, because we want other things besides
what is essential for our daily needs. I may be satisfied with a little food, a few
clothes and a small room to live in; but I want something else. I want to be a well-
known person, I want position, power, prestige, I want to be nearest to God, I
want my friends to think well of me, and so on. These inward wants pervert the
outward interests of every human being. The problem is a little difficult because
the inward desire to be the richest or most powerful man, the urge to be
somebody, is dependent for its fulfilment on the possession of things, including
food, clothing and shelter. I lean on these things in order to become inwardly rich;
but as long as I am in this state of dependence, it is impossible for me to be
inwardly rich, which is to be utterly simple inwardly. 121
Part One Chapter 15
Perhaps some of you are interested in what I have been saying about envy. I
am not using the word `remember’ because, as I have explained, merely to
remember words or phrases makes the mind dull, lethargic, heavy, uncreative. It
is very destructive merely to remember. What is important, especially while you
are young, is to understand rather than to cultivate memory; because
understanding frees the mind, it awakens the critical faculty of analysis. It enables
you to see the significance of the fact and not just rationalize it. When you merely
remember certain phrases, sentences or ideas about envy for example, that
remembrance prevents you from looking at the fact of envy. But if you see and
understand the envy which lurks behind the facade of good works, of
philanthropy, of religion, and behind your own desire to be great to be saintly – if
you really see and understand this for yourself, then you will discover what an
extraordinary freedom there is from envy, from jealousy.
So it is really important to understand, because remembrance is a dead thing;
and perhaps that is one of the major causes of human deterioration. We are very
inclined to imitate, to copy, to follow ideals, heroes; and what happens? Gradually
the flame of creativity is lost and only the picture, the symbol, the word remains,
without anything behind it. WE are taught to memorize, and this is obviously not
creative. There is no understanding in merely remembering things that you have
reed in a books, or that you have been taught; and when throughout life memory
alone is cultivated, real understanding is gradually destroyed.
Please listen carefully, because it is very important to understand this. It is
understanding that is creative, not memory, not remembrance. Understanding is
the liberating factor, not the things you have stored up in your mind. And
understanding is not the future. The mere cultivation of memory brings about the
idea of the future; but if you understand directly, that is, if you see something very 122
clearly for yourself, then there is no problem. A problem exists only when you do
not see clearly.
What is important, then, is not what you know, not the knowledge or the
experience you have gathered, but to see things as they are and to understand
them immediately, because comprehension is immediate, it is not in the future.
When experience and knowledge take the place of understanding, the become
deteriorating factors in life. For most of us, knowledge and experience are very
important; but if you go behind the words and see the real significance of
knowledge and experience, you will find that they become major factors in human
deterioration. This does not mean that knowledge is not right about certain levels
of our existence. It is right and necessary to know how to plant a tree and what
kind of nourishment is should have, or how to feed the chickens, or how to raise a
family properly, or how to build a bridge, and so on. THere is an enormous
amount of scientific knowledge available, which can be used rightly. It is right, for
example, that we should know how to build a dynamo or a motor. But when there
no understanding, then knowledge, which is merely memory, becomes very
destructive; and you will find that experience also becomes destructive, because
experience strengthens the background of memory.
I wonder if you have noticed how many grown-up people think
bureaucratically, as officials. If they are teachers, their thinking is limited to that
function; they are not human beings pulsating with life. They know the rules of
grammar, or mathematics, or a little history; and because their thinking is
circumscribed by that memory, that experience, their knowledge is destroying
them. Life is not a thing that you learn from somebody. Life is something that you
listen to, that you understand from moment to moment without accumulating
experience. After all, what have you got when you have accumulated
experience? When you say, «I have had an enormous amount of experience», or
«I know the meaning of the words», it is memory, is it not? You have had certain
experiences, you have learned how to run an office, how to put up a building or a 123
bridge, and according to that background you get further experience. You
cultivate experience, which is memory; and with that memory you meet life.
Like the river, life is running, swift, volatile, never still; and when you meet life
with the heavy burden of memory, naturally you are never in contact with life. You
are meeting life with your own knowledge, experience, which only increases the
burden of memory; so knowledge and experience gradually become destructive
factors in life.
I hope you are understanding this very deeply, because what I am saying is
very true; and if you understand it, you will use knowledge at its proper level. But
if you do not understand and merely accumulate knowledge and experience as a
means to get on in life, as a means to strengthen your position in the world, then
knowledge and experience will become most destructive, they will destroy your
initiative, your creativeness. Most of us are so burdened with authority, with what
other people have said, with the Bhagavad Gita, with ideas, that our lives have
become very dull. These are all memories, remembrances; they are not things
that we have understood, they are not living. There is no new thing as long as we
are burdened with memories; and life being everlastingly new, we cannot
understand it. Therefore our living is very tedious; we become lethargic, we grow
mentally and physically fat and ugly. It is very important to understand this.
Simplicity is freedom of the mind from experience, from the burden of memory.
We think that simplicity is a matter of having but few clothes and a begging bowl;
we think that a simple life consists in possessing very little externally. That may
be all right. But real simplicity is freedom from knowledge, freedom from
remembering or accumulating experience. Have you not noticed the people who
make a point of having very little and who think they are very simple? Have you
not listened to them? Though they may have only a loincloth and a staff, they are
full of ideals. Inwardly they are very complex, battling against themselves,
struggling to follow their own projections, their own beliefs. Inwardly they are not
simple; they are full of what they have gathered from books, full of ideals, 124
dogmas, fears. Outwardly they may have only a staff and a few clothes. But real
simplicity of life is to be inwardly empty, innocent, without the accumulation of
knowledge, without beliefs, dogmas without the fear of authority; and that state of
inward simplicity can come into being only when you really understand every
experience from moment to moment. If you have understood an experience, then
that experience is over, it leaves no residue. It is because we do not understand
experience, because we remember the pleasure or the pain of it, that we are
never inwardly simple. Those who are religiously inclined pursue the things that
make for outward simplicity; but inwardly they are chaotic, confused, burdened
with innumerable longings, desires, knowledge; they are frightened of living, of
If you look at envy, you will see that it is a deep-rooted form of remembering
which is a very destructive, a very deteriorating factor in our lives; and so likewise
is experience. This does not mean that you must forget everyday facts, or avoid
experience. You can’t. But the man who is full of experience is not necessarily a
wise man. The man who has an experience and just clings to that experience is
not a wise man; he is like any schoolboy who reads and accumulates information
from books. A wise man is innocent, free of experience; he is inwardly simple,
though outwardly he may have all the things of the earth – or very little.
Questioner: Does intelligence build character?
Krishnamurti: What do we mean by `character’? And what do we mean by
`intelligence’? Every politician – whether the Delhi variety, or your own local tub-
thumper – continually uses such words as `character’, `ideal’, `intelligence’,
`religion’, `God’. We listen to these words with rapt attention, because they seem
very important. Most of us live on words; and the more elaborate, the more
exquisite the words, the more satisfied we feel. So, let us find out what we mean
by `intelligence’ and what we mean by `character’. Don’t say I am not answering
you definitely. To seek definitions, conclusions, is one of the tricks of the mind, 125
and it means that you don’t want to investigate and understand, you just want to
What is intelligence? If a man is frightened, anxious, envious, greedy, if his
mind is copying, imitating, filled with other people’s experiences and knowledge; if
his thinking is limited, shaped by society, by environment – is such a man
intelligent. He is not, is he? And can a man who is frightened, unintelligent, have
character – character being something original, not the mere repeating of
traditional do’s and don’ts? Is character respectability?
Do you understand what that word `respectability’ means? You are
respectable when you are looked up to, respected by a majority of the people
around you. And what do the majority of people respect – the people of the family,
the people of the mass? They respect the things which they themselves want and
which they have projected as a goal or an ideal; they respect that which they see
to be in contrast with their own more lowly state. If you are rich and powerful, or
have a big name politically, or have written successful books, you are respected
by the majority. What you say may be utter nonsense, but when you talk, people
listen because they regard you as a great man. And when you have thus won the
respect of the many, the following of the multitude, it gives you a sense of
respectability a feeling of having arrived. But the so-called sinner is nearer to God
than the respectable man, because the respectable man is clothed in hypocrisy.
Is character the outcome of imitation, of being controlled by the fear of what
people will say or won’t say? Is character the mere strengthening of one’s own
tendencies, prejudices? Is it an upholding of the tradition, whether of India, of
Europe or America? That is generally called having character – being a strong
person who supports the local tradition and so is respected by the many. But
when you are prejudiced, imitative, bound by tradition, or when you are
frightened, is there intelligence, is there character? Imitating, following,
worshipping, having ideas – that way leads to respectability, but not to
understanding. A man of ideals is respectable; but he will never be near God, he 126
will never know what it is to love, because his ideals are a means of covering up
his fear, his imitation, his loneliness.
So, without understanding yourself, without being aware of all that is operating
in your own mind – how you think, whether you are copying, imitating, whether
you are frightened, whether you are seeking power – , there cannot be
intelligence. And it is intelligence that creates character, not hero worship or the
pursuit of an ideal. The understanding of oneself, of one’s own extraordinarily
complicated self, is the beginning of intelligence, which reveals character.
Questioner: Why does a man feel disturbed when another person looks at him
Krishnamurti: Do you feel nervous when someone looks at you? When a
servant, a villager – someone whom you consider inferior – looks at you, you do
not even know he is there, you just pass him by; you have no regard for him. But
when your father, your mother, or your teacher looks at you, you feel somewhat
anxious because they know more than you do, and they may find out things
about you. Going a little higher, if a government official or some other prominent
visitor takes notice of you, you are pleased, because you hope to get something
from him, a job or some kind of reward. And if a man looks at you from whom you
do not want anything, you are quite indifferent, are you not? So it is important to
find out what is operating in your own mind when people look at you, because
how you inwardly respond to a look or a smile means a great deal.
Unfortunately, most of us are utterly unaware of all these things. We never
notice the beggar, or the villager carrying his heavy burden, or the flying parrot.
We are so occupied with our own sorrows, longings, fears, with our pleasures
and rituals that we are unaware of many significant things in life.
Questioner: Can we not cultivate understanding? When we constantly try to
understand, does it not mean that we are practicing understanding? 127
Krishnamurti: Is understanding cultivable? Is it something to be practised as
you practice tennis, or the piano, or singing, or dancing? You can read a book
over and over again till you are thoroughly familiar with it. Is understanding like
that, something to be learned through constant repetition, which is really the
cultivation of memory? Is not understanding from moment to moment, and
therefore something that cannot be practised?
When do you understand? What is the state of your mind and heart when
there is understanding? When you hear me say something very true about
jealousy – that jealousy is destructive, that envy is a major factor in the
deterioration of human relationship – , how do you respond to it? Do you see the
truth of it immediately? Or do you begin to think about jealousy, to talk about it,
rationalize it, analyze it? Is understanding a process of either rationalization or
slow analysis? Can understanding be cultivated as you cultivate your garden to
produce fruits or flowers? Surely, to understand is to see the truth of something
directly, without any barrier of words, prejudices or motives.
Questioner: Is the power of understanding the same in all persons?
Krishnamurti: Suppose something true is presented to you and you see the
truth of it very quickly; your understanding is immediate because you have no
barriers. You are not full of your own importance, you are eager to find out, so
you perceive immediately. But I have many barriers, many prejudices. I am
jealous torn by conflicts based upon envy, full of my own importance. I have
accumulated many things in life, and I really do not want to see; therefore I do not
see, I do not understand.
Questioner: Can’t one remove the barriers slowly by constantly trying to
Krishnamurti: No. I can remove the barriers, not by trying to understand, but
only when I really feel the importance of not having barriers – which means that I 128
must be willing to see the barriers. Suppose you and I hear someone say that
envy is destructive. You listen and understand the significance, the truth of it, and
you are free of that feeling of envy, of jealousy. But I do not want to see the truth
of it, because if I did it would destroy my whole structure of life.
Questioner: I feel the necessity of removing the barriers.
Krishnamurti: Why do you feel that? Do you want to remove the barriers
because of circumstances? Do you want to remove them because somebody has
told you that you should? Surely, the barriers are removed only when you see for
yourself that to have barriers of any kind creates a mind which is in a state of
slow decay. And when do you see this? When you suffer? But does suffering
necessarily awaken you to the importance of removing all barriers? Or does it, on
the contrary, lead you to create more barriers?
