Jiddu Krishnamurti Commentaries On Living Series 1, 2 & 3

Commentaries On Living Series 1
COMMENTARIES ON LIVING SERIES I CHAPTERCHAPTER 1
2 ’IDENTIFICATION’
WHY do you identify yourself with another, with a group, with a country? Why do you call
yourself a Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist, or why do you belong to one of the innumerable sects?
Religiously and politically one identifies oneself with this or with that group through tradition or habit,
through impulse, prejudice, imitation and laziness. This identification puts an end to all creative
understanding, and then one becomes a mere tool in the hands of the party boss, the priest or the
favoured leader.
The other day someone said that he was a ”Krishnamurti-ite,” whereas so-and-so belonged to
another group. As he was saying it, he was utterly unconscious of the implications of this
identification. He was not by any means a foolish person; he was well read. cultured and all the
rest of it. Nor was he sentimental or emotional over the matter; on the contrary, he was clear and
definite.
Why had he become a ”Krishnamurti-ite”? He had followed others, belonged to many wearisome
groups and organizations, and at last found himself identified with this particular person. From what
he said, it appeared that the journey was over. He had taken a stand and that was the end of the
matter; he had chosen, and nothing could shake him. He would now comfortably settle down and
follow eagerly all that had been said and was going to be said.
When we identify ourselves with another, is that an indication of love? Does identification imply
experimentation? Does not identification put an end to love and to experiment? Identification, surely,
is possession, the assertion of ownership; and ownership denies love, does it not? To own is to be
secure; possession is defence, making oneself invulnerable. In identification there is resistance,
whether gross or subtle; and is love a form of self-protective resistance? Is there love when there is
defence?
2CHAPTER 1. 2 ’IDENTIFICATION’
Love is vulnerable, pliable, receptive; it is the highest form of sensitivity, and identification makes for
insensitivity. Identification and love do not go together, for the one destroys the other. Identification
is essentially a thought process by which the mind safeguards and expands itself; and in becoming
something it must resist and defend, it must own and discard. In this process of becoming, the mind
or the self grows tougher and more capable; but this is not love. Identification destroys freedom, and
only in freedom can there be the highest form of sensitivity.
To experiment, need there be identification? Does not the very act of identification put an end to
inquiry, to discovery? The happiness that truth brings cannot be if there is no experimentation in
self-discovery. Identification puts an end to discovery; it is another form of laziness. Identification is
vicarious experience, and hence utterly false.
To experience, all identification must cease. To experiment, there must be no fear. Fear prevents
experience. It is fear that makes for identification – identification with another, with a group, with an
ideology, and so on. Fear must resist, suppress; and in a state of self-defence, how can there be
venturing on the uncharted sea? Truth or happiness cannot come without undertaking the journey
into the ways of the self. You cannot travel far if you are anchored. Identification is a refuge. A refuge
needs protection, and that which is protected is soon destroyed. Identification brings destruction
upon itself, and hence the constant conflict between various identifications.
The more we struggle for or against identification, the greater is the resistance to understanding.
If one is aware of the whole process of identification, outward as well as inner, if one sees that
its outward expression projected by the inner demand, then there is a possibility of discovery and
happiness. He who has identified himself can never know freedom, in which alone all truth comes
into being.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 3 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 2
3 ’GOSSIP AND WORRY’
HOW ODDLY SIMILAR are gossip and worry. They are both the outcome of a restless mind. A
restless mind must have a changing variety of expressions and actions, it must be occupied; it must
have ever increasing sensations, passing interests, and gossip contains the elements of all these.
Gossip is the very antithesis of intensity and earnestness. To talk about another, pleasantly or
viciously, is an escape from oneself, and escape is the cause of restlessness. Escape in its very
nature is restless. Concern over the affairs of others seems to occupy most people, and this concern
shows itself in the reading of innumerable magazines and newspapers with their gossip columns,
their accounts of murders, divorces and so on.
As we are concerned with what others think of us, so we are anxious to know all about them; and
from this arise the crude and subtle forms of snobbishness and the worship of authority. Thus we
become more and more externalized and inwardly empty. The more externalized we are, the more
sensations and distractions there must be, and this gives rise to a mind that is never quiet, that is
not capable of deep search and discovery.
Gossip is an expression of a restless mind; but merely to be silent does not indicate a tranquil mind,
Tranquillity does not come into being with abstinence or denial; it comes with the understanding of
what is. To understand what is needs swift awareness, for what is is not static.
If we did not worry, most of us would feel that we were not alive; to be struggling with a problem is
for the majority of us an indication of existence. We cannot imagine life without a problem; and the
more we are occupied with a problem, the more alert we think we are. The constant tension over a
problem which thought itself has created only dulls the mind, making it insensitive and weary.
Why is there the ceaseless preoccupation with a problem? Will worry resolve the problem? Or does
the answer to the problem come when the mind is quiet? But for most people, a quiet mind is a rather
4CHAPTER 2. 3 ’GOSSIP AND WORRY’
fearsome thing; they are afraid to be quiet, for heaven knows what they may discover in themselves,
and worry is a preventive. A mind that is afraid to discover must ever be on the defensive, and
restlessness is its defence.
Through constant strain, through habit and the influence of circumstances, the conscious layers
of the mind have become agitated and restless Modern existence encourages this super- ficial
activity and distraction, which is another form of self-defence. Defence is resistance, which prevents
understanding.
Worry, like gossip, has the semblance of intensity and seriousness; but if one observes more closely
one will see that it arises from attraction and not earnestness. Attraction is ever changing, and that
is why the objects of worry and gossip change. Change is merely modified continuity. Gossip and
worry can come to an end only when the restlessness of the mind is understood. Mere abstinence,
control or discipline will not bring about tranquillity, but only dull the mind, making it insensitive and
confined.
Curiosity is not the way of understanding. Understanding comes with self-knowledge. He who
suffers is not curious; and mere curiosity, with its speculative overtones, is a hindrance to self-
knowledge. Speculation, like curiosity, is an indication of restlessness; and a restless mind, however
gifted, destroys understanding and happiness.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 5 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 3
4 ’THOUGHT AND LOVE’
THOUGHT WITH ITS emotional and sensational content, is not love. Thought invariably denies
love. Thought is founded on memory, and love is not memory. When you think about someone you
love, that thought is not love. You may recall a friend’s habits, manners idiosyncrasies, and think of
pleasant or unpleasant incidents in your relationship with that person, but the pictures which thought
evokes are not love. By its very nature, thought is separative. The sense of time and space, of
separation and sorrow, is born of the process of thought, and it is only when the thought process
ceases that there can be love.
Thought inevitably breeds the feeling of ownership, that possessiveness which consciously or
unconsciously cultivates jealousy. Where jealousy is, obviously love is not; and yet with most people,
jealousy is taken as an indication of love. Jealousy is the result of thought, it is a response of the
emotional content of thought. When the feeling of possessing or being possessed is blocked, there
is such emptiness that envy takes the place of love. It is because thought plays the role of love that
all the complications and sorrows arise.
If you did not think of another, you would say that you did not love that person. But is it love when
you do think of the person? If you did not think of a friend whom you think you love, you would be
rather horrified, would you not? If you did not think of a friend who is dead, you would consider
yourself disloyal, without love, and so on. You would regard such a state as callous, indifferent, and
so you would begin to think of that person, you would have photographs, images made by the hand
or by the mind; but thus to fill your heart with the things of the mind is to leave no room for love.
When you are with a friend, you do not think about him; it is only in his absence that thought begins
to re-create scenes and experiences that are dead. This revival of the past is called love. So, for
most of us, love is death, a denial of life; we live with the past, with the dead, therefore we ourselves
are dead, though we call it love.
6CHAPTER 3. 4 ’THOUGHT AND LOVE’
The process of thought ever denies love. It is thought that has emotional complications, not love.
Thought is the greatest hindrance to love. Thought creates a division between what is and what
should be, and on this division morality is based; but neither the moral nor the immoral know love.
The moral structure, created by the mind to hold social relationships together, is not love, but a
hardening process like that of cement. Thought does not lead to love, thought does not cultivate
love; for love cannot be cultivated as a plant in the garden. The very desire to cultivate love is the
action of thought.
If you are at all aware you will see what an important part thought plays in your life. Thought
obviously has its place, but it is in no way related to love. What is related to thought can a understood
by thought, but that which is not related to thought cannot be caught by the mind. You will ask, then
what is love? Love is a state of being in which thought is not; but the very definition of love is a
process of thought, and so it is not love. We have to understand thought itself, and not try to capture
love by thought. The denial of thought does not bring about love. There is freedom from thought only
when its deep significance is fully understood; and for this, profound self-knowledge is essential, not
vain and superficial assertions. Meditation and not repetition, awareness and not definition, reveal
the ways of thought. Without being aware and experiencing the ways of thought, love cannot be.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 7 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 4
5 ’ALONENESS AND ISOLATION’
THE SUN HAS gone down and the trees were dark and shapely against the darkening sky. The
wide, strong river was peaceful and still. The moon was just visible on the horizon: she was coming
up between two great trees, but she was not yet casting shadows.
We walked up the steep bank of the river and took a path that skirted the green wheat-fields. This
path was a very ancient way; many thousands had trodden it, and it was rich in tradition and silence.
It wandered among fields and mangoes, tamarinds and deserted shrines. There were large patches
of garden, sweet peas deliciously scenting the air. The birds were settling down for the night, and a
large pond was beginning to reflect the stars. Nature was not communicative that evening. The trees
were aloof; they had withdrawn into their silence and darkness. A few chattering villagers passed
by on their bicycles, and once again there was deep silence and that peace which comes when all
things are alone.
This aloneness is not aching, fearsome loneliness. It is the aloneness of being; it is uncorrupted,
rich, complete. That tamarind tree has no existence other than being itself. So is the aloneness.
One is alone, like the fire, like the flower, but one is not aware of its purity and of its immensity, One
can truly communicate only when there is aloneness. Being alone is not the outcome of denial,
of self-enclosure. Aloneness is the purgation of all motives, of all pursuits of desire, of all ends
Aloneness is not an end product of the mind. You cannot wish to be alone. Such a wish is merely
an escape from the pain of not being able to commune.
Loneliness, with its fear and ache, is isolation, the inevitable action of the self. This process of
isolation, whether expansive or narrow, is productive of confusion, conflict and sorrow. Isolation can
never give birth to aloneness; the one has to cease for the other to be. Aloneness is indivisible
and loneliness is separation. That which is alone is pliable and so enduring. Only the alone can
8CHAPTER 4. 5 ’ALONENESS AND ISOLATION’
commune with that which is causeless, the immeasurable. To the alone, life is eternal; to the alone
there is no death. The alone can never cease to be.
The moon was just coming over the tree tops, and the shadows were thick and dark. A dog began
to bark as we passed the little village and walked back along the river. The river was so still that it
caught the stars and the lights of the long bridge among its waters. High up on the bank children
were standing and laughing, and a baby was crying. The fishermen were cleaning and coiling their
nets. A night-bird flew silently by. Someone began to sing on the other bank of the wide river, and
his words were clear and penetrating. Again the all-pervading aloneness of life.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 9 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 5
6 ’PUPIL AND MASTER’
”YOU KNOW, I have been told that I am a pupil of a certain Master,” he began. ”Do you think I
am? I really want to know what you think of this. I belong to a society of which you know, and
the outer heads who represent the inner leaders or Masters have told me that because of my work
for the society I have been made a pupil. I have been told that I have an opportunity to become a
first-degree initiate in this life.” He took all this very seriously, and we talked at some length.
Reward in any form is extremely gratifying, especially a so- called spiritual reward when one is
somewhat indifferent to the honours of the world. Or when one is not very successful in this world,
it is very gratifying to belong to a group especially chosen by someone who is supposed to be a
highly advanced spiritual being, for then one is part of a team working for a great idea, and naturally
one must be rewarded for one’s obedience and for the sacrifices one has made for the cause. If it
is not a reward in that sense, it is a recognition of one’s spiritual advancement; or, as in a well-run
organization, one’s efficiency is acknowledged in order to stimulate one to do better.
In a world where success is worshipped, this kind of self-advancement is understood and
encouraged. But to be told by another that you are a pupil of a Master, or to think that you are,
obviously leads to many ugly forms of exploitation. Unfortunately, both the exploiter and the exploited
feel elated in their mutual relationship. This expanding self-gratification is considered spiritual
advancement, and it becomes especially ugly and brutal when you have intermediaries between
the pupil and the Master, when the Master is in a different country or is otherwise inaccessible and
you are not in direct physical contact with him. This inaccessibility and the lack of direct contact
opens the door to self-deception and to grand but childish illusions; and these illusions are exploited
by the cunning, by those who are after glory and power.
Reward and punishment exist only when there is no humility. Humility is not an end result of spiritual
practices and denials. Humility is not an achievement, it is not a virtue to be cultivated. A virtue that
10CHAPTER 5. 6 ’PUPIL AND MASTER’
is cultivated ceases to be a virtue, for then it is merely another form of achievement, a record to be
made. A cultivated virtue is not the abnegation of the self, but a negative assertion of the self.
Humility is unaware of the division of the superior and the inferior, of the Master and the pupil.
As long as there is a division between the Master and the pupil, between reality and yourself,
understanding is not possible. In the understanding of truth, there is no Master or pupil, neither
the advanced nor the lowly. Truth is the understanding of what is from moment to moment without
the burden or the residue of the past moment.
Reward and punishment only strengthens the self, which denies humility. Humility is in the present,
not in the future. You cannot become humble. The very becoming is the continuation of self-
importance, which conceals itself in the practice of a virtue. How strong is our will to succeed, to
become ! How can success and humility go together? Yet that is what the ”spiritual” exploiter and
exploited pursue, and therein lie conflict and misery.
”Do you mean to say that the Master does not exist, and that my being a pupil is an illusion, a
make-believe?” he asked.
Whether the Master exists or not is so trivial. It is important to the exploiter, to the secret schools
and societies; but to the man who is seeking truth, which brings supreme happiness, surely this
question is utterly irrelevant. The rich man and the coolie are as important as the Master and the
pupil. Whether the Masters exist or do not exist, whether there are the distinctions of Initiates, pupils
and so on, is not important, but what is important is to understand yourself. Without self-knowledge,
your thought, that which you reason out, has no basis. Without first knowing yourself, how can you
know what is true? Illusion is inevitable without self-knowledge. It is childish to be told and to accept
that you are this or that. Beware of the man who offers you a reward in this world or in the next.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 11 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 6
7 ’THE RICH AND THE POOR’
IT WAS HOT and humid and the noise of the very large town filled the air. The breeze from the sea
was warm, and there was the smell of tar and petrol. With the setting of the sun, red in the distant
waters, it was still unyieldingly hot. The large group that filled the room presently left, and we went
out into the street.
The parrot, like bright green flashes of light, were coming home to roost. Early in the morning they
flew to the north, where there were orchards, green fields and open country, and in the evening
they came back to pass the night in the trees of the city. Their flight was never smooth but always
reckless, noisy and brilliant. They never flew straight like other birds, but were forever veering off to
the left or the right, or suddenly dropping into a tree. They were the most restless birds in flight, but
how beautiful they were with their red beaks and a golden green that was the very glory of light. The
vultures, heavy and ugly, circled and settled down for the night on the palm trees.
A man came along playing the flute; he was a servant of some kind. He walked up the hill, still
playing, and we followed him; he turned into one of the side street, never ceasing to play. It was
strange to hear the song of the flute in a noisy city, and its sound penetrated deep into the heart. It
was very beautiful, and we followed the flute player for some distance. We crossed several streets
and came to a wider one, better lighted. Farther on, a group of people were sitting cross-legged at
the side of the road, and the flute player joined them. So did we; and we all sat around while he
played. They were mostly chauffeurs, servants, night watchmen, with several children and a dog or
two. Cars passed by, one driven by a chauffeur; a lady was inside, beautifully dressed and alone,
with the inside light on. Another car drew up; the chauffeur got out and sat down with us. They
were all talking and enjoying themselves, laughing and gesticulating, but the song of the flute never
wavered, and there was delight.
12CHAPTER 6. 7 ’THE RICH AND THE POOR’
Presently we left and took a road that led to the sea past the well-lit houses of the rich. The rich have
a peculiar atmosphere of their own. However cultured, unobtrusive, ancient and polished, the rich
have an impenetrable and assured aloofness, that inviolable certainty and hardness that is difficult
to break down. They are not the possessors of wealth, but are possessed by wealth, which is worse
than death. Their conceit is philanthropy; they think they are trustees of their wealth; they have
charities, create endowments; they are the makers, the builders, the givers. They build churches,
temples, but their god is the god of their gold. With so much poverty and degradation, one must have
a very thick skin to be rich. Some of them come to question, to argue, to find reality. For the rich as
for the poor, it is extremely difficult to find reality. The poor crave to be rich and powerful, and the
rich are already caught in the net of their own action; and yet they believe and venture near. They
speculate, not only upon the market, but upon the ultimate. They play with both, but are successful
only with what is in their hearts. Their beliefs and ceremonies, their hopes and fears have nothing
to do with reality, for their hearts are empty. The greater the outward show, the greater the inward
poverty.
To renounce the world of wealth, comfort and position is a comparatively simple matter; but to put
aside the craving to be, to become, demands great intelligence and understanding. The power that
wealth gives is a hindrance to the understanding of reality, as is also the power of gift and capacity.
This particular form of confidence is obviously an activity of the self; and though it is difficult to do so,
this kind of assurance and power can be put aside. But what is much more subtle and more hidden
is the power and the drive that lie in the craving to become. Self-expansion in any form, whether
through wealth or through virtue, is a process of conflict, causing antagonism and confusion. A mind
burdened with becoming can never be tranquil, for tranquillity is not a result either of practice or of
time. Tranquillity is a state of understanding, and becoming denies this understanding. Becoming
creates the sense of time, which is really the postponement of understanding. The ”I shall be” is an
illusion born of self-importance.
The sea was as restless as the town, but its restlessness had depth and substance, The evening
star was on the horizon. We walked back through a street crowded with buses, cars and people.
A man lay naked and asleep on the sidewalk; he was a beggar, exhausted, fatally undernourished,
and it was difficult to awaken him. Beyond lay the green lawns and bright flowers of a public garden.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 13 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 7
8 ’CEREMONIES AND CONVERSION’
IN A LARGE enclosure, among many trees, was a church. People, brown and white, were going in.
Inside there was more light than in the European churches, but the arrangements were the same.
The ceremony was in progress and there was beauty. When it was over, very few of the brown talked
to the white, or the white to the brown, and we all went our different ways.
On another continent there was a temple, and they were singing a Sanskrit chant; the Puja, a Hindu
ceremony, was being performed. The congregation was of another cultural pattern. The tonality of
Sanskrit words is very penetrating and powerful; it has a strange weight and depth.
You can be converted from one belief to another, from one dogma to another, but you cannot be
converted to the understanding of reality. Belief is not reality. You can change your mind, your
opinion, but truth or God is not a conviction: it is an experience not based on any belief or dogma,
or on any previous experience. If you have an experience born of belief, your experience is the
conditioned response of that belief. If you have an experience unexpectedly, spontaneously, and
build further experience upon the first, then experience is merely a continuation of memory which
responds to contact with the present. Memory is always dead, coming to life only in contact with the
living present.
Conversion is change from one belief or dogma to another, from one ceremony to a more gratifying
one, and it does not open the door to reality. On the contrary, gratification is a hindrance to reality.
And yet that is what organized religions and religious groups are attempting to do: to convert you to
a more reasonable or a less reasonable dogma, superstition or hope. They offer you a better cage.
It may or may not be comfortable, depending on your temperament, but in any case it is a prison.
Religiously and politically, at different levels of culture, this conversion is going on all the time.
Organizations, with their leaders, thrive on keeping ma in the ideological patterns they offer, whether
14CHAPTER 7. 8 ’CEREMONIES AND CONVERSION’
religious or economic. In this process lies mutual exploitation. Truth is outside of all patterns, fears
and hopes. If you would discover the supreme happiness of truth, you must break away from all
ceremonies and ideological patterns.
The mind finds security and strength in religious and political pattern, and this is what gives stamina
to the organizations. There are always the die-hards and the new recruits. These keep the
organizations, with their investments and properties, going, and the power and prestige of the
organizations attract those who worship success and worldly wisdom. When the mind finds the
old patterns are no longer satisfying and life-giving, it becomes converted to other more comforting
and strengthening beliefs and dogmas. So the mind is the product of environment re-creating and
sustaining itself on sensations and identifications; and that is why the mind cling to codes of conducts
patterns of thought, and so on. As long as the mind is the outcome of the past, it can never discover
truth or allow truth to come into being. In holding to organizations it discards the search for truth.
Obviously, rituals offer to the participants an atmosphere in which they feel good. Both collective
and individual rituals give a certain quietness to the mind; they offer a vital contrast to the everyday,
humdrum life. There is a certain amount of beauty and orderliness in ceremonies, but fundamentally
they are stimulants; and as with all stimulants, they soon dull the mind and heart. Rituals become
habit; they become a necessity, and one cannot do without them. This necessity is considered a
spiritual renewal, a gathering of strength to face life, a weekly or daily meditation, and so on; but
if one looks more closely into this process, one sees that rituals are vain repetition which offer a
marvellous and respectable escape from self-knowledge. Without self-knowledge, action has very
little significance.
The repetition of chants, of words and phrases, puts the mind to sleep, though it is stimulating
enough for the time being. In this sleepy state, experiences do occur, but they are self-pro- jected.
However gratifying, these experiences are illusory. The experiencing of reality does not come about
through any repetition, through any practice. Truth is not an end, a result a goal; it cannot be invited,
for it is not a thing of the mind.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 15 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 8
9 ’KNOWLEDGE’
WE WERE WAITING for the train, and it was late. The platform was dirty and noisy, the air acrid.
There were many people waiting, like us. Children were crying, a mother was suckling her baby, the
vendors were shouting their wares, tea and coffee were being sold, and it was an altogether busy
and clamorous place. We were walking up and down the platform, watching our own footsteps and
the movement of life about us. A man came up to us and began to talk in broken English. He said
he had been watching us, and felt impelled to say something to us. With great feeling he promised
he would lead a clean life, and that from this moment he would never smoke again. He said he was
not educated, as he was only a rickshaw boy. He had strong eyes and a pleasant smile.
Presently the train came. In the carriage a man introduced himself. He was a well-known scholar;
he knew many languages and could quote freely in them. He was full of years and knowledge, well-
to-do and ambitious. He talked of meditation, but he gave the impression that he was not speaking
from his own experience. His god was the god of books. His attitude towards life was traditional
and conformatory; he believed in early, prearranged marriage and in a strict code of life. He was
conscious of his own caste or class and of the differences in the intellectual capacity of the castes.
He was strangely vain in his knowledge and position.
The sun was setting, and the train was passing through lovely country. The cattle were coming
home, and there was golden dust. There were huge, black clouds on the horizon, and the crack of
distant thunder. What joy a green field holds, and how pleasant is that village in the fold of a curving
mountain! Darkness was setting in. A big, blue deer was feeding in the fields; he did not even look
up as the train roared by.
Knowledge is a flash of light between two darknesses; but knowledge cannot go above and beyond
that darkness, Knowledge is essential to technique, as coal to the engine; but it cannot reach out
16CHAPTER 8. 9 ’KNOWLEDGE’
into the unknown. The unknown is not to be caught in the net of the known. Knowledge must be set
aside for the unknown to be; but how difficult that is!
We have our being in the past, our thought is founded upon the past. The past is the known, and
the response of the past is ever overshadowing the present, the unknown. The unknown is not the
future, but the present. The future is but the past pushing its way through the uncertain present.
This gap, this interval, is filled with the intermittent light of knowledge, covering the emptiness of the
present; but this emptiness holds the miracle of life.
Addiction to knowledge is like any other addiction; it offers an escape from the fear of emptiness,
of loneliness, of frustration, the fear of being nothing. The light of knowledge is a delicate covering
under which lies a darkness that the mind cannot penetrate. The mind is frightened of this unknown,
and so it escapes into knowledge, into theories, hopes, imagination; and this very knowledge is a
hindrance to the understanding of the unknown. To put aside knowledge is to invite fear, and to deny
the mind, which is the only instrument of perception one has, is to be vulnerable to sorrow, to joy.
But it is not easy to put aside knowledge. To be ignorant is not to be free of knowledge. Ignorance is
the lack of self-awareness; and knowledge is ignorance when there is no understanding of the ways
of the self. Understanding of the self is freedom from knowledge.
There can be freedom from knowledge only when the process of gathering, the motive of-
accumulation, is understood. The desire to store up is the desire to be secure, to be certain. This
desire for certainty through identification, through condemnation and justification, is the cause of
fear, which destroys all communion. When there is communion, there is no need for accumulation.
Accumulation is self-enclosing resistance, and knowledge strengthens this resistance. The worship
of knowledge is a form of idolatry, and it will not dissolve the conflict and misery of our life. The cloak
of knowledge conceals but can never liberate us from our ever increasing confusion and sorrow. The
ways of the mind do not lead to truth and its happiness. To know is to deny the unknown.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 17 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 9
10 ’RESPECTABILITY’
HE ASSERTED THAT he was not greedy, that he was satisfied with little, and that life had been good
to him, though he suffered the usual miseries of human existence. He was a quiet man, unobtrusive,
hoping not to be disturbed from his easy ways. He said that he was not ambitious, but prayed to
God for the things he had, for his family, and for the even flow of his life. He was thankful not to
be plunged into problems and conflicts, as his friends and relations were. He was rapidly becoming
very respectable and happy in the thought that he was one of the elite. He was not attracted to other
women, and he had a peaceful family life, though there were the usual wrangles of husband and
wife. He had no special vices, prayed often and worshipped God. ”What is the matter with me,” he
asked, ”as I have no problems?” He did not wait for a reply, but smiling in a satisfied and somewhat
mournful way proceeded to tell of his past, what he was doing, and what kind of education he was
giving to his children. He went on to say that he was not generous, but gave a little here and there.
He was certain that each one must struggle to make a position for himself in the world.
Respectability is a curse; it is an ”evil” that corrodes the mind and heart. It creeps upon one
unknowingly and destroys love. To be respectable is to feel successful to carve for oneself a position
in the world, to build around oneself a was of certainty, of that assurance which comes with money,
power, success, capacity or virtue. This exclusiveness of assurance breeds hatred and antagonism
in human relationship, which in society. The respectable are always the cream of society, and so
they are ever the cause of strife and misery. The respectable, like the despised, are always at
the mercy of circumstances; the influences of environment and the weight of tradition are vastly
important to them, for these hide their inward power. The respectable are on the defensive, fearful
and suspicious. Fear is in their hearts, so anger is their righteousness; their virtue and piety are
their defence. They are as the drum, empty within but loud when beaten. The respectable can
never be open to reality, for, like the despised, they are enclosed in the concern for their own self-
improvement. Happiness is denied to them, for they avoid truth.
18CHAPTER 9. 10 ’RESPECTABILITY’
To be non-greedy and not to be generous are closely related. Both are a self-enclosing process,
a negative form of self-centredness. To be greedy, you must be active, outgoing; you must strive,
compete, be aggressive. If you have not this drive, you are not free of greed, but only self-enclosed.