You will find that all barriers drop away when you yourself are beginning to
listen, to observe, to find out. There is no reason for removing the barriers; and
the moment you bring in a reason, you are not removing them. The miracle, the
greatest blessing is to give your own inward perception an opportunity to remove
the barriers. But when you say that the barriers must be removed and then
practice removing them, that is the work of the mind; and the mind cannot remove
the barriers. You must see that no attempt on your part can remove them. Then
the mind becomes very quiet, very still; and in this stillness you discover that
which is true. 129
Part One Chapter 16
We have been talking about the deteriorating factors in human existence, and
we said that fear is one of the fundamental causes of this deterioration. We also
said that the following of authority in any form, whether self-imposed or
established from outside, as well as any form of imitation, copying, is destructive
of incentive, of creativeness, and that it blocks the discovery of what is true.
Truth is not something that can be followed; it has to be discovered. You
cannot find truth through any book or through any accumulation of experience. As
we discussed the other day, when experience becomes a remembrance, that
remembrance destroys creative understanding. Any feeling of malice or envy,
however slight it may be, is also destructive of this creative understanding without
which there is no happiness. Happiness is not to be bought, nor does it come
when you go after it; but it is there when there is no conflict.
Now, is it not very important, especially while we are still in school, to begin to
understand the significance of words? The word, the symbol has become an
extraordinarily destructive thing for most of us, and of this we are unaware. Do
you know what I mean by the symbol? The symbol is the shadow of truth. The
gramophone record, for example, is not the real voice; but the voice has been put
on the record, and to this we listen. The word, the symbol, the image, the idea is
not the truth; but we worship the image, we revere the symbol, we give great
significance to the word, and all this is very destructive; because then the word,
the symbol, the image becomes all-important. That is how temples, churches,
and the various organized religions with their symbols, beliefs and dogmas,
become factors which prevent the mind from going beyond and discovering the
truth. So do not be caught up in words, in symbols, which automatically cultivate
habit. Habit is a most destructive factor, because when you want to think
creatively, habit comes in the way. 130
Perhaps you do not understand the whole significance of what I am saying;
but you will, if you think about it. Go for a walk by yourself occasionally and think
out these things. Find out what is meant by words like `life’, `God’, `duty’,
`cooperation’ – all those extraordinary words which we use so freely.
Have you ever asked yourself what `duty’ means? Duty to what? To the aged,
to what tradition says: that you must sacrifice yourself for your parents, for your
country, for your gods. That word `duty’ has become extraordinarily significant to
you, has it not? It is pregnant with a lot of meaning which is imposed upon you.
You are taught that you have a duty to your country, to your gods, to your
neighbour; but what is much more important than the word `duty’ is to find out for
yourself what the truth is. Your parents and society use that word `duty’ as a
means of moulding you, shaping you according to their particular idiosyncrasies,
their habits of thought, their likes and dislikes, hoping thereby to guarantee their
own safety. So take time, be patient, analyze, go into all this and find out for
yourself what is true. Do not merely accept the word `duty’, for where there is
`duty’, there is no love.
Similarly, take the word `co-operation. The State wants you to co-operate with
it. If you co-operate with something without understanding, you are merely
imitating, copying. But if you understand, if you find out the truth of something,
then in co-operating you are living with it, moving with it; it is part of you.
So it is very necessary to be aware of the words, the symbols, the images that
are crippling your thinking. To be aware of them and to find out whether you can
go beyond them is essential if you are to live creatively, without disintegrating.
You know, we allow the word `duty’ to kill us. The idea that you have a duty to
parents, to relations, to the country, sacrifices you. It makes you go out to fight, to
kill, and to be killed or maimed. The politician, the leader says it is necessary to
destroy others in order to protect the community, the country, the ideology or way
of life; so killing becomes part of your duty, and you are soon drawn into the 131
military spirit. The military spirit makes you obedient, it makes you physically very
disciplined; but inwardly your mind is gradually destroyed because you are
imitating, following, copying. You become a mere tool of the older people, of the
politician, an instrument of propaganda. You come to accept killing to protect your
country as inevitable because somebody says it is necessary. But no matter who
says it is necessary, should you not think it out very clearly for yourself?
To kill is obviously the most destructive and corrupt action in life, especially to
kill another human being; because when you kill, you are full of hatred, however
much you may rationalize it, and you also create antagonism in others. You can
kill with a word as well as with an action; and killing other human beings has
never solved any of our problems. War has never cured any of our economic or
social ills, nor has it brought about mutual understanding in human relationship;
and yet the whole world is everlastingly preparing for war. Many reasons are put
forward as to why it is necessary to kill people; and there are also many reasons
for not killing. But do not be swept away by any reasoning; because today you
may have a good reason for not killing and tomorrow you may have a much
stronger reason for killing.
First see the truth of it, feel how essential it is not to kill. Regardless of what
may be said by others, from the highest authority to the lowest, find out for
yourself the truth of the matter; and when you are inwardly clear about that, then
you can reason out the details. But do not start with a reason, because every
reason can be met by a counter-reason and you will be caught in the net of
reasoning. The important thing is to see directly for yourself what the truth is; and
then you can begin to use reason. When you perceive for yourself what is true;
when you know that to kill another is not love; when you inwardly feel the truth
that there must be no enmity in your relationship with another, then no amount of
reasoning can destroy that truth. Then no politician, no priest, no parent can
sacrifice you for an idea or for his own safety. 132
The old have always sacrificed the young; and will you in your turn, as you
grow older, also sacrifice the young? Do you not want to put an end to this
sacrifice? Because it is the most destructive way of living, it is one of the greatest
factors of human deterioration. To put an end to it, you as an individual have to
find out the truth for yourself. Without belonging to any group or organization, you
have to discover the truth of not killing of feeling love, of having no enmity. Then
no amount of words, no cunning reasons can ever persuade you to kill or to
So it is very important, while you are young, to think out, to feel out these
things for yourself, and thereby lay the foundation for the discovery of truth.
Questioner: What is the purpose of creation?
Krishnamurti: Are you really interested in that? What do you mean by
`creation’? What is the purpose of living? Why do you exist, read, study, pass
examinations? What is the purpose of relationship – the relationship of parents
and children, of husband and wife? What is life? Is that what you mean when you
ask this question, «What is the purpose of creation?» When do you ask such a
question? When inwardly you do not see clearly, when you are confused,
miserable, in the dark, when you do not perceive or feel the truth of the matter for
yourself, then you want to know what is the purpose of life.
Now, there are many people who will tell you the purpose of life; they will tell
you what the sacred books say. Clever people will go on inventing various
purposes of life. The political group will have one purpose, the religious group will
have another, and so on and on. And how are you to find out what is the purpose
of life when you yourself are confused? Surely, as long as you are confused, you
can only receive an answer which is also confused. If your mind is disturbed, if it
is not really quiet, whatever answer you receive will be through this screen of
confusion, anxiety, fear; therefore the answer will be perverted. So the important
thing is not to ask what is the purpose of life, but to clear away the confusion that 133
is within you. It is like a blind man asking, «What is light?» If I try to tell him what
light is, he will listen according to his blindness, according to his darkness; but
from the moment he is able to see, he will never ask what is light. It is there.
Similarly, if you can clarify the confusion within yourself, then you will find out
what the purpose of life is; you will not have to ask, you will not have to look for it.
To be free of confusion you have to see and understand the causes which bring
about confusion; and the causes of confusion are very clear. They are rooted in
the `me’ that is constantly wanting to expand itself through possessing, through
becoming, through success, through imitation; and the symptoms are jealousy,
envy, greed, fear. As long as there is this inward confusion, you are always
seeking outward answers; but when the inward confusion is cleared away, then
you will know the significance of life.
Questioner: What is karma.
Krishnamurti: Karma is one of the peculiar words we use, it is one of those
words in which our thought is caught. The poor man has to accept life in terms of
a theory. He has to accept misery, starvation, squalor, because he is underfed
and has not the energy to break away and create a revolution. He has to accept
what life gives him, and so he says, «It is my karma to be like this; and the
politicians, the big ones, encourage him to accept his misery. You do not want
him to revolt against all that do you? But when you pay the poor man so little
while you have so much, that is very likely to happen; so you use that word karma
to encourage his passive acceptance of the misery in his life.
The educated man, the man who has achieved, who has inherited, who has
come to the top of things, the man who has power, position and the means of
corruption – he also says, «It is my karma. I have done well in a previous life and
now I am reaping the reward of my past action». 134
But is that the meaning of karma – to accept things as they are? Do you
understand? Does karma mean accepting things as they are without question,
without a spark of revolt – which is the attitude many of us have? So you see how
easily certain words become a net in which we get caught, because we are not
really alive. The true significance of that word karma cannot be understood as a
theory; it cannot be understood if you say, «That is what the Bhagavad Gita says».
You know, the comparative mind is the most stupid mind of all, because it
does not think; it merely says, «I have read such-and-such a book, and what you
say is like it». When you say this, you have stopped thinking; when you compare,
you are no longer investigating to find out what is true, irrespective of what any
particular book or guru has said. So what is important is to throw off all authorities
and investigate, find out, and not compare. Comparison is the worship of
authority, it is imitation, thoughtlessness. To compare is the very nature of a mind
that is not awake to discover what is true. You say, «That is so, it is like what was
said by the Buddha», and you think you have thereby solved your problems. But
really to discover the truth of anything, you have to be extremely active, vigorous,
self-reliant; and you cannot have self-reliance as long as you are thinking
comparatively. please listen to this. If there is no self-reliance, you lose all power
to investigate and find out what is true. Self-reliance brings a certain freedom in
which you discover; and that freedom is denied to you when you are comparing.
Questioner: Is there an element of fear in respect?
Krishnamurti: What do you say? When you show respect to your teacher, to
your parents, to your guru, and respect to your servant; when you kick the people
who are not important to you, and lick the boots of those who are above you, the
officials, the politicians, the big ones – is there not an element of fear in this?
From the big ones, from the teacher, the examiner, the professor, from your
parents, from the politician or the bank manager, you hope to get something;
therefore you are respectful. But what can the poor people give you? So the poor 135
you disregard, you treat them with contempt, you do not even know they are
there when they pass you in the street. You do not look at them, it does not
concern you that they shiver in the cold, that they are dirty and hungry. But you
will give to the big ones, to the great of the land, even when you have very little,
in order to receive more of their favours. In this there is definitely an element of
fear, is there not? There is no love. If you had love in your heart, you would show
respect to those who have nothing and also to those who have everything; you
would neither be afraid of those who have, nor disregard those who have not.
Respect in the hope of reward is the outcome of fear. In love there is no fear. 136
Part One Chapter 17
We have been examining the various factors that bring about deteriorate in our
lives, in our activities, in our thoughts; and we have seen that conflict is one of the
major factors of this deterioration. And is not peace also, as it is generally
understood, a destructive factor? Can peace be brought about by the mind? If we
have peace through the mind, does not that also lead to corruption, deterioration?
If we are not very alert and observant, that word `peace’ becomes like a narrow
window through which we look at the world and try to understand it. Through a
narrow window we can see only part of the sky, and not the whole vastness, the
magnificence of it. There is no possibility of having peace by merely pursuing
peace, which is inevitably a process of the mind.
It may be a little difficult to understand this, but I shall try to make it as simple
and clear as I can. If we can understand what it means to be peaceful, then
perhaps we shall understand the real significance of love.
We think that peace is something to be achieved through the mind, through
reason; but is it? Can peace ever come about through any quieting through any
control or domination of thought? We all want peace; and for most of us, peace
means to be left alone, not to be disturbed or interfered with, so we build a wall
around our own mind, a wall of ideas.
It is very important for you to understand this, for as you grow older you will be
faced with the problems of war and peace. Is peace something to be pursued,
caught and tamed by the mind? What most of us call peace is a process of
stagnation, a slow decay. We think we shall find peace by clinging to a set of
ideas, by inwardly building a wall of security, safety, a wall of habits, beliefs; we
think that peace is a matter of pursuing a principle, of cultivating a particular
tendency, a particular fancy, a particular wish. We want to live without
disturbance, so we find some corner of the universe, or of our own being, into 137
which we crawl, and we live in the darkness of self-enclosure. That is what most
of us seek in our relationship with the husband, with the wife, with parents, with
friends. Unconsciously we want peace at any price, and so we pursue it.
But can the mind ever find peace? Is not the mind itself a source of
disturbance? The mind can only gather, accumulate, deny, assert, remember,
pursue. Peace is absolutely essential, because without peace we cannot live
creatively. But is peace something to be realized through the struggles, the
denials, the sacrifices of the mind? Do you understand what I am talking about?