Outgoing is a disturbance, a painful struggle, so self-centredness is covered over by the word non-
greedy. To be generous with the hand is one thing, but to be generous of heart is another. Generosity
of the hand is a fairly simple affair, depending upon the cultural pattern and so on; but generosity of
the heart is of vastly deeper significance, demanding extensional awareness and understanding.
Not to be generous is again a pleasant and blind self-absorption, in which there is no outward-going.
This self-absorbed state has its own activities, like those of a dreamer, but they never wake you up.
The waking-up process is a painful one, and so, young or old, you would rather be left alone to
become respectable, to die.
Like generosity of the heart, generosity of the hand is an outgoing movement, but it is often painful,
deceptive and self-revealing. Generosity of the hand is easy to come by; but generosity of heart is
not a thing to be cultivated, it is freedom from all accumulation. To forgive there must have been a
wound; and to be wounded, there must have been the gatherings of pride. There is no generosity
of heart as long as there is a referential memory, the ”me” and the ”mine.”
Commentaries On Living Series 1 19 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 10
11 ’POLITICS’
HIGH UP IN the mountains it had been raining all day. It was not a soft, gentle rain, but one of those
torrential downpours that wash out roads and uproot trees on the hillside, causing landslides and
noisy streams which become quiet in a few hours. A little boy, soaked to the skin, was playing in a
shallow pool and paying not the least attention to the angry and high-pitched voice of his mother. A
cow was coming down the muddy road as we climbed it. The clouds seemed to open and cover the
land with water. We were wet through and removed most of our clothing, and the rain was pleasant
on the skin. The house was way up on the mountainside, and the town lay below. A strong wind
was blowing from the west, bringing more dark and furious clouds.
There was a fire in the room, and several people were waiting to talk things over. The rain, beating
on the windows, had made a large puddle on the floor, and the water even came down the chimney,
making the fire sputter.
He was a very famous politician, realistic, intensely sincere and ardently patriotic. Neither narrow-
minded not self-seeking his ambition was not for himself, but for an idea and for the people. He
was not a mere eloquent tub thumper or vote catcher; he had suffered for his cause and, strangely,
was not bitter. He seemed more of a scholar than a politician. But politics was the bread of his life,
and his party obeyed him, though rather nervously. He was a dreamer, but he had put all that aside
for politics. His friend, the leading economist, was also there; he had intricate theories and facts
concerning the distribution of enormous revenues. He seemed to be familiar with the economists of
both the left and the right, and he had his own theories for the economic salvation of mankind. He
talked easily, and there was no hesitation for words. Both of them had harangued huge crowds.
Have you noticed, in newspapers and magazines, the amount of space given to politics, to the
sayings of politicians and their activities? Of course, other news is given, but political news
20CHAPTER 10. 11 ’POLITICS’
predominates; the economic and political life has become all-important. The outward circumstances
– comfort, money, position and power – seem to dominate and shape our existence. The external
show – the title, the garb, the salute, the flag – has become increasingly significant, and the total
process of life has been forgotten or deliberately set aside. It is so much easier to throw oneself
into social and political activity than to understand life as a whole; to be associated with any
organized thought, with political or religious activity, offers a respectable escape from the pettiness
and drudgery of everyday life. With a small heart you can talk of big things and of the popular
leaders; you can hide your shallowness with the easy phrases of world affairs; your restless mind
can happily and with popular encouragement settle down to propagate the ideology of a new or of
an old religion.
Politics is the reconciliation of effects; and as most of us are concerned with effects, the external has
assumed dominant significance. By manipulating effects we hope to bring about order and peace;
but, unfortunately, it is not as simple as all that. Life is a total process, the inner as well as the
outer; the outer definitely affects the inner, but the inner invariably overcomes the outer. What you
are, you bring about outwardly. The outer and the inner cannot be separated and kept in watertight
compartments, for they are constantly interacting upon each other; but the inner craving, the hidden
pursuits and motives, are always more powerful. Life is not dependent upon political or economic
activity; life is not a mere outward show, any more than a tree is the leaf or the branch. Life is a
total process whose beauty is to be discovered only in its integration. This integra- tion does not
take place on the superficial level of political and economic reconciliations; it is to be found beyond
causes and effects.
Because we play with causes and effects and never go beyond them, except verbally, our lives
are empty, without much significance. It is for this reason that we have become slaves to political
excitement and to religious sentimentalism. There is hope only in the integration of the several
processes of which we are made up. This integration does not come into being through any ideology,
or through following any particular authority, religious or political; it comes into being only through
extensive and deep awareness. This awareness must go into the deeper layers of consciousness
and not be content with surface responses.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 21 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 11
12 ’EXPERIENCING’
THE VALLEY WAS in the shadow, and the setting sun touched the faraway mountain tops; their
evening glow seemed to come from within. To the north of the long road, the mountains were bare
and barren, exposed by the fire; to the south, the hills were green and heavy with bushes and trees.
The road ran straight, dividing the long and graceful valley. The mountains on this particular evening
seemed so close, so unreal, so light and tender. Heavy birds were circling effortlessly high in the
heavens. Ground squirrels were lazily crossing the road, and there was the hum of a distant airplane.
On both sides of the road were orange orchards, well ordered and well kept. After the hot day the
smell of purple sage was very strong, and so was the smell of sunburnt earth and hay. The orange
trees were dark, with their bright fruit. The quail were calling, and a road-runner disappeared into
the bush. A long snake-lizard, disturbed by the dog, wriggled off into the dry weeds. The evening
stillness was creeping over the land.
Experience is one thing, and experiencing is another. Experience is a barrier to the state of
experiencing. However pleasant or ugly the experience, it prevents the flowering of experiencing.
Experience is already in the net of time, it is already in the past, it has become a memory which
comes to life only as a response to the present. Life is the present, it is not the experience.
The weight and the strength of experience shadow the present, and so experiencing becomes the
experience. The mind is the experience, the known, and it can never be in the state of experiencing;
for what it experiences is the continuation of experience. The mind only knows continuity, and it can
never receive the new as long as its continuity exists. What is continuous can never be in a state
of experiencing. Experience is not the means to experiencing, which is a state without experience.
Experience must cease for experiencing to be.
The mind can invite only its own self-projection, the known. There cannot be the experiencing of the
unknown until the mind ceases to experience. Thought is the expression of experience; thought is a
22CHAPTER 11. 12 ’EXPERIENCING’
response of memory; and as long as thinking intervenes, there can be no experiencing. There is no
means, no method to put an end to experience; for the very means is a hindrance to experiencing.
To know the end is to know continuity, and to have a means to the end is to sustain the known. The
desire for achievement must fade away; it is this desire that creates the means and the end. Humility
is essential for experiencing. But how eager is the mind to absorb the experiencing into experience!
How swift it is to think about the new and thus make of it the old! So it establishes the experiencer
and the experienced, which gives birth to the conflict of duality.
In the state of experiencing, there is neither the experiencer nor the experienced. The tree, the dog
and the evening star are not to be experienced by the experiencer; they are the very movement of
experiencing. There is no gap between the observer and the observed; there is no time, no spatial
interval for thought to identify itself. Thought is utterly absent, but there is being. This state of being
cannot be thought of or meditated upon, it is not a thing to be achieved. The experiencer must cease
to experience, and only then is there being. In the tranquillity of its movement is the timeless.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 23 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 12
13 ’VIRTUE’
THE SEA WAS very calm and there was hardly a ripple on the white sands. Around the wide bay,
to the north, was the town, and to the south were palm trees, almost touching the water. Just visible
beyond the bar were the first of the sharks, and beyond them the fishermen’s boats, a few logs tied
together with stout rope. They were making for a little village south of the palm trees. The sunset
was brilliant, not where one would expect it, but in the east; it was a counter-sunset, and the clouds,
massive and shapely, were lit with all the colours of the spectrum. It was really quite fantastic, and
almost painful to bear. The waters caught the brilliant colours and made a path of exquisite light to
the horizon.
There were a few fishermen walking back to their villages from the town, but the beach was almost
deserted and silent. A single star was above the clouds. On our way back, a woman joined us
and began to talk of serious things. She said she belonged to a certain society whose members
meditated and cultivated the essential virtues. Each month a particular virtue was chosen, and
during the days that followed it was cultivated and put into practice. From her attitude and speech
it appeared that she was well grounded in self-discipline and somewhat impatient with those who
were not of her mood and purpose.
Virtue is of the heart and not of the mind, When the mind cultivates virtue, it is cunning calculation;
it is a self-defence, a clever adjustment to environment. Self-perfection is the very denial of virtue.
How can there be virtue if there is fear? Fear is of the mind and not of the heart. Fear hides itself
under different forms: virtue, respectability, adjustment, service and so on. Fear will always exist
in the relationships and activities of the mind. The mind is not separate from its activities; but it
separates itself, thus giving itself continuity and permanence. As a child practises the piano, so
the mind cunningly practises virtue to make itself more permanent and dominant in meeting life,
or to attain what it considers to be the highest. There must be vulnerability to meet life, and not
24CHAPTER 12. 13 ’VIRTUE’
the respectable wall of self-enclosing virtue. The highest cannot be attained; there is no path, no
mathematically progressive growth to it. Truth must come, you cannot go to truth, and your cultivated
virtue will not carry you to it. What you attain is not truth, but your own self-projected desire; and in
truth alone is there happiness.
The cunning adaptability of the mind in its own self-perpetuation sustains fear. It is this fear that
must be deeply understood, not how to be virtuous. A petty mind may practise virtue, but it will still
remain petty. Virtue is then an escape from its own pettiness, and the virtue it gathers will also be
petty. If this pettiness is not understood, how can there be the experiencing of reality? How can a
petty, virtuous mind be open to the immeasurable?
In comprehending the process of the mind, which is the self, virtue comes into being. Virtue is
not accumulated resistance; it is the spontaneous awareness and the understanding of what is.
Mind cannot understand; it may translate what is understood into action, but it is not capable of
understanding. To understand, there must be the warmth of recognition and reception, which only
the heart can give when the mind is silent. But the silence of the mind is not the result of cunning
calculation. The desire for silence is the curse of achievement, with its endless conflicts and pains.
The craving to be, negatively or positively, is the denial of virtue of the heart. Virtue is not conflict
and achievement, prolonged practice and result, but a state of being which is not the outcome of
self-projected desire. There is no being if there is a struggle to be. In the struggle to be there
is resistance and denial, mortification and renunciation; but the overcoming of these is not virtue.
Virtue is the tranquillity of freedom from the craving to be, and this tranquillity is of the heart, not
of the mind. Through practice, compulsion, resistance, the mind may make itself quiet, but such a
discipline destroys virtue of the heart, without which there is no peace, no blessing; for virtue of the
heart is understanding.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 25 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 13
14 ’SIMPLICITY OF THE HEART’
THE SKIES WERE open and full. There were not the big, wide-winged birds that float so easily from
valley to valley, nor even a passing cloud. The trees were still and the curving folds of the hills were
rich in shadow. The eager deer, consumed with curiosity, was watching, and suddenly darted away
at our approach. Under a bush, of the same colour as the earth, was a flat horned toad, bright-
eyed and motionless. To the west the mountains were sharp and clear against the setting sun. Far
below was a big house; it had a swimming pool, and some people were in it. There was a lovely
garden surrounding the house; the place looked prosperous and secluded, and had that peculiar
atmosphere of the rich. Farther down a dusty road was a small shack in a dry field. Poverty, squalor
and toil, even at that distance, were visible. Seen from that height the two houses were not far apart;
ugliness and beauty were touching each other.
Simplicity of the heart is of far greater importance and significance than simplicity of possessions.
To be content with few things is a comparatively easy matter. To renounce comfort, or to give up
smoking and other habits, does not indicate simplicity of heart. To put on a loincloth in a world that
is taken up with clothes, comforts and distractions, does not indicate a free being. There was a man
who had given up the world and its ways, but his desires and passions were consuming him; he
had put on the robes of a monk, but he did not know peace. His eyes were everlastingly seeking,
and his mind was riven by his doubts and hopes. Outwardly you discipline and renounce, you
chart your course, step by step, to reach the end. You measure the progress of your achievement
according to the standards of virtue: how you have given up this or that, how controlled you are
in your behaviour, how tolerant and kind you are, and so on and on. You have learnt the art of
concentration, and you withdraw into a forest, a monastery or a darkened room to meditate; you
pass your days in prayer and watchfulness. Outwardly you have made your life simple, and through
this thoughtful and calculated arrangement you hope to reach the bliss that is not of this world.
26CHAPTER 13. 14 ’SIMPLICITY OF THE HEART’
But is reality reached through external control and sanctions? Though outward simplicity, the putting
aside of comfort, is obviously necessary, will this gesture open the door to reality? To be occupied
with comfort and success burdens the mind and the heart, and there must be freedom to travel; but
why are we so concerned with the outward gesture? Why are we so eagerly determined to give an
outward expression of our intention? Is it the fear of self-deception, or of what another might say?
Why do we wish to convince ourselves of our integrity? Does not this whole problem lie in the desire
to be sure, to be convinced of our own importance in becoming?
The desire to be is the beginning of complexity. Driven by the ever-increasing desire to be, inwardly
and outwardly, we accumulate or renounce, cultivate or deny. Seeing that time steals all things, we
cling to the timeless. This struggle to be, positively or negatively, through attachment or detachment,
can never be resolved by any outward gesture, discipline or practice; but the understanding of
this struggle will bring about, naturally and spontaneously, the freedom from outward and inward
accumulation with their conflicts. Reality is not to be reached through detachment; it is unattainable
through any means. All means and ends are a form of attachment, and they must cease for the
being of reality.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 27 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 14
15 ’FACETS OF THE INDIVIDUAL’
HE CAME TO see us surrounded by his disciples. They were of every kind, the well-to-do and the
poor, the high governmental official and the widow, the fanatic and the young man with a smile.
They were a pleasant and happy lot, and the shadows were dancing on the white house. In the thick
foliage, parrots were screeching, and a noisy lorry went by. The young man was eager and insisted
on the importance of the guru, the teacher; the others were in accord with him and smiled with
delight as he made his points, clearly and objectively. The sky was very blue, and a white-throated
eagle was circling just above us with hardly a flutter of the wing. It was a very beautiful day. How we
destroy each other, the pupil the guru, and the guru the pupil! How we conform, break away to take
shape again! A bird was pulling out a long worm from the moist earth.
We are many and not one. The one does not come into being till the many cease. The clamorous
many are at war with each other day and night, and this war is the pain of life. We destroy one, but
another rises in its place; and this seemingly endless process is our life. We try to impose the one
on the many, but the one soon becomes the many. The voice of the many is the voice of the one,
and the one voice assumes authority; but it is still the chattering of a voice. We are the voices of the
many, and we try to catch the still voice of the one. The one is the many if the many are silent to
hear the voice of the one. The many can never find the one.
Our problem is not how to hear the one voice but to understand the composition, the make-up of
the many which we are. One facet of the many cannot understand the many; one entity cannot
understand the many entities which we are. Though one facet tries to control, discipline, shape the
other facets, its efforts are ever self-enclosing, narrowing. The whole cannot be understood through
the part, and that is why we never understand. We never get the view of the whole, we are never
aware of the whole, because we are so occupied with the part. The part divides itself and becomes
the many. To be aware of the whole, the conflict of the many, there must be the understanding of
28CHAPTER 14. 15 ’FACETS OF THE INDIVIDUAL’
desire. There is only one activity of desire; though there are varying and conflicting demands and
pursuits, they are all the outcome of desire. Desire may not be sublimated or suppressed; it must
be understood without him who understands. If the entity who understands is there, then it is still
the entity of desire. To understand without the experiencer is to be free of the one and of the many.
All activities of conformity and denial, of analysis and acceptance, only strengthen the experiencer.
The experiencer can never understand the whole. The experiencer is the accumulated, and there is
no understanding within the shadow of the past. Dependence on the past may offer a way of action,
but the cultivation of a means is not understanding. Understanding is not of the mind, of thought;
and if thought is disciplined into silence to capture that which is not of the mind, then that which is
experienced is the projection of the past. In the awareness of this whole process there is a silence
which is not of the experiencer. In this silence only does understanding come into being.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 29 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 15
16 ’SLEEP’
IT WAS A cold winter and the trees were bare, their naked branches exposed to the sky. There
were very few evergreen trees, and even they felt the cold winds and the frosty nights. In the far
distance the high mountains were covered with heavy snow, and white billowy clouds hung over
them. The grass was brown, for there had been no rain for many months, and the spring rains were
still distant. The earth was dormant and fallow. There was no cheery movement of nesting birds in
green hedges, and the paths were hard and dusty. On the lake there were a few ducks, pausing on
their way to the south. The mountains held the promise of a new spring, and the earth was dreaming
of it.
What would happen if sleep were denied to us? Would we have more time to fight, to intrigue, to
make mischief? Would we be more cruel and ruthless? Would there be more time for humility,
compassion and frugality? Would we be more creative? Sleep is a strange thing, but extraordinarily
important. For most people, the activities of the day continue through their nocturnal slumbers; their
sleep is the continuation of their life, dull or exciting, an extension at a different level of the same
insipidity or meaningless strife. The body is refreshed by sleep; the internal organism, having a life of
its own, renews itself. During sleep, desires are quiescent, and so do not interfere with the organism;
and with the body refreshed, the activities of desire have further opportunities for stimulation and
expansion. Obviously, the less one interferes with the internal organism, the better; the less the
mind takes charge of the organism, the more healthy and natural is its function. But disease of the
organism is another matter, produced by the mind or by its own weakness.
Sleep is of great significance. The more the desires are strengthened, the less the meaning of
sleep. Desires, positive or negative, are fundamentally always positive, and sleep is the temporary
suspension of this positive. Sleep is not the opposite of desire, sleep is not negation, but a state
which desire cannot penetrate. The quietening of the superficial layers of consciousness takes place
30CHAPTER 15. 16 ’SLEEP’
during sleep, and so they are capable of receiving the intimations of the deeper layers; but this is
only a partial comprehension of the whole problem. It is obviously possible for all the layers of
consciousness to be in communication with each other during waking hours, and also during sleep;
and of course this is essential. This communication frees the mind from its own self-importance,
and so the mind does not become the dominant factor. Thus it loses, freely and naturally, its self-
enclosing efforts and activities. In this process the impetus to become is completely dissolved, the
accumulative momentum exists no longer.
But there is something more that takes place in sleep. There is found an answer to our problems.
When the conscious mind is quiet, it is capable of receiving an answer, which is a simple affair. But
what is far more significant and important than all this is the renewal which is not a cultivation. One
can deliberately cultivate a gift, a capacity, or develop a technique, a pattern of action and behaviour;
but this is not renewal. Cultivation is not creation. This creative renewal does not take place if there
is any kind of effort on the part of a becomer. The mind must voluntarily lose all accumulative
impulse, the storing up of experience as a means to further experience and achievement. It is
the accumulative, self-protective urge that breeds the curve of time and prevents creative renewal.
Consciousness as we know it is of time, it is a process of recording and storing experience at its
different levels. Whatever takes place within this consciousness is its own projection; it has its own
quality, and is measurable. During sleep, either this consciousness is strengthened, or something
wholly different takes place. For most of us, sleep strengthens experience, it is a process of
recording and storing in which there is expansion but not renewal. Expansiveness gives a feeling of
elation, of inclusive achievement, of having understood, and so on; but all this is not creative renewal.
This process of becoming must wholly come to an end, not as a means to further experience, but
as an ending in itself.
During sleep, and often during waking hours, when becoming has entirely ceased, when the effect
of a cause has come to an end, then that which is beyond time, beyond the measure of cause and
effect, comes into being.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 31 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 16
17 ’LOVE IN RELATIONSHIP’
THE PATH WENT by a farm and climbed a hill overlooking the various buildings, the cows with
their calves, the chickens, the horses, and many farm machines. It was a pleasant path, wandering
through the woods, and it was often used by deer and other wild animals who left their footprints
here and there in the soft earth. When it was very still, the voices from the farm, the laughter and
the sound of the radio, would be carried to quite a distance. It was a well-kept farm and there was
an air of tidiness about it. Often the voices were raised in anger, followed by the silence of children.
There was a song among the trees and the angry voices even broke through this song. Suddenly, a
woman came out of the house, banging the door; she went over to the cow-shed and began beating
a cow with a stick. The sharp noise of this beating came up the hill.
How easy it is to destroy the thing we love! How quickly a barrier comes between us, a word, a
gesture, a smile! Health, mood and desire cast a shadow, and what was bright becomes dull and
burdensome. Through usage we wear ourselves out, and that which was sharp and clear becomes
wearisome and confused. Through constant friction, hope and frustration, that which was beautiful
and simple becomes fearful and expectant. Relationship is complex and difficult, and few can come
out of it unscathed. Though we would like it to be static, enduring, continuous, relationship is a
movement, a process which must be deeply and fully understood and not made to conform to an
inner or outer pattern. Conformity, which is the social structure, loses its weight and authority only
when there is love. Love in relationship is a purifying process as it reveals the ways of the self.
Without this revelation, relationship has little significance.
But how we struggle against this revelation! The struggle takes many forms: dominance or
subservience, fear or hope, jealousy or acceptance, and so on and on. The difficulty is that we
do not love; and if we do love we want it to function in a particular way, we do not give it freedom.
We love with our minds and not with our hearts. Mind can modify itself, but love cannot. Mind can
32CHAPTER 16. 17 ’LOVE IN RELATIONSHIP’
make itself invulnerable, but love cannot; mind can always withdraw, be exclusive, become personal
or impersonal. Love is not to be compared and hedged about. Our difficulty lies in that which we call
love, which is really of the mind. We fill our hearts with the things of the mind and so keep our hearts
ever empty and expectant. It is the mind that clings, that is envious, that holds and destroys. Our life
is dominated by the physical centres and by the mind. We do not love and let it alone, but crave to
be loved; we give in order to receive, which is the generosity of the mind and not of the heart. The
mind is ever seeking certainty, security; and can love be made certain by the mind? Can the mind,
whose very essence is of time, catch love, which is its own eternity?
But even the love of the heart has its own tricks; for we have so corrupted our heart that it is hesitant
and confused. It is this that makes life so painful and wearisome. One moment we think we have
love, and the next it is lost. There comes an imponderable strength, not of the mind, whose sources
may not be fathomed. This strength is again destroyed by the mind; for in this battle the mind seems
invariably to be the victor. this conflict within ourselves is not to be resolved by the cunning mind or
by the hesitant heart. There is no means, no way to bring this conflict to an end. The very search for
a means is another urge of the mind to be the master, to put away conflict in order to be peaceful,
to have love, to become something.
Our greatest difficulty is to be widely and deeply aware that there is no means to love as a desirable
end of the mind. When we understand this really and profoundly, then there is a possibility of
receiving something that is not of this world. Without the touch of that something, do what we will,
there can be no lasting happiness in relationship. If you have received that benediction and I have
not, naturally you and I will be in conflict. You may not be in conflict, but I will be; and in my pain and
sorrow I cut myself off. Sorrow is as exclusive as pleasure, and until there is that love which is not
of my making, relationship is pain. If there is the benediction of that love, you cannot but love me
whatever I may be, for then you do not shape love according to my behaviour. Whatever tricks the
mind may play, you and I are separate; though we may be in touch with each other at some points,
integration is not with you, but within myself. This integration is not brought about by the mind at
any time; it comes into being only when the mind is utterly silent, having reached the end of its own
tether. Only then is there no pain in relationship.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 33 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 17
18 ’THE KNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN’
THE LONG EVENING shadows were over the still waters, and the river was becoming quiet after
the day. Fish were jumping out of the water, and the heavy birds were coming to roost among the
big trees. There was not a cloud in the sky, which was silver-blue. A boat full of people came down
the river; they were singing and clapping, and a cow called in the distance. There was the scent of
evening. A garland of marigold was moving with the water, which sparkled in the setting sun. How
beautiful and alive it all was – the river, the birds, the trees and the villagers.
We were sitting under a tree, overlooking the river. Near the tree was a small temple, and a few lean
cows wandered about. The temple was clean and well swept, and the flowering bush was watered
and cared for. A man was performing his evening rituals, and his voice was patient and sorrowful.
Under the last rays of the sun, the water was the colour of newborn flowers. Presently someone
joined us and began to talk of his experiences. He said he had devoted many years of his life to the
search for God, had practised many austerities and renounced many things that were dear. He had
also helped considerably in social work, in building a school, and so on. He was interested in many
things, but his consuming interest was the finding of God; and now, after many years, His voice was
being heard, and it guided him in little as well as big things. He had no will of his own, but followed
the inner voice of God. It never failed him, though he often corrupted its clarity; his prayer was ever
for the purification of the vessel, that it might be worthy to receive.
Can that which is immeasurable be found by you and me? Can that which is not of time be searched
out by that thing which is fashioned of time? Can a diligently practised discipline lead us to the
unknown? Is there a means to that which has no beginning and no end? Can that reality be caught
in the net of our desires? What we can capture is the projection of the known; but the unknown
cannot be captured by the known. That which is named is not the unnameable, and by naming we
only awaken the conditioned responses. These responses, however noble and pleasant, are not of
the real. We respond to stimulants, but reality offers no stimulant: it is.
34CHAPTER 17. 18 ’THE KNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN’
The mind moves from the known to the known, and it cannot reach out into the unknown. You
cannot think of something you do not know; it is impossible. What you think about comes out of
the known, the past, whether that past be remote, or the second that has just gone by. This past
is thought, shaped and conditioned by many influences, modifying itself according to circumstances
and pressures, but ever remaining a process of time. Thought can only deny or assert it cannot
discover or search out the new. Thought cannot come upon the new. but when thought is silent,
then there may be the new – which is immediately transformed into the old, into the experienced, by
thought. Thought is ever shaping, modifying, colouring according to a pattern of experience. The
function of thought is to communicate but not to be in the state of experiencing. When experiencing
ceases, then thought takes over and terms it within the category of the known. Thought cannot
penetrate into the unknown, and so it can never discover or experience reality.
Disciplines, renunciations, detachment, rituals, the practice of virtue – all these, however noble,
are the process of thought; and thought can only work towards an end, towards an achievement,
which is ever the known. Achievement is security, the self-protective certainty of the known. To
seek security in that which is nameless is to deny it. The security that may be found is only in the
projection of the past, of the known. For this reason the mind must be entirely and deeply silent; but
this silence cannot be purchased through sacrifice, sublimation or suppression. This silence comes
when the mind is no longer seeking, no longer caught in the process of becoming. This silence
is not cumulative, it may not be built up through practice. The silence must be as unknown to the
mind as the timeless; for if the mind experiences the silence, then there is the experiencer who is
the result of past experiences, who is cognizant of a past silence; and what is experienced by the
experiencer is merely a self-projected repetition. The mind can never experience the new, and so
the mind must be utterly still.
The mind can be still only when it is not experiencing, that is, when it is not terming or naming,
recording or storing up in memory. This naming and recording is a constant process of the different
layers of consciousness, not merely of the upper mind. But when the superficial mind is quiet,
the deeper mind can offer up its intimations. When the whole consciousness is silent and tranquil,
free from all becoming, which is spontaneity then only does the immeasurable come into being. The
desire to main- tain this freedom gives continuity to the memory of the becomer, which is a hindrance
to reality. Reality has no continuity; it is from moment to moment, ever new, ever fresh. What has
continuity can never be creative.
The upper mind is only an instrument of communication it cannot measure that which is
immeasurable. Reality is not to be spoken of; and when it is, it is no longer reality.
This is meditation.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 35 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 18
19 ’THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH’
HE HAD COME a very long way, many thousands of miles by boat and plane. He spoke only his
own language, and with the greatest of difficulties was adjusting himself to this new and disturbing
environment. He was entirely unaccustomed to this kind of food and to this climate; having been
born and bred in a very high altitude, the damp heat was telling on him. He was a well-read man, a
scientist of sorts, and had done some writing. He seemed to be well acquainted with both Eastern
and Western philosophies, and had been a Roman Catholic. He said he had been dissatisfied with
all this for a long time, but had carried on because of his family. His marriage was what could be
considered a happy one, and he loved his two children. They were in college now in that faraway
country, and had a bright future. But this dissatisfaction with regard to his life and action had been
steadily increasing through the years, and a few months ago it had reached a crisis. He had left
his family, making all the necessary arrangements for his wife and children, and now here he was.
He had just enough money to carry on, and had come to find God. He said that he was in no way
unbalanced, and was clear in his purpose.
Balance is not a matter to be judged by the frustrated, or by those who are successful. The
successful may be the unbalanced; and the frustrated become bitter and cynical, or they find an
escape through some self-projected illusion. Balance is not in the hands of the analysts; to fit
into the norm does not necessarily indicate balance. The norm itself may be the product of an
unbalanced culture. An acquisitive society, with its patterns and norms, is unbalanced, whether it is
of the left or of the right, whether its acquisitiveness is vested in the State or in its citizens. Balance
is non-acquisitiveness. The idea of balance and nonbalance is still within the field of thought and so
cannot be the judge. Thought itself, the conditioned response with its standards and judgments, is
not true. Truth is not an idea, a conclusion.
Is God to be found by seeking him out? Can you search after the unknowable? To find, you must
know what you are seeking. If you seek to find, what you find will be a sell-projection; it will be what
36CHAPTER 18. 19 ’THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH’
you desire, and the creation of desire is not truth. To seek truth is to deny it. Truth has no fixed
abode; there is no path, no guide to it, and the word is not truth. Is truth to be found in a particular
setting, in a special climate, among certain people? Is it here and not there? Is that one the guide
to truth, and not another? Is there a guide at all? When truth is sought, what is found can only come
out of ignorance, for the search itself is born of ignorance. You cannot search out reality; you must
cease for reality to be.
”But can I not find the nameless? I have come to this country because here there is a greater
feeling for that search. Physically one can be more free here, one need not have so many things;
possessions do not overpower one here as elsewhere. That is partly why one goes to a monastery.
But there are psychological escapes in going to a monastery, and as I do not want to escape into
ordered isolation, I am here, living my life to find the nameless. Am I capable of finding it?”
Is it a matter of capacity? Does not capacity imply the following of a particular course of action, a
predetermined path, with all the necessary adjustments? When you ask that question, are you not
asking whether you, an ordinary individual, have the necessary means of gaining what you long for?
Surely, your question implies that only the exceptional find truth, and not the everyday man. Is truth
granted only to the few, to the exceptionally intelligent? Why do we ask whether we are capable
of finding it? We have the pattern, the example of the man who is supposed to have discovered
truth; and the example, being elevated far above us, creates uncertainty in ourselves. The example
thus assumes great significance and there is competition between the example and ourselves; we
also long to be the record-breaker. Does not this question, ”Have I the capacity?”, arise out of one’s
conscious or unconscious comparison of what one is with what one supposes the example to be?
Why do we compare ourselves with the ideal? And does comparison bring understanding? Is
the ideal different from ourselves? Is it not a self-projection, a homemade thing, and does it not
therefore prevent the understanding of ourselves as we are? Is not comparison an evasion of the
understanding of ourselves? There are so many ways of escaping from ourselves, and comparison
is one of them. Surely, without the understanding of oneself, the search for so-called reality is an
escape from oneself. Without self-knowledge, the god that you seek is the god of illusion; and illusion
inevitably brings conflict and sorrow. Without self-knowledge, there can be no right thinking; and then
all knowledge is ignorance which can only lead to confusion and destruction. Self-knowledge is not
an ultimate end; it is the only opening wedge to the inexhaustible.
”Is not self-knowledge extremely difficult to acquire, and will it not take a very long time?”
The very conception that self-knowledge is difficult to acquire is a hindrance to self-knowledge. If
I may suggest, do not suppose that it will be difficult, or that it will take time; do not predetermine
whit it is and what it is not. Begin. Self-knowledge is to be discovered in the action of relationship;
and all action is relationship. Self-knowledge does not come about through self-isolation, through
withdrawal; the denial of relationship is death. Death is the ultimate resistance. Resistance, which
is suppression, substitution or sublimation in any form, is a hindrance to the flow of self-knowledge;
but resistance is to be discovered in relationship, in action. Resistance, whether negative or positive,
with its comparisons and justifications, its condemnations and identifications, is the denial of what
is. What is is the implicit; and awareness of the implicit, without any choice, is the unfoldment of it.
This unfoldment is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is essential for the coming into being of the
unknown, the inexhaustible.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 37 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 19
20 ’SENSITIVITY’
IT WAS A lovely garden, with sunken lawns and old shady trees. The house was large, with spacious
rooms, airy and well proportioned. The trees gave shelter to many birds and many squirrels, and
to the fountain came birds of every size, sometimes eagles, but mostly crows, sparrows and noisy
parrots. The house and garden were secluded, the more so as they were enclosed within high,
white walls. It was pleasant within those walls, and beyond them was the noise of the road and the
village. The road passed the gates, and a few yards along that road was the village, on the outskirts
of a large town. The village was foul, with open gutters along its main, narrow lane. The houses
were thatched, the front steps decorated, and children were playing in the lane. Some weavers
had stretched out long strands of gay-coloured threads to make cloth, and a group of children were
watching them at work. It was a cheerful scene, bright, noisy and smelly. The villagers were freshly
washed, and they had very little on for the climate was warm. Towards evening some of them got
drunk and became loud and rough.
It was only a thin wall that separated the lovely garden from the pulsating village. To deny ugliness
and to hold to beauty is to be insensitive. The cultivation of the opposite must ever narrow the mind
and limit the heart. Virtue is not an opposite; and if it has an opposite, it ceases to be virtue. To be
aware of the beauty of that village is to be sensitive to the green, flowering garden. We want to be
aware only of beauty, and we shut ourselves off from that which is not beautiful. This suppression
merely breeds insensitivity, it does not bring about the appreciation of beauty. The good is not in
the garden, away from the village, but in the sensitivity that lies beyond both. To deny or to identify
leads to narrowness, which is to be insensitive. Sensitivity is not a thing a be carefully nurtured by
the mind, which can only divide and dominate. There is good and evil; but to pursue the one and to
avoid the other does not lead to that sensitivity which is essential for the being of reality.
Reality is not the opposite of illusion, of the false, and if you try to approach it as an opposite it
will never come into being. Reality can be only when the opposites cease. To condemn or identify
38CHAPTER 19. 20 ’SENSITIVITY’
breeds the conflict of the opposites, and conflict only engenders further conflict. A fact approached
unemotionally, without denying or justifying, does not bring about conflict. A fact in itself has no
opposite; it has an opposite only when there is a pleasurable or defensive attitude. It is this attitude
that builds the walls of insensitivity and destroys action. If we prefer to remain in the garden, there is
a resistance to the village; and where there is resistance there can be no action, either in the garden
or towards the village. There may be activity, but not action. Activity is based on an idea, and action
is not. Ideas have opposites, and movement within the opposites is mere activity, however prolonged
or modified. Activity can never be liberating.
Activity has a past and a future, but action has not. Action is always in the present, and is therefore
immediate. Reform is activity, not action, and what is reformed needs further reform. Reformation
is inaction, an activity born as an opposite. Action is from moment to moment, and, oddly enough,
it has no inherent contradiction; but activity, though it may appear to be without a break, is full of
contradiction. The activity of revolution is riddled with contradictions and so can never be liberate.
Conflict, choice, can never be a liberating. factor. If there is choice, there is activity and not action;
for choice is based on idea. Mind can indulge in activity, but it cannot act. Action springs from quite
a different source.
The moon came up over the village, making shadows across the garden.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 39 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 20
21 ’THE INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIETY’
WE WERE WALKING along a crowded street. The sidewalks were heavy with people, and the
smell of exhaust from the cars and buses filled our nostrils. The shops displayed many costly and
shoddy things. The sky was pale silver, and it was pleasant in the park as we came out of the noisy
thoroughfare. We went deeper into the park and sat down.
He was saying that the State, with its militarization and legislation, was absorbing the individual
almost everywhere, and that worship of the State was now taking the place of the worship of God.
In most countries the State was penetrating into the very intimate lives of its people; they were being
told what to read and what to think. The State was spying upon its citizens, keeping a divine eye on
them, taking over the function of the Church. It was the new religion. Man used to be a slave to the
Church, but was now a slave of the State. Before it was the Church, and now it was the State that
controlled his education; and neither was concerned with the liberation of man.
What is the relationship of the individual to society? Obviously, society exists for the individual,
and not the other way round. Society exists for the fruition of man; it exists to give freedom to the
individual so that he may have the opportunity to awaken the highest intelligence. This intelligence
is not the mere cultivation of a technique or of knowledge; it is to be in touch with that creative
reality which is not of the superficial mind. Intelligence is not a cumulative result, but freedom
from progressive achievement and success. Intelligence is never static; it cannot be copied and
standardized, and hence cannot be taught. Intelligence is to be discovered in freedom.
The collective will and its action, which is society, does not offer this freedom to the individual; for
society, not being organic, is ever static. Society is made up, put together for the convenience of
man; it has no independent mechanism of its own. Men may capture society, guide it, shape it,
tyrannize over it, depending upon their psychological states; but society is not the master of man.
40CHAPTER 20. 21 ’THE INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIETY’
It may influence him, but man always breaks it down. There is conflict between man and society
because man is in conflict within himself; and the conflict is between that which is static and that
which is living. Society is the outward expression of man. The conflict between himself and society is
the conflict within himself. This conflict, within and without, will ever exist until the highest intelligence
is awakened.
We are social entities as well as individuals; we are citizens as well as men, separate becomers in
sorrow and pleasure. If there is to be peace, we have to understand the right relationship between
the man and the citizen. Of course, the State would prefer us to be entirely citizens; but that is the
stupidity of government. We ourselves would like to hand over the man to the citizen; for to be a
citizen is easier than to be a man. To be a good citizen is to function efficiently within the pattern
of a given society. Efficiency and conformity are demanded of the citizen, as they toughen him,
make him ruthless; and then he is capable of sacrificing the man to the citizen. A good citizen is not
necessarily a good man; but a good man is bound to be a right citizen, not of any particular society
or country. Because he is primarily a good man, his actions will not be antisocial, he will not be
against another man. He will live in co-operation with other good men; he will not seek authority, for
he has no authority; he will be capable of efficiency without its ruthlessness. The citizen attempts
to sacrifice the man; but the man who is searching out the highest intelligence will naturally shun
the stupidities of the citizen. So the State will be against the good man, the man of intelligence; but
such a man is free from all governments and countries.
The intelligent man will bring about a good society; but a good citizen will not give birth to a society
in which man can be of the highest intelligence. The conflict between the citizen and the man
is inevitable if the citizen predominates; and any society which deliberately disregards the man
is doomed. There is reconciliation between the citizen and the man only when the psychological
process of man is understood. The State, the present society, is not concerned with the inner man,
but only with the outer man, the citizen. It may deny the inner man, but he always overcomes the
outer, destroying the plans cunningly devised for the citizen. The State sacrifices the present for
the future, ever safeguarding itself for the future; it regards the future as all-important, and not the
present. But to the intelligent man, the present is of the highest importance, the now and not the
tomorrow. What is can be understood only with the fading of tomorrow. The understanding of what
is brings about transformation in the immediate present. It is this transformation that is of supreme
importance, and not how to reconcile the citizen with the man. When this transformation takes place,
the conflict between the man and the citizen ceases.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 41 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 21
22 ’THE SELF’
IN THE OPPOSITE seat sat a man of position and authority. He was well aware of this, for his looks,
his gestures, his attitude proclaimed his importance. He was very high up in the Government, and
the people about him were very obsequious. He was saying in a loud voice to somebody that it was
outrageous to disturb him about some minor official task. He was rumbling about the doings of his
workers, and the listeners looked nervous and apprehensive. We were flying far above the clouds,
eighteen thousand feet, and through the gaps in the clouds was the blue sea. When the clouds
somewhat opened up, there were the mountains covered with snow, the islands and the wide, open
bays. How far away and how beautiful were the solitary houses and the small villages! A river came
down to the sea from the mountains. It flowed past a very large town, smoky and dull, where its
waters became polluted, but a little farther on they were again clean and sparkling. A few seats
away was an officer in uniform, his chest covered with ribbons, confident and aloof. He belonged to
a separate class that exists all over the world.
Why is it that we crave to be recognized, to be made much of, to be encouraged? Why is it that
we are such snobs? Why is it that we cling to our exclusiveness of name, position, acquisition? Is
anonymity degrading, and to be unknown despicable? Why do we pursue the famous, the popular?
Why is it that we are not content to be ourselves? Are we frightened and ashamed of what we are,
that name, position and acquisition become so all-important? It is curious how strong is the desire
to be recognized, to be applauded. In the excitement of a battle, one does incredible things for
which one is honoured; one becomes a hero for killing a fellow man. Through privilege, cleverness,
or capacity and efficiency, one arrives somewhere near the top – though the top is never the top,
for there is always more and more in the intoxication of success. The country or the business is
yourself; on you depend the issues, you are the power. Organized religion offers position, prestige
and honour; there too you are somebody, apart and important. Or again you become the disciple of
a teacher, of a guru or Master, or you co-operate with them in their work. You are still important, you
42CHAPTER 21. 22 ’THE SELF’
represent them, you share their responsibility, you have and others receive. Though in their name,
you are still the means. You may put on a loincloth or the monk’s robe, but it is you who are making
the gesture, it is you who are renouncing.
In one way or another, subtly or grossly, the self is nourished and sustained. Apart from its antisocial
and harmful activities, why has the self to maintain itself? Though we are in turmoil and sorrow, with
passing pleasures, why does the self cling to outer and inner gratifications, to pursuits that inevitably
bring pain and misery? The thirst for positive activity as opposed to negation makes us strive to
be; our striving makes us feel that we are alive, that there is a purpose to our life, that we shall
progressively throw off the causes of conflict and sorrow. We feel that if our activity stopped, we
would be nothing, we would be lost, life would have no meaning at all; so we keep going in conflict,
in confusion, in antagonism. But we are also aware that there is something more, that there is
an otherness which is above and beyond all this misery. Thus we are in constant battle within
ourselves. The greater the outward show, the greater the inward poverty; but freedom from this
poverty is not the loincloth. The cause of this inward emptiness is the desire to become; and, do
what you will, this emptiness can never be filled. You may escape from it in a crude way, or with
refinement; but it is as near to you as your shadow. You may not want to look into this emptiness,
but nevertheless it is there. The adornments and the renunciations that the self assumes can never
cover this inward poverty. By its activities, inner and outer, the self tries to find enrichment, calling
it experience or giving it a different name according to its convenience and gratification. The self
can never be anonymous; it may take on a new robe, assume a different name, but identity is its
very substance. This identifying process prevents the awareness of its own nature. The cumulative
process of identification builds up the self, positively or negatively; and its activity is always self-
enclosing, however wide the enclosure. Every effort of the self to be or not to be is a movement
away from what it is. Apart from its name, attributes, idiosyncrasies, possessions, what is the self?
Is there the ”I,” the self, when its qualities are taken away? It is this fear of being nothing that drives
the self into activity; but it is nothing, it is an emptiness.
If we are able to face that emptiness, to be with that aching loneliness, then fear altogether
disappears and a fundamental transformation takes place. For this to happen, there must be the
experiencing of that nothingness – which is prevented if there is an experiencer. If there is a desire
for the experiencing of that emptiness in order to overcome it, to go above and beyond it, then there
is no experiencing; for the self, as an identity, continues. If the experiencer has an experience, there
is no longer the state of experiencing. It is the experiencing of what is without naming it that brings
about freedom from what is.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 43 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 22
23 ’BELIEF’
WE WERE HIGH up in the mountains and it was very dry. There had been no rain for many months,
and the little streams were silent. The pine trees were turning brown, and some were already
dead, but the wind was among them. The mountains stretched out, fold after fold, to the horizon.
Most of the wild life had gone away to cooler and better pastures; only the squirrels and a few jays
remained. There were other smaller birds, but they were silent during the day. A dead pine was
bleached white after many summers. It was beautiful even in death, graceful and strong without the
blur of sentiment. The earth was hard and the paths were rocky and dusty.
She said that she had belonged to several religious societies, but had finally settled down in one.
She had worked for it, as a lecturer and propagandist, practically all over the world. She said she
had given up family, comfort and a great many other things for the sake of this organization; she had
accepted its beliefs, its doctrines and precepts, had followed its leaders, and tried to meditate. She
was regarded highly by the members as well as by the leaders. Now, she continued, having heard
what I had said about beliefs, organizations, the dangers of self-deception, and so on, she had
withdrawn from this organization and its activities. She was no longer interested in saving the world,
but was occupying herself with her small family and its troubles, and took only a distant interest in
the troubled world. She was inclined to be bitter, though outwardly kind and generous, for she said
her life seemed so wasted. After all her past enthusiasm and work, where was she? What had
happened to her? Why was she so dull and weary, and at her age so concerned with trivial things?
How easily we destroy the delicate sensitivity of our being. The incessant strife and struggle, the
anxious escapes and fears, soon dull the mind and the heart; and the cunning mind quickly finds
substitutes for the sensitivity of life. Amusements, family, politics, beliefs and gods take the place of
clarity and love. Clarity is lost by knowledge and belief and love by sensations. Does belief bring
clarity? Does the tightly enclosing wall of belief bring understanding? What is the necessity of
44CHAPTER 22. 23 ’BELIEF’
beliefs, and do they not darken the already crowded mind? The understanding of what is does not
demand beliefs, but direct perception, which is to be directly aware without the interference of desire.
It is desire that makes for confusion, and belief is the extension of desire. The ways of desire are
subtle, and without understanding them belief only increases conflict, confusion and antagonism.
The other name for belief is faith, and faith is also the refuge of desire.
We turn to belief as a means of action. Belief gives us that peculiar strength which comes from
exclusion; and as most of us are concerned with doing, belief becomes a necessity. We feel we
cannot act without belief, because it is belief that gives us something to live for, to work for. To most
of us, life has no meaning but that which belief gives it; belief has greater significance than life, We
think that life must be lived in the pattern of belief; for without a pattern of some kind, how can there
be action? So our action is based on idea, or is the outcome of an idea; and action, then, is not as
important as idea.
Can the things of the mind, however brilliant and subtle, ever bring about the completeness of
action, a radical transformation in one’s being and so in the social order? Is idea the means of
action? Idea may bring about a certain series of actions, but that is mere activity; and activity is
wholly different from action. It is in this activity that one is caught; and when for some reason or
other activity stops, then one feels lost and life becomes meaningless, empty. We are aware of this
emptiness, consciously or unconsciously, and so idea and activity become all-important. We fill this
emptiness with belief, and activity becomes an intoxicating necessity. For the sake of this activity,
we will renounce; we will adjust ourselves to any inconvenience, to any illusion.
The activity of belief is confusing and destructive; it may at first seem orderly and constructive, but
in its wake there is con- flict and misery. Every kind of belief, religious or political, prevents the
understanding of relationship, and there can be no action without this understanding.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 45 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 23
24 ’SILENCE’
IT WAS A powerful motor and well tuned; it took the hills easily, without a stutter, and the pick-up
was excellent. The road climbed steeply out of the valley and ran between orchards of orange and
tall, wide-spreading walnut trees. On both sides of the road the orchards stretched for fully forty
miles, up to the very foot of the mountains. Becoming straight, the road passed through one or two
small towns, and then continued into the open country, which was bright green with alfalfa. Again
winding through many hills, the road finally came out on to the desert.
It was a smooth road, the hum of the motor was steady, and the traffic was very light. There was
an intense awareness of the country, of the occasional passing car, of the road signals, of the clear
blue sky, of the body sitting in the car; but the mind was very still. It was not the quietness of
exhaustion, or of relaxation, but a stillness that was very alert. There was no point from which the
mind was still; there was no observer of this tranquillity; the experiencer was wholly absent. Though
there was desultory conversation, there was no ripple in this silence. One heard the roar of the
wind as the car sped along, yet this stillness was inseparable from the noise of the wind, from the
sounds of the car, and from the spoken word. The mind had no recollection of previous stillnesses,
of those silences it had known; it did not say, ”This is tranquillity.” There was no verbalization, which
is only the recognition and the affirmation of a somewhat similar experience. Because there was
no verbalization, thought was absent. There was no recording, and therefore thought was not able
to pick up the silence or to think about it; for the word ”stillness” is not stillness. When the word
is not, the mind cannot operate, and so the experiencer cannot store up as a means of further
pleasure. There was no gathering process at work, nor was there approximation or assimilation.
The movement of the mind was totally absent.
The car stopped at the houses The barking of the dog, the unpacking of the car and the general
disturbance in no way affected this extraordinary silence. There was no disturbance, and the stillness
46CHAPTER 23. 24 ’SILENCE’
went on. The wind was among the pines, the shadows were long, and a wildcat sneaked away
among the bushes. In this silence there was movement, and the movement was not a distraction.
There was no fixed attention from which to be distracted. There is distraction when the main interest
shifts; but in this silence there was absence of interest, and so there was no wandering away.
Movement was not away from the silence but was of it. It was the stillness, not of death, of decay,
but of life in which there was a total absence of conflict. With most of us, the struggle of pain and
pleasure, the urge of activity, gives us the sense of life; and if that urge were taken away, we should
be lost and soon disintegrate. But this stillness and its movement was creation ever renewing itself.
It was a movement that had no beginning and so had no ending; nor was it a continuity. Movement
implies time; but here there was no time. Time is the more and the less, the near and the far,
yesterday and tomorrow; but in this stillness all comparison ceased. It was not a silence that came
to an end to begin again; there was no repetition. The many tricks of the cunning mind were wholly
absent.
If this silence were an illusion the mind would have some relationship to it, it would either reject
it or cling to it, reason it away or with subtle satisfaction identify itself with it; but since it has no
relationship to this silence, the mind cannot accept or deny it. The mind can operate only with its
own projections, with the things which are of itself; but it has no relationship with the things that are
not of its own origin. This silence is not of the mind, and so the mind cannot cultivate or become
identified with it. The content of this silence is not to be measured by words.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 47 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 24
25 ’RENUNCIATION OF RICHES’
WE WERE SITTING in the shade of a large tree, overlooking a green valley. The woodpeckers were
busy and there were ants in a long line scurrying back and forth between two trees. The wind was
from the sea, bringing the smell of a distant fog. The mountains were blue and dreamy; often they
had seemed so close, but now they were far away. A small bird was drinking from the little pool
made by a leaky pipe. Two grey squirrels with large bushy tails were chasing each other up and
down a tree; they would climb to the top and come spinning down with mad speed almost to the
ground, and then go up again.
He was once a very rich man and had renounced his riches. He had had a great many possessions
and had enjoyed the burden of their responsibility, for he was charitable and not too hard of heart.
He gave without stint and forgot what he gave. He was good to his helpers and saw to their benefits,
and made money easily in a world that was bent on moneymaking. He was unlike those whose bank
accounts and investments are bigger than themselves, who are lonely and afraid of people and their
demands, who shut themselves off in the peculiar atmosphere of their wealth. He was not a threat
to his family nor did he yield easily, and he had many friends, but not because he was rich. He was
saying that he had given up his possessions because it had struck him one day, as he was reading
something, how vastly stupid were his moneymaking and his wealth. Now he had but few things and
was trying to lead a simple life to find out what it was all about and whether there was something
beyond the appetites of the physical centres.
To be content with little is comparatively easy; to be free from the burden of many things is not
difficult when one is on a journey looking for something else. The urgency of inward search clears
away the confusion of many possessions, but being free from outer things does not mean a simple
life. Outer simplicity and order do not necessarily mean inner tranquillity and innocence. It is good
to be simple outwardly, for it does give a certain freedom, it is a gesture of integrity; but why is it
48CHAPTER 24. 25 ’RENUNCIATION OF RICHES’
that we invariably begin with the outer and not with the inner simplicity. Is it to convince ourselves
and others of our intention? Why do we have to convince ourselves. Freedom from things needs
intelligence, not gestures and convictions; and intelligence is not personal. If one is aware of all
the implications of many possessions, that very awareness liberates, and then there is no need for
dramatic assertions and gestures. It is when this intelligent awareness is not functioning that we
resort to disciplines and detachments. The emphasis is not on much or little, but on intelligence;
and the intelligent man, being content with little, is free from many possessions.
But contentment is one thing and simplicity is quite another. The desire for contentment or for
simplicity is binding. Desire makes for complexity. Contentment comes with the awareness of
what is, and simplicity with the freedom from what is. It is well to be outwardly simple, but it is
far more important to be inwardly simple and clear. Clarity does not come through a determined
and purposeful mind; the mind cannot create it. The mind can adjust itself, can arrange and put its
thoughts in order; but this is not clarity or simplicity.
The action of will makes for confusion; because will, however sublimated, is still the instrument of
desire. The will to be, to become, however worth while and noble, may have a directive, may clear
a way amidst confusion; but such a process leads to isolation, and clarity cannot come through
isolation. The action of will may temporarily light up the immediate foreground, necessary for mere
activity, but it can never clear up the background; for will itself is the outcome of this very background.
The background breeds and nourishes the will, and will may sharpen the background, heighten its
potentialities; but it can never cleanse the background.
Simplicity is not of the mind. A planned simplicity is only a cunning adjustment, a defence against
pain and pleasure; it is a self-enclosing activity which breeds various forms of conflict and confusion.
It is conflict that brings darkness, within and without. Conflict and clarity cannot exist together; and it
is freedom from conflict that gives simplicity, not the overcoming of conflict. What is conquered has
to be conquered again and again, and so conflict is made endless. The understanding of conflict is
the understanding of desire. Desire may abstract itself as the observer, the one who understands;
but this sublimation of desire is only postponement and not understanding. The phenomenon of
the observer and the observed is not a dual process, but a single one; and only in experiencing
the fact of this unitary process is there freedom from desire, from conflict. The question of how to
experience this fact should never arise. It must happen; and it happens only when there is alertness
and passive awareness. You cannot know the actual experience of meeting a poisonous snake by
imagining or speculating about it while sitting comfortably in your room. To meet the snake you must
venture out beyond the paved streets and artificial lights.
Thought may record but it cannot experience the freedom from conflict; for simplicity or clarity is not
of the mind.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 49 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 25
26 ’REPETITION AND SENSATION’
THE ROAR AND smell of the city came in through the open window. In the large square garden,
people were sitting in the shade reading the news, the global gossip. Pigeons strutted about their
feet looking for titbits, and children were playing on the green lawns. The sun made beautiful
shadows.