We may be discontented while we are young, but as we grow older, unless we
are very wise and watchful, that discontent will be canalized into some form of
peaceful resignation to life. The mind is everlastingly seeking a secluded habit,
belief, desire, something in which it can live and be at peace with the world. But
the mind cannot find peace, because it can think only in terms of time, in terms of
the past, the present and the future: what it has been, what it is, and what it will
be. It is constantly condemning, judging, weighing, comparing, pursuing its own
vanities, its own habits, beliefs; and such a mind can never be peaceful. It can
delude itself into a state which it calls peace; but that is not peace. The mind can
mesmerize itself by the repetition of words and phrases, by following somebody,
or by accumulating knowledge; but it is not peaceful, because such a mind is
itself the centre of disturbance, it is by its very nature the essence of time. So the
mind with which we think, with which we calculate, with which we contrive and
compare, is incapable of finding peace. Peace is not the outcome of reason; and
yet, as you will see if you observe them, the organized religions are caught up in
this pursuit of peace through the mind. Real peace is as creative and as pure as
war is destructive; and to find that peace, one must understand beauty. That is
why it is important, while we are very young, to have beauty about us – the beauty
of buildings that have proper proportions, the beauty of cleanliness, of quiet talk
among the elders. In understanding what beauty is, we shall know love, for the
understanding of beauty is the peace of the heart. 138
Peace is of the heart, not of the mind. To know peace you have to find out
what beauty is. The way you talk, the words you use, the gestures you make –
these things matter very much, for through them you will discover the refinement
of your own heart. Beauty cannot be defined, it cannot be explained in words. It
can be understood only when the mind is very quiet.
So, while you are young and sensitive, it is essential that you – as well as
those who are responsible for you – should create an atmosphere of beauty. The
way you dress, the way you walk, the way you sit, the way you eat – all these
things, and the things about you, are very important. As you grow up you will
meet the ugly things of life – ugly buildings, ugly people with their malice, envy,
ambition, cruelty; and if in your heart there is not founded and established the
perception of beauty, you will easily be swept away by the enormous current of
the world. Then you will get caught in the endless struggle to find peace through
the mind. The mind projects an idea of what peace is and tries to pursue it,
thereby getting caught in the net of words in the net of fancies and illusions.
Peace can come only when there is love. If you have peace merely through
security, financial or otherwise, or through certain dogmas, rituals, verbal
repetitions, there is no creativeness; there is no urgency to bring about a
fundamental revolution in the world. Such peace only leads to contentment and
resignation. But when in you there is the understanding of love and beauty, then
you will find the peace that is not a mere projection of the mind. It is this peace
that is creative, that removes confusion and brings order within oneself. But this
peace does not come through any effort to find it. It comes when you are
constantly watching, when you are sensitive to both the ugly and the beautiful, to
the good and the bad, to all the fluctuations of life. Peace is not something petty,
created by the mind; it is enormously great, infinitely extensive, and it can be
understood only when the heart is full.
Questioner: Why do we feel inferior before our superiors? 139
Krishnamurti: Whom do you consider your superiors? Those who know?
Those who have titles, degrees? Those from whom you want something, some
kind of reward or position. The moment you regard somebody as superior do you
not regard somebody else as inferior?
Why do we have this division of the superior and the inferior? It exists only
when we want something, does it not? I feel less intelligent than you are, I do not
have as much money or capacity as you have, I am not as happy as you seem to
be, or I want something from you; so I feel inferior to you. When I am envious of
you, or when I am trying to imitate you, or when I want something from you, I
immediately become your inferior, because I have put you on a pedestal, I have
given you a superior value. So, psychologically, inwardly, I create both the
superior and the inferior; I create this sense of inequality between those who
have and those who have not.
Among human beings there is enormous inequality of capacity, is there not?
There is the man who designs the jet plane, and the man who guides the plough.
These vast differences in capacity – intellectual, verbal, physical – are inevitable.
But you see we give tremendous significance to certain functions. We consider
the governor, the Prime minister, the inventor, the scientist, as being enormously
more important than the servant; so function assumes status. As long as we give
status to particular functions, there is bound to be a sense of inequality, and the
gap between those who are capable and those who are not becomes
unbridgeable. If we can keep function stripped of status, then there is a possibility
of bringing about a real feeling of equality. But for this there must be love;
because it is love that destroys the sense of the inferior and the superior.
The world is divided into those who have – the rich, the powerful, the capable,
those who have everything – and those who have not. And is it possible to bring
about a world in which this division between the `haves’ and the `have-nots’ does
not exist? Actually, what is happening is this: seeing the breach, this gulf between 140
the rich and the poor, between the man of great capacity and the man of little or
no capacity, the politicians and economists are trying to solve the problem
through economic and social reform. That may be all right. But a real
transformation can never take place as long as we do not understand the whole
process of antagonism, envy, malice; for it is only when this process is
understood and comes to an end that there can be love in our hearts.
Questioner: Is it possible to have peace in our lives when at every moment we
are struggling against our environment?
Krishnamurti: What is our environment? Our environment is society, the
economic, religious, national and class environment of the country in which we
grow up; and also the climate. Most of us are struggling to fit in, to adjust
ourselves to our environment, because we hope to get a job from that
environment, we hope to have the benefits of that particular society. But what is
that society made up of? Have you ever thought about it? Have you ever looked
closely at the society in which you are living and to which you are trying to adjust
yourself? That society is based on a set of beliefs and traditions which is called
religion, and on certain economic values, is it not? You are part of that society,
and you are struggling to adjust yourself to it. But that society is the outcome of
acquisitiveness, it is the outcome of envy, fear, greed, possessive pursuits, with
occasional flashes of love. And if you want to be intelligent, fearless, non-
acquisitive, can you adjust yourself to such a society? Can you?
Surely, you have to create a new society, which means that you as an
individual have to be free of acquisitiveness of envy, of greed; you have to be free
of nationalism, of patriotism, and of all narrowing down of religious thought. Only
then is there a possibility of creating something new, a totally new society. But as
long as you thoughtlessly struggle to adjust yourself to the present society, you
are merely following the old pattern of envy, of power and prestige, of beliefs
which are corruptive. 141
So it is very important, while you are young, to begin to understand these
problems and bring about real freedom within yourself, for then you will create a
new world, a new society, a new relationship between man and man. And to help
you do this is surely the true function of education.
Questioner: Why do we suffer? Why can we not be free of disease and death?
Krishnamurti: Through sanitation, through proper living conditions and
nutritious food, man is beginning to free himself from certain diseases. Through
surgery and various forms of treatment, medical science is trying to find a cure for
incurable diseases like cancer. A capable doctor does all he can to relieve and
And is death conquerable? It is a most extraordinary thing that, at your age,
you are so interested in death. Why are you so preoccupied with it? Is it because
you see so much of death about you – the burning ghats the body being carried to
the river? To you, death is a familiar sight, it is so constantly with you; and there
is the fear of death.
If you do not reflect and understand for yourself the implications of death, you
will go endlessly from one preacher to another, from one hope to another, from
one belief to another, trying to find a solution to this problem of death. Do you
understand? Don’t keep on asking somebody else, but try to find out for yourself
the truth of the matter. To ask innumerable questions without ever trying to find
out or discover, is characteristic of a petty mind.
You see, we fear death only when we cling to life. The understanding of the
whole process of living is also the understanding of the significance of dying.
Death is merely the extinction of continuity, and we are afraid of not being able to
continue; but what continues can never be creative. Think it out; discover for
yourself what is true. It is truth that liberates you from the fear of death, and not
your religious theories, nor your belief in reincarnation or in life hereafter. 142 143
Part One Chapter 18
While we are quite young, most of us are perhaps not greatly affected by the
conflicts of life, by the worries, the passing joys, the physical disasters the fear of
death and the mental twists that burden the older generation. Fortunately, while
we are young most of us are not yet on the battlefield of life. But as we grow older
the problems, the miseries, the doubts, the economic and inward struggles all
begin to crowd in on us, and then we want to find out the significance of life, we
want to know what life is all about. We wonder about the conflicts, the pains, the
poverty, the disasters. We want to know why some people are well-placed and
others are not; why one human being is healthy, intelligent, gifted, capable, while
another is not. And if we are easily satisfied, we soon get caught in some
hypothesis, in some theory or belief; we find an answer, but it is never the true
answer. We realize that life is ugly, painful, sorrowful, and we start out with an
inquiry; but not having enough self-reliance, vigour, intelligence, innocence to go
on inquiring, we are soon caught in theories, in beliefs, in some kind of
speculation or doctrine which satisfactorily explains all this. Gradually our beliefs
and dogmas become deep-rooted and unshakable, because behind them there is
a constant fear of the unknown. We never look at that fear; we turn away from it
and take refuge in our beliefs. And when we examine these beliefs – the Hindu
the Buddhist, the Christian – we find that they divide people. Each set of dogmas
and beliefs has a series of rituals, a series of compulsions which bind the mind
and separate man from man.
So we start with an inquiry to find out what is true, what is the significance of
all this misery, this struggle, this pain, and we end up with a set of beliefs, rituals,
theories. We have not the self-reliance, nor the vigour, nor the innocence to push
belief aside and inquire; therefore belief begins to act as a deteriorating factor in
our lives. 144
Belief is corruptive, because behind belief and idealistic morality lurks the
`me’, the self – the self which is constantly growing bigger, more powerful. We
think that belief in God is religion. We consider that to believe is to be religious. If
you do not believe, you will be regarded as an atheist and condemned by society.
One society condemns those who do not believe in God, and another society
condemns those who do. They are both the same.
So religion becomes a matter of belief, and belief acts as a limitation on the
mind; and the mind then is never free. But it is only in freedom that you can find
out what is true, what is God, not through any belief; because your belief projects
what you think God ought to be, what you think ought to be true. If you believe
God is love, God is good, God is this or that, your very belief prevents you from
understanding what is God, what is true. But, you see, you want to forget yourself
in a belief; you want to sacrifice yourself; you want to emulate another, to
abandon this constant struggle that is going on within you and pursue virtue.
Your life is a constant struggle in which there is sorrow, suffering, ambition,
transient pleasure, happiness that comes and goes, so the mind wants something
enormous to cling to, something beyond itself with which it can become identified.
That something the mind calls God, truth, and it identifies itself with it through
belief, through conviction, through rationalization, through various forms of
discipline and idealistic morality. But that vast something, which creates
speculation, is still part of the `me’, it is projected by the mind in its desire to
escape from the turmoils of life.
We identify ourselves with a particular country – India, England, Germany,
Russia, America. You think of yourself as a Hindu. Why? Why do you identify
yourself with India? Have you ever looked at it, gone behind the words that have
captured your mind? Living in a city or a small town, leading a miserable life with
your struggles and family quarrels, being dissatisfied, discontented, unhappy, you
identify yourself with a country called India. This gives you a sense of vastness, 145
of importance, a psychological satisfaction, so you say, «I am an Indian; and for
this you are willing to kill, to die or be maimed.
In the same way, because you are very petty, in constant battle with yourself
and others, because you are confused, miserable, uncertain, because you know
there is death, you identify yourself with something beyond, something vast,
significant, full of meaning, which you call God. This identification with what you
call God, gives you a sense of enormous importance, and you feel happy. So the
identifying of yourself with something vast is a self-expansive process; it is still
the struggling of the `me’, the self.
Religion as we generally know it, is a series of beliefs, dogmas, rituals,
superstitions; it is the worship of idols, of charms and gurus, and we think all this
will lead us to some ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is our own projection; it is
what we want, what we think will make us happy, a guarantee of the deathless
state. Caught in this desire for certainty, the mind creates a religion of dogmas, of
priestcraft, of superstitions and idol worship; and there it stagnates. Is that
religion? Is religion a matter of belief, a matter of accepting or having knowledge
of other people’s experiences and assertions? Is religion merely the practice of
morality? You know, it is comparatively easy to be moral – to do this and not to do
that. You can just imitate a moral system. But behind such morality lurks the
aggressive self, growing, expanding, dominating. And is that religion?
You have to find out what truth is, because that is what really matters – not
whether you are rich or poor, or whether you are happily married and have
children, for all these things come to an end; and there is always death. So,
without any form of belief, you must have the vigour, the self-reliance, the
initiative to find out for yourself what truth is, what God is. Belief will not free your
mind; belief only corrupts, binds, darkens. The mind can be free only through its
own vigour and self-reliance. 146
Surely it is one of the functions of education to create individuals who are not
bound by any form of belief, by any pattern of morality or respectability. It is the
`me’ that merely seeks to become moral, respectable. The truly religious
individual is he who discovers, who directly experiences what God is, what truth
is. That direct experiencing is never possible through any form of belief, through
any ritual, through any following or worshipping of another. The truly religious
mind is free of all gurus. You as an individual, as you grow and live your life, can
discover the truth from moment to moment, and therefore you are capable of
Most people think that to be free from the material things of the world is the
first step towards religion. It is not. That is one of the easiest things to do. The
first step is to be free to think fully, completely and independently, which means
not being bound by any belief or crushed by circumstances, by environment, so
that you are an integrated human being, capable, vigorous and self-reliant. Only
then can your mind, being free, unbiased, unconditioned, find out what God is.
Surely, that is the basic purpose for which any educational centre should exist: to
help each individual who comes there to be free to discover reality. This means
not following any system, not clinging to any belief or ritual, and not worshipping
any guru. The individual has to awaken his intelligence, not through any form of
discipline, resistance, compulsion, coercion, but through freedom. It is only
through the intelligence born of freedom that the individual can discover that
which is beyond the mind. That immensity – the unnameable, the limitless, that
which is not measurable by words and in which there is the love that is not of the
mind – must be directly experienced. The mind cannot conceive of it; therefore the
mind must be very quiet, astonishingly still, without any demand or any desire.
Only then is it possible for that which may be called God or reality to come into
Questioner: What is obedience? Should we obey an order even without
understanding it? 147
Krishnamurti: Is that not what most of us do? parents, teachers, the older
people say, «Do this». They say it politely, or with a stick, and because we are
afraid, we obey. That is also what governments, what the military people do to us.
We are trained from childhood to obey, not knowing what it is all about. The more
authoritarian our parents and the more tyrannical the government, the more we
are compelled, shaped from our earliest years; and without understanding why
we should do what we are told to do, we obey. We are also told what to think. Our
minds are purged of any thought which is not approved by the State, by the local
authorities. We are never taught or helped to think, to find out, but are required to
obey. The priest tells us what is so, the religious book tells us what is so, and our
own inward fear compels us to obey; because if we do not obey we shall be
confused, we shall feel lost.
So we obey because we are very thoughtless. We don’t want to think because
to think is disturbing; to think, we have to question, to inquire, we have to find out
for ourselves. And the older people don’t want us to inquire, they have not the
patience to listen to our questions. They are too busy with their own quarrels, with
their ambitions and prejudices, with their do’s and don’ts of morality and
respectability; and we who are young are afraid to go wrong, because we also
want to be respectable. Don’t we all want to wear the same kind of clothes, to
look alike? We don’t want to do anything different, we don’t want to think
independently, to stand apart, because that is very disturbing; so we join the
Whatever our age, most of us obey, follow, copy, because we are inwardly
frightened of being uncertain. We want to be certain, both financially and morally;
we want to be approved of. We want to be in a safe position, to be enclosed and
never to be confronted with trouble, pain, suffering. It is fear, conscious or
unconscious, that makes us obey the master, the leader, the priest, the
government. It is fear of being punished that prevents us from doing something
harmful to others. So, behind all our actions, our greeds and pursuits, lurks the 148
desire for certainty, this desire to be safe, assured. Without being free of fear,
merely to obey has little significance. What has significance is to be aware of this
fear from day to day, to observe how it shows itself in different ways. Only when
there is freedom from fear can there be that inward quality of understanding, that
aloneness in which there is no accumulation of knowledge or experience. 149
Part One Chapter 19
When we grow older and leave school after receiving a so-called education,
we have to face many problems. What profession are we to choose, so that in it
we can fulfil ourselves and be happy? In what vocation or job will we feel that we
are not exploiting or being cruel to others? We have to face the problems of
suffering, disaster, death. We have to understand starvation, overpopulation, sex,
pain, pleasure. We have to deal with the many confusing and contradictory things
in life: the wrangles between man and man, between man and woman; the
conflicts within and the struggles without. We have to understand ambition, war,
the military spirit – and that extraordinary thing called peace, which is much more
vital than we realize. We have to comprehend the significance of religion, which is
not mere speculation or the worship of images, and also that very strange and
complex thing called love. We have to be sensitive to the beauty of life, to a bird
in flight – and also to the beggar, to the squalor of the poor, to the hideous
buildings that people put up, to the foul road and the still fouler temple. We have
to face all these problems. We have to face the question of whom to follow or not
to follow, and whether we should follow anyone at all.
Most of us are concerned with bringing about a little change here and there,
and with that we are satisfied. The older we grow, the less we want any deep,
fundamental change, because we are afraid. We do not think in terms of total
transformation, we think only in terms of superficial change; and if you look into it
you will find that superficial change is no change at all. It is not a radical
revolution, but merely a modified continuity of what has been. All these things you
have to face, from your own happiness and misery to the happiness and misery
of the many; from your own ambitions and self-seeking pursuits to the ambitions,
motivations and pursuits of others. You have to face competition, the corruption in
yourself and in others, the deterioration of the mind, the emptiness of the heart. 150
You have to know all this, you have to face and understand it for yourself. But
unfortunately you are not prepared for it.
What have we understood when we leave school? We may have gathered a
little knowledge, but we are as dull, empty, shallow as when we came. Our
studies, our attending school, our contacts with our teachers have not helped us
to understand these very complex problems of life. The teachers are dull, and we
become as dull as they are. They are afraid, and we are afraid. So it is our own
problem. It is our responsibility as well as the teachers to see that we go out into
the world with maturity, with deep thought, without fear, and are therefore able to
face life intelligently.
Now, it appears very important to find an answer to all these complex
problems; but there is no answer. All that you can do is to meet these problems
intelligently as they arise. please understand this. Instinctively you want an
answer, do you not? You think that by reading books, by following somebody, you
will find answers to all the very complex and subtle problems of life. You will find
beliefs, theories, but they will not be answers, because these problems have
been created by human beings like you. The appalling callousness, the
starvation, the cruelty, the hideousness, the squalor – all this has been created by
human beings, and to bring about a fundamental transformation you have to
understand the human mind and heart, which is yourself. Merely to look for an
answer in a book, or to identify yourself with some political or economic system,
however much it may promise, or to practice some religious absurdity with its
superstitions, or to follow a guru – none of this will help you to understand these
human problems, because they are created by you and others like you. To
understand them you must understand yourself – understand yourself as you live
from moment to moment, from day to day, year in and year out; and for this you
need intelligence, a great deal of insight, love, patience. 151
So you must find out what is intelligence, must you not? You all use that word
very freely; but by merely talking about intelligence you do not become intelligent.
The politicians keep on repeating words like `intelligence’, `integration’, `a new
culture’, `an united world’, but they are mere words with very little meaning. So do
not use words without really understanding all that they imply.
We are trying to find out what intelligence is – not merely the definition of it,
which can be found in any dictionary, but the knowing of it, the feeling of it, the
understanding of it; for if we have that intelligence, it will help each one of us, as
we grow to deal with the enormous problems in our life. And without that
intelligence, however much we may read, study, accumulate knowledge, reform,
bring about little changes here and there in the pattern of society, there can be no
real transformation, no lasting happiness.
Now, what does intelligence mean? I am going to find out what it means.
Perhaps for some of you this is going to be difficult; but do not bother too much
with trying to follow the words; try instead to feel the content of what I am talking
about. Try to feel the thing, the quality of intelligence. If you feel it now, then you
will, as you grow older, see more and more clearly the significance of what I have
Most of us think that intelligence is the outcome of acquiring knowledge,
information, experience. By having a great deal of knowledge and experience we
think we shall be able to meet life with intelligence. But life is an extraordinary
thing, it is never stationary; like the river, it is constantly flowing, never still. We
think that by gathering more experience, more knowledge, more virtue, more
wealth, more possessions, we shall be intelligent. That is why we respect the
people who have accumulated knowledge, the scholars, and also the people who
are rich and full of experience. But is intelligence the outcome of the `more’?
What is behind this process of having more, wanting more? In wanting more we
are concerned with accumulating, are we not? 152
Now, what happens when you have accumulated knowledge, experience?
Whatever further experience you may have is immediately translated in terms of
the `more’, and you are never really experiencing, you are always gathering; and
this gathering is the process of the mind, which is the centre of the `more’. The
`more’ is the `me’, the ego, the self-enclosed entity who is only concerned with
accumulating, either negatively or positively. So, with its accumulated experience,
the mind meets life. In meeting life with this accumulation of experience, the mind
is again seeking the `more’, so it never experiences, it only gathers. As long as
the mind is merely an instrument of gathering, there is no real experiencing. How
can you be open to experience when you are always thinking of getting
something out of that experience, acquiring something more?
So the man who is accumulating, gathering, the man who is desiring more is
never freshly experiencing life. It is only when the mind is not concerned with the
`more’, with accumulating, that there is a possibility for that mind to be intelligent.
When the mind is concerned with the `more’, every further experience
strengthens the wall of the self-enclosing `me’, the egocentric process which is
the centre of all conflict, please follow this. You think that experience frees the
mind, but it does not. As long as your mind is concerned with accumulation, with
the `more’, every experience you have only strengthens you in your egotism, in
your selfishness, in your self-enclosing process of thought.
Intelligence is possible only when there is real freedom from the self, from the
`me’, that is, when the mind is no longer the centre of the demand for the `more’,
no longer caught up in the desire for greater, wider, more expansive experience.
Intelligence is freedom from the pressure of time is it not? Because the `more’
implies time, and as long as the mind is the centre of the demand for the `more’, it
is the result of time. So the cultivation of the `more’ is not intelligence. The
understanding of this whole process is self-knowledge. When one knows oneself
as one is, without an accumulating centre, out of that self-knowing comes the
intelligence which can meet life; and that intelligence is creative. 153
Look at your own life. How dull, how stupid, how narrow it is, because you are
not creative. When you grow up you may have children, but that is not being
creative. You may be a bureaucrat, but in that there is no vitality, is there? It is
dead routine, utter boredom. Your life is hedged about by fear, and so there is
authority and imitation. You do not know what it is to be creative. By creativeness
I do not mean painting pictures, writing poems, or being able to sing. I mean the
deeper nature of creativeness which, when once discovered, is an eternal source,
an undying current; and it can be found only through intelligence. That source is
the timeless; but the mind cannot find the timeless as long as it is the centre of
the `me’, of the self, of the entity that is everlastingly asking for the `more’.
When you understand all this, not just verbally, but deep down, then you will
find that with awakened intelligence there comes a creativeness which is reality,
which is God, which is not to be speculated about or meditated upon. You will
never get it through your practice of meditation, through your prayers for the
`more’ or your escapes from the `more’. That reality can come into being only
when you understand the state of your own mind, the malice, the envy, the
complex reactions as they arise from moment to moment every day. In
understanding these things there comes a state which may be called love. That
love is intelligence, and it brings a creativeness which is timeless.
Questioner: Society is based upon our interdependence. The doctor has to
depend on the farmer, and the farmer on the doctor. How then can a man be
Krishnamurti: Life is relationship. Even the sannyasi has relationship; he may
renounce the world, but he is still related to the world. We cannot escape from
relationship. For most of us, relationship is a source of conflict; in relationship
there is fear, because we psychologically depend on another, either on the
husband, on the wife, on the parent, or on a friend. Relationship exists not only
between oneself and the parent, between oneself and the child, but also between 154
oneself and the teacher, the cook, the servant, the governor, the commander,
and the whole of society; and as long as we do not understand this relationship,
there is no freedom from the psychological dependence which brings about fear
and exploitation. Freedom comes only through intelligence. Without intelligence,
merely to seek independence or freedom from relationship is to pursue an
So what is important is to understand our psychological dependence in
relationship. It is in uncovering the hidden things of the heart and mind, in
understanding our of loneliness, emptiness, that there is freedom, not from
relationship, but from the psychological dependence which causes conflict,
misery, pain, fear.
Questioner: Why is truth unpalatable?
Krishnamurti: If I think I am very beautiful and you tell me I am not, which may
be a fact, do I like it? If I think I am very intelligent, very clever, and you point out
that I am actually a rather silly person, it is very unpalatable to me. And your
pointing out my stupidity gives you a sense of pleasure, does it not? It flatters
your vanity, it shows how clever you are. But you do not want to look at your own
stupidity; you want to run away from what you are, you want to hide from yourself,
you want to cover up your own emptiness, your own loneliness. So you seek out
friends who never tell you what you are. You want to show others what they are;
but when others show you what you are, you do not like it. You avoid that which
exposes your own inner nature.
Questioner: Up to now our teachers have been very certain and have taught
us in the usual way, but after listening to what has been said here and after taking
part in the discussions, they have become very uncertain. An intelligent student
will know how to conduct himself under these circumstances; but what will those
do who are not intelligent? 155
Krishnamurti: What are the teachers uncertain about? Not about what to
teach, because they can carry on with mathematics, geography, the usual
curriculum. That is not what they are uncertain about. They are uncertain about
how to deal with the student, are they not? They are uncertain in their relationship
with the student. Until recently they were never particularly concerned about their
relationship with the student; they just came to the class, taught, and went out.