He was a reporter, quick and intelligent. He not only wanted an interview, but also wanted to discuss
some of his own problems. When the interview for his newspaper was over, he talked of his career
and what it was worth – not financially, but its significance in the world. He was a big man, clever,
capable and confident. He was climbing rapidly in the newspaper world, and in it there was a future
for him.
Our minds are stuffed with so much knowledge that it is almost impossible to experience directly. The
experience of of the experience is after the pattern of others, of the religious and social authorities.
We are the result of the thoughts and influences of others; we are conditioned by religious as well as
political propaganda. The temple, the church and the mosque have a strange, shadowy influence
in our lives, and political ideologies give apparent substance to our thought. We are made and
destroyed by propaganda. Organized religions are first-rate propagandists, every means being used
to persuade and then to hold.
We are a mass of confused responses, and our centre is as uncertain as the promised future. Mere
words have an extraordinary significance for us; they have a neurological effect whose sensations
are more important than what is beyond the symbol. The symbol, the image, the flag, the sound, are
all-important; substitution, and not reality, is our strength. We read about the experiences of others,
we watch others play, we follow the example of others, we quote others. We are empty in ourselves
and we try to fill this emptiness with words, sensations, hopes and imagination; but the emptiness
continues.
50CHAPTER 25. 26 ’REPETITION AND SENSATION’
Repetition, with its sensations, however pleasant and noble, is not the state of experiencing; the
constant repetition of a ritual, of a word, of a prayer, is a gratifying sensation to which a noble term
is given. But experiencing is not sensation, and sensory response soon yields place to actuality.
The actual, the what i, cannot be understood through mere sensation. The senses play a limited
part, but understanding or experiencing lies beyond and above the senses. Sensation becomes
important only when experiencing ceases; then words are significant and symbols dominate; then
the gramophone becomes enchanting. Experiencing is not a continuity; for what has continuity is
sensation, at whatever level. The repetition of sensation gives the appearance of a fresh experience,
but sensations can never be new. The search of the new does not lie in repetitive sensations. The
new comes into being only when there is experiencing; and experiencing is possible only when the
urge and the pursuit of sensation have ceased. The desire for the repetition of an experience is
the binding quality of sensation, and the enrichment of memory is the expansion of sensation. The
desire for the repetition of an experience, whether your own or that of another, leads to insensitivity,
to death. Repetition of a truth is a lie. Truth cannot be repeated, it cannot be propagated or used.
That which can be used and repeated has no life in itself, it is mechanical, static. A dead thing can
be used, but not truth. You may kill and deny truth first, and then use it; but it is no longer truth.
The propagandists are not concerned with experiencing; they are concerned with the organization
of sensation, religious or political, social or private. The propagandist, religious or secular, cannot
be a speaker of truth.
Experiencing can come only with the absence of the desire for sensation; the naming, the terming
must cease. There is no thought process without verbalization; and to be caught in verbalization is
to be a prisoner to the illusions of desire.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 51 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 26
27 ’THE RADIO AND MUSIC’
IT IS OBVIOUS that radio music is a marvellous escape. Next door, they kept the thing going all
day long and far into the night. The father went off to his office fairly early. The mother and daughter
worked in the house or in the garden; and when they worked in the garden the radio blared louder.
Apparently the son also enjoyed the music and the commercials, for when he was at home the radio
went on just the same. By means of the radio one can listen endlessly to every kind of music,
from the classical to the very latest; one can hear mystery plays, news, and all the things that are
constantly being broadcast. There need be no conversation, no exchange of thought, for the radio
does almost everything for you. The radio, they say, helps students to study; and there is more milk
if at milking time the cows have music.
The odd part about all this is that the radio seems to alter so little the course of life. It may make some
things a little more convenient; we may have global news more quickly and hear murders described
most vividly; but information is not going to make us intelligent. The thin layer of information about
the horrors of atomic bombing, about international alliances, research into chlorophyll, and so on,
does not seem to make any fundamental difference in our lives. We are as war-minded as ever, we
hate some other group of people, we despise this political leader and support that, we are duped by
organized religions, we are nationalistic, and our miseries continue; and we are intent on escapes,
the more respectable and organized the better. To escape collectively is the highest form of security.
In facing what is, we can do something about it; but to take flight from what is inevitably makes us
stupid and dull, slaves to sensation and confusion.
Does not music offer us, in a very subtle way, a happy release from what is? Good music takes us
away from ourselves, from our daily sorrows, pettiness and anxieties, it makes us forget; or it gives
us strength to face life, it inspires, invigorates and pacifies us. It becomes a necessity in either case,
whether as a means of forgetting ourselves or as a source of inspiration. Dependence on beauty
52CHAPTER 26. 27 ’THE RADIO AND MUSIC’
and avoidance of the ugly is an escape which becomes a torturing issue when our escape is cut
off. When beauty becomes necessary to our well-being, then experiencing ceases and sensation
begins. The moment of experiencing is totally different from the pursuit of sensation. In experiencing
there is no awareness of the experiencer and his sensations. When experiencing comes to an
end, then begin the sensations of the experiencer; and it is these sensations that the experiencer
demands and pursues. When sensations become a necessity, then music, the river, the painting
are only a means to further sensation. Sensations become all-dominant, and not experiencing. The
longing to repeat an experience is the demand for sensation; and while sensations can be repeated,
experiencing cannot.
It is the desire for sensation that makes us cling to music, possess beauty. Dependence on outward
line and form only indicates the emptiness of our own being, which we fill with music, with art, with
deliberate silence. It is because this unvarying emptiness is filled or covered over with sensations
that there is the everlasting fear of what is, of what we are. Sensations have a beginning and
an end, they can be repeated and expanded; but experiencing is not within the limits of time.
What is essential is experiencing, which is denied in the pursuit or sensation. Sensations are
limited, personal, they cause conflict and misery; but experiencing, which is wholly different from the
repetition of an experience, is without continuity. Only in experiencing is there renewal, transforation.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 53 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 27
28 ’AUTHORITY’
THE SHADOWS WERE dancing on the green lawn; and though the sun was hot, the sky was very
blue and soft. From across the fence a cow was looking at the green lawn and at the people. The
gathering of people was strange to her, but the green grass was familiar, though the rains were long
gone ind the earth was burnt brown. A lizard was picking off flies and other insects on the trunk of
an oak. The distant mountains were hazy and inviting.
She said, under the trees after the talk, that she had come to listen in case the teacher of teachers
spoke. She had been very earnest, but now that earnestness had become obstinacy. This obstinacy
was covered over by smiles and by reasonable tolerance, a tolerance that had been very carefully
thought out and cultivated; it was a thing of the mind and so could be inflamed into violent,
angry intolerance. She was big and soft-spoken; but there lurked condemnation, nourished by her
convictions and beliefs. She was suppressed and hard, but had given herself over to brotherhood
and to its good cause. She added, after a pause, that she would know when the teacher spoke,
for she and her group had some mysterious way of knowing it, which was not even to others. The
pleasure of exclusive knowledge was so obvious in the way she said it, in the gesture and the tilt of
the head.
Exclusive, private knowledge offers deeply satisfying pleasure. To know something that others do
not know is a constant source of satisfaction; it gives one the feeling of being in touch with deeper
things which afford prestige and authority. You are directly in contact, you have something which
others have not, and so you are important, not only to yourself, but to others. The others look up to
you, a little apprehensively, because they want to share what you have; but you give, always knowing
more. You are the leader, the authority; and this position comes easily, for people want to be told, to
be led. The more we are aware that we are lost and confused, the more eager we are to be guided
and told; so authority is built up in the name of the State, in the name of religion, in the name of a
Master or a party leader.
54CHAPTER 27. 28 ’AUTHORITY’
The worship of authority, whether in big or little things, is evil, the more so in religious matters.
There is no intermediary between you and reality; and if there is one, he is a perverter, a mischief
maker, it does not matter who he is, whether the highest saviour or your latest guru or teacher. The
one who knows does not know; he can know only his own prejudices, his self-projected beliefs and
sensory demands. He cannot know truth, the immeasurable. position and authority can be built up,
cunningly cultivated, but not humility. Virtue gives freedom; but cultivated humility is not virtue, it
is mere sensation and therefore harmful and destructive; it is a bondage, to be broken again and
again.
It is important to find out, not who is the Master, the saint, the leader, but why you follow. You only
follow to become something, to gain, to be clear. Clarity cannot be given by another. Confusion
is in us; we have brought it about, and we have to clear it away. We may achieve a gratifying
position, an inward security, a place in the hierarchy of organized belief; but all this is self-enclosing
activity leading to conflict and misery. You may feel momentarily happy in your achievement, you
may persuade yourself that your position is inevitable, that it is your lot; but as long as you want to
become something, at whatever level, there is bound to be misery and confusion. Being as nothing
is not negation. The positive or negative action of will, which is desire sharpened and heightened,
always leads to strife and conflict; it is not the means of understanding. The setting up of authority
and the following of it is the denial of understanding. When there is understanding there is freedom,
which cannot be bought, or given by another. What is bought can be lost, and what is given can be
taken away; and so authority and its fear are bred. Fear is not to be put away by appeasements and
candles; it ends with the cessation of the desire to become.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 55 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 28
29 ’MEDITATION’
HE HAD PRACTISED a number of years what he called meditation; he had followed certain
disciplines after reading many books on the subject, and had been to a monastery of some kind
where they meditated several hours a day. He was not sentimental about it, nor was he blurred by
the tears of self-sacrifice. He said that, though after these many years his mind was under control, it
still sometimes got out of control; that there was no joy in his meditation; and that the self-imposed
disciplines were making him rather hard and arid. Somehow he was very dissatisfied with the whole
thing. He had belonged to several so-called religious societies, but now he had finished with them
all and was seeking independently the God they all promised. He was getting on in years and was
beginning to feel rather weary.
Right meditation is essential for the purgation of the mind, for without the emptying of the mind
there can be no renewal. Mere continuity is decay. The mind withers away by constant repetition,
by the friction of wrong usage, by sensations which make it dull and weary. The control of the
mind is not important; what is important is to find out the interests of the mind. The mind is a
bundle of conflicting interests, and merely to strengthen one interest against another is what we call
concentration, the process of discipline. Discipline is the cultivation of resistance, and where there
is resistance there is no understanding. A well-disciplined mind is not a free mind, and it is only in
freedom that any discovery can be made. There must be spontaneity to uncover the movements
of the self, at whatever level it may be placed. Though there may be unpleasant discoveries, the
movements of the self must be exposed and understood; but disciplines destroy the spontaneity in
which discoveries are made. Disciplines, however exacting, fix the mind in a pattern. The mind
will adjust itself to that for which it has been trained; but that to which it adjusts itself is not the
real. Disciplines are mere impositions and so can never be the means of denudation. Through
self-discipline the mind can strengthen itself in its purpose; but this purpose is self-projected and so
it is not the real. The mind creates reality in its own image, and disciplines merely give vitality to that
image.
56CHAPTER 28. 29 ’MEDITATION’
Only in discovery can there be joy – the discovery from moment to moment of the ways of the self.
The self, at whatever level it is placed, is still of the mind. Whatever the mind can think about is
of the mind. The mind cannot think about something which is not of itself; it cannot think of the
unknown. The self at any level is the known; and though there may be layers of the self of which the
superficial mind is not aware, they are revealed in the action of relationship; and when relationship
is not confined within a pattern, it gives an opportunity for self-revelation. Relationship is the action
of the self, and to understand this action there must be awareness without choice; for to choose is
to emphasize one interest against another. This awareness is the experiencing of the action of the
self, and in this experiencing there is neither the experiencer nor the experienced. Thus the mind
is emptied of its accumulations; there is no longer the ”me,” the gatherer. The accumulations, the
stored-up memories are the ”me; the ”me” is not an entity apart from the accumulations. The ”me”
separates itself from its characteristics as the observer, the watcher, the controller, in order to safe-
guard itself, to give itself continuity amidst impermanency. The experiencing of the integral, unitary
process frees the mind from its dualism. Thus the total process of the mind, the open as well as
the hidden, is experienced and understood – not piece by piece, activity by activity, but in its entirety.
Then dreams and everyday activities are ever an emptying process. The mind must be utterly empty
to receive; but the craving to be empty in order to receive is a deep-seated impediment, and this also
must be understood completely, not at any particular level. The craving to experience must wholly
cease, which happens only when the experiencer is not nourishing himself on experiences and their
memories.
The purgation of the mind must take place not only on its upper levels, but also in its hidden
depths; and this can happen only when the naming or terming process comes to an end. Naming
only strengthens and gives continuity to the experiencer, to the desire for permanency, to the
characteristic of particularizing memory. There must be silent awareness of naming, and so the
understanding of it. We name not only to communicate, but also to give continuity and substance
to an experience, to revive it and to repeat its sensations. This naming process must cease, not
only on the superficial levels of the mind, but throughout its entire structure. This is an arduous
task, not to be easily understood or lightly experienced; for our whole consciousness is a process
of naming or terming experience, and then storing or recording it. It is this process that gives
nourishment and strength to the illusory entity, the experiencer as distinct and separate from the
experience. Without thoughts there is no thinker. Thoughts create the thinker, who isolates himself
to give himself permanency; for thoughts are always impermanent.
There is freedom when the entire being, the superficial as well as the hidden, is purged of the past.
Will is desire; and if there is any action of the will, any effort to be free, to denude oneself, then
there can never be freedom, the total purgation of the whole being. When all the many layers of
consciousness are quiet, utterly still, only then is there the immeasurable, the bliss that is not of
time, the renewal of creation.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 57 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 29
30 ’ANGER’
EVEN AT THAT altitude the heat was penetrating. The windowpanes felt warm to the touch. The
steady hum of the plane’s motor was soothing, and many of the passengers were dozing. The
earth was far below us, shimmering in the heat, an unending brown with an occasional patch of
green. Presently we landed, and the heat became all but unbearable; it was literally painful, and
even in the shade of a building the top of one’s head felt as if it would burst. The summer was
well along and the country was almost a desert. We took off again and the plane climbed, seeking
the cool winds. Two new passengers sat in the opposite seats and they were talking loudly; it was
impossible not to overhear them. They began quietly enough; but soon anger crept into their voices,
the anger of familiarity and resentment. In their violence they seemed to have forgotten the rest of
the passengers; they were so upset with each other that they alone existed, and none else.
Anger has that peculiar quality of isolation; like sorrow, it cuts one off, and for the time being, at least,
all relationship comes to an end. Anger has the temporary strength and vitality of the isolated. There
is a strange despair in anger; for isolation is despair. The anger of disappointment, of jealousy, of
the urge to wound, gives a violent release whose pleasure is self-justification. We condemn others,
and that very condemnation is a justification of ourselves. Without some kind of attitude, whether
of self-righteousness or self-abasement, what are we? We use every means to bolster ourselves
up; and anger, like hate, is one of the easiest ways. Simple anger, a sudden flare-up which is
quickly forgotten, is one thing; but the anger that is deliberately built up, that has been brewed and
that seeks to hurt and destroy, is quite another matter. Simple anger may have some physiological
cause which can be seen and remedied; but the anger that is the outcome of a psychological cause
is much more subtle and difficult to deal with. Most of us do not mind being angry, we find an excuse
for it. Why should we not be angry when there is ill-treatment of another or of ourselves? So we
become righteously angry. We never just say we are angry, and stop there; we go into elaborate
explanations of its cause. We never just say that we are jealous or bitter, but justify or explain it. We
58CHAPTER 29. 30 ’ANGER’
ask how there can be love without jealousy, or say that someone else’s actions have made us bitter,
and so on.
It is the explanation, the verbalization, whether silent or spoken, that sustains anger, that gives
it scope and depth. The explanation silent or spoken, acts as a shield against the discovery of
ourselves as we are. We want to be praised or flattered, we expect something; and when these
things do not take place, we are disappointed, we become bitter or jealous. Then, violently or
softly, we blame someone else; we say the other is responsible for our bitterness. You are of great
significance because I depend upon you for my happiness, for my position or prestige. Through you,
I fulfil, so you are important to me; I must guard you, I must possess you. Through you, I escape
from myself; and when I am thrown back upon myself, being fearful of my own state, I become angry.
Anger takes many forms: disappointment, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, and so on.
The storing up of anger, which is resentment, requires the antidote of forgiveness; but the storing
up of anger is far more significant than forgiveness. Forgiveness is unnecessary when there is no
accumulation of anger. Forgiveness is essential if there is resentment; but to be free from flattery
and from the sense of injury, without the hardness of indifference, makes for mercy, charity. Anger
cannot be got rid of by the action of will, for will is part of violence. Will is the outcome of desire,
the craving to lie; and desire in its very nature is aggressive, dominant. To suppress anger by the
exertion of will is to transfer anger to a different level, giving it a different name; but it is still part
of violence. To be free from violence, which is not the cultivation of non-violence, there must be
the understanding of desire. There is no spiritual substitute for desire; it cannot be suppressed or
sublimated. There must be a silent and choiceless awareness of desire; and this passive awareness
is the direct experiencing of desire without an experiencer giving it a name.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 59 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 30
31 ’PSYCHOLOGICAL SECURITY’
HE SAID HE had gone into the question very thoroughly, had read as much as he could of what had
been written on the subject, and he was convinced that there were Masters in different parts of the
world. They did not show themselves physically except to their special disciples, but they were in
communication with others through other means. They exerted a beneficent influence and guided
the leaders of the world’s thought and action, though the leaders themselves were unaware of it;
and they brought about revolution and peace. He was convinced, he said, that each continent had
a group of Masters, shaping its destiny and giving it their blessing. He had known several pupils of
the Masters – at least they had told him they were, he added guardedly. He was entirely earnest
and desired more knowledge about the Masters. Was it possible to have direct experience, direct
contact with them?
How still the river was! Two brilliant little kingfishers were flying up and down close to the bank and
just above the surface; there were some bees gathering water for their hives, and a fisherman’s
boat lay in the middle of the stream. The trees along the river were thick with leaves, and their
shadows were heavy and dark, in the fields the newly planted rice was a vivid green, and there were
white ricebirds calling. It was a very peaceful scene, and it seemed a pity to talk over our petty little
problems. The sky was the tender blue of evening. The noisy towns were far away; there was a
village across the river, and a winding path went meandering along the bank, A boy was singing in
a clear, high voice which did not disturb the tranquility of the place.
We are an odd people; we wander in search of something in far-off places when it is so close to
us. Beauty is ever there, never here; truth is never in our homes but in some distant place. We go
to the other side of the world to find the Master, and we are not aware of the servant; we do not
understand the common things of life, the everyday struggles and joys, and yet we attempt to grasp
the mysterious and the hidden. We do not know ourselves, but we are willing to serve or follow
60CHAPTER 30. 31 ’PSYCHOLOGICAL SECURITY’
him who promises a reward, a hope, a Utopia. As long as we are confused, what we choose must
also be confused. We cannot perceive clearly when we are half-blind; and what we then see is only
partial and so not real. We know all this, and yet our desires, our cravings are so strong that they
drive us into illusions and endless miseries.
Belief in the Master creates the Master, and experience is shaped by belief. Belief in a particular
pattern of action, or in an ideology, does produce what is longed for; but at what cost and at
what suffering! If an individual has capacity, then belief becomes a potent thing in his hands, a
weapon more dangerous than a gun. For most of us, belief has greater meaning than actuality. The
understanding of what is does not require belief; on the contrary, belief, idea, prejudice, is a definite
hindrance to understanding. But we prefer our beliefs, our dogmas; they warm us, they promise,
they encourage. If we understood the way of our beliefs and why we cling to them, one of the major
causes of antagonism would disappear.
The desire to gain, individually or for a group, leads to ignorance and illusion, to destruction and
misery. This desire is not only for more and more physical comforts, but also for power: the power
of money, of knowledge, of identification. The craving for more is the beginning of conflict and
misery. We try to escape from this misery through every form of self-deception, through suppression,
substitution and sublimation; but craving continues, perhaps at a different level. Craving at any level
is still conflict and pain. One of the easiest of escapes is the guru, the Master. Some escape through
a political ideology with its activities, others through the sensations of ritual and discipline, and still
others through the Master. Then the means of escape become all-important, and fear and obstinacy
guard the means. Then it does not matter what you are; it is the Master who is important. You are
important only as a server, whatever that may mean, or as a disciple. To become one of these, you
have to do certain things, conform to certain patterns, undergo certain hardships. You are willing to
do all this and more, for identification gives pleasure and power. In the name of the Master, pleasure
and power have become respectable. You are no longer lonely, confused, lost; you belong to him,
to the party, to the idea. You are safe.
After all, that is what most of us want: to be safe, to be secure. To be lost with the many is a form
of psychological security; to be identified with a group or with an idea, secular or spiritual, is to feel
safe. That is why most of us cling to nationalism, even though it brings; increasing destruction and
misery; that is why organized religion has such a strong hold on people, even though it divides and
breeds antagonism. The craving for individual or group security brings on destruction, and to be
safe psychologically engenders illusion. Our life is illusion and misery, with rare moments of clarity
and joy, so anything that promises a haven we eagerly accept. Some see the futility of political
Utopias and so turn religious, which is to find security and hope in Masters, in dogmas, in ideas. As
belief shapes experience, the Masters become an inescapable reality. Once it has experienced the
pleasure which identification brings, the mind is firmly entrenched and nothing can shake it; for its
criterion is experience.
But experience is not reality. Reality cannot be experienced. It is. If the experiencer thinks he
experiences reality, then he knows only illusion. All knowledge of reality is illusion. Knowledge or
experience must cease for the being of reality. Experience cannot meet reality. Experience shapes
knowledge, and knowledge bends experience; they must both cease for reality to be.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 61 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 31
32 ’SEPARATENESS’
HE WAS A small and aggressive man, a professor at one of the universities. He had read so much
that it was difficult for him to know where his own thoughts began and the thoughts of others ended,
He said he had been an ardent nationalist and in a way had suffered for it. He had also been
a practising religionist; but now he had thrown away all that rubbish, thank God, and was free of
superstition. He asserted vehemently that all this psychological talk and discussion was misleading
the people, and that what was of the greatest importance was the economic reorganization of man;
for man lived by bread first, and after that everything else came to him. There must be a violent
revolution and a new classless society established. The means did not matter if the end were
achieved. If necessary they would forment chaos, and then take over and establish order of the right
kind. Collectivism was essential, and all individual exploitation must be stamped out. He was very
explicit about the future; and as man was the product of environment, they would shape man for the
future; they would sacrifice everything for the future, for the world that is to be. The liquidation of
present man was of little importance, for they knew the future.
We may study history and translate historical fact according to our prejudices; but to be certain
of the future is to be in illusion. Man is not the result of one influence only, he is vastly complex;
and to emphasize one influence while minimizing others is to breed an imbalance which will lead
to yet greater chaos and misery. Man is a total process. The totality must be understood and not
merely a part, however temporarily important his part may be. The sacrificing of the present for the
future is the insanity of those who are power-mad; and power is evil, These take to themselves the
right of human direction; they are the new priests. Means and end are not separate, they are a joint
phenomenon; the means create the end. Through violence there can never be peace; a police State
cannot produce a peaceful citizen; through compulsion, freedom cannot be achieved. A classless
society cannot be established if the party is all-powerful, it can never be the outcome of dictatorship.
All this is obvious.
62CHAPTER 31. 32 ’SEPARATENESS’
The separateness of the individual is not destroyed through his identification with the collective or
with an ideology. Substitution does not do away with the problem of separateness, nor can it be
suppressed. Substitution and suppression may work for the time being, but separateness will erupt
again more violently. Fear may temporarily push it into the background, but the problem is still
there. The problem is not how to get rid of separateness, but why each one of us gives so much
importance to it. The very people who desire to establish a classless society are by their acts of
power and authority breeding division. You are separate from me, and I from another, and that
is a fact; but why do we give importance to this feeling of separateness, with all its mischievous
results? Though there is a great similarity between us all, yet we are dissimilar; and this dissimilarity
gives each one the sense of importance in being separate: the separate family, name, property,
and the feeling of being a separate entity. This separateness, this sense of individuality has caused
enormous harm, and hence the desire for collective work and action, the sacrificing of the individual
to the whole, and so on. Organized religions have tried to submit the will of the particular to that of
the whole; and now the party, which assumes the role of the State, is doing its best to submerge the
individual.
Why is it that we cling to the feeling of separateness? Our sensations are separate and we live by
sensations; we are sensations. Deprive us of sensations, pleasurable or painful, and we are not.
Sensations are important to us, and they are identified with separateness. Private life and life as
the citizen have different sensations at different levels, and when they clash there is conflict. But
sensations are always at war with each other, whether in private life or in that of the citizen. Conflict
is inherent in sensation. As long as I want to be powerful or humble, there must be the conflicts of
sensation, which bring about private and social misery. The constant desire to be more or to be less
gives rise to the feeling of individuality and its separateness. If we can remain with this fact without
condemning or justifying it, we will discover that sensations do not make up our whole life. Then the
mind as memory, which is sensation, becomes calm, no longer torn by its own conflicts; and only
then, when the mind is silent and tranquil, is there a possibility of loving without the ”me” and the
”mine.” Without this love, collective action is merely compulsion, breeding antagonism and fear, from
which arise private and social conflicts.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 63 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 32
33 ’POWER’
HE WAS A very poor man, but capable and clever; he was content, or at least appeared so, with
what little he possessed, and he had no family burdens. He often came to talk things over, and
he had great dreams for the future; he was eager and enthusiastic, simple in his pleasures, and
delighted in doing little things for others. He was not, he said, greatly attracted to money or to
physical comfort; but he liked to describe what he would do if he had money, how he would support
this or that how he would start the perfect school, and so on. He was rather dreamy and easily
carried away by his own enthusiasm and by that of other?
Several years passed, and then one day he came again. There was a strange transformation in him.
The dreamy look had gone; he was matter-of-fact, definite, almost brutal in his opinions, and rather
harsh in his judgements. He had travelled, and his manner was highly polished and sophisticated;
he turned his charm on and off. He had been left a lot of money and was successful in increasing
it many times, and he had become an altogether changed man. He hardly ever comes now; and
when on rare occasions we do meet, he is distant and self-enclosed.
Both poverty and riches are a bondage. The consciously poor and the consciously rich are the
playthings of circumstances. Both are corruptible, for both seek that which is corrupting: power.
Power is greater than possessions; power is greater than wealth and ideas. These do give power;
but they can be put away, and yet the sense of power remains. One may beget power through
simplicity of life, through virtue, through the party, through renunciation; but such means are a
mere substitution and they should not deceive one. The desire for position, prestige and power
– the power that is gained through aggression and humility, through asceticism and knowledge,
through exploitation and self-denial – is subtly persuasive and almost instinctive. Such in any form
is power, and failure is merely the denial of success. To be powerful, to be successful is to be
slavish, which is the denial of virtue. Virtue gives freedom, but it is not a thing to be gained. Any
64CHAPTER 32. 33 ’POWER’
achievement, whether of the individual or of the collective, becomes a means to power. Success in
this world, and the power that self-control and self-denial bring, are to be avoided; for both distort
understanding. It is the desire for success that prevents humility; and without humility how can
there be understanding? The man of success is hardened, self-enclosed; he is burdened with his
own importance, with his responsibilities, achievements and memories. There must be freedom
from self-assumed responsibilities and from the burden of achievement; for that which is weighed
down cannot be swift, and to understand requires a swift and pliable mind. Mercy is denied to the
successful, for they are incapable of knowing the very beauty of life which is love.