But now they are concerned as to whether they are creating fear by exercising
their authority to make the student obey. They are concerned as to whether they
are repressing the student, or are encouraging his initiative and helping him to
find his true vocation. Naturally all this has made them uncertain. But surely the
teacher as well as the student has to be uncertain; he too has to inquire, to
search. That is the whole process of life from the beginning to the end, is it not? –
never to stop in a certain place and say, «I know».
An intelligent man is never static, he never says, «I know». He is always
inquiring, always uncertain, always looking, searching, finding out. The moment
he says, «I know», he is already dead. And whether we are young or old, most of
us – because of tradition, compulsion, fear, because of bureaucracy and the
absurdities of our religion – are all but dead, without vitality, without vigour,
without self-reliance. So the teacher has also to find out. He has to discover for
himself his own bureaucratic tendencies and cease to deaden the minds of
others; and that is a very difficult process. It requires a great deal of patient
So the intelligent student has to help the teacher, and the teacher has to help
the student; and both have to help the dull boy or girl who is not very intelligent.
That is relationship. Surely, when the teacher himself is uncertain, inquiring, he is
more tolerant, more hesitant, more patient and affectionate with the dull student,
whose intelligence may thereby be awakened. 156
Questioner: The farmer has to rely on the doctor for the cure of physical pain.
Is this also a dependent relationship?
Krishnamurti: As we have seen, if psychologically I defend on you, my
relationship with you is based on fear; and as long as fear exists, there is no
independence in relationship. The problem of freeing the mind from fear is quite
You see, what is important is not what one says in answer to all these
questions, but for you to find out for yourself the truth of the matter by constant
inquiry – which means not being caught in any belief or system of thought. It is
constant inquiry that creates initiative and brings about intelligence. Merely to be
satisfied with an answer dulls the mind. So it is very important for you not just to
accept, but to inquire constantly and begin to discover freely for yourself the
whole meaning of life. 157
Part Two Chapter 1
I wonder why you are being educated? Do you know? As soon as you are old
enough your parents send you to school. They perhaps know why they send you
to school, but do you know why you go to school? All that you and your parents
know is that you must go to school and be educated.
Now, what does it mean to be educated? Have you ever thought about it?
Does it mean merely passing examinations so that afterwards you can get
married and have some sort of job which you may or may not like, and continue
in that job for the rest of your life? Is that education?
You are in various schools and you are being educated, that is, you are
learning mathematics, history, geography, science, and so on. Why? Have you
ever wondered? Is it merely in order to earn a living afterwards? Is that the
purpose of education? Is education merely a matter of passing examinations and
putting a few letters after your name, or is it something entirely different?
If you look around, you will see what an awful mess the world is in. Do you see
the poor who have very little to eat, who have no holidays and must work day
after day from morning till night, while your parents go to the club in luxurious
cars and enjoy themselves there? That is life, is it not? There are the poor and
the rich, those who are ill and those who have good health, and throughout the
world there are wars, there are miseries, there is every kind of trouble. And
should you not begin to think about these things while you are young? But you
see, you are not helped in your schools to prepare yourself to meet that vast
expanse of life with its extraordinary struggles, miseries, suffering, wars; nobody
talks to you about all this. They just tell you the bare facts, but that is not enough,
is it? 158
Surely, education is not just to enable you to get a job; it is something which
should help you to prepare for life. You may become a clerk, or a governor, or a
scientist, but that is not the whole of life.
There are all kinds of things in life. Life is like the ocean. The ocean is not just
what you see on the surface, is it? It is tremendously deep, it has enormous
currents and is teeming with all kinds of life, with many varieties of fish, the big
living on the small. All that is the sea; and so it is with life, in which there are all
kinds of enjoyments, pleasures, pains, extraordinary inventions, innumerable
systems of meditation, and the mass search for happiness. The whole of that is
life, but you are not prepared for it. At school nobody talks to you about all those
things. There are too many boys and girls in each class, and the teacher is only
concerned with helping you to pass the examinations, he is not interested in the
clarification of your minds. But education is surely not a process of stuffing the
mind with information. If you know how to read you can pick up any encyclopedia
and get whatever information you want. So I think education is something entirely
different from merely learning certain facts and passing a few examinations.
You see, as long as we are afraid, we are not educated. Do you know what
fear is? You know you are afraid. The children are afraid, the grown-up people
are afraid, you are all afraid; and as long as we are afraid, we are not educated,
we have no intelligence. So education is not merely the stuffing of the mind with
information, but the helping of the student to understand without fear this great
complexity of life.
You are afraid of your teachers, of your parents, of your elder brother, of your
aunt, or of somebody else, are you not? The older people have the power to
punish you, to push you away or ask you to stay in your own room; and so in the
school as well as in the home we are continually trained in fear. Our life is
moulded by fear, and from childhood till we die we are afraid. And do you know
what fear does? Have you ever watched yourself when you are afraid, how your 159
tummy tightens up, how you perspire, how you get nightmares? You don’t like to
be with the people of whom you are frightened, do you? You want to run away
like an animal that is threatened. You see, with that fear we go to school and
college, and with that fear we leave college to meet this extraordinary thing, this
vast stream with its enormous depth which we call life. So it seems to me that the
thing of first importance in education is to see to it that we are educated to be free
from fear; because fear dulls our minds, fear cripples our thinking, fear makes for
darkness, and as long as we are frightened we shall not create a new world. Do
you understand what I am talking about, or is it something of which you have
never heard before?
You know, in the world outside of your of family, outside of your home, in the
world beyond Bombay, in Europe, America and Russia, they are preparing
instruments of enormous destruction. The world is going through an awful phase,
and all the politicians all the leaders are very confused, though they say they are
not, for they are always having wars, there is always some kind of trouble. So the
world at present is not a beautiful thing, it is not a happy place to live in; and if
you who are very young are not rightly educated, you will obviously create a
world which is equally unhappy, equally miserable, equally confused. Is it not
therefore very important to find out how you should be educated so that you can
create a totally different kind of world? – a world in which we can all live happily
together, in which there are not the rich and the poor, neither the big politicians
who have all the power, position, glamour, nor the underprivileged who have
nothing in life and must work without ceasing till they die.
It is you who will have to create a new world, not the old people, because the
old people are making an awful mess of it. But if you are rightly educated you can
create a new world. It is in your hands, not in the hands of the politicians or the
priests. If you are rightly educated you will create a marvellous world – not a world
of India or Europe, but a world which will be ours, yours and mine, a world in
which we shall all live happily together. And I assure you, the creation of such a 160
world depends on you, not on anybody else, and that is why it is very important
how you are educated and what kind of teachers you have. If the teacher is
afraid, he will have students who are also afraid. If the teacher is narrow, petty,
small, merely passing on information to you, then you too will have minds which
are very small and you will grow up without understanding what life is.
So it is really very important to be educated rightly, which means growing up in
freedom; and you cannot be free if you are frightened of your parents, of your
teachers, of public opinion, or of what your grandmother would say. If you are
frightened you can never be free. And you may notice in the schools that the
teachers have not thought out this problem of fear; because the moment you
have any kind of compulsion to make you do something, either through so-called
kindness or through a system of discipline, it does create fear. If I am the teacher,
and in order to make you study I compare you with another student, saying that
you are not as intelligent as some other boy or girl, I am destroying you, am I not?
In our present schools we have examinations, which breed fear, and we also
have systems of grading, which means that the student is always being
compared with somebody else; therefore it is the clever boy or girl who is
considered important, and not the individual student. The student who is very
smart at his studies, who has a peculiar capacity to pass examinations, may be
stupid in other directions, and probably he is.
Giving marks, grading, comparing, and any form of compulsion, either through
kindness or through threats, breeds fear; and it is because we are caught in this
fear while we are young that we struggle in fear for the rest of our life. The older
people, by their attitude towards life, create a form of education which is merely a
repetition of the old, so there is no new way of living. That is why it seems to me
very important to think about all these matters while you are still very young. Even
if you don’t understand what I am saying you should ask your teachers about this,
if they will permit it, and see if you can really be free from fear. When there is no
fear, you study much better. When you feel that you are not being compelled to 161
do anything, you will find out what you are interested in, and then for the rest of
your life you will do something which you really love to do – which is much more
important than becoming a miserable clerk because you must have a job. To do
something because your parents say that you must do it, or because society
demands it, is all non- sense; whereas, if you really love to do something with
your hands and with your mind, then through that love you will create a new
world. But you cannot create a new world if you are frightened, and therefore
while you are young there must be a spirit of revolt.
Do you understand what revolt is? As you grow from childhood to adulthood,
life presses in upon you in the form of parents, teachers, tradition, neighbours,
the culture or society in which you are brought up, and so on; all this encloses
you like a prison and compels you to do what it wants, so you are never yourself.
And is it not very important that education should help you to be free so that you
can think and live without fear and thereby know for yourself what love is? If your
parents really love you they will bring about this kind of education, they will see to
it that you are free – free to live and grow without fear, free to be happy. But there
are very few such parents in the world, because most parents say that the child
must do this and not that, he must be like his father: a lawyer, a policeman, a
merchant, or whatever it is.
It is really very difficult to understand all these complex problems, and as we
grow up we can understand them only when there is intelligence. Intelligence
should come while we are young, which means that the teacher himself must first
understand all this. But there are very few teachers who understand it, because
to most of them teaching is merely a job. They cannot get another job where they
would make more money, so they say, «Teaching is a good job», which means
that they are interested neither in educating you nor in education itself.
So, as a boy or a girl you have to find out the truth of all this, you cannot just
be tame, like a domesticated animal. I hope you are understanding what I am 162
talking about, because all this is really very difficult and requires a great deal of
thinking on your part. The world is disintegrating, going to pieces, there are wars,
starvation and misery; and the creation of a new world is in your hands. But you
cannot create a new world if in you there is no spirit of revolt; and you cannot
have this spirit of revolt as long as there is fear which cripples intelligence.
Questioner: I have everything to make me happy, while others have not. Why is
Krishnamurti: Why do you think it is like that? You may have good health, kind
parents, a good brain, and therefore think you are happy; whereas, somebody
who is ill, whose parents are unkind, and who has not too good a brain, feel that
he is unhappy. Now, why is this so? Why are you happy while somebody else is
unhappy? Does happiness consist in having riches, cars, good houses, clean
food, kind parents? Is that what you call happiness? And is a person unhappy
who has none of these things? So, what do you mean by happiness? This is
important to find out, is it not? Does happiness consist in comparing? When you
say, «I am happy», is your happiness born of comparison? Do you understand
what I am talking about, or is this too difficult?
Have you not heard your parents say, «So-and-so is not as well off as we
are»? Comparison makes us feel that we have something, it gives us a sense of
satisfaction, does it not? If one is clever and compares oneself with somebody
who is not so clever, one feels very happy. That is, we think we are happy
through pride, comparison; but the man who feels happy by comparing himself
with another who has a little less, is a most miserable human being, because
there is always somebody above him who has more; and so it goes on and on.
Surely, comparison is not happiness. Happiness is entirely different; it is not a
thing to be sought after. Happiness comes when you are doing something
because you really love to do it, and not because it gives you riches or makes
you a prominent person. 163
Questioner: What is the way to get rid of the fear that we have?
Krishnamurti: First you must know what you are afraid of, must you not? You
may be afraid of your parents, of the teachers, of not passing an examination, of
what your sister, your brother, or your neighbour might say; or you may be afraid
of not being as good or as clever as your father, who has a big name. There are
many kinds of fear, and one must know what one is afraid of. Now, do you know
what you are afraid of? If you do, then don’t run away from that fear, but find out
why you are afraid. If you want to know how to get rid of fear, you must not
escape from it, you must face it; and the very facing of it helps you to be free of it.
As long as we are running away from fear, we do not look at it; but the moment
we stop and look at fear, it begins to dissolve. The very running away is the
cause of fear.
You must be teeming with questions, but perhaps you are shy. May I ask you
a question? What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you know? Of
course, for the girls it is simple, they want to get married, that is understood; but
even if you get married, what do you want to do? Are you ambitious? Do you
know what ambition is? It is the desire to become somebody, is it not? The man
who has an ideal and says, «I am going to be like Rama, Sita, or Gandhiji», is still
ambitious. Are you ambitious in some way?
Now, what does that mean? Why are you ambitious? This may be a little
difficult, but it is one of the problems of life and you ought to be thinking about it. I
will tell you why. We are all ambitious; everyone is ambitious in his own way. And
do you know what that does? It causes us to be against one another. We are
always struggling to be rich, to have fame, to be more clever; I want to be greater
than you, and you want to be greater than I. So ambition really means trying to be
something we are not. And which is important? To try to be something we are
not, or to understand what we are? Surely, we must first look at ourselves and
begin to understand what we are. 164
You see, most of us are idealists; and idealists are hypocrites, because they
are always trying to become something which they are not. If I am stupid and I
strive to become clever, everybody thinks it is a marvellous thing. But a stupid
person, however well he may learn the tricks of cleverness, does not thereby
become intelligent. Whereas, if I know that I am stupid, then that very knowledge
is the beginning of intelligence – which is much better than merely being clever.
Do you understand?
If I am not very quick-witted, what generally happens? In school I am put at
the end of the class – which is a disgraceful thing for the teacher to do, because I
am as important as anybody else. It is stupid of the teacher to keep me at the end
of the class by comparing me with the clever students, because by comparing he
is destroying me.
But comparison is the basis of our so-called education, and of our whole
culture. The teacher is always saying that you,must do as well as such and such
a boy or girl, so you struggle to be as clever as they are. And what happens to
you? You get more and more worried, physically ill, mentally worn out. Whereas,
if the teacher does not compare you with anyone, but says, «Look here, old boy,
be yourself. Let us find out what you are interested in, what your capacities are.
Don’t imitate, don’t try to become like Rama, Sita, or Gandhiji, but be what you
are and begin from there» – if the teacher says that, then it is you who are
important, not somebody else. It is the individual who is important, and by
comparing a student with somebody who is cleverer, the teacher is belittling him,
making him smaller, more stupid. It is the function of the teacher to help you to
find out what you are, and he cannot help you to do that if he is comparing you
with somebody else. Comparison destroys you, so don’t compare yourself with
another. You are as good as anybody. Understand what you are, and from there
begin to find out how to be more fully, more freely, more expansively what you
Questioner: You said that if the parents really love their child they will not stop
him from doing anything. But if the child does not want to be clean or eats
something which is bad for his health, must we not stop him?
Krishnamurti: I do not think I have ever said that if the parents love their child
they will let him do exactly as he likes. Sir, this is a very difficult question, is it
not? After all, if I love my son I shall see to it that he has no cause for fear – which
is an extraordinarily difficult thing to do. As I said, to be free of fear, the child must
not be compared with anyone else, nor must he be subjected to examinations. If I
love the child I shall give him freedom, not to do what he likes – because merely
to do what one likes is stupid – , but freedom in which to cultivate intelligence; and
that intelligence will then tell him what to do.
To have intelligence there must be freedom, and you cannot be free if you are
constantly being urged to become like some hero, for then the hero is important
and not you. Don’t you have tummy-aches when you have examinations? Don’t
you feel nervous, anxious? When year after year you have to face this terrible
ordeal called examinations, do you know what it does to you throughout the rest
of your life? The older people say that you must grow without fear; but it doesn’t
mean a thing, it is only a lot of words, because they are cultivating fear through
subjecting you to examinations and by comparing you with somebody else.
Another thing we should really discuss is what we call discipline. Do you know
what I mean by discipline? From childhood you are told what to do, and you have
jolly well got to do it. No one takes the trouble to explain why you should get up
early, why you should be clean. parents and teachers do not explain these things
to you because they have neither the love, the time, nor the patience; they merely
say, «Do it or I shall punish you». So education as we know it, is the instilling of
fear. And how can your mind be intelligent when there is fear? How can you have
love or feel respect for people when you are afraid? You may `respect’ the people
who have big names, expensive cars; but you don’t respect your servant, you just 166
kick him. When a big man comes around you all salute him and touch his feet,
and that is called respect; but it is not respect, it is fear that is making you touch
his feet. You don’t touch the feet of the poor coolie, do you? You are not
respectful to him, because he cannot give you anything. So all our education is
nothing but the cultivation or strengthening of fear. That is a terrible thing, is it
not? And as long as there is fear, how can we create a new world? We cannot.
That is why it is very important to understand this problem of fear while you are
young, and for all of us to see to it that we are really educated without fear.
Questioner: Is it not important to have ideals in life?
Krishnamurti: This is a good question, because you all have ideals. You have
the ideal of non-violence, the ideal of peace, or the ideal of a person such as
Rama, Sita, or Gandhiji, have you not? Which means what? You are not
important, but the ideal is very important. Rama is awfully important, but not poor
old you, so you imitate him. All that you are concerned with is to copy either a
person or an idea. As I said, an idealist is a hypocrite, because he is always
trying to become what he is not, instead of being and understanding what he is.
You see, the problem of idealism is really a complex one, and you don’t
understand it because you have never been encouraged to think about it; no one
has ever talked it over with you. All your books, all your teachers, all the
newspapers and magazines say you must have ideals, you must be like this hero
or that, which only makes the mind like a monkey who imitates, or like a
gramophone record which repeats a lot of words. So you must not accept, but
begin to question everything and find out; and you cannot question if you are
inwardly afraid. To question everything means being in revolt, which is to create a
new world. But you see, your teachers and parents do not want you to be in
revolt, because they want to control you, they want to shape and mould you into
their patterns; and so life continues to be an ugly thing.
Questioner: If we are small, how can we create a new world? 167
Krishnamurti: You cannot create a new world if you are small. But you are not
going to be small for the rest of your life, are you? You are small if you are afraid.
You may have a big body, a big car, a high position, but if you are afraid inside
you will never create a new world. That is why it is very important to grow with
intelligence, without fear, to grow in freedom. But to grow in freedom does not
mean disciplining oneself to be free.
Questioner: What should be the system of education to make the child
Krishnamurti: A system or a method implies being told what to do and how to
do it; and will that make you fearless? Can you be educated with intelligence,
without fear, through any kind of system? When you are young, you should be
free to grow; but there is no system to make you free. A system implies making
the mind conform to a pattern, does it not? It means locking you up in a
framework, not giving you freedom. The moment you rely on a system you dare
not step out of it, and then the very thought of stepping out of it breeds fear. So,
there is really no system of education. What is important is the teacher and the
student, not the system. After all, if I want to help you to be free of fear, I myself
must be free of fear. Then I must study you; I must take the trouble to explain
everything to you and tell you what the world is like; and to do all this I must love
you. As a teacher I must have the feeling that when you leave school or college
you should be without fear. If I really have that feeling, I can help you to be free of
Questioner: Is it possible to know the quality of gold without testing it in a
special way? Similarly, can the capacity of each child be known without some sort
Krishnamurti: Do you really know the capacity of the child through
examination? One child may fail because he is nervous, fearful of the
examination, while another may slip through because he is less affected by it. 168
Whereas, if you watch each child week after week, if you observe his character,
the way he plays games, the way he talks, the interests he shows, how he
studies, the food he eats, then you will begin to know the child without requiring
examinations to tell you what he is capable of. But we have never thought about
all these things.
Questioner: Sir, what is your idea of a new world?
Krishnamurti: I have no idea about the new world. The `new’ world cannot be
new if I have an idea about it. This is not just a clever statement, it is a fact. If I
have an idea about it, the idea is born of my study and experience, is it not? It is
born of what I have learnt, of what I have read, of what other people have said
the new world should be. So, the `new’ world can never be new if it is a creation
of the mind, because the mind is the old. You don’t know what is going to happen
tomorrow, do you? You may know that there will be no school tomorrow because
it is Sunday, and that on Monday you will be going to school again; but what is
going to happen outside the school, what kind of feelings you are going to have,
what kind of things you are going to see – all that you don’t know, do you?
Because you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, or the next morning,
when it happens it will be new; and to be able to meet the new is what matters.
Questioner: How can we create anything new if we don’t know what it is we
want to create?
Krishnamurti: It is a sad thing not to know what it means to create, is it not?
When you have a feeling, you may put what you feel into words. If you see a
beautiful tree, you may write a poem describing, not the tree, but what the tree
has awakened in you. That feeling is the new, it is the creative thing; but you
cannot bring it about, it must happen to you.
Questioner: Must the children take all these matters seriously. And if they do,
will they ever be free to enjoy themselves? 169
Krishnamurti: Are you not serious now? But you cannot be serious all the time,
can you? You cannot play all the time, or sleep all the time, or study all the time.
There is a time to play and a time to be serious, and this meeting is meant to be
serious; but if you do not want to be serious, it is all right, no body is going to
compel you. 170
Part Two Chapter 2
We have been talking about fear; and do you not think that what we call
religion is really the outcome of fear? You must have noticed how your parents,
your grandparents, or your relatives go to the temple, worship an idol, repeat
sentences from the Gita or some other sacred book, or perform some ritual.
Doing these things and believing in something, is what they call religion. But do
you think it is so? Going to the temple, putting flowers at the foot of an idol made
by the hand, doing some ritual day after day, year in and year out till you die – is
And if religion is not the worship of a thing made by the hand, then is it the
worship of something made by the mind? When you enter a temple you see there
an idol which some sculptor has carved out of stone. People put flowers before
this image, they pour water on it, they clothe it; that is what they call religion, and
they think it is irreligious not to do these things.
We also have an idea of what God is, and that idea is created by the mind, is it
not? The idol is made by the mind through the hand, and the idea of God is made
and held in the mind as something marvellous, something to be worshipped like
the sacred idol. Both the idea and the idol are made by the mind, are they not?
Obviously they are not God, because the mind has invented them. In Europe you
will see the sculptured figure of a human being stripped and nailed on a cross,
and that figure they worship. Here in India we do the same thing in a different
way. Whether in India, in Europe or America, we pray to an image, we worship an
idea, and gradually we build up a thing called religion – a religion which is
invented by the mind.
You see, we are afraid to be alone, we want somebody to help us. At your age
we want to be helped by our mother, by our father, by our grandfather, and as we
grow older we still want somebody to help us, because life is very difficult; we 171
want a glorified father to protect us, to tell us what to do. So, out of the fear of
being lonely, of not being helped, we believe in a God who is going to help us; but
it is still an invention of the mind, is it not? Because we are afraid and want to be
guided and told what is right and what is wrong, as we grow up we create a
religion which is not religion at all. Religion, I think, is something totally different,
and to find the real thing we must obviously be free of the thing which man
invents. Do you follow? To find out what God is, to discover something that is
real, one must be free of all the pseudo-religious trappings that man has imposed
upon himself. You can discover the real thing only if you are completely free of
fear, which means that as you grow up and go out into the world you must have
the intelligence to find out what you are afraid of – to take it out of the cupboard of
your mind, look at it and not run away from it.
Most of us are afraid to be alone. Do we ever go out for a walk alone? Very
rarely. We always want somebody to go with us because we want to chatter, we
want to tell somebody a story, we are all the time talking, talking, talking; so we
are never alone, are we? When one grows older and can go for a walk alone, one
discovers a great many things. One discovers one’s own ways of thinking, and
then one begins to observe all the things about one – the beggar, the stupid man,
the clever man, the rich and the poor; one becomes aware of the trees, the birds,
the light on a leaf. You will see all this when you go out alone. In being alone you
will soon find out that you are afraid. And it is because we are afraid that we have
invented this thing called religion.
Volumes have been written about God and what you should do to approach
him; but the basis of it all is fear. As long as one is afraid, one cannot find
anything real. If you are afraid of the dark, you dare not go out, so you pull up the
sheet and go to sleep. To go out and look, to find out what is real, there must be
freedom from fear, must there not? But you see, to be free from fear is very
difficult. Most grown-up people say that you can be free only when you are older,
when you have gathered knowledge and have learned to discipline your mind. 172
They think freedom is something very far away, at the end, not at the beginning.
But surely there must be freedom right from childhood up, otherwise you are
You see, being themselves frightened, the older people discipline you, they tell
you what is right and what is wrong; they say you must do that and not this, that
you must think of what people will say, and so on. There is every form of control
to make you fit into the groove, into a frame, a pattern, and this is called
discipline. Being very young, and out of your own fear, you fit in; but that does not
help you, because when you just fit in you do not understand.
Now, look at it the other way. If you were not disciplined, if you were not
controlled, held down, would you do what you like? Would you do as you please if
there were nobody to tell you what you should do? You probably would now,
because you are used to being forced, held down, put in a framework, and as a
reaction you would do something contrary to it. But suppose that from childhood
up, right from the beginning as you go through school, the teacher talked things
over with you and did not tell you what you should do – how then would you
respond? If, right from the beginning as you go through school, the teacher
pointed out that to be free is the first thing, not the last thing when you are about
to die, then what would happen?