The desire for success is the desire for domination. To dominate is to possess, and possession is
the way of isolation. This self-isolation is what most of us seek, through name, through relationship,
through work, through ideation. In isolation there is power, but power breeds antagonism and
pain; for isolation is the outcome of fear, and fear puts an end to all communion. Communion is
relationship; and however pleasurable or painful relationship may be, in it there is the possibility of
self-forgetfulness. Isolation is the way of the self, and all activity of the self brings conflict and sorrow.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 65 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 33
34 ’SINCERITY’
THERE WAS A little patch of green lawn, with brilliant flowers along its borders. It was beautifully
kept and a great deal of care was given to it, for the sun did its best to burn the lawn and wither
the flowers. Beyond this delicious garden, past many houses, was the blue sea, sparkling in the
sun, and on it was a white sail. The room overlooked the garden, the houses and the tree tops, and
from its window, in the early morning and early evening, the sea was pleasant to look upon. During
the day its waters became bright and hard; but there was always a sail, even at high noon. The
sun would go down into the sea, making a bright red path; there would be no twilight. The evening
star would hover over the horizon, and disappear. The slip of the young moon would capture the
evening, but she too would disappear into the restless sea, and darkness would be upon the waters.
He spoke at length of God, of his morning and evening prayers, of his fasts, his vows, his burning
desires. He expressed himself very clearly and definitely, there was no hesitation for the right word;
his mind was well trained, for his profession demanded it. He was a bright-eyed and alert man,
though there was a certain rigidity about him. Obstinacy of purpose and absence of pliability were
shown in the way he held his body. He was obviously driven by an extraordinarily powerful will, and
though he smiled easily his will was ever on the alert, watchful and dominant. He was very regular
in his daily life, and he broke his established habits only by sanction of the will. Without will, he said,
there could be no virtue; will was essential to break down evil. The battle between good and evil
was everlasting, and will alone held evil at bay. He had a gentle side too, for he would look at the
lawn and the gay flowers, and smile; but he never let his mind wander beyond the pattern of will and
its action. Though he sedulously avoided harsh words, anger and any show of impatience, his will
made him strangely violent. If beauty fitted into the pattern of his purpose, he would accept it; but
there always lurked the fear of sensuality, whose ache he tried to contain. He was well read and
urbane, and his will went with him like his shadow.
66CHAPTER 33. 34 ’SINCERITY’
Sincerity can never be simple; sincerity is the breeding ground of the will, and will cannot uncover
the ways of the self. Self-knowledge is not the product of will; self-knowledge comes into being
through awareness of the moment-by moment responses to the movement of life. Will shuts off
these spontaneous responses, which alone reveal the structure of the self. Will is the very essence
of desire; and to the understanding of desire, will becomes a hindrance. Will in any form, whether of
the upper mind or of the deep-rooted desires, can never be passive; and it is only in passivity, in alert
silence, that truth can be. Conflict is always between desires, at whatever level the desires may be
placed. The strengthening of one desire in opposition to the others only breeds further resistance,
and this resistance is will. Understanding can never come through resistance. What is important is
to understand desire, and not to overcome one desire by another.
The desire to achieve, to gain is the basis of sincerity; and this urge, however, superficial or deep,
makes for conformity, which is the beginning of fear. Fear limits self-knowledge to the experienced,
and so there is no possibility of transcending the experienced. Thus limited, self-knowledge only
cultivates wider and deeper self-consciousness, the ”me” becoming more and more at different
levels and at different periods; so conflict and pain continue. You may deliberately forget or lose
yourself in some activity, in cultivating a garden or an ideology, in whipping up in a whole people the
raging fervour for war; but you are now the country, the idea, the activity, the god. The greater the
identification, the more your conflict and pain are covered over, and so the everlasting struggle to be
identified with something. This desire to be one with a chosen object brings the conflict of sincerity,
which utterly denies simplicity. You may put ashes on your head, or wear a simple cloth, or wander
as a beggar; but this is not simplicity.
Simplicity and sincerity can never be companions. He who is identified with something, at whatever
level, may be sincere, but he is not simple. The will to be is the very antithesis of simplicity. Simplicity
comes into being with freedom from the acquisitive drive of the desire to achieve. Achievement
is identification, and identification is will. Simplicity is the alert, passive awareness in which the
experiencer is not recording the experience. Self-analysis prevents this negative awareness; in
analysis there is always a motive – to be free, to understand, to gain – and this desire only emphasizes
self-consciousness. Likewise, introspective conclusions arrest self-knowledge.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 67 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 34
35 ’FULFILMENT’
SHE WAS MARRIED, but had no children. In the worldly way, she said, she was happy; money
was no problem, and there were cars, good hotels and wide travel. Her husband was a successful
business man whose chief interest was to adorn his wife, to see that she was comfortable and had
everything she desired. They were both quite young and friendly. She was interested in science and
art, and had dabbled in religion; but now, she said, the things of the spirit were pushing everything
else aside. She was familiar with the teachings of the various religions; but being dissatisfied with
their organized efficiency, their rituals and dogmas, she wanted seriously to go in search of real
things. She was intensely discontented, and had been to teachers in different parts of the world; but
nothing had given her lasting satisfaction. Her discontent, she said, did not arise from her having
had no children; she had gone into all that pretty thoroughly. Nor was the discontent caused by any
social frustrations. She had spent some time with one of the prominent analysts, but there was still
this inward ache and emptiness.
To seek fulfilment is to invite frustration. There is no fulfilment of the self, but only the strengthening
of the self through possessing what it craves for. Possession, at whatever level, makes the self feel
potent, rich, active, and this sensation is called fulfilment; but as with all sensations, it soon fades,
to be replaced by yet another gratification. We are all familiar with this process of replacement or
substitution, and it is a game with which most of us are content. There are some, however, who
desire a more enduring gratification, one that will last for the whole of one’s life; and having found it,
they hope never to be disturbed again. But there is a constant, unconscious fear of disturbance,
and subtle forms of resistance are cultivated behind which the mind takes shelter; and so the
fear of death is inevitable. Fulfilment and the fear of death are the two sides of one process: the
strengthening of the self. After all, fulfilment is complete identification with something – with children,
with property, with ideas. Children and property are rather risky, but ideas offer greater safety and
security. Words, which are ideas and memories, with their sensations, become important; and
fulfilment or completeness then becomes the word.
68CHAPTER 34. 35 ’FULFILMENT’
There is no self-fulfilment, but only self-perpetuation, with its everincreasing conflicts, antagonisms
and miseries. To seek lasting gratification at any level of our being is to bring about confusion and
sorrow; for gratification can never be permanent. You may remember an experience which was
satisfying, but the experience is dead, and only the memory of it remains. This memory has no life
in itself; but life is given to it through your inadequate response to the present. You are living on the
dead, as most of us do. Ignorance of the ways of the self leads to illusion; and once caught in the
net of illusion, it is extremely hard to break through it. It is difficult to recognize an illusion, for, having
created it, the mind cannot be aware of it. It must be approached negatively, indirectly. Unless the
ways of desire are understood, illusion is inevitable. Understanding comes, not through the exertion
of will, but only when the mind is still. The mind cannot be made still, for the maker himself is a
product of the mind, of desire. There must be an awareness of this total process, a choiceless
awareness; then only is there a possibility of not breeding illusion. Illusion is very gratifying, and
hence our attachment to it. Illusion may bring pain, but this very pain exposes our incompleteness
and drives us to be wholly identified with the illusion. Thus illusion has great significance in our
lives; it helps to cover up what is, not externally but inwardly. This disregard of the inward what is
leads to wrong interpretation of what is outwardly, which brings about destruction and misery. The
covering up of what is is prompted by fear. Fear can never be overcome by an act of will, for will is
the outcome of resistance. Only through passive yet alert awareness is there freedom from fear.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 69 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 35
36 ’WORDS’
HE HAD READ intensively; and though he was poor, he considered himself rich in knowledge,
which gave him a certain happiness. He spent many hours with his books and a great deal of time
by himself. His wife was dead, and his two children were with some relatives; and he was rather
glad to be out of the mess of all relationship, he added. He was oddly self-contained, independent
and quietly assertive. He had come a long way, he said, to go into the question of meditation, and
especially to consider the use of certain chants and phrases, whose constant repetition was highly
conducive to the pacification of the mind. Also, in the words themselves there was a certain magic;
the words must be pronounced rightly and chanted correctly. These words were handed down from
ancient times; and the very beauty of the words, with their rhythmic cadence, brought about an
atmosphere that was helpful to concentration. And forthwith he began to chant. He had a pleasant
voice, and there was a mellowness born of the love of the words and their meaning; he chanted with
the ease of long practice and devotion. The moment he began to chant, he was lost to everything.
From across the field came the sound of a flute; it was haltingly played, but the tone was clear and
pure. The player was sitting in the rich shadow of a large tree, and beyond him in the distance were
the mountains. The silent mountains, the chant, and the sound of the flute seemed to meet and
disappear, to begin again. The noisy parrots flashed by; and once again there were the notes of
the flute, and the deep, powerful chant. It was early in the morning, and the sun was coming over
the trees. People were going from their villages to the town, chatting and laughing. The flute and
the chant were insistent, and a few passers-by stopped to listen; they sat down on the path and
were caught up in the beauty of the chant and the glory of the morning, which were not in any way
disturbed by the whistle of a distant train; on the contrary, all sounds seemed to mingle and fill the
earth. Even the loud calling of a crow was not jarring.
How strangely we are caught in the sound of words, and how important the words themselves
have become to us: country, God, priest, democracy, revolution. We live on words and delight in
70CHAPTER 35. 36 ’WORDS’
the sensations they produce; and it is these sensations that have become so important. Words
are satisfying because their sounds reawaken forgotten sensations; and their satisfaction is greater
when words are substituted for the actual, for what is. We try to fill our inward emptiness with words,
with sound, with noise, with activity; music and the chant are a happy escape from ourselves, from
our pettiness and boredom. Words fill our libraries; and how incessantly we talk! We hardly dare
to be without a book, to be unoccupied, to be alone. When we are alone, the mind is restless,
wandering all over the place, worrying, remembering, struggling; so there is never an aloneness,
the mind is never still.
Obviously, the mind can be made still by the repetition of a word, of a chant, of a prayer. The mind
can be drugged, put to sleep; it can be put to sleep pleasantly or violently, and during this sleep
there may be dreams. But a mind that is made quiet by discipline, by ritual, by repetition, can never
be alert, sensitive and free. This bludgeoning of the mind, subtly or crudely, is not meditation. It
is pleasant to chant and to listen to one who can do it well; but sensation lives only on further
sensation, and sensation leads to illusion. Most of us like to live on illusions, there is pleasure in
finding deeper and wider illusions; but it is fear of losing our illusions that makes us deny or cover
up the real, the actual. It is not that we are incapable of understanding the actual; what makes us
fearful is that we reject the actual and cling to the illusion. Getting caught deeper and deeper in
illusion is not meditation, nor is decorating the cage which holds us. Awareness, without any choice,
of the ways of the mind, which is the breeder of illusion, is the beginning of meditation.
It is odd how easily we find substitutes for the real thing, and how contented we are with them. The
symbol, the word, the image, becomes all-important, and around this symbol we build the structure
of self-deception, using knowledge to strengthen it; and so experience becomes a hindrance to the
understanding of the real. We name, not only to communicate, but to strengthen experience; this
strengthening of experience is self-consciousness, and once caught in its process, it is extremely
difficult to let go, that is, to go beyond self-consciousness. It is essential to die to the experience
of yesterday and to the sensations of today, otherwise there is repetition; and the repetition of an
act, of a ritual, of a word, is vain. In repetition there can be no renewal. The death of experience is
creation.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 71 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 36
37 ’IDEA AND FACT’
SHE HAD BEEN married for a number of years, but had had no children; she was unable to have
them, and was gravely disturbed by this fact. Her sisters had children, and why was she cursed?
She had been married quite young, as was the custom, and had seen a lot of suffering; but she had
known quiet joy too. Her husband was some kind of bureaucrat in a big corporation or Government
department. He too was concerned about their not having children, but it appeared that he was
becoming reconciled to this fact; and besides, she added, he was a very busy man. One could
see that she dominated him, though not too heavily. She leaned on him, and so she could not help
dominating him. Since she had no children, she was trying to fulfil herself in him; but in this she was
disappointed, for he was weak and she had to take charge of things. In the office, she said smilingly,
he was considered a stickler, a tyrant who threw his weight around; but at home he was mild and
easy going. She wanted him to fit into a certain pattern, and she was forcing him, of course very
gently, into her mould; but he was not coming up to scratch. She had nobody to lean on and give
her love to.
The idea is more important to us than the fact; the concept of what one should be has more
significance than what one is. The future is always more alluring than the present. The image,
the symbol, is of greater worth than the actual; and on the actual we try to superimpose the idea,
the pattern. So we create a contradiction between what is and what should be. What should be is
the idea, the fiction, and so there is a conflict between the actual and the illusion – not in themselves,
but in us. We like the illusion better than the actual; the idea is more appealing, more satisfying, and
so we cling to it. Thus the illusion becomes the real and the actual becomes the false, and in this
conflict between the so-called real and the so-called false we are caught.
Why do we cling to the idea, deliberately or unconsciously, and put aside the actual? The idea,
the pattern, is self-projected; it is a form of self-worship, of self-perpetuation, and hence gratifying.
72CHAPTER 36. 37 ’IDEA AND FACT’
The idea gives power to dominate, to be assertive, to guide, to shape; and in the idea, which is
self-projected, there is never the denial of the self, the disintegration of the self. So the pattern or
idea enriches the self; and this is also considered to be love. I love my son or my husband and I
want him to be this or that, I want him to be something other than he is.
If we are to understand what is, the pattern or idea must be put aside. To set aside the idea becomes
difficult only when there is no urgency in the understanding of what is. Conflict exists in us between
the idea and what is because the self-projected idea offers greater satisfaction than what is. It is
only when what is, the actual, has to be faced that the pattern is broken; so it is not a matter of how
to be free from the idea, but of how to face the actual. It is possible to face the actual only when
there is an understanding of the process of gratification, the way of the self.
We all seek self-fulfilment, though in many different ways: through money or power, through children
or husband, through country or idea, through service or sacrifice, through domination or submission.
But is there self-fulfilment? The object of fulfilment is ever self-projected, self-chosen, so this craving
to fulfil is a form of self-perpetuation. Whether consciously or unconsciously, the way of self-fulfilment
is self-chosen, it is based on the desire for gratification, which must be permanent; so the search
for self-fulfilment is the search for the permanency of desire. Desire is ever transient, it has no
fixed abode; it may perpetuate for a time the object to which it clings, but desire in itself has no
permanency. We are instinctively aware of this, and so we try to make permanent the idea, the belief,
the thing, the relationship; but as this also is impossible, there is the creation of the experiencer as
a permanent essence, the ”I” separate and different from desire, the thinker separate and different
from his thoughts. This separation is obviously false, leading to illusion.
The search for permanency is the everlasting cry of self-fulfilment; but the self can never fulfil, the
self is impermanent, and that in which it fulfils must also he impermanent. Self-continuity is decay;
in it there is no transforming element nor the breath of the new. The self must end for the new to be.
The self is the idea, the pattern, the bundle of memories; and each fulfilment is the further continuity
of idea, of experience. Experience is always conditioning; the experiencer is ever separating and
differentiating himself from experience. So there must be freedom from experience, from the desire
to experience. Fulfilment is the way of covering up inward poverty, emptiness, and in fulfilment there
is sorrow and pain.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 73 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 37
38 ’CONTINUITY’
THE MAN IN the opposite seat began by introducing himself, as he wanted to ask several questions.
He said that he had read practically every serious book on death and the hereafter, books from
ancient times as well as the modern ones. He had been a member of the Psychical Research
Society, had attended many seances with excellent and reputable mediums, and had seen many
manifestations which were in no way faked. Because he had gone into this question so seriously, on
several occasions he himself had seen things of a super-physical nature; but of course, he added,
they might have been born of his imagination, though he considers that they were not. However, in
spite of the fact that he had read extensively, had talked to many people who were well informed, and
had seen undeniable manifestations of those who were dead, he was still not satisfied that he had
understood the truth of the matter. He had seriously debated the problem of belief and not-belief; he
had friends among those who firmly believed in one’s continuity after death, and also among those
who denied the whole thing and held that life ended with the death of the physical body. Though he
had acquired considerable knowledge and experience in physic matters, there remained in his mind
an element of doubt; and as he was getting on in year she wanted to know the truth. He was not
afraid of death, but the truth about it must be known.
The train had come to a stop, and just then a two-wheeled carriage was passing, drawn by a horse.
On the carriage was a human corpse, wrapped in an unbleached cloth and tied to two long green
bamboo poles, freshly cut. From some village it was being taken to the river to be burnt. As the
carriage moved over the rough road, the body was being brutally shaken, and under its clothes the
head was obviously getting the worst of it. There was only one passenger in the carriage besides
the river; he must have been a near relative, for his eyes were red with much crying. The sky was
the delicate blue of early spring, and children were playing and shouting in the dirt if the road. Death
must have been a common sight, for everyone went of with what they were doing. Even the inquirer
into death did not see the carriage and its burden.
74CHAPTER 37. 38 ’CONTINUITY’
Belief conditions experience, and experience then strengthens belief. What you belief, you
experience. The mind dictates and interprets experience, invites or rejects it. The mind itself is
the result of experience, and it can recognize or experience only that with witch it is familiar, which
it knows, at whatever level. The mind cannot experience what is not already known. The mind and
its response are of greater significance then the experience; and to rely on experience as a means
of understanding truth is to be caught in ignorance and illusion. To desire to experience truth is to
deny truth; for desire conditions, and belief is another cloak of desire. Knowledge, belief, conviction,
conclusion and experience are hindrances to truth; they are the very structure of the self. The self
cannot be if there is no cumulative effect of experience; and the fear of death is the fear of not being,
of not experiencing. If there were the assurance, the certainty of experiencing, there would be no
fear. Fear exists only in the relationship between the known and the unknown. The known is ever
trying to capture the unknown; but it can capture only that which is already known. The unknown
can never be experienced by the known; the known, the experienced must cease for the unknown
to be.
The desire to experience truth must be searched out and understood; but if there is motive in the
search, then truth does not come into being. Can there be search without a motive, conscious or
unconscious? With a motive, is there search? If you already know what you want, if you have
formulated an end, then search is a means to achieve that end, which is self-projected. Then
search is for gratification, not for truth; and the means will be chosen according to the gratification.
The understanding of what is needs no motive; the motive and the means prevent understanding.
Search, which is choiceless awareness, is not for something; it is to be aware of the craving for an
end and of the means to it. This choiceless awareness brings an understanding of what is.
It is odd how we crave for permanency, for continuity. This desire takes many forms, from the crudest
to the most subtle. With the obvious forms we are well acquainted: name, shape, character, and so
on. But the subtler craving is much more difficult to uncover and understand. Identity as idea, as
being, as knowledge, as becoming, at whatever level, is difficult to perceive and bring to light. We
only know continuity, and never non-continuity. We know the continuity of experience, of memory, of
incidents, but we do not know that state in which this continuity is not. We call it death, the unknown,
the mysterious, and so on, and through naming it we hope somehow to capture it – which again is
the desire for continuity.
Self-consciousness is experience, the naming of experience, and so the recording of it; and this
process is going on at various depths of the mind. We cling to this process of self-consciousness in
spite of its passing joys, its unending conflict, confusion and misery. This is what we know; this is
our existence, the continuity of our very being, the idea, the memory, the word. The idea continues,
all or part of it, the idea that makes up the ”me; but does this continuity bring about freedom, in
which alone there is discovery and renewal?
What has continuity can never be other than that which it is, with certain modifications; but these
modifications do not give it a newness. It may take on a different cloak, a different colour; but it is
still the idea, the memory, the word. This centre of continuity is not a spiritual essence, for it is still
within the field of thought, of memory, and so of time. It can experience only its own projection, and
through its self-projected experience it gives itself further continuity. Thus, as long as it exists, it
can never experience beyond itself. It must die; it must cease to give itself continuity through idea,
through memory, through word. Continuity is decay, and there is life only in death. There is renewal
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only with the cessation of the centre; then rebirth is not continuity; then death is as life, a renewal
from moment to moment. This renewal is creation.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 76 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 38
39 ’SELF-DEFENCE’
HE WAS A well-known man, and was in a position to harm others, which he did not hesitate to do.
He was cunningly shallow, devoid of generosity, and worked to his own advantage. He said he was
not too keen to talk things over, but circumstances had forced him to come, and here he was. From
everything he said and did not say, it was fairly clear that he was very ambitious and shaped the
people about him; he was ruthless when it paid, and gentle when he wanted something. He had
consideration for those above him, treated his equals with condescending tolerance, and of those
below him he was utterly unaware. He never so much as glanced at the chauffeur who brought
him. His money made him suspicious, and he had few friends, He talked of his children as though
they were toys to amuse him, and he could not bear to be alone, he said. Someone had hurt him,
and he could not retaliate because that person was beyond his reach; so he was taking it out of
those he could reach. He was unable to understand why he was being unnecessarily brutal, why he
wanted to hurt those whom he said he loved. As he talked, he slowly began to thaw and became
almost friendly. It was the friendliness of the moment whose warmth would be shut off instantly if it
were thwarted or if anything were asked of it. As nothing was being asked of him, he was free and
temporarily affectionate.
The desire to do harm, to hurt another, whether by a word, by a gesture, or more deeply, is strong
in most of us; it is common and frighteningly pleasant. The very desire not to be hurt makes for
the hurting of others; to harm others is a way of defending oneself. This self-defence takes peculiar
forms, depending on circumstances and tendencies. How easy it is to hurt another, and what
gentleness is needed not to hurt! We hurt others because we ourselves are hurt, we are so bruised
by our own conflicts and sorrows. The more we are inwardly tortured, the greater the urge to be
outwardly violent. Inward turmoil drives us to seek outward protection; and the more one defends
oneself, the greater the attack on others.
77CHAPTER 38. 39 ’SELF-DEFENCE’
What is it that we defend, that we so carefully guard? Surely, it is the idea of ourselves, at whatever
level. If we did not guard the idea, the centre of accumulation, there would be no ”me” and ”mine.”
We would then be utterly sensitive, vulnerable to the ways of our own being, the conscious as well
as the hidden; but as most of us do not desire to discover the process of the ”me”, we resist any
encroachment upon the idea of ourselves. The idea of ourselves is wholly superficial; but as most
of us live on the surface, we are content with illusions.
The desire to do harm to another is a deep instinct. We accumulate resentment, which gives a
peculiar vitality, a feeling of action and life; and what is accumulated must be expended through
anger, insult, depreciation, obstinacy, and through their opposites. It is this accumulation of
resentment that necessitates forgiveness – which becomes unnecessary if there is no storing up
of the hurt.
Why do we store up flattery and insult, hurt and affection. Without this accumulation of experiences
and their responses, we are not; we are nothing if we have no name, no attachment, no belief. It is
the fear of being nothing that compels us to accumulate; and it is this very fear, whether conscious
or unconscious, that, in spite of our accumulative activities, brings about our disintegration and
destruction. If we can be aware of the truth of this fear, then it is the truth that liberates us from it,
and not our purposeful determination to be free,
You are nothing. You may have your name and title, your property and bank account, you may have
power and be famous; but in spite of all these safeguards, you are as nothing. You may be totally
unaware of this emptiness, this nothingness, or you may simply not want to be aware of it; but it is
there, do what you will to avoid it. You may try to escape from it in devious ways, through personal
or collective violence, through individual or collective worship, through knowledge or amusement;
but whether you are asleep or awake, it is always there. You can come upon your relationship to this
nothingness and its fear only by being choicelessly aware of the escapes. You are not related to it
as a separate, individual entity; you are not the observer watching it; without you, the thinker, the
observer, it is not. You and nothingness are one; you and nothingness are a joint phenomenon, not
two separate processes. If you, the thinker, are afraid of it and approach it as something contrary
and opposed to you, then any action you may take towards it must inevitably lead to illusion and
so to further conflict and misery. When there is the discovery, the experiencing of that nothingness
as you, then fear – which exists only when the thinker is separate from his thoughts and so tries to
establish a relationship with them – completely drops away. Only then is it possible for the mind to
be still; and in this tranquillity, truth comes into being.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 78 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 39
40”MY PATH AND YOUR PATH”
HE WAS A scholar, spoke many languages, and was addicted to knowledge as another is to drink.
He was everlastingly quoting the sayings of others to bolster up his own opinions. He dabbled in
science and art, and when he gave his opinion it was with a shake of the head and a smile that
conveyed in a subtle way that it was not merely his opinion, but the final truth. He said he had his
own experiences which were authoritative and conclusive to him. ”You have your experiences too,
but you cannot convince me,” he said. ”You go your way, and I mine. There are different paths to
truth, and we shall all meet there some day.” He was friendly in a distant way, but firm. To him, the
Masters, though not actual, visible gurus, were a reality, and to become their disciple was essential.
He, with several others, conferred discipleship on those who were willing to accept this path and
their authority; but he and his group did not belong to those who, through spiritualism, found guides
among the dead. To find the Master you had to serve, work, sacrifice, obey and practise certain
virtues; and of course belief was necessary.
To rely on experience as a means to the discovery of what is, is to be caught in illusion. Desire,
craving, conditions experience; and to depend on experience as a means to the understanding of
truth is to pursue the way of self-aggrandizement. Experience can never bring freedom from sorrow;
experience is not an adequate response to the challenge of life. The challenge must be met newly,
freshly, for the challenge is always new. To meet the challenge adequately, the conditioning memory
of experience must be set aside, the responses of pleasure and pain must be deeply understood.
Experience is an impediment to truth, for experience is of time, it is the outcome of the past; and
how can a mind which is the result of experience, of time, understand the timeless? The truth of
experience does not depend on personal idiosyncrasies and fancies; the truth of it is perceived
only when there is awareness without condemnation, justification, or any form of identification.
Experience is not an approach to truth; there is no ”your experience” or ”my experience,” but only
the intelligent understanding of the problem.
79CHAPTER 39. 40”MY PATH AND YOUR PATH”
Without self-knowledge, experience breeds illusion; with self-knowledge, experience, which is the
response to challenge, does not leave a cumulative residue as memory. Self-knowledge is the
discovery from moment to moment of the ways of the self, its intentions and pursuit, its thoughts and
appetites. There can never be ”your experience” and ”my experience; the very term ”my experience”
indicates ignorance and the acceptance of illusion. But many of us like to live in illusion, because
there is great satisfaction in it; it is a private heaven which stimulates us and gives a feeling of
superiority. If I have capacity, gift or cunning, I become a leader, an intermediary, a representative of
that illusion; and as most people love the avoidance of what is there is built up an organization with
properties and rituals, with vows and secret gatherings. Illusion is clothed according to tradition,
keeping it within the field of respectability; and as most of us seek power in one form or another, the
hierarchical principle is established, the novice and the initiate, the pupil and the Master, and even
among the Masters there are degrees of spiritual growth. Most of us love to exploit and be exploited,
and this system offers the means, whether hidden or open.