The difficulty is that to be free demands a great deal of intelligence; and as
you don’t yet know what it is to be free – free to do something which you really
love to do – , it is the function of the teacher to help you to discover the ways of
intelligence. It is intelligence which brings about freedom from fear. As long as
there is fear, you are constantly imposing upon yourself a kind of discipline: I
must do this and not that, I must believe, I must conform, I must do puja, and so
on. This self-discipline is all born of fear, and where there is fear there is no
So education, rightly speaking, is not just a matter of reading books, passing
examinations and getting a job. Education is quite a different process; it extends
from the moment you are born to the moment you die. You may read
innumerable books and be very clever, but I do not think mere cleverness is a
mark of education. If you are merely clever you miss a great deal in life. The
important thing is first to find out what you are afraid of, to understand it and not
run away from it. When your mind is really free from demands of every kind,
when it is no longer envious, acquisitive, only then can you find out what God is.
God is not what people say God is. God is something entirely different –
something that comes into being when you under. stand, when you have no fear.
So, religion is really a process of education, is it not? Religion is not a matter
of what to believe and what not to believe, of doing rituals or clinging to some
superstitions; it is a process of educating ourselves in the ways of understanding
so that our life becomes extraordinarily rich and we are no longer frightened,
mediocre human beings. Only then can we create a new world.
Politicians and religious leaders say that the creation of a new world is in the
hands of the young people. Haven’t you heard that? Hundreds of times, probably.
But they don’t educate you to be free; and there must be freedom to create a new
world. The grown-ups educate you in the pattern of their own ideas – and they
have made an awful mess of things. They say it is you, the younger generation,
who must create a new world; but at the same time they put you into a cage, do
they not? They tell you that you must be an Indian, a Parsi, this or that – and if
you follow their ideas, you are obviously going to create a world exactly like the
present one. A new world can be created only when you create out of freedom,
not out of fear, not out of superstition, nor on the basis of what certain people
have said the new world should be.
You who are young, the coming generation, can bring about a totally different
world only if you are educated to be free, and are not forced to do something 174
which you do not love or understand. That is why it is very important, while you
are young, to be real revolutionaries – which means not accepting anything, but
inquiring into all these things to find out what is true. Only then can you create a
new world. Otherwise, though you may call it by a deferent name, you will
perpetuate the same old world of misery and destruction which has always
existed until now.
But generally what happens to us when we are young? The girls get married,
have children, and gradually wither away. The boys, when they grow up, have to
earn a livelihood, so they get jobs and are required to conform, forced to follow a
profession whether they like it or not; being married and having children, they are
dragged along by their responsibilities and must therefore do what they are told.
So the spirit of revolt, the spirit of inquiry, the spirit of inward search comes to an
end; all their revolutionary ideas of creating a new world are crushed out,
because life is too much for them. They have to go to the office, they have a boss
there for whom they must do this or that, and gradually the sense of inquiry, the
feeling of revolt, the eagerness to create an altogether different way of life, is
completely destroyed. That is why it is very important to have this spirit of revolt
right from the beginning, from childhood up.
You see, religion, the real thing, means a revolt in order to find God, which is
to discover for oneself what is true. It is not a mere acceptance of the so-called
sacred books, however ancient and venerated they may be.
Questioner: In your book on education you suggest that modern education is a
complete failure. I would like you to explain this.
Krishnamurti: Is it not a failure, sir? When you go out on the street you see the
poor man and the rich man; and when you look around you, you see all the so-
called educated people throughout the world wrangling, fighting, killing each other
in wars. There is now scientific knowledge enough to enable us to provide food,
clothing and shelter for all human beings, yet it is not done. The politicians and 175
other leaders throughout the world are educated people, they have titles,
degrees, caps and gowns, they are doctors and scientists; and yet they have not
created a world in which man can live happily. So modern education has failed,
has it not? And if you are satisfied to be educated in the same old way, you will
make another howling mess of life.
Questioner: May I know why we should not fit into our parents’ plans, since
they want us to be good?
Krishnamurti: Why should you fit into your parents’ plans, however worthy,
however noble they may be? You are not just putty, you are not jelly to be fitted
into a mould. And if you do fit in, what happens to you? You become a so-called
good girl, or good boy and then what? Do you know what it means to be good?
Goodness is not just doing what society says, or what your parents say.
Goodness is something entirely different, is it not? Goodness comes into being
only when you have intelligence, when you have love, when you have no fear.
You cannot be good if you are afraid. You can become respectable by doing what
society demands – and then society gives you a garland, it says what a good
person you are; but merely being respectable is not being good.
You see, when we are young we do not want to fit in, and at the same time we
want to be good. We want to be nice, to be sweet, we want to be considerate and
do kind things; but we do not know what it all means, and we are `good’ because
we are afraid. Our parents say, «Be good», and most of us are good, but such
`goodness’ is merely living according to their plans for us.
Questioner: You say that modern education is a failure. But if the politicians
had not been educated, do you think they could have created a better world?
Krishnamurti: I am not at all sure that they couldn’t have created a better world
if they had never received this kind of education. What does it mean to govern the
people? After all, that is what politicians are supposed to do – to govern the 176
people. But they are ambitious, they want power, position, they want to be
restricted, they want to be the leaders, to have the first place; they are not
thinking of the people, they are thinking of themselves or their parties, which are
an extension of themselves. Human beings are human beings, whether they live
in India, in Germany, in Russia, in America, or in China; but you see, by dividing
human beings according to countries, more politicians can have big jobs, so they
are not interested in thinking of the world as a whole. They are `educated’, they
know how to read, how to argue, and they talk everlastingly about being good
citizens – but they must have the first place. To divide up the world and create
wars – is that what we call education? The politicians are not alone in doing this;
we all do it. Some people want war because it gives them profit. So it is not only
the politicians who must have the right kind of education. Questioner: Then what
is your idea of the right kind of education?
Krishnamurti: I have just told you. Look, I will show you again. After all, the
religious person is not one who worships a god, an image made by the hand or
by the mind, but one who is really inquiring into what truth is, what God is; and
such a person is really educated. He may not go to a school, he may have no
books, he may not even know how to read; but he is freeing himself from fear,
from his egotism, from his selfishness, ambition. So education is not merely a
process of learning how to read, how to calculate, how to build bridges, how to do
scientific research in order to find new ways of utilizing atomic power, and all the
rest of it. The function of education is primarily to help man to free himself from
his own pettiness and from his stupid ambitions. All ambition is stupid, petty –
there is no great ambition. And education also implies helping the student to grow
in freedom without fear, does it not?
Questioner: How can every man be educated like that?
Krishnamurti: Don’t you want to be educated like that?
Questioner: But how? 177
Krishnamurti: First, do you want to be educated like that? Don’t ask how, but
have the feeling that you want to be educated in that way. If you have this intense
reeling, as you grow up you will help to create it in others, will you not? Sir, look: if
you are very keen on playing a certain game, you soon find other people to play it
with you. Similarly, if you are really keen to be educated in the way we have been
discussing, then you will help to create a school with the right kind of teachers
who will provide that kind of education. But most of us don’t really want that kind
of education, and so we ask, «How can it be brought about?» We look to
somebody else for the answer. But if all of you – every student who is listening,
and I hope the teachers too – want that kind of education, then you will demand it
and bring it into being.
Take a simple example. You know what chewing gum is, don’t you? If you all
want chewing gum, the manufacturer produces it, but if you don’t want it the
manufacturer goes broke. Similarly on quite a different level, if you all say, «We
want the right kind of education, not this phoney education which only leads to
organized murder» – if you say that and really mean it you will bring into being the
right kind of education. But you see, you are still too young, too frightened, and
that is why it is important to help you to create this thing.
Questioner: If I want the right kind of education, do I need teachers?
Krishnamurti: Of course you do. You need teachers to help you, do you not?
But what is help? You are not living in the world alone, are you? There are your
fellow students, your parents, your teachers, the postman, the man who brings
the milk – everybody is needed, we all help each other to live in this world. But if
you say, «The teacher is sacred, he is at one level and I am at another», then that
kind of help is no help at all. The teacher is helpful only if he is not using teaching
to feed his vanity or as a means of his own security. If he is teaching, not
because he is unable to do anything else, but because he really loves to teach,
then he will help the student to grow without fear. This means no examinations, 178
no grading, no marks. If you are to create the right kind of education, you need
such teachers to help you to create it; so it is very important for the teachers
themselves to be rightly educated.
Questioner: If all ambitions are stupid, then how can man progress?
Krishnamurti: Do you know what progress is? Now, have patience and let us
go into it slowly. What is progress? Have you ever thought about it? Is it progress
when you can get to Europe in a few hours by airplane instead of taking a
fortnight to get there by boat? The invention of faster means of transportation and
communication, the development of bigger guns, bigger and better ways of
destroying each other, wiping out thousands of people with a single atomic bomb
instead of shooting them down one by one with arrows – this we call progress, do
we not? So there has been progress in the technological sense; but have we
progressed in any other direction? Have we stopped wars? Are people more kind,
more loving, more generous, more thoughtful, less cruel? You don’t have to say
yes or no, but just look at the facts. Scientifically and physically we have made
tremendous progress; but inwardly we are at a standstill, are we not? For most of
us education has been like lengthening only one leg of a tripod so we have no
balance; and yet we talk about progress, all the newspapers are full of it!
Questioner: I have a friend who hates her parents because they have
separated her from a person she loves. How can I help her?
Krishnamurti: This is a very complicated question, is it not? You know, life is
not very easy, some parts of it are very cruel. There are thoughtless parents who
are not concerned with their children at all; or if they are concerned, they want the
children to obey, to imitate, to do everything exactly as the parents wish. So
resistance is gradually built up in the children, is it not? If the father happens to be
intelligent, and the mother stupidly insistent when the father is not there, or vice
versa, the children have resistance, antagonism to one parent or the other.
Perhaps you can help your friend by being more understanding, more 179
affectionate, and explaining in a kindly manner some of the things which you and
I have talked about and which you understand for yourself.
You see, the moment you have a grudge, the moment you hate somebody, it
harms you far more than the person you dislike, because that feeling is like a
wound inside you that is festering, but it is very difficult for children, for young
people to understand all this. After all, children are full of mischief, full of happy
play – as they should be; and if parents force their child into a particular pattern or
mould, it creates in the child a tremendous resistance, a blind antagonism which
he is going to take out on somebody as he grows up. If you have begun to
understand this, you can talk it over with your friend and perhaps help her not to
build up this hatred, this antagonism within herself. Questioner: What is the
definition of a student?
Krishnamurti: It is very easy to find a definition, is it not? All you have to do is
to open a dictionary at the right place and it will give you the answer. But that is
not the kind of definition you want, is it? You want to talk about it, you want to find
out what a true student is. Is he a true student who passes examinations, gets a
job, and then closes all books? Being a student implies studying life, not just
reading the few books required by your curriculum; it implies the capacity to
observe everything throughout life, not just a few things at a particular period. A
student, surely, is not only one who reads, but one who is capable of observing
all the movements of life, outward and inward, without saying, «This is right, that
is wrong». If you condemn something, you don’t observe it, do you? To observe
you have to study without condemning, without comparing. If I compare you with
somebody else I am not studying you, am I? If I compare you with your younger
brother or your elder sister, it is the sister or the brother who is important;
therefore I am not studying you.
But our whole education is to compare. You are everlastingly comparing
yourself or another with somebody – with your guru, with your ideal, with your 180
father who is so clever, a great politician, and so on. This process of comparison
and condemnation prevents you from observing, studying. So a real student is
one who observes everything in life, outwardly as well as inwardly, without
comparing, approving or condemning. He is not only capable of research into
scientific matters, but is also able to observe the workings of his own mind, his
own feelings – which is much more difficult than observing a scientific fact. To
understand the whole operation of one’s own mind requires a great deal of
insight, a great deal of inquiry without condemnation.
Questioner: You say that all idealists are hypocrites. Whom do you call an
Krishnamurti: Don’t you know what an idealist is? If I am violent, I may say that
my ideal is to be non-violent; but the fact remains that I am violent. The ideal is
what I hope to be eventually. It will take years for me to become non-violent, and
meanwhile I am violent – that is the real thing. Being violent, I am trying all the
time to be non-violent, which is unreal; and is that not hypocrisy? Instead of
understanding and dissolving my violence, I am trying to be something else. The
man who is trying to be something other than he is, is obviously a hypocrite. It is
like my putting on a mask and saying I am different, but behind the mask I am just
the same old man. Whereas, if I can go into the whole process of violence and
understand it, then there is a possibility of being free from violence. 181
Part Two Chapter 3
When you are young you are curious to know all about everything, why the
sun shines, what the stars are, all about the moon and the world around us; but
as we grow older, knowledge becomes a mere collection of information without
any feeling. We become specialists, we know much about this or that subject,
and we take very little interest in the things around us, the beggar in the street,
the rich man passing by in his car. If we want to know why there are riches and
poverty in the world, we can find an explanation. There is an explanation for
everything, and explanation seems to satisfy most of us. The same holds true of
religion. We are satisfied with explanations; and explaining everything away we
call knowledge. And is this what we mean by education? Are we learning to find
out, or are we merely asking for explanations, definitions, conclusions, in order to
put our minds at rest so that we need not inquire further?