To exploit is to be exploited. The desire to use others for your psychological necessities makes for
dependence, and when you depend you must hold, possess; and what you possess, possesses
you. Without dependence, subtle or gross, without possessing things, people and ideas, you are
empty, a thing of no importance. You want to be something, and to avoid the gnawing fear of being
nothing you belong to this or that organization, to this or that ideology, to this church or that temple;
so you are exploited, and you in your turn exploit. This hierarchical structure offers an excellent
opportunity for self-expansion. You may want brotherhood, but how can there be brotherhood if you
are pursuing spiritual distinctions? You may smile at worldly titles; but when you admit the Master,
the saviour, the guru in the realm of the spirit, are you not carrying over the worldly attitude? Can
there be hierarchical divisions or degrees in spiritual growth, in the understanding of truth, in the
realization of God? Love admits no division. Either you love, or do not love; but do not make the
lack of love into a long-drawn-out process whose end is love. When you know you do not love, when
you are choicelessly aware of that fact, then there is a possibility of transformation; but to sedulously
cultivate this distinction between the Master and the pupil, between those who have attained and
those who have not, between the saviour and the sinner, is to deny love. The exploiter, who is in
turn exploited, finds a happy hunting-ground in this darkness and illusion.
Separation between God or reality and yourself is brought about by you, by the mind that clings
to the known, to certainty, to security. This separation cannot be bridged over; there is no ritual,
no discipline, no sacrifice that can carry you across it; there is no saviour, no Master, no guru
who can lead you to the real or destroy this separation. The division is not between the real and
yourself; it is in yourself, it is the conflict of opposing desires. Desire creates its own opposite; and
transformation is not a matter of being centred in one desire, but of being free from the conflict
which craving brings. Craving at any level of one’s being breeds further conflict, and from this we
try to escape in every possible manner, which only increases the conflict both within and without.
This conflict cannot be dissolved by someone else, however great, nor through any magic or ritual.
These may put you pleasantly to sleep, but on waking the problem is still there. But most of us do
not want to wake up, and so we live in illusion. With the dissolution of conflict, there is tranquillity,
and then only can reality come into being. Masters, saviours and gurus are unimportant, but what
is essential is to understand the increasing conflict of desire; and this understanding comes only
through self-knowledge and constant awareness of the movements of the self.
Self-awareness is arduous, and since most of us prefer an easy, illusory way, we bring into being the
Commentaries On Living Series 1 80 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 39. 40”MY PATH AND YOUR PATH”
authority that gives shape and pattern to our life. This authority may be the collective, the State; or
it may be the personal, the Master, the saviour, the guru. Authority of any kind is blinding, it breeds
thoughtlessness; and as most of us find that to be thoughtful is to have pain, we give ourselves over
to authority.
Authority engenders power, and power always becomes centralized and therefore utterly corrupting;
it corrupts not only the wielder of power, but also him who follows it. The authority of knowledge
and experience is perverting, whether it be vested in the Master, his representative or the priest. It
is your own life, this seemingly endless conflict, that is significant, and not the pattern or the leader.
The authority of the Master and the priest takes you away from the central issue, which is the conflict
within yourself. Suffering can never be understood and dissolved through the search for a way of
life. Such a search is mere avoidance of suffering, the imposition of a pattern, which is escape;
and what is avoided only festers, bringing more calamity and pain. The understanding of yourself,
however painful or passingly pleasurable, is the beginning of wisdom.
There is no path to wisdom. If there is a path, then wisdom is the formulated, it is already imagined,
known. Can wisdom be known or cultivated? Is it a thing to be learnt, to be accumulated? If it is, then
it becomes mere knowledge, a thing of experience and of the books. Experience and knowledge are
the continuous chain of responses and so can never comprehend the new, the fresh, the uncreated.
Experience and knowledge, being continuous, make a path to their own self-projections, and hence
they are constantly binding. Wisdom is the understanding of what is from moment to moment,
without the accumulation of experience and knowledge. What is accumulated does not give freedom
to understand, and without freedom there is no discovery; and it is this endless discovery that makes
for wisdom. Wisdom is ever new, ever fresh, and there is no means of gathering it. The means
destroys the freshness, the newness, the spontaneous discovery.
The many paths to one reality are the invention of an intolerant mind; they are the outcome of a
mind that cultivates tolerance. ”I follow my path, and you follow yours, but let us be friends, and we
shall eventually meet.” Will you and I meet if you are going north and I south? Can we be friendly if
you have one set of beliefs and I another, if I am a collective murderer and you arc peaceful? To be
friendly implies relationship in work, in thought; but is there any relationship between the man who
hates and the man who love? Is there any relationship between the man in illusion and the one who
is free? The free man may try to establish some kind of relationship with the one in bondage; but he
who is in illusion can have no relationship with the man who is free.
The separate, clinging to their separateness, try to establish a relationship with others who are also
self-enclosed; but such attempts invariably breed conflict and pain. To avoid this pain, the clever
ones invent tolerance, each looking over his self-enclosing barrier and attempting to be kind and
generous. Tolerance is of the mind, not of the heart. Do you talk of tolerance when you love?
But when the heart is empty, then the mind fills it with its cunning devices and fears. There is no
communion where there is tolerance.
There is no path to truth. Truth must be discovered, but there is no formula for its discovery. What
is formulated is not true. You must set out on the uncharted sea, and the uncharted sea is yourself.
You must set out to discover yourself, but not according to any plan or pattern, for then there is no
discovery. Discovery brings joy – not the remembered, comparative joy, but joy that is ever new. Self-
knowledge is the beginning of wisdom in whose tranquillity and silence there is the immeasurable.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 81 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 40
41 ’AWARENESS’
THERE WHERE IMMENSE clouds, like billowy white waves, and the sky was serene and blue. Many
hundreds of feet below where we stood was the blue curving bay, and far off was the mainland. It
was a lovely evening, calm and free, and on the horizon was the smoke of a steamer. The orange
groves stretched to the foot of the mountain, and their fragrance filled the air. The evening was
turning blue, as it always did; the air itself became blue, and the white houses lost their brilliance in
that delicate colour. The blue of the sea seemed to spill over and cover the land, and the mountains
above were also a transparent blue. It was an enchanted scene, and there was immense silence.
Though there were a few noises of the evening, they were within this silence, they were part of
the silence, as we were too. This silence was making everything new, washing away the centuries
of squalor and pain from the heart of things; one’s eyes were cleansed, and the mind was of that
silence. A donkey brayed; the echoes filled the valley, and the silence accepted them. The end of
the day was the death of all yesterdays, and in this death there was a rebirth, without the sadness
of the past. Life was new in the immensity of silence.
In the room a man was waiting, anxious to talk things over. He was peculiarly intense, but sat
quietly. He was obviously a city-dweller, and his smart clothes made him seem rather out of place
in that small village and in that room. He talked of his activities, the difficulties of his profession,
the trivialities of family life, and the urgency of his desires. All these problems he could grapple with
as intelligently as another; but what really bothered him were his sexual appetites. He was married
and had children, but there was more to it. His sexual activities had become a very serious problem
to him and were driving him almost crazy. He had talked to certain doctors and analysts, but the
problem still existed and he must somehow get to the bottom of it.
How eager we are to solve our problems! How insistently we search for an answer, a way out, a
remedy! We never consider the problem itself, but with agitation and anxiety grope for an answer
82CHAPTER 40. 41 ’AWARENESS’
which is invariably self-projected. Though the problem is self-created, we try to find an answer
away from it. To look for an answer is to avoid the problem – which is just what most of us want
to do. Then the answer becomes all-significant, and not the problem. The solution is not separate
from the problem; the answer is in the problem, not away from it. If the answer is separate from
the main issue, then we create other problems: the problem of how to realize the answer, how to
carry it out, how to put it into practice, and so on. As the search for an answer is the avoidance of
the problem, we get lost in ideals, convictions, experiences, which are self-projections; we worship
these homemade idols and so get more and more confused and weary. To come to a conclusion is
comparatively easy; but to understand a problem is arduous, it demands quite a different approach,
an approach in which there is no lurking desire for an answer.
Freedom from the desire for an answer is essential to the understanding of a problem. This freedom
gives the ease of full attention; the mind is not distracted by any secondary issues. As long as
there is conflict with or opposition to the problem, there can be no understanding of it; for this
conflict is a distraction. There is understanding only when there is communion, and communion is
impossible as long as there is resistance or contention, fear or acceptance. One must establish
right relationship with the problem, which is the beginning of understanding; but how can there be
right relationship with a problem when you are only concerned with getting rid of it, which is to
find a solution for it? Right relationship means communion, and communion cannot exist if there is
positive or negative resistance. The approach to the problem is more important than the problem
itself; the approach shapes the problem, the end. The means and the end are not different from
the approach. The approach decides the fate of the problem. How you regard the problem is of
the greatest importance, because your attitude and prejudices, your fears and hopes will colour it.
Choiceless awareness of the manner of your approach will bring right relationship with the problem.
The problem is self-created, so there must be self-knowledge. You and the problem are one, not two
separate processes. You are the problem.
The activities of the self are frighteningly monotonous. The self is a bore; it is intrinsically enervating,
pointless, futile. Its opposing and conflicting desires, its hopes and frustrations, its realities and
illusions are enthralling, and yet empty; its activities lead to its own weariness. The self is ever
climbing and ever falling down, ever pursuing and ever being frustrated, ever gaining and ever losing;
and from this weary round of futility it is ever trying to escape. It escapes through outward activity
or through gratifying illusions, through drink, sex, radio, books, knowledge, amusements, and go
on. Its power to breed illusion is complex and vast. These illusions are homemade, self-projected;
they are the ideal, the idolatrous conception of Masters and saviours, the future as a means of self-
aggrandizement, and so on. In trying to escape from its own monotony, the self pursues inward
and outward sensations and excitements. These are the substitutes for self-abnegation, and in the
substitutes it hopefully tries to get lost. It often succeeds, but the success only increases its own
weariness. It pursues one substitute after another, each creating its own problem, its own conflict
and pain.
Self-forgetfulness is sought within and without; some turn to religion, and others to work and activity.
But there is no means of forgetting the self. The inner or outward noise can suppress the self, but
it soon comes up again in a different form, under a different guise; for what is suppressed must
find a release. Self-forgetfulness through drink or sex, through worship or knowledge, makes for
dependence, and that on which you depend creates a problem. If you depend for release, for self-
forgetfulness, for happiness, on drink or on a Master, then they become your problem. Dependence
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breeds possessiveness, envy, fear; and then fear and the overcoming of it become your anxious
problem. In the search for happiness we create problems, and in them we get caught. We find a
certain happiness in the self-forgetfulness of sex, and so we use it as a means to achieve what we
desire. Happiness through something must invariably beget conflict, for then the means is vastly
more significant and important than happiness itself. If I get happiness through the beauty of that
chair, then the chair becomes all-important to me and I must guard it against others. In this struggle,
the happiness which I once felt in the beauty of the chair is utterly forgotten, lost, and I am left
with the chair. In itself, the chair has little value; but I have given it an extraordinary value, for
it is the means of my happiness. So the means becomes a substitute for happiness. When the
means of my happiness is a living person, then the conflict and confusion, the antagonism and pain
are far greater. If relationship is based on mere usage, is there any relationship, except the most
superficial, between the user and the used? If I use you for my happiness, am I really related to
you? Relationship implies communion with another on different levels; and is there communion with
another when he is only a tool, a means of my happiness? In thus using another, am I not really
seeking self-isolation, in which I think I shall be happy? This self-isolation I call relationship; but
actually there is no communion in this process. Communion can exist only where there is no fear;
and there is gnawing fear and pain where there is usage and so dependence. As nothing can live in
isolation, the attempts of the mind to isolate itself lead to its own frustration and misery. To escape
from this sense of incompleteness, we seek completeness in ideals, in people, in things; and so we
are back again where we started, in the search for substitutes.
Problems will always exist where the activities of the self are dominant. To be aware which are and
which are not the activities of the self needs constant vigilance. This vigilance is not disciplined
attention, but an extensive awareness which is choiceless. Disciplined attention gives strength to
the self; it becomes a substitute and a dependence. Awareness, on the other hand, is not self-
induced, nor is it the outcome of practice; it is understanding the whole content of the problem, the
hidden as well as the superficial. The surface must be understood for the hidden to show itself; the
hidden cannot be exposed if the surface mind is not quiet. This whole process is not verbal, nor
is it a matter of mere experience. Verbalization indicates dullness of mind; and experience, being
cumulative, makes for repetitiousness. Awareness is not a matter of determination, for purposive
direction is resistance, which tends towards exclusiveness. Awareness is the silent and choiceless
observation of what is; in this awareness the problem unrolls itself, and thus it is fully and completely
understood.
A problem is never solved on its own level; being complex, it must be understood in its total process.
To try to solve a problem on only one level, physical or psychological, leads to further conflict and
confusion. For the resolution of a problem, there must be this awareness, this passive alertness
which reveals its total process.
Love is not sensation. Sensations give birth to thought through words and symbols. Sensations
and thought replace love; they become the substitute for love. Sensations are of the mind, as
sexual appetites are. The mind breeds the appetite, the passion, through remembrance, from
which it derives gratifying sensations. The mind is composed of different and conflicting interests or
desires, with their exclusive sensations; and they clash when one or other begins to predominate,
thus creating a problem. Sensations are both pleasant and unpleasant, and the mind holds to the
pleasant, thus becoming a slave to them. This bondage becomes a problem because the mind is
the repository of contradictory sensations. The avoidance of the painful is also a bondage, with its
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own illusions and problems. The mind is the maker of problems, and so cannot resolve them. Love
is not of the mind; but when the mind takes over there is sensation, which it then calls love. It is
this love of the mind that can be thought about, that can be clothed and identified. The mind can
recall or anticipate pleasurable sensations, and this process is appetite, no matter at what level it is
placed. Within the field of the mind, love cannot be. Mind is the area of fear and calculation, envy
and domination, comparison and denial, and so love is not. Jealousy, like pride, is of the mind; but
it is not love. Love and the processes of the mind cannot be bridged over, cannot be made one.
When sensations predominate, there is no space for love; so the things of the mind fill the heart.
Thus love becomes the unknown, to be pursued and worshipped; it is made into an ideal, to be
used and believed in, and ideals are always self-projected. So the mind takes over completely, and
love becomes a word, a sensation. Then love is made comparative, ”I love more and you love less.”
But love is neither personal nor impersonal; love is a state of being in which sensation as thought is
wholly absent.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 85 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 41
42 ’LONELINESS’
HER SON HAD recently died, and she said she did not know what to do now. She had so much
time on her hands, she was so bored and weary and sorrowful that she was ready to die. She had
brought him up with loving care and intelligence, and he had gone to one of the best schools and to
college. She had not spoiled him, though he had had everything that was necessary. She had put
her faith and hope in him, and had given him all her love; for there was no one else to share it with,
she and her husband having separated long ago. Her son had died through some wrong diagnosis
and operation – though, she added smilingly, the doctors said that the operation was ”successful.”
Now she was left alone, and life seemed so vain and pointless. She had wept when he died, until
there were no more tears, but only a dull and weary emptiness. She had had such plans for both of
them, but now she was utterly lost.
The breeze was blowing from the sea, cool and fresh, and under the tree it was quiet. The colours
on the mountains were vivid, and the blue jays were very talkative. A cow wandered by, followed by
her calf, and a squirrel dashed up a tree, wildly chattering. It sat on a branch and began to scold,
and the scolding went on for a long time, its tail bobbing up and down. It had such sparkling bright
eyes and sharp claws. A lizard came out to warm itself, and caught a fly. The tree tops were gently
swaying, and a dead tree against the sky was straight and splendid. It was being bleached by the
sun. There was another dead tree beside it, dark and curving, more recent in its decay. A few clouds
rested on the distant mountains.
What a strange thing is loneliness, and how frightening it is! We never allow ourselves to get too
close to it; and if by chance we do, we quickly run away from it. We will do anything to escape
from loneliness, to cover it up. Our conscious and unconscious preoccupation seems to be to avoid
it or to overcome it. Avoiding and overcoming loneliness are equally futile; though suppressed or
neglected, the pain, the problem, is still there. You may lose yourself in a crowd, and yet be utterly
86CHAPTER 41. 42 ’LONELINESS’
lonely; you may be intensely active, but loneliness silently creeps upon you; put the book down,
and it is there. Amusements and drinks cannot drown loneliness; you may temporarily evade it, but
when the laughter and the effects of alcohol are over, the fear of loneliness returns. You may be
ambitious and successful, you may have vast power over others, you may be rich in knowledge,
you may worship and forget yourself in the rigmarole of rituals; but do what you will, the ache of
loneliness continues. You may exist only for your son, for the Master, for the expression of your
talent; but like the darkness, loneliness covers you. You may love or hate, escape from it according
to your temperament and psychological demands; but loneliness is there, waiting and watching,
withdrawing only to approach again.
Loneliness is the awareness of complete isolation; and are not our activities self-enclosing? Though
our thoughts and emotions are expansive, are they not exclusive and dividing? Are we not seeking
dominance in our relationships, in our rights and possessions, thereby creating resistance? Do we
not regard work as ”yours” and ”mine”? Are we not identified with the collective, with the country,
or with the few? Is not our whole tendency to isolate ourselves, to divide and separate? The very
activity of the self, at whatever level, is the way of isolation; and loneliness is the consciousness
of the self without activity. Activity, whether physical or psychological, becomes a means of self-
expansion; and when there is no activity of any kind, there is an awareness of the emptiness of the
self. It is this emptiness that we seek to fill, and in filling it we spend our life, whether at a noble or
ignoble level. There may seem to be no sociological harm in filling this emptiness at a noble level;
but illusion breeds untold misery and destruction, which may not be immediate. The craving to fill
this emptiness – to run away from it, which is the same thing – cannot be sublimated or suppressed;
for who is the entity that is to suppress or sublimate? Is not that very entity another form of craving?
The objects of craving may vary, but is not all craving similar? You may change the object of your
craving from drink to ideation; but without understanding the process of craving, illusion is inevitable.
There is no entity separate from craving; there is only craving, there is no one who craves. Craving
takes on different masks at different times, depending on its interests. The memory of these varying
interests meets the new, which brings about conflict, and so the chooser is born, establishing himself
as an entity separate and distinct from craving. But the entity is not different from its qualities.
The entity who tries to fill or run away from emptiness, incompleteness, loneliness, is not different
from that which he is avoiding; he is it. He cannot run away from himself; all that he can do is to
understand himself. He is his loneliness, his emptiness; and as long as he regards it as something
separate from himself, he will be in illusion and endless conflict. When he directly experiences that
he is his own loneliness, then only can there be freedom from fear. Fear exists only in relationship
to an idea, and idea is the response of memory as thought. Thought is the result of experience; and
though it can ponder over emptiness, have sensations with regard to it, it cannot know emptiness
directly. The word ”loneliness,” with its memories of pain and fear, prevents the experiencing of
it afresh. The word is memory, and when the word is no longer significant, then the relationship
between the experiencer and the experienced is wholly different; then that relationship is direct and
not through a word, through memory; then the experiencer is the experience, which alone brings
freedom from fear.
Love and emptiness cannot abide together; when there is the feeling of loneliness, love is not. You
may hide emptiness under the word ”love,” but when the object of your love is no longer there or
does not respond, then you are aware of emptiness, you are frustrated. We use the word ”love” as
a means of escaping from ourselves, from our own insufficiency. We cling to the one we love, we
Commentaries On Living Series 1 87 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 41. 42 ’LONELINESS’
are jealous, we miss him when he is not there and are utterly lost when he dies; and then we seek
comfort in some other form, in some belief, in some substitute. Is all this love? Love is not an idea,
the result of association; love is not something to be used as an escape from our own wretchedness
and when we do so use it, we make problems which have no solutions. Love is not an abstraction,
but its reality can be experienced only when idea, mind, is no longer the supreme factor.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 88 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 42
43 ’CONSISTENCY’
HE WAS OBVIOUSLY intelligent, active, and given to reading a few select books. Though married,
he was not a family man. He called himself an idealist and a social worker; he had been to prison
for political reasons, and had many friends. He was not concerned with making a name either for
himself or for the party, which he recognised as the same thing. He was really interested in doing
social work which might lead to some human happiness. He was what you might call a religious
man, but not sentimental or superstitious, nor a believer in any particular doctrine or ritual. He said
he had come to talk over the problem of contradiction, not only within himself but in Nature and in
the world. It seemed to him that this contradiction was inevitable: the intelligent and the stupid, the
conflicting desires within oneself, the word in conflict with the act and the act with the thought. This
contradiction he had found everywhere.
To be consistent is to be thoughtless. It is easier and safer to follow a pattern of conduct without
deviation, to conform to an ideology or a tradition, than to risk the pain of thought. To obey authority,
inner or outer, needs no questioning; it obviates thought, with its anxieties and disturbances. To
follow our own conclusions, experiences, determinations, creates no contradictions within us; we
are being consistent to our own purpose; we choose a particular path and follow it, unyielding and
determined. Do not most of us seek a way of life which is not too disturbing, in which at least there
is psychological security? And how we respect a man who lives up to his ideal! We make examples
of such men, they are to be followed and worshipped, The approximation to an ideal, though it
requires a certain amount of exertion and struggle, is on the whole pleasurable and gratifying; for
after all, ideals are homemade, self-protected. You choose your hero, religious or worldly, and follow
him. The desire to be consistent gives a peculiar strength and satisfaction, for in sincerity there is
security. But sincerity is not simplicity, and without simplicity there can be no understanding. To
be consistent to a well-thought-out pattern of conduct gratifies the urge for achievement, and in its
success there is comfort and security. The setting up of an ideal and the constant approximation to
89CHAPTER 42. 43 ’CONSISTENCY’
it cultivates resistance, and adaptability is within the limits of the pattern. Consistency offers safety
and certainty, and that is why we cling to it with desperation.
To be in self-contradiction is to live in conflict and sorrow. The self, in its very structure, is
contradictory; it is made up of many entities with different masks, each in opposition to the other. The
whole fabric of the self is the result of contradictory interests and values, of many varying desires
at different levels of its being; and these desires all beget their own opposites. The self, the ”me,”
is a network of complex desires, each desire having its own impetus and aim, often in opposition
to other hopes and pursuits. These masks are taken on according to stimulating circumstances
and sensations; so within the structure of the self, contradiction is inevitable. This contradiction
within us breeds illusion and pain, and to escape from it we resort to all manner of self-deceptions
which only increase our conflict and misery. When the inner contradiction becomes unbearable,
consciously or unconsciously we try to escape through death, through insanity; or we give ourselves
over to an idea, to a group, to a country, to some activity that will completely absorb our being; or
we turn to organized religion, with its dogmas and rituals. So this split in ourselves leads either to
further self-expansion or to self-destruction, insanity. Trying to be other than what we are cultivates
contradiction; the fear of what is breeds the illusion of its opposite, and in the pursuit of the opposite
we hope to escape from fear. Synthesis is not the cultivation of the opposite; synthesis does
not come about through opposition, for all opposites contain the elements of their own opposites.
The contradiction in ourselves leads to every kind of physical and psychological response whether
gentle or violent, respectable or dangerous; and consistency only further confuses and obscures
the contradiction. The one-pointed pursuit of a single desire, of a particular interest, leads to sell-
enclosing opposition. Contradiction within brings conflict without and conflict indicates contradiction.
Only through understanding the ways of desire is there freedom from sell-contradiction.
Integration can never be limited to the upper layers of the mind; it is not something to be learnt in a
school; it does not come into being with knowledge or with self-immolation. Integration alone brings
freedom from consistency and contradiction; but integration is not a matter of fusing into one all
desires and multiple interests. Integration is not conformity to a pattern, however noble and cunning;
it must be approached, not directly, positively, but obliquely, negatively. To have a conception of
integration is to conform to a pattern, which only cultivates stupidity and destruction. To pursue
integration is to make of it an ideal, a self-projected goal. Since all ideals are self-projected, they
inevitably cause conflict and enmity. What the self projects must be of its own nature, and therefore
contradictory and confusing. Integration is not an idea, a mere response of memory, and so it cannot
be cultivated. The desire for integration comes into being because of conflict; but through cultivating
integration, conflict is not transcended. You may cover up, deny contradiction, or be unconscious of
it; but it is there, waiting to break out.
Conflict is our concern and not integration. Integration, like peace, is a by-product not an end in itself;
it is merely a result, and so of secondary importance. In understanding conflict there will not only be
integration and peace, but something infinitely greater. Conflict cannot be suppressed or sublimated,
nor is there a substitute for it. Conflict comes with craving, with the desire to continue, to become
more – which does not mean that there must be stagnating contentment. ”More” is the constant cry
of the self; it is the craving for sensation, whether of the past or of the future. Sensation is of the
mind, and so the mind is not the instrument for the understanding of conflict. Understanding is not
verbal, it is not a mental process, and therefore not a matter of experience. Experience is memory,
and without word, symbol, image, there is no memory. You may read volumes about conflicts but it
Commentaries On Living Series 1 90 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 42. 43 ’CONSISTENCY’
can have nothing to do with the understanding of conflict. To understand conflict, thought must not
interfere; there must be an awareness of conflict without the thinker. The thinker is the chooser who
invariably takes sides with the pleasant, the gratifying, and thereby sustains conflict; he may get rid
of one particular conflict but the soil is there for further conflict. The thinker justifies or condemns,
and so prevents understanding. With the thinker absent, there is the direct experiencing of conflict,
but not as an experience which an experiencer is undergoing. In the state of experiencing there is
neither the experiencer nor the experienced. Experiencing is direct; then relationship it direct, and
not through memory. It is this direct relationship that brings understanding. Understanding brings
freedom from conflict; and with freedom from conflict there is integration.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 91 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 43
44 ’ACTION AND IDEA’
HE WAS MILD and gentle, with a ready and pleasant smile. He was dressed very simply, and his
manner was quiet and unobtrusive. He said that he had practised non-violence for many years and
was well aware of its power and spiritual significance. He had written several books concerning it
and had brought one of them along. He explained that he had not voluntarily killed anything for many
years, and was a strict vegetarian. He went into the details of his vegetarianism, and said that his
shoes and sandals were made from the hides of animals that had died naturally. He had made his
life as simple as possible, had studied dietetics and ate only what was essential. He asserted that he
had not been angry for several years now, though he was on occasions impatient, which was merely
the response of his nerves. His speech was controlled and gentle. The power of non-violence would
transform the world, he said, and he had dedicated his life to it. He was not the kind of man who
talked about himself easily, but on the subject of non-violence he was quite eloquent and words
seemed to flow without effort. He had come, he added, to go more deeply into his favourite subject.
Across the way, the large pool was tranquil. Its waters had been very agitated, as there had been
a strong breeze; but now it was quite still and was reflecting the large leaves of a tree. One or two
lilies floated quietly on its surface, and a bud was just showing itself above the water. Birds began to
come, and several frogs came out and jumped into the pool. The ripples soon died away, and once
more the waters were still. On the very top of a tall tree sat a bird, preening itself and singing; it
would fly in a curve and come back to its high and solitary perch; it was so delighted with the world
and with itself. Nearby sat a fat man with a book, but his mind was far away; he would try to read,
but his mind raced off again and again. Ultimately he gave up the struggle and let the mind have its
way. A lorry was coming up the hill slowly and wearily, and again the gears had to be changed.
We are so concerned with the reconciliation of effects, with the outward gesture and appearance. We
seek first to bring about outward order; outwardly we regulate our life according to our resolutions,
92CHAPTER 43. 44 ’ACTION AND IDEA’
the inner principles that we have established. Why do we force the outer to conform to the inner?
Why do we act according to an idea? Is idea stronger, more powerful than action ?
The idea is first established, reasoned out or intuitively felt, and then we try to approximate action to
the idea; we try to live up to it, put it into practice, discipline ourselves in the light of it – the everlasting
struggle to bring action within the limits of idea. Why is there this incessant and painful struggle to
shape action according to idea? What is the urge to make the outer conform to the inner? Is it to
strengthen the inner, or to gain assurance from the outer when the inner is uncertain? In deriving
comfort from the outer, does not the outer assume greater significance and importance ? The outer
reality has significance; but when it is looked upon as a gesture of sincerity, does it not indicate more
than ever that idea is dominant? Why has idea become all-powerful? To make us act? Does idea
help us to act, or does it hinder action?
Surely, idea limits action; it is the fear of action that brings forth idea. In idea there is safety, in action
there is danger. To control action, which is limitless, idea is cultivated; to put a brake on action, idea
comes into being. Think what would happen if you were really generous in action ! So you have
the generosity of the heart opposed by the generosity of the mind; you go so far only, for you do not
know what will happen to you tomorrow. Idea governs action. Action is full, open, extensive; and
fear, as idea, steps in and takes charge. So idea becomes all-important, and not action.
We try to make action conform to idea. The idea or ideal if non-violence, and our actions, gestures,
thoughts are moulded according to that pattern of the mind; what we eat, what we wear, what we
say, becomes very significant, for by it we judge our sincerity. Sincerity becomes important, and
not being non-violent; your sandals and what you eat become consumingly interesting, and being
non-violent is forgotten. Idea is always secondary, and the secondary issues dominate the primary.
You can write, lecture, gossip about idea; there is great scope in idea for self-expansion, but there
is no self-expansive gratification in being non-violent. Idea, being self-projected, is stimulating and
gratifying, positively or negatively; but being non-violent has no glamour. Non-violence is a result,
a by-product, and not an end in itself. It is an end in itself only when idea predominates. Idea is
always a conclusion, an end, a self-projected goal. Idea is movement within the known; but thought
cannot formulate what it is to be non-violent. Thought can ponder over non-violence, but it cannot
be non-violent. Non-violence is not an idea; it cannot be made into a pattern of action.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 93 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 44
45 ’LIFE IN A CITY’
IT WAS A well-proportioned room, quiet and restful. The furniture was elegant and in very good
taste; the carpet was thick and soft. There was a marble fireplace, with a fire in it. There were old
vases from different parts of the world, and on the walls were modern paintings as well as some by
the old masters. Considerable thought and care had been spent on the beauty and comfort of the
room, which reflected wealth and taste. The room overlooked a small garden, with a lawn that must
have been mowed and rolled for many, many years.
Life in a city is strangely cut off from the universe; man-made buildings have taken the place of
valleys and mountains, and the roar of traffic has been substituted for that of boisterous streams.
At night one hardly ever sees the stars, even if one wishes to, for the city lights are too bright; and
during the day the sky is limited and held. Something definitely happens to the city-dwellers; they
are brittle and polished, they have churches and museums, drinks and theatres, beautiful clothes
and endless shops. There are people everywhere, on the streets, in the buildings, in the rooms. A
cloud passes across the sky, and so few look up. There is rush and turmoil.
But in this room there was quiet and sustained dignity. It had that atmosphere peculiar to the rich,
the feeling of aloof security and assurance, and the long freedom from want. He was saying that he
was interested in philosophy, both of the East and of the West, and how absurd it was to begin with
the Greeks, as though nothing existed before them; and presently he began to talk of his problem:
how to give, and to whom to give. The problem of having money, with its many responsibilities, was
somewhat disturbing him. Why was he making a problem of it? Did it matter to whom he gave, and
with what spirit? Why had it become a problem?
His wife came in, smart, bright and curious. Both of them seemed well read, sophisticated and
worldly wise; they were clever and interested in many things. They were the product of both town
94CHAPTER 44. 45 ’LIFE IN A CITY’
and country, but mostly their hearts were in the town. That one thing, compassion, seemed so far
away. The qualities of the mind were deeply cultivated; there was a sharpness, a brutal approach,
but it did not go very far. She wrote a little, and he was some kind of politician; and how easily and
confidently they spoke. Hesitancy is so essential to discovery, to further understanding; but how can
there be hesitancy when you know so much, when the self-protective armour is so highly polished
and all the cracks are sealed from within? Line and form become extraordinarily important to those
who are in bondage to the sensate; then beauty is sensation, goodness a feeling, and truth a matter
of intellection. When sensations dominate, comfort becomes essential, not only to the body, but also
to the psyche; and comfort, especially that of the mind, is corroding, leading to illusion.
We are the things we possess, we are that to which we are attached. Attachment has no nobility.
Attachment to knowledge is not different from any other gratifying addiction. Attachment is self-
absorption, whether at the lowest or at the highest level. Attachment is self-deception, it is an
escape from the hollowness of the self. The things to which we are attached – property, people,
ideas – become all-important, for without the many things which fill its emptiness, the self is not.
The fear of not being makes for possession; and fear breeds illusion, the bondage to conclusions.
Conclusions, material or ideational, prevent the fruition of intelligence, the freedom in which alone
reality can come into being; and without this freedom, cunning is taken for intelligence. The ways
of cunning are always complex and destructive. It is this self-protective cunning that makes for
attachment; and when attachment causes pain, it is this same cunning that seeks detachment and
finds pleasure in the pride and vanity of renunciation. The understanding of the ways of cunning,
the ways of the self, is the beginning of intelligence.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 95 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 45
46 ’OBSESSION’
HE SAID HE was obsessed by stupid little things, and that these obsessions constantly changed.
He would worry over some imaginary physical defect, and within a few hours his worry would have
fixed itself upon another incident or thought. He seemed to live from one anxious obsession to
another. To overcome these obsessions, he continued, he would consult books, or talk over his
problem with a friend, and he had also been to a psychologist; but somehow he had found no relief.
Even after a serious and absorbing meeting, these obsessions would immediately come on. If he
found the cause, would it put an end to them?
Does discovery of a cause bring freedom from the effect? Will knowledge of the cause destroy the
result? We know the causes, both economic and psychological, of war, yet we encourage barbarity
and self-destruction. After all, our motive in searching for the cause is the desire to be rid of the
effect. This desire is another form of resistance or condemnation; and when there is condemnation,
there is no understanding.
”Then what is one to do?” he asked.
Why is the mind dominated by these trivial and stupid obsessions? To ask ”why” is not to search for
the cause as something apart from yourself which you have to find; it is merely to uncover the ways
of your own thinking. So, why is the mind occupied in this manner? Is it not because it is superficial,
shallow, petty, and therefore concerned with its own attractions?
‘Yes,” he replied, ”that appears to be true; but not entirely, for I am a serious person.”
Apart from these obsessions, what is your thought occupied with?
96CHAPTER 45. 46 ’OBSESSION’
”With my profession,” he said. ”I have a responsible position. The whole day and sometimes far into
the night, my thoughts are taken up with my business. I read occasionally, but most of my time is
spent with my profession.”
Do you like what you are doing? ”Yes, but it is not completely satisfactory. All my life I have
been dissatisfied with what I am doing, but I cannot give up my present position for I have certain
obligations – and besides, I am getting on in years. What bothers me are these obsessions, and
my increasing resentment towards my work as well as towards people. I have not been kind; I feel
increasing anxiety about the future, and I never seem to have any peace. I do my work well, but…”
Why are you struggling against what is? The house in which I live may be noisy, dirty, the furniture
may be hideous, and there may be an utter lack of beauty about the whole thing; but for various
reasons I may have to live there, I cannot go away to another house. It is then not a question of
acceptance, but of seeing the obvious fact. If I do not see what is, I shall worry myself sick about that
vase, about that chair or that picture; they will become my obsessions, and there will be resentment
against people, against my work, and so on. If I could leave the whole thing and start over again, it
would be a different matter; but I cannot. It is no good my rebelling against what is, the actual. The
recognition of what is does not lead to smug contentment and ease. When I yield to what is, there
is not only the understanding of it, but there also comes a certain quietness to the surface mind.
If the surface mind is not quiet, it indulges in obsessions, actual or imaginary; it gets caught up in
some social reform or religious conclusion: the Master, the saviour, the ritual, and so on. It is only
when the surface mind is quiet that the hidden can reveal itself. The hidden must be exposed; but
this is not possible if the surface mind is burdened with obsessions, worries. Since the surface mind
is constantly in some kind of agitation, conflict is inevitable between the upper and the deeper levels
of the mind; and as long as this conflict is not resolved, obsessions increase. After all, obsessions
are a means of escape from our conflict. All escapes are similar, though it is obvious that some are
socially more harmful.
When one is aware of the total process of obsession or of any other problem, only then is there
freedom from the problem To be extensively aware, there must be no condemnation or justification of
the problem; awareness must be choiceless. To be so aware demands wide patience and sensitivity;
it requires eagerness and sustained attention so that the whole process of thinking can be observed
and understood.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 97 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 46
47 ’THE SPIRITUAL LEADER’
HE SAID THAT his guru was too great a man to be described, and that he had been a pupil of his for
many years. This teacher, he went on, imparted his teachings through brutal shocks, through foul
language, through insults and actions that were contradictory; and he added that many important
people were among the followers. The very crudeness of the procedure forced people to think, it
made them sit up and take notice, which was considered necessary because most people were
asleep and needed to be shaken. This teacher said the most awful things about God, and it seemed
that his pupils had to drink a great deal, as the teacher himself drank heavily at most meals. The
teachings, however, were profound; they had been kept secret at one time, but now they were being
made available to all.
The late autumnal sun was pouring in through the window, and one could hear the roar of the busy
street. The leaves in their death were brilliant, and the air was fresh and keen. As with all cities, there
was an atmosphere of depression and unnameable sorrow in contrast to the light of the evening;
and the artificial gaiety was even more sorrowful. We seem to have forgotten what it is to be natural,
to smile freely; our faces are so closed with worry and anxiety. But the leaves sparkled in the sun
and a cloud passed by.
Even in so-called spiritual movements the social divisions are maintained. How eagerly a titled
person is welcomed and given the front seat! How the followers hang around the famous! How
hungry we are for distinctions and labels! This craving for distinction becomes what we call spiritual
growth: those who are near and those who are far, the hierarchical division as the Master and
the initiate, the pupil and the novice. This craving is obvious and somewhat understandable in
the everyday world; but when the same attitude is carried over into a world where these stupid
distinctions have no meaning whatever, it reveals how deeply we are conditioned by our cravings
and appetites. Without understanding these cravings, it is utterly vain to seek to be free from pride.
98CHAPTER 46. 47 ’THE SPIRITUAL LEADER’
”But,” he continued, ”we need guides, gurus, Masters. You may be beyond them, but we ordinary
people need them, otherwise we shall be like lost sheep.”
We choose our leaders, political or spiritual, out of our own confusion, and so they also are confused.
We demand to be coaxed and comforted, to be encouraged and gratified, so we choose a teacher
who will give us what we crave for. We do not search out reality, but go after gratification and
sensation. It is essentially for self-glorification that we create the teacher, the Master; and we
feel lost, confused. and anxious when the self is denied. If you have no direct physical teacher,
you fabricate one who is far away, hidden and mysterious; the former is dependent on various
physical and emotional influences, and the latter is self-projected, a homemade ideal; but both are
the outcome of your choice, and choice is inevitably based on bias, prejudice. You may prefer to
give a more respectable and comforting name to your prejudice, but it is out of your confusion and
appetites that you choose. If you are seeking gratification, you will naturally find what you desire, but
do not let us call it truth. Truth comes into being when gratification, the desire for sensation, comes
to an end.
”You have not convinced me that I do not need a Master,” he said.
Truth is not a matter of argumentation and conviction; it is not the outcome of opinion.
”But the Master helps me to overcome my greed, my envy,” he insisted.
Can another, however great, help to bring about a transformation in yourself he can, you are not
transformed; you are merely dominated, influenced. This influence may last a considerable time,
but you are not transformed. You have been overcome; and whether you are overcome by envy or
by a so-called noble influence, you are still a slave, you are not free. We like to be slavish, to be
possessed by someone, whether by a Master or by anyone else, because there is security in this
possession; the Master becomes the refuge. To possess is to be possessed, but possession is not
freedom from greed.
”I must resist greed,” he said. ”I must fight it, make every effort to destroy it, and only then will it go.”
From what you say, you have been in conflict with greed for a great many years, and yet you are
not free from it. Do not say that you have not tried hard enough, which is the obvious response.
Can you understand anything through conflict? To conquer is not to understand. What you conquer
has to be conquered again and again, but there is freedom from that which is fully understood. To
understand, there must be awareness of the process of resistance. To resist is so much easier than
to understand; and besides, we are educated to resist. In resistance there need be no observation,
no consideration, no communication; resistance is an indication of the dullness of the mind. A mind
that resists is self-enclosed and so is incapable of sensitivity, of understanding. To understand the
ways of resistance is far more important than to get rid of greed. Actually, you are not listening to
what is being said; you are considering your various commitments which have grown out of your
years of struggle and resistance. You are now committed, and around your commitments, which
you have probably lectured and written about, you have gathered friends; you have an investment
in your Master, who has helped you to resist. So your past is preventing you from listening to what
is being said.
”I both agree and disagree with you,” he remarked.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 99 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 46. 47 ’THE SPIRITUAL LEADER’
Which shows that you are not listening. You are weighing your commitments against what is being
said, which is not to listen. You are afraid to listen and so you are in conflict, agreeing and at the
same time disagreeing.
”You are probably right,” he said, ”but I cannot let go of all that I have gathered: my friends, my
knowledge, my experience. I know that I must let go, but I simply cannot, and there it is.”
The conflict within him will now be greater than ever; for when once you are aware of what is,
however reluctantly, and deny it because of your commitments, deep contradiction is set going. This
contradiction is duality. There can be no bridging over of opposing desires; and if a bridge is created,
it is resistance, which is consistency. Only in understanding what is is there freedom from what is.
It is an odd fact that followers like to be bullied and directed, whether softly or harshly. They think
the harsh treatment is part of their training – training in spiritual success. The desire to be hurt, to
be rudely shaken, is part of the pleasure of hurting; and this mutual degradation of the leader and
the follower is the outcome of the desire for sensation. It is because you want greater sensation
that you follow and so create a leader, a guru; and for this new gratification you will sacrifice, put up
with discomforts, insults and discouragements. All this is part of mutual exploitation, it has nothing
whatever to do with reality and will never lead to happiness.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 100 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 47
48 ’STIMULATION’
”THE MOUNTAINS HAVE made me silent,” she said. ”I went to the Engadine and its beauty made
me utterly silent; I was speechless at the wonder of it all. It was a tremendous experience. I wish I
could hold that silence, that living, vibrant, moving silence. When you talk of silence, I suppose you
mean this extraordinary experience I have had. I really would like to know if you are referring to the
same quality of silence as I experienced. The effect of this silence lasted for a considerable period,
and now I go back to it, I try to recapture and live in it.”
You are made silent by the Engadine, another by a beautiful human form, and another by a Master,
by a book, or by drink. Through outward stimulation one is reduced to a sensation which one calls
silence and which is extremely pleasurable. The effect of beauty and grandeur is to drive away
one’s daily problems and conflicts, which is a release. Through outward stimulation, the mind is
made temporarily quiet; it is perhaps a new experience, a nev delight, and the mind goes back to
it as a remembrance when it is no longer experiencing it. To remain in the mountains is probably
not possible, as one has to be back for business; but it is possible to seek that state of quietness
through some other form of stimulation, through drink, through a person, or through an idea, which
is what most of us do. These various forms of stimulation are the means through which the mind is
made still; so the means become significant, important, and we become attached to them. Because
the means give us the pleasure of silence, they become dominant in our lives; they are our vested
interest, a psychological necessity which we defend and for which, if necessary, we destroy each
other. The means take the place of experience, which is now only a memory.
Stimulations may vary, each having a significance according to the conditioning of the person. But
there is a similarity in all stimulations: the desire to escape from what is, from our daily routine, from a
relationship that is no longer alive, and from knowledge which is always becoming stale. You choose
one kind of escape, I another, and my particular brand is always assumed to be more worth while
101CHAPTER 47. 48 ’STIMULATION’
than yours; but all escape, whether in the form of an ideal, the cinema, or the church, is harmful,
leading to illusion and mischief. Psychological escapes are more harmful than the obvious ones,
being more subtle and complex and therefore more difficult to discover. The silence that is brought
about through stimulation, the silence that is made up through disciplines, control, resistances,
positive or negative, is a result, an effect and so not creative; it is dead.
There is a silence which is not a reaction, a result; a silence which is not the outcome of stimulation,
of sensation; a silence which is not put together, not a conclusion. It comes into being when the
process of thought is understood. Thought is the response of memory, of determined conclusions,
conscious or unconscious; this memory dictates action according to pleasure and pain. So ideas
control action, and hence there is conflict between action and idea. This conflict is always with
us, and as it intensifies there is an urge to be free from it; but until this conflict is understood and
resolved, any attempt to be free from it is an escape. As long as action is approximating to an idea,
conflict is inevitable. Only when action is free from idea does conflict cease.
”But how can action ever be free from idea? Surely there can be no action without there being
ideation first. Action follows idea, and I cannot possibly imagine any action which is not the result of
idea.”
Idea is the outcome of memory; idea is the verbalization of memory; idea is an inadequate reaction
to challenge, to life. Adequate response to life is action, not ideation. We respond ideationally in
order to safeguard ourselves against action. Ideas limit action. There is safety in the field of ideas,
but not in action; so action is made subservient to idea. Idea is the self-protective pattern for action.
In intense crisis there is direct action, freed from idea. It is against this spontaneous action that the
mind has disciplined itself; and as with most of us the mind is dominant, ideas act as a brake on
action and hence there is friction between action and ideation.
”I find my mind wandering off to that happy experience of the Engadine. Is it an escape to relive that
experience in memory?,”
Obviously. The actual is your life in the present: this crowded street, your business, your immediate
relationships. If these were pleasing and gratifying, the Engadine would fade away; but as the actual
is confusing and painful, you turn to an experience which is over and dead. You may remember
that experience, but it is finished; you give it life only through memory. It is like pumping life into a
dead thing. The present being dull, shallow, we turn to the past or look to a self-projected future.To
escape from the present inevitably leads to illusion. To see the present as it actually is, without
condemnation or justification, is to understand what is, and then there is action which brings about
a transformation in what is.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 102 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 48
49 ’PROBLEMS AND ESCAPES’
”I HAVE MANY SERIOUS problems, and I seem to make them more tortuous and painful by trying
to solve them. I am at my wit’s end, and I do not know what to do. Added to all this, I am deaf and
have to use this beastly thing as an aid to my hearing. I have several children and a husband who
has left me. I am really concerned over my children, as I want them to avoid all the miseries I have
been through.”
How anxious we are to find an answer to our problems! We are so eager to find an answer that
we cannot study the problem; it prevents our silent observation of the problem. The problem is the
important thing, and not the answer. If we look for an answer, we will find it; but the problem will
persist, for the answer is irrelevant to the problem. Our search is for an escape from the problem,
and the solution is a superficial remedy, so there is no understanding of the problem. All problems
arise from one source, and without understanding the source, any attempt to solve the problems
will only lead to further confusion and misery. One must first be very clear that one’s intention to
understand the problem is serious, that one sees the necessity of being free of all problems; for only
then can the maker of problems be approached. Without freedom from problems, there can be no
tranquillity; and tranquillity is essential for happiness, which is not an end in itself. As the pool is still
when the breezes stop, so the mind is still with the cessation of problems. But the mind cannot be
made still; if it is, it is dead, it is a stagnant pool. When this is clear, then the maker of problems can
be observed. The observation must be silent and not according to any predetermined plan based
on pleasure and pain.
”But you are asking the impossible! Our education trains the mind to distinguish, to compare, to
judge, to choose, and it is very difficult not to condemn or justify what is observed. How can one be
free of this conditioning and observe silently?”
103CHAPTER 48. 49 ’PROBLEMS AND ESCAPES’
If you see that silent observation, passive awareness is essential for understanding, then the truth
of your perception liberates you from the background. It is only when you do not see the immediate
necessity of passive and yet alert awareness that the ”how,” the search for a means to dissolve
the background, aries. It is truth that liberates, not the means or the system. The truth that silent
observation alone brings understanding, must be seen; then only are you free from condemnation
and justification. When you see danger, you do not ask how you are to keep away from it. It is
because you do not see the necessity of being passively aware that you ask ”how.” Why do you not
see the necessity of it?
”I want to, but I have never thought along these lines before. All I can say is that I want to get rid of
my problems, because they are a real torture to me. I want to be happy, like any other person.”
Consciously or unconsciously we refuse to see the essentiality of being passively aware because
we do not really want to let go of our problems; for what would we be without them? We would rather
cling to something we know, however painful, than risk the pursuit of something that may lead who
knows where. With the problems, at least, we are familiar; but the thought of pursuing the maker
of them, not knowing where it may lead, creates in us fear and dullness. The mind would be lost
without the worry of problems; it feeds on problems, whether they are world or kitchen problems,
political or personal, religious or ideological; so our problems make us petty and narrow. A mind that
is consumed with world problems is as petty as the mind that worries about the spiritual progress it
is making. Problems burden the mind with fear, for problems give strength to the self, to the ”me”
and the ”mine.” Without problems, without achievements and failures, the self is not.
”But without the self, how can one exist at all? It is the source of all action.”
As long as action is the outcome of desire, of memory, of fear, of pleasure and pain, it must inevitably
breed conflict, confusion and antagonism. Our action is the outcome of our conditioning, at whatever
level; and our response to challenge, being inadequate and incomplete, must produce conflict, which
is the problem. Conflict is the very structure of the self. It is entirely possible to live without conflict,
the conflict of greed, of fear, of success; but this possibility will be merely theoretical and not actual
until it is discovered through direct experiencing. To exist without greed is possible only when the
ways of the self are understood.
”Do you think my deafness is due to my fears and repressions? Doctors have assured me that there
is nothing structurally wrong, and is there any possibility of recovering my hearing? I have been
suppressed, in one way or another, all my life; I have never done anything that I really wanted to do.”
Inwardly and outwardly it is easier to repress than to understand. To understand is arduous,
especially for those who have been heavily conditioned from childhood. Although strenuous,
repression becomes a matter of habit. Understanding can never be made into a habit, a matter
of routine; it demands constant watchfulness, alertness. To understand, there must be pliability,
sensitivity, a warmth that has nothing to do with sentimentality. Suppression in any form needs no
quickening of awareness; it is the easiest and the stupidest way to deal with responses. Suppression
is conformity to an idea, to a pattern, and it offers superficial security, respectability. Understanding
is liberating, but suppression is always narrowing, self-enclosing. Fear of authority, of insecurity, of
opinion, builds up an ideological refuge, with its physical counterpart, to which the mind turns. This
refuge, at whatever level it may be placed, ever sustains fear; and from fear there is substitution,
Commentaries On Living Series 1 104 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 48. 49 ’PROBLEMS AND ESCAPES’
sublimation or discipline, which are all a form of repression. Repression must find an outlet, which
may be a physical ailment or some kind of ideological illusion. The price is paid according to one’s
temperament and idiosyncrasies.
”I have noticed that whenever there is something unpleasant to be heard, I take refuge behind this
instrument, which thereby helps me to escape into my own world. But how is one to be free from
the repression of years? Will it not take a long time?”
It is not a question of time, of dredging into the past, or of careful analysis; it is a matter of seeing
the truth of repression. By being passively aware, without any choice, of the whole process of
repression, the truth of it is immediately seen. The truth of repression cannot be discovered if we
think in terms of yesterday and tomorrow; truth is not to be comprehended through the passage of
time. Truth is not a thing to be attained; it is seen or it is not seen, it cannot be perceived gradually.
The will to be free from repression is a hindrance to understanding the truth of it; for will is desire,
whether positive or negative, and with desire there can be no passive awareness. It is desire or
craving that brought about the repression; and this same desire, though now called will, can never
free itself from its own creation. Again, the truth of will must be perceived through passive yet alert
awareness. The analyser, though he may separate himself from it, is part of the analysed; and as
he is conditioned by the thing he analyses, he cannot free himself from it, again, the truth of this
must be seen. It is truth that liberates, not will and effort.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 105 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 49
50 ’WHAT IS AND WHAT SHOULD BE’
”I AM MARRIED and have children,” she said, ‘but I seem to have lost all love. I am slowly drying
up. Although I engage in social activities, they are a kind of pastime, and I see their futility. Nothing
seems to interest me deeply and fully. I recently took a long holiday from my family routine and social
activities, and I tried to paint; but my spirit was not in it. I feel utterly dead, uncreative, depressed
and deeply discontented. I am still young, but the future seems to be complete blackness. I have
thought of suicide, but somehow I see the utter stupidity of it, I am getting more and more confused,
and my discontent seems to have no end.”
What are you confused about? Is your problem that of relationship?
”No, it is not. I have been through that, and have come out of it not too bruised; but I am confused
and nothing seems to satisfy me.”
Have you a definite problem, or are you merely discontented generally? There must be deep down
some anxiety, some fear, and probably you are not aware of it. Do you want to know what it is?
”Yes, that is why I have come to you. I really cannot go on the way I am. Nothing seems to be of any
importance, and I get quite ill periodically.”
Your illness may be an escape from yourself, from your circumstances.
”I am pretty sure it is. But what am I to do? I am really quite desperate. Before I leave I must find a
way out of all this.”
Is the conflict between two actualities, or between the actual and the fictitious? Is your discontent
mere dissatisfaction, which is easily gratified, or is it a causeless misery? Dissatisfaction soon finds
106CHAPTER 49. 50 ’WHAT IS AND WHAT SHOULD BE’
a particular channel through which it is gratified; dissatisfaction is quickly canalized, but discontent
cannot be assuaged by thought. Does this so-called discontent arise from not finding satisfaction?
If you found satisfaction, would your discontent disappear? Is it that you are really seeking some
kind of permanent gratification ?
”No, it is not that. I am really not seeking any kind of gratification – at least I do not think I am. All I
know is that I am in confusion and conflict, and I cannot seem to find a way out of it.”
When you say you are in conflict, it must be in relation to something: in relation to your husband,
to your children, to your activities. If, as you say, your conflict is not with any of these, then it can
only be between what you are and what you want to be, between the actual and the ideal, between
what is and the myth of what should be. You have an idea of what you should be, and perhaps the
conflict and confusion arise from the desire to fit into this self-projected pattern. You are struggling
to be something which you are not. Is that it?
”I am beginning to see where I am confused. I think what you say is true.” The conflict is between the
actual and the myth, between that which you are and that which you would like to be. The pattern of
the myth has been cultivated from childhood and has progressively widened and deepened, growing
in contrast to the actual, and being constantly modified by circumstances. This myth, like all ideals,
goals, Utopias, is in contradiction to what is the implicit, the actual; so the myth is an escape from
that which you are. This escape inevitably creates the barren conflict of the opposites; and all
conflict, inward or outward, is vain, futile, stupid, creating confusion and antagonism.
So, if I may say so, your confusion arises from the conflict between what you are and the myth of
what you should be. The myth, the ideal, is unreal; it is a self-projected escape, it has no actuality.