Our elders may have explained everything to us, but our interest has generally
been deadened thereby. As we grow older life becomes more complex and very
difficult. There are so many things to know, there is so much misery and
suffering; and seeing all this complexity, we think we have resolved it all by
explaining it away. Someone dies, and it is explained away; so suffering is
deadened through explanation. Perhaps we revolt against the idea of war when
we are young, but as we grow older we accept the explanation of war, and our
minds become dull.
When we are young what is important is not to be satisfied with explanations,
but to find out how to be intelligent and thereby discover the truth of things; and
we cannot be intelligent if we are not free. It is said that freedom comes only
when we are old and wise, but surely there must be freedom while we are still
very young – not freedom to do what we like, but freedom to understand very
deeply our own instincts and urges. There must be a freedom in which there is no
fear, but one cannot be free from fear through an explanation. We are aware of 182
death and the fear of death. By explaining death, can we know what dying is, or
be free from the fear of death?
As we grow older it is important to have the capacity to think very simply. What
is simplicity? Who is a simple person? A man who lives a hermit’s life, who has
very few belongings – is he really simple? Is not simplicity something entirely
different? Simplicity is of the mind and heart. Most of us are very complex, we
have many wants and desires. For example, you want to pass your examinations,
you want to get a good job, you have ideals and want to develop a good
character, and so on. The mind has so many demands; and does that make for
simplicity? Is it not very important to find out?
A complex mind cannot find out the truth of anything, it cannot find out what is
real – and that is our difficulty. From childhood we are trained to conform, and we
do not know how to reduce complexity to simplicity. It is only the very simple and
direct mind that can find the real, the true. We know more and more, but our
minds are never simple; and it is only the simple mind that is creative.
When you paint a picture of a tree, what is it you are painting? Are you just
painting a picture of the tree as it looks, with its leaves, its branches, its trunk,
complete in every detail, or are you painting from the feeling which the tree has
awakened in you? If the tree tells you something and you paint from that inner
experience, though your feeling may be very complex, the picture that you paint
will be the outcome of a great simplicity. It is necessary when you are young to
keep your mind very simple, uncontaminated, although you may have all the
information you want.
Questioner: If all of us were educated rightly, would we be free of fear?
Krishnamurti: It is very important to be free of fear, is it not? And you cannot
be free of fear except through intelligence. So let us first find out how to be
intelligent, not how to get rid of fear. If we can experience what it is to be 183
intelligent, then we shall know how to get rid of fear. Fear is always with regard to
something, it does not exist by itself. There is the fear of death, the fear of illness
the fear of loss, the fear of one’s parents, the fear of what people will say, and so
on; and the question is, not how to get rid of fear, but how to awaken the
intelligence with which to face and to understand and go beyond fear.
Now, how can education help us to be intelligent? What is intelligence? Is it a
matter of passing examinations, or being clever? You may read many books,
meet prominent people, have a lot of capacity, but does all that make you
intelligent? Or is intelligence something which comes into being only as you
become integrated? We are made up of many parts; sometimes we are resentful,
jealous, violent, at other times we are humble, thoughtful, calm. At different
moments we are deferent beings; we are never whole, never totally integrated,
are we? When a human being has many wants, he is inwardly broken up into
One must approach the problem simply. The question is how to be intelligent
so that you can be rid of fear. If from your earliest childhood whatever difficulty
you may have had has been talked over with you so that your understanding of it
is not just verbal, but enables you to see the whole of life, then such education
can awaken intelligence and thereby free the mind of fear. Questioner: You have
said that to be ambitious is to be stupid and cruel. Is it then stupid and cruel to
have the ambition to get the right kind of education?
Krishnamurti: Are you ambitious? What is ambition? When you want to be
better than another, to get higher marks than someone else – surely that is what
we call ambition. A little politician is ambitious in wanting to become a big
politician; but is it ambitious to want to have the right kind of education? Is it
ambition when you do something because you love to do it? When you write or
paint – not because you want prestige, but because you love to write or paint – , 184
that is not ambition, surely. Ambition comes in when you compare yourself with
other writers or artists, when you want to get ahead.
So, it is not ambition when you do something because you really love to do it.
Questioner: When one wants to find truth or peace, one becomes a sannyasi.
So a sannyasi has simplicity.
Krishnamurti: Does one know simplicity when one wants peace? Is it by
becoming a sannyasi or a sadhu that one is simple? Surely, peace is something
which is not of the mind. If I want peace, and I try to remove from my mind all
thoughts of violence, will that bring me peace? Of if I have many desires and I
say that I must have no desire, will I be peaceful? The moment you want
something you are in conflict struggle, and what brings about simplicity is your
own understanding of the whole process of wanting.
Questioner: If we are educated in the right way we are free of fear, and if we
are educated wrongly we are fearful. Is that true?
Krishnamurti: It is obviously true, is it not? And are we not all afraid of
something or other? Everyone is frightened of something – of public opinion,
death, disease. That is an obvious fact. Questioner: If, as you say, everyone is
afraid, then no one is a saint or a hero. Are there no great men then in this world?
Krishnamurti: That is mere logical reasoning, is it not? Why should we bother
about great men, saints, heroes? What matters is what you are. If you are afraid,
you are going to create an ugly world. That is the question, not whether there are
Questioner: You said explanation is a bad thing. We have come here for
explanation. Is that bad? 185
Krishnamurti: I did not say explanation is bad; I said don’t be satisfied with
Questioner: What is your idea about the future of India?
Krishnamurti: I have no idea, no idea at all. I don’t think India as India matters
very much. What matters is the world. Whether we live in China or Japan, in
England, India or America, we all say, «My country matters very much», and
nobody thinks of the world as a whole; history books are full of the constant
repetition of wars. If we can begin to understand ourselves as human beings,
then perhaps we shall stop killing each other and put an end to wars; but as long
as we are nationalistic and think only of our own country, we shall go on creating
a terrible world. If once we see that this is our earth where we can all live happily
and at peace, then together we shall build anew; but if we go on thinking of
ourselves as Indians, Germans, or Russians, and regard everybody else as
foreigners, then there will be no peace and no new world can be created.
Questioner: You say there are very few people in this world who are great.
Then what are you?
Krishnamurti: It does not matter what I am. What matters is to find out the truth
or the falseness of what is being said. If you think such-and-such a thing is
important because so-and-so is saying it, then you are not really listening, you
are not trying to find out for yourself what is true and what is false.
But you see most of us are afraid to find out for ourselves what is true and
what is false, and that is why we merely accept what somebody else says. The
important thing is to question, to observe, never to accept. Unfortunately, most of
us only listen to those whom we regard as great people, to an established
authority, to the Upanishads, the Gita, or whatever it is. We never listen to the
birds, to the sound of the sea, or to the beggar. So we miss what the beggar is 186
saying – and there may be truth in what the beggar is saying, and none at all in
what is said by the rich man or the man in authority.
Questioner: We read books out of inquisitiveness. When you were young were
you not inquisitive?
Krishnamurti: Do you think that merely by reading books you find out for
yourself what is true? Do you discover anything by repeating what others have
said? Or do you discover only by searching, doubting, never accepting? Many of
us read lots of books about philosophy, and this reading shapes our minds –
which makes it very difficult to find out for ourselves what is true and what is
false. When the mind is already moulded, shaped, it can discover the truth only
with the greatest difficulty.
Questioner: Should we not be concerned about the future?
Krishnamurti: What do you mean by the future? Twenty or fifty years hence –
is that what you mean by the future? The future that is many years away is very
uncertain, is it not? You do not know what is going to happen, so what is the good
of being troubled or disturbed about it? There may be a war, an epidemic;
anything may happen, so the future is uncertain, it is unknown. What matters is
how you are living now, what you are thinking, feeling now. The present, which is
today matters very much, not tomorrow or what is going to happen twenty years
hence; and to understand the present requires a great deal of intelligence.
Questioner: When we are young we are very playful, and do not always know
what is good for us. If a father advises his son for the good of the son, should not
the son follow his father’s advice?
Krishnamurti: What do you think? If I am a parent, I must first find out what my
son really wants to do in life, must I not? Does the parent know enough about the
child to advise him? Has the parent studied the child? How can a parent who has
very little time to observe his child offer him advice? It sounds nice to say that the 187
father should guide his son; but if the father does not know his son, then what is
to be done? A child has his own propensities and capacities which have to be
studied, not just for a certain time or at a particular place, but throughout the
period of his childhood.
Questioner: You said last time that the idealist is a hypocrite. If we want to
construct a building, we must first have an idea of it. Similarly, must we not first
have an ideal if we are to bring about a new world?
Krishnamurti: To have an idea of a building which you want to construct is not
the same as being idealistic about something. Surely they are two different
Questioner: By aiming at the well-being of our own country, do we not also
aim at the well-being of humanity? Is it within the reach of the common man to
aim directly at the well-being of humanity?
Krishnamurti: When we seek the well-being of one country at the expense of
other countries, it leads to exploitation and imperialism. As long as we think
exclusively of our own country, it is bound to create conflict and war.
When you ask whether it is within the reach of the common man to aim
directly at the well-being of humanity, what do you mean by the common man?
Are not you and I the common man? Are we different from the common man?
What is there so uncommon about us? We are all ordinary human beings, are we
not? Just because we possess clean clothes, wear shoes, or have a car, do you
think we are different from others who have not these things? We are all ordinary
– and if we really understand this, we can bring about a revolution. It is one of the
faults of our present education that it makes us feel so exclusive, so much on a
pedestal above the so-called man in the street. 188
Part Two Chapter 4
I think it is a very rare thing, after leaving school, to find happiness in the latter
part of one’s life. When you leave here, you will be facing; extraordinary
problems, the problem of war, the problems of personal relationship, the
problems as citizens, the problem of religion, and the constant conflict within
society; and it seems to me that it would be a false education which did not
prepare you to face these problems and bring about a true and happier world.
Surely it is the function of education, especially in a school where you have the
opportunity of creative expression, to help the students not to be caught in those
social and environmental influences which will narrow their minds and therefore
limit their outlook and their happiness; and it seems to me that those who are
about to enter college should know for themselves the many problems that
confront us all. it is very important, especially in the world that you are going to
face, to have an extraordinarily clear intelligence, and that intelligence is not
brought about by any outside influence, or through books. It comes, I think, when
one is aware of these problems and is able to meet them, not in any personal or
limited sense, not as an American, or a Hindu, or a Communist, but as a human
being capable of bearing the responsibility of seeing the worth of things as they
are and not interpreting them according to any particular ideology or pattern of
thought. Is it not important that education should prepare each one of us to
understand and face our human problems, and not merely give us knowledge or
technological training? Because, you see, life is not so very easy. You may have
had a happy time, a creative time, a time in which you have ripened; but when
you leave the school, things will begin to happen and enclose you; you will be
limited, not only by personal relationships, but by social influences, by your own
fears, and by the inevitable ambition to succeed.
I think it is a curse to be ambitious. Ambition is a form of self-interest, self-
enclosure, and therefore it breeds mediocrity of mind. To live in a world that is full of ambition without being ambitious means, really, to love something for itself
without seeking a reward, a result; and that is very difficult, because the whole
world, all your friends, your relations, everyone is struggling to succeed, to fulfil,
to become somebody. But to understand and be free of all this, and to do
something which you really love – no matter what it is, or however lowly and
unrecognized – , that I think, awakens the spirit of greatness which never seeks
approbation, recompense, which does things for their own sake and therefore has
the strength and the capacity not to be caught in the influence of mediocrity.
I think it is very important to see this while you are young. because
magazines, newspapers, television and radio constantly emphasize the worship
of success, thereby encouraging ambition and competitiveness which breed
mediocrity of mind. When you are ambitious you are merely adjusting to a
particular pattern of society, whether in America, Russia, or India, and therefore
you are living on a very superficial level.
When you leave school and enter college, and later face the world, it seems to
me that what is important is not to succumb, not to bow your heads to various
influences, but to meet and understand these as they are and see their true
significance and their worth, in a gentle spirit with great inward strength which will
not create further discord in the world.
So, I think that a real school through its students should bring a blessing to the
world. For the world needs a blessing it is in a terrible state; and the blessing can
come only when we as individuals are not seeking power, when we are not trying
to fulfil our personal ambitions, but have a clear understanding of the vast
problems with which we are confronted. This demands great intelligence, which
means, really, a mind that does not think according to any particular pattern, but
is free in itself and is therefore capable of seeing what is true and putting aside
that which is false.