The actual is what you are. What you are is much more important than what you should be. You can
understand what is, but you cannot understand what should be. There is no understanding of an
illusion, there is only understanding of the way it comes into being. The myth, the fictitious, the ideal,
has no validity; it is a result, an end, and what is important is to understand the process through
which it has come into being.
To understand that which you are, whether pleasant or unpleasant, the myth, the ideal, the self-
projected future state, must entirely cease. Then only can you tackle what is. To understand what
is, there must be freedom from all distraction. Distraction is the condemnation or justification of what
is. Distraction is comparison; it is resistance or discipline against the actual. Distraction is the very
effort or compulsion to understand. All distractions are a hindrance to the swift pursuit of what is.
What is is not static; it is in constant movement, and to follow it the mind must not be tethered to any
belief, to any hope of success or fear of failure. Only in passive yet alert awareness can that which
is unfold. This unfoldment is not of time.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 107 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 50
51 ’CONTRADICTION’
HE WAS A well-known and well-established politician, somewhat arrogant, and hence his
impatience. Highly educated, he was rather ponderous and tortuous in his expositions. He could not
afford to be subtle, for he was too much involved with appeasement; he was the public, the State, the
power. He was a fluent speaker, and the very fluency was its own misfortune; he was incorruptible,
and therein lay his hold on the public. He was oddly uncomfortable sitting in that room; the politician
was far away, but the man was there, nervous and aware of himself. The bluster, the cocksureness
was gone, and there was anxious inquiry, consideration and self-exposure.
The late afternoon sun was coming through the window, and so also the noise of the traffic. The
parrots, bright green flashes of light, were returning from their day’s outing to settle for the night in
safety among the trees of the town, those very large trees that are found along roads and in private
gardens. As they flew, the parrots uttered hideous screeches. They never flew in a straight line but
dropped, rose, or moved sideways, always chattering and calling. Their flight and their cries were in
contradiction to their own beauty. Far away on the sea there was a single white sail. A small group
of people filled the room, a contrast of colour and thought. A little dog came in, looked around and
went out, scarcely noticed; and a temple bell was ringing.
”Why is there contradiction in our life?” he asked. ”We talk of the ideals of peace, of non-violence,
and yet lay the foundation stone of war. We must be realists and not dreamers. We want peace,
and yet our daily activities ultimately lead to war; we want light, and yet we close the window. Our
very thought process is a contradiction, want and not-want. This contradiction is probably inherent
in our nature, and it is therefore rather hopeless to try to be integrated, to be whole. Love and hate
always seem to go together. Why is there this contradiction? Is it inevitable? Can one avoid it? Can
the modern State be wholly for peace? Can it afford to be entirely one thing? It must work for peace
and yet prepare for war; the goal is peace through preparedness for war.”
108CHAPTER 50. 51 ’CONTRADICTION’
Why do we have a fixed point, an ideal, since deviation from it creates contradiction? If there were
no fixed point, no conclusion, there would be no contradiction. We establish a fixed point, and then
wander away from it, which is considered a contradiction. We come to a conclusion through devious
ways and at different levels, and then try to live in accordance with that conclusion or ideal. As we
cannot, a contradiction is created; and then we try to build a bridge between the fixed, the ideal,
the conclusion, and the thought or act which contradicts it. This bridging is called consistency. And
how we admire a man who is consistent, who sticks to his conclusion, to his ideal! Such a man we
consider a saint. But the insane are also consistent, they also stick to their conclusions. There is no
contradiction in a man who feels himself to be Napoleon, he is the embodiment of his conclusion;
and a man who is completely identified with his ideal is obviously unbalanced.
The conclusion which we call an ideal may be established at any level, and it may be conscious
or unconscious; and having established it, we try to approximate our action to it, which creates
contradiction. What is important is not how to be consistent with the pattern, with the ideal, but
to discover why we have cultivated this fixed point, this conclusion; for if we had no pattern, then
contradiction would disappear. So, why have we the ideal, the conclusion? Does not the ideal
prevent action? Does not the ideal come into being to modify action, to control action? Is it not
possible to act without the ideal? The ideal is the response of the background, of conditioning,
and so it can never be the means of liberating man from conflict and confusion. On the contrary,
the ideal, the conclusion, increases division between man and man and so hastens the process of
disintegration.
If there is no fixed point, no ideal from which to deviate, there is no contradiction with its urge to
be consistent; then there is only action from moment to moment, and that action will always be
complete and true. The true is not an ideal, a myth, but the actual. The actual can be understood
and dealt with. The understanding of the actual cannot breed enmity, whereas ideas do. Ideals
can never bring about a fundamental revolution, but only a modified continuity of the old. There is
fundamental and constant revolution only in action from moment to moment which is not based on
an ideal and so is free of conclusion.
”But a State cannot be run on this principle. There must be a goal, a planned action, a concentrated
effort on a particular issue. What you say may be applicable to the individual, and I see in it great
possibilities for myself; but it will not work in collective action.”
Planned action needs constant modification, there must be adjustment to changing circumstances.
Action according to a fixed blueprint will inevitably fail if you do not take into consideration the
physical facts and psychological pressures. If you plan to build a bridge, you must not only make
a blueprint of it, but you have to study the soil, the terrain where it is going to be built, otherwise
your planning will not be adequate. There can be complete action only when all the physical facts
and psychological stresses of man’s total process are understood, and this understanding does not
depend on any blueprint. It demands swift adjustment, which is intelligence; and it is only when there
is no intelligence that we resort to conclusions, ideals, goals. The State is not static; its leaders may
be, but the State, like the individual, is living, dynamic, and what is dynamic cannot be put in the
strait-jacket of a blueprint, We generally build walls around the State, walls of conclusions, ideals,
hoping to tie it down; but a living thing cannot be tied down without killing it, so we proceed to kill the
State and then mould it according to our blueprint, according to the ideal. Only a dead thing can be
forced to conform to a pattern; and as life is in constant movement, there is contradiction the moment
Commentaries On Living Series 1 109 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 50. 51 ’CONTRADICTION’
we try to fit life into a fixed pattern or conclusion. Conformity to a pattern is the disintegration of the
individual and so of the State. The ideal is not superior to life, and when we make it so there is
confusion, antagonism and misery.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 110 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 51
52 ’JEALOUSY’
THE SUN WAS bright on the white wall opposite, and its glare made the faces obscure. A little child,
without the prompting of the mother, came and sat close by, wide-eyed and wondering what it was
all about. She was freshly washed and clothed and had some flowers in her hair. She was keenly
observing everything, as children do, without recording too much. Her eyes were sparkling, and she
did not quite know what to do, whether to cry, to laugh or to jump; instead, she took my hand and
looked at it with absorbing interest. Presently she forgot all those people in the room, relaxed and
went to sleep with her head in my lap. Her head was of good shape and well balanced; she was
spotlessly clean. Her future was as confused and as miserable as that of the others in the room.
Her conflict and sorrow were as inevitable as that sun on the wall; for to be free of pain and misery
needs supreme intelligence, and her education and the influences about her would see to it that she
was denied this intelligence. Love is so rare in this world, that flame without smoke; the smoke is
overpowering, all-suffocating, bringing anguish and tears. Through the smoke, the flame is rarely
seen; and when the smoke becomes all-important, the flame dies. Without that flame of love, life
has no meaning, it becomes dull and weary; but the flame cannot be in the darkening smoke. The
two cannot exist together; the smoke must cease for the clear flame to be. The flame is not a rival
of the smoke; it has no rival. The smoke is not the flame, it cannot contain the flame; nor does the
smoke indicate the presence of the flame, for the flame is free of smoke.
”Cannot love and hate exist together? Is not jealousy an indication of love? We hold hands, and
then the next minute scold; we say hard things, but soon embrace. We quarrel, then kiss and are
reconciled. Is not all this love? The very expression of jealousy is an indication of love; they seem
to go together, like light and darkness. The swift anger and the caress – are these not the fullness
of love? The river is both turbulent and calm; it flows through shadow and sunlight, and therein lies
the beauty of the river.”
111CHAPTER 51. 52 ’JEALOUSY’
What is it that we call love? It is this whole field of jealousy, of lust, of harsh words, of caress,
of holding hands, of quarrelling and making up. These are the facts in this field of so-called
love. Anger and caress are everyday facts in this field, are they not? And we try to establish a
relationship between the various facts, or we compare one fact with another. We use one fact to
condemn or justify another within this same field, or we try to establish a relationship between a fact
within the field and something outside of it. We do not take each fact separately, but try to find an
interrelationship between them. Why do we do this? We can understand a fact only when we do not
use another fact in the same field as a medium of understanding, which merely creates conflict and
confusion. But why do we compare the various facts in the same field? Why do we carry over the
significance of one fact to offset or to explain another?
”I am beginning to grasp what you mean. But why do we do this?”
Do we understand a fact through the screen of idea, through the screen of memory? Do I understand
jealousy because I have held your hand? The holding of the hand is a fact, as jealousy is a fact; but
do I understand the process of jealousy because I have a remembrance of holding your hand? Is
memory an aid to understanding? Memory compares, modifies, condemns, justifies, or identifies;
but it cannot bring understanding. We approach the facts in the field of so-called love with idea, with
conclusion. We do not take the fact of jealousy as it is and silently observe it, but we want to twist
the fact according to the pattern, to the conclusion; and we approach it in this way because we really
do not wish to understand the fact of jealousy. The sensations of jealousy are as stimulating as a
caress; but we want stimulation without the pain and discomfort that invariably go with it. So there
is conflict, confusion and antagonism within this field which we call love. But is it love? Is love an
idea, a sensation, a stimulation? Is love jealousy? ”Is not reality held in illusion? Does not darkness
encompass or hide light? Is not God held in bondage?”
These are mere ideas, opinions, and so they have no validity. Such ideas only breed enmity, they
do not cover or hold reality. Where there is light, darkness is not. Darkness cannot conceal light; if
it does, there is no light. Where jealousy is, love is not. Idea cannot cover love. To commune, there
must be relationship. Love is not related to idea, and so idea cannot commune with love. Love is a
flame without smoke.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 112 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 52
53 ’SPONTANEITY’
SHE WAS AMONG a group of people who had come to discuss some serious matter. She must
have come out of curiosity, or was brought along by a friend. Well dressed, she held herself with
some dignity, and she evidently considered herself very good looking. She was completely self-
conscious: conscious of her body, of her looks, of her hair and the impression she was making on
others. Her gestures were studied, and from time to time she took different attitudes which she must
have thought out with great care. Her whole appearance had about it the air of a long cultivated
pose into which she was determined to fit, whatever might happen. The others began to talk of
serious things, and during the whole hour or more she maintained her pose. One saw among all
those serious and intent faces this self-conscious girl, trying to follow what was being said and to join
in the discussion; but no words came out of her. She wanted to show that she too was aware of the
problem that was being discussed; but there was bewilderment in her eyes, for she was incapable of
taking part in the serious conversation. One saw her quickly withdraw into herself, still maintaining
the long-cultivated pose. All spontaneity was being sedulously destroyed,
Each one cultivates a pose. There is the walk and the pose of a prosperous business man, the smile
of one who has arrived; there is the look and the pose of an artist; there is the pose of a respectful
disciple, and the pose of a disciplined ascetic. Like that self-conscious girl, the so-called religious
man assumes a pose, the pose of self-discipline which he has sedulously cultivated through denials
and sacrifices. She sacrifices spontaneity for effect, and he immolates himself to achieve an end.
Both are concerned with a result, though at different levels; and while his result may be considered
socially more beneficial than hers, fundamentally they are similar, one is not superior to the other.
Both are unintelligent, for both indicate pettiness of mind. A petty mind is always petty; it cannot
be made rich, abundant. Though such a mind may adorn itself or seek to acquire virtue, it remains
what it is, a petty, shallow thing, and through so-called growth, experience, it can only be enriched in
its own pettiness. An ugly thing cannot be made beautiful. The god of a petty mind is a petty god. A
113CHAPTER 52. 53 ’SPONTANEITY’
shallow mind does not become fathomless by adorning itself with knowledge and clever phrases, by
quoting words of wisdom, or by decorating its outward appearance. Adornments, whether inward or
outward, do not make a fathomless mind; and it is this fathomlessness of the mind that gives beauty,
not the jewel or the acquired virtue. For beauty to come into being, the mind must be choicelessly
aware of its own pettiness; there must be an awareness in which comparison has wholly ceased.
The cultivated pose of the girl, and the disciplined pose of the so-called religious ascetic, are
equally the tortured results of a petty mind, for both deny essential spontaneity. Both are fearful
of the spontaneous, for it reveals them as they are, to themselves and to others; both are bent
on destroying it, and the measure of their success is the completeness of their conformity to a
chosen pattern or conclusion. But spontaneity is the only key that opens the door to what is. The
spontaneous response uncovers the mind as it is; but what is discovered is immediately adorned or
destroyed, and so spontaneity is put an end to. The killing of spontaneity is the way of a petty mind,
which then decorates the outer, at whatever level; and this decoration is the worship of itself. Only in
spontaneity, in freedom, can there be discovery. A disciplined mind cannot discover; it may function
effectively and hence ruthlessly, but it cannot uncover the fathomless. It is fear that creates the
resistance called discipline; but the spontaneous discovery of fear is freedom from fear. Conformity
to a pattern, at whatever level, is fear, which only breeds conflict confusion and antagonism; but a
mind that is in revolt is not fearless, for the opposite can never know the spontaneous, the free.
Without spontaneity, there can be no self-knowledge; without self-knowledge, the mind is shaped
by passing influences. These passing influences can make the mind narrow or expansive, but it
is still within the sphere of influence. What is put together can be unmade, and that which is not
put together can be known only through self-knowledge. The self is put together, and it is only in
undoing the self that that which is not the result of influence, which has no cause, can be known.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 114 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 53
54 ’THE CONSCIOUS AND THE UNCONSCIOUS’
HE WAS A business man as well as a politician, and was very successful in both. He laughingly
said that business and politics were a good combination; yet he was an earnest man in an odd,
superstitious way. Whenever he had time he would read sacred books and repeat over and over
again certain words which he considered beneficial. They brought peace to the soul, he said. He
was advanced in years and very wealthy, but he was not generous either with the hand or with
the heart. One could see that he was cunning and calculating, and yet there was an urge for
something more than physical success. Life had scarcely touched him, for he had very studiously
guarded himself against any exposure; he had made himself invulnerable, physically as well as
psychologically. Psychologically he had refused to see himself as he was, and he could well afford
to do this; but it was beginning to tell on him. When he was not watchful, there was about him a
deep haunted look. Financially he was safe, at least as long as the present Government lasted and
there was no revolution. He also wanted a safe investment in the so-called spiritual world, and that
was why he played with ideas, mistaking ideas for something spiritual, real. He had no love except
for his many possessions; he clung to them as a child clings to its mother, for he had nothing else.
It was slowly dawning on him that he was a very sad man. Even this realization he was avoiding as
long as he could; but life was pressing him.
When a problem is not consciously soluble, does the unconscious take over and help to solve it?
What is the conscious and what is the unconscious? Is there a definite line where the one ends and
the other begins? Has the conscious a limit, beyond which it cannot go? Can it limit itself to its own
boundaries? Is the unconscious something apart from the conscious? Are they dissimilar? When
one fails, does the other begin to function?
What is it that we call the conscious? To understand what it is made up of, we must observe how
we consciously approach a problem. Most of us try to seek an answer to the problem; we are
115CHAPTER 53. 54 ’THE CONSCIOUS AND THE UNCONSCIOUS’
concerned with the solution, and not with the problem. We want a conclusion, we are looking for a
way out of the problem; we want to avoid the problem through an answer, through a solution. We do
not observe the problem itself, but grope for a satisfactory answer. Our whole conscious concern is
with the finding of a solution, a satisfying conclusion. Often we do find an answer that gratifies us,
and then we think we have solved the problem. What we have actually done is to cover over the
problem with a conclusion, with a satisfactory answer; but under the weight of the conclusion, which
has temporarily smothered it, the problem is still there. The search for an answer is an evasion of
the problem. When there is no satisfactory answer, the conscious or upper mind stops looking; and
then the so-called unconscious, the deeper mind, takes over and finds an answer.
The conscious mind is obviously seeking a way out of the problem, and the way out is a satisfying
conclusion. Is not the conscious mind itself made up of conclusions, whether positive or negative,
and is it capable of seeking anything else? Is not the upper mind a storehouse of conclusions
which are the residue of experiences, the imprints of the past? Surely, the conscious mind is made
up of the past, it is founded on the past, for memory is a fabric of conclusions; and with these
conclusions, the mind approaches a problem. It is incapable of looking at the problem without the
screen of its conclusions; it cannot study, be silently aware of the problem itself. It knows only
conclusions, pleasant or unpleasant, and it can only add to itself further conclusions, further ideas,
further fixations. Any conclusion is a fixation, and the conscious mind inevitably seeks a conclusion.
When it cannot find a satisfactory conclusion, the conscious mind gives up the search, and thereby
it becomes quiet; and into the quiet upper mind, the unconscious pops an answer. Now, is
the unconscious, the deeper mind, different in its make-up from the conscious mind? Is not
the unconscious also made up of racial, group and social conclusions, memories? Surely, the
unconscious is also the result of the past, of time, only it is submerged and waiting; and when called
upon it throws up its own hidden conclusions. If they are satisfactory, the upper mind accepts them;
and if they are not, it flounders about, hoping by some miracle to find an answer. If it does not find
an answer, it wearily puts up with the problem, which gradually corrodes the mind. Disease and
insanity follow.
The upper and the deeper mind are not dissimilar; they are both made up of conclusions, memories,
they are both the outcome of the past. They can supply an answer, a conclusion, but they are
incapable of dissolving the problem. The problem is dissolved only when both the upper and
the deeper mind are silent, when they are not projecting positive or negative conclusions. There
is freedom from the problem only when the whole mind is utterly still, choicelessly aware of the
problem; for only then the maker of the problem is not.
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55 ’CHALLENGE AND RESPONSE’
THE RIVER WAS full and sweeping, in some places several miles wide, and to see so much water
was a delight. To the north were the green hills, fresh after the storm. It was splendid to see the
great curve of the river with the white sails on it. The sails were large and triangular, and in the early
morning light there was an enchantment about them, they seemed to come out of the water. The
noise of the day had not yet begun, and the song of a boatman almost on the other side of the river
came floating across the waters. At that hour his song seemed to fill the earth, and all other sounds
were silenced; even the whistle of a train became soft and bearable.
Gradually the noise of the village began: the loud quarrels at the water fountain, the bleating of
goats, the cows asking to be milked, the heavy carts on the road, the shrill call of the crows, the
cries and laughter of children. And so another day was born. The sun was over the palm trees, and
the monkeys were sitting on the wall, their long tails almost touching the earth. They were large,
but very timid; you called to them, and they jumped to the ground and ran to a big tree in the field.
They were blackfaced and black-pawed, and they looked intelligent, but they were not as clever and
mischievous as the little ones.
”Why is thought so persistent? It seems so restless, so exasperatingly insistent. Do what you will, it
is always active, like those monkeys, and its very activity is exhausting. You cannot escape from it, it
pursues you relentlessly. You try to suppress it, and a few seconds later it pops up again. It is never
quiet, never in repose; it is always pursuing, always analysing, always torturing itself. Sleeping or
waking, thought is in constant turmoil, and it seems to have no peace, no rest.”
Can thought ever be at peace? It can think about peace and attempt to be peaceful, forcing itself to
be still; but can thought in itself be tranquil? Is not thought in its very nature restless? Is not thought
the constant response to constant challenge? There can be no cessation to challenge, because
117CHAPTER 54. 55 ’CHALLENGE AND RESPONSE’
every movement of life is a challenge; and if there is no awareness of challenge, then there is decay,
death. Challenge-and-response is the very way of life. Response can be adequate or inadequate;
and it is inadequacy of response to challenge that provokes thought, with its restlessness. Challenge
demands action, not verbalization. Verbalization is thought. The word, the symbol, retards action;
and idea is the word, as memory is the word. There is no memory without the symbol, without the
word. Memory is word, thought, and can thought be the true response to challenge? Is challenge
an idea? Challenge is always new, fresh; and can thought, idea, ever be new? When thought meets
the challenge, which is ever new, is not that response the outcome of the old, the past?
When the old meets the new, inevitably the meeting is incomplete; and this incompleteness is
thought in its restless search for completeness. Can thought, idea, ever be complete? Thought,
idea, is the response of memory; and memory is ever incomplete. Experience is the response to
challenge. This response is conditioned by the past, by memory; such response only strengthens
the conditioning. Experience does not liberate, it strengthens belief, memory, and it is this memory
that responds to challenge; so experience is the conditioner.
”But what place has thought?”
Do you mean what place has thought in action? Has idea any function in action? Idea becomes a
factor in action in order to modify it, to control it, to shape it; but idea is not action. Idea, belief, is
a safeguard against action; it has a place as a controller, modifying and shaping action. Idea is the
pattern for action.
”Can there be action without the pattern?”
Not if one is seeking a result. Action towards a predetermined goal is not action at all, but conformity
to belief, to idea. If one is seeking conformity, then thought, idea, has a place. The function of thought
is to create a pattern for so-called action, and thereby to kill action. Most of us are concerned with
the killing of action; and idea, belief, dogma, help to destroy it. Action implies insecurity, vulnerability
to the unknown; and thought, belief, which is the known, is an effective barrier to the unknown.
Thought can never penetrate into the unknown; it must cease for the unknown to be. The action
of the unknown is beyond the action of thought; and thought, being aware of this, consciously or
unconsciously clings to the known. The known is ever responding to the unknown, to the challenge;
and from this inadequate response arise conflict, confusion and misery. It is only when the known,
the idea, ceases that there can be the action of the unknown, which is measureless.
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56 ’POSSESSIVENESS’
HA HAD BROUGHT along his wife, for he said that it was their mutual problem. She had bright eyes
and was small, sprightly, and rather disturbed. They were simple, friendly people; he spoke English
fairly well, and she could just manage to understand it and ask simple questions. When it got a little
difficult, she would turn to her husband and he would explain in their own language. He said that
they had been married for over twenty-five years, and had several children; and that their problem
was not the children, but the struggle between themselves. He explained that he had a job which
gave him a modest income, and went on to say how difficult it was to live peacefully in this world,
especially when you are married; he wasn’t grumbling, he added, but there it was. He had been
everything that a husband should be, at least he hoped so, but it was not always easy.
It was difficult for them to come to the point, and they talked for some time about various things:
the education of their children, the marriage of their daughters, the waste of money on ceremonies,
a recent death in the family, and so on. They felt at ease and unhurried, for it was good to talk to
someone who would listen and who perhaps might understand.
Who cares to listen to the troubles of another? We have so many problems of our own that we
have no time for those of others. To make another listen you have to pay either in coin, in prayer,
or in belief. The professional will listen, it is his job, but in that there is no lasting release. We
want to unburden ourselves freely, spontaneously, without any regrets afterwards. The purification
of confusion does not depend on the one who listens, but on him who desires to open his heart. To
open one’s heart is important, and it will find someone, a beggar perhaps, to whom it can pour itself
out. Introspective talk can never open the heart; it is enclosing, depressing and utterly useless. To
be open is to listen, not only to yourself, but to every influence, to every movement about you. It
may or may not be possible to do something tangibly about what you hear, but the very fact of being
open brings about its own action. Such hearing purifies your own heart, cleansing it of the things of
119CHAPTER 55. 56 ’POSSESSIVENESS’
the mind. Hearing with the mind is gossip, and in it there is no release either for you or for the other;
it is merely a continuation of pain, which is stupidity.
Unhurriedly they were coming to the point.
”We have come to talk about our problem. We are jealous – I am not but she is. Though she used
not to be as openly jealous as she is now, there has always been a whisper of it. I don’t think I have
ever given her any reason to be jealous, but she finds a reason.”
Do you think there is any reason to be jealous? Is there a cause for jealousy? And will jealousy
disappear when the cause is known? Have you not noticed that even when you know the cause,
jealousy continues? Do not let us look for the reason, but let us understand jealousy itself. As you
say, one might pick up almost anything to be envious about; envy is the thing to understand, and not
what it is about.
”Jealousy has been with me for a long time. I didn’t know my husband very well when we married,
and you know how it all happens; jealousy gradually crept in, like smoke in the kitchen.”
Jealousy is one of the ways of holding the man or the woman, is it not? The more we are jealous,
the greater the feeling of possession. To possess something makes us happy; to call something,
even a dog, exclusively our own makes us feel warm and comfortable. To be exclusive in our
possession gives assurance and certainty to ourselves. To own something makes us important; it
is this importance we cling to. To think that we own, not a pencil or a house, but a human being,
makes us feel strong and strangely content. Envy is not because of the other, but because of the
worth, the importance of ourselves.
”But I am not important, I am nobody; my husband is all that I have. Even my children don’t count.”
We all have only one thing to which we cling, though it takes different forms. You cling to your
husband, others to their children, and yet others to some belief; but the intention is the same.
Without the object to which we cling we feel so hopelessly lost, do we not? We are afraid to feel all
alone. This fear is jealousy, hate, pain. There is not much difference between envy and hate.
”But we love each other.”
Then how can you be jealous? We do not love, and that is the unfortunate part of it. You are using
your husband, as he is using you, to be happy, to have a companion, not to feel alone; you may not
possess much, but at least you have someone to be with. This mutual need and use we call love.
”But this is dreadful.”
It is not dreadful, only we never look at it. We call it dreadful, give it a name and quickly look away –
which is what you are doing.
”I know, but I don’t want to look. I want to carry on as I am, even though it means being jealous,
because I cannot see anything else in life.”
If you saw something else you would no longer be jealous of your husband, would you? But you
would cling to the other thing as now you are clinging to your husband, so you would be jealous of
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that too. You want to find a substitute for your husband, and not freedom from jealousy. We are all
like that: before we give up one thing, we want to be very sure of another. When you are completely
uncertain, then only is there no place for envy. There is envy when there is certainty, when you
feel that you have something. Exclusiveness is this feeling of certainty; to own is to be envious.
Ownership breeds hatred. We really hate what we possess, which is shown in jealousy. Where
there is possession there can never be love; to possess is to destroy love.
”I am beginning to see. I have really never loved my husband, have I? I am beginning to understand.”
And she wept.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 121 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 56
57 ’SELF-ESTEEM’
SHE HAD COME with three of her friends; they were all earnest and had the dignity of intelligence.
One was quick to grasp, another was impatient in his quickness, and the third was eager, but the
eagerness was not sustained. They made a good group, for they all shared the problem of their
friend, and no one offered advice or weighty opinions. They all wanted to help her do whatever
she thought was the right thing, and not merely act according to tradition, public opinion or personal
inclination. The difficulty was, what was the right thing to do? She herself was not sure, she felt
disturbed and confused. But there was much pressure for immediate action; a decision had to be
made, and she could not postpone it any longer. It was a question of freedom from a particular
relationship. She wanted to be free, and she repeated this several times.
There was quietness in the room; the nervous agitation had subsided, and they were all eager to
go into the problem without expecting a result, a definition of the right thing to do. The right action
would emerge, naturally and fully, as the problem was exposed. The discovery of the content of the
problem was important, and not the end result; for any answer would only be another conclusion,
another opinion, another piece of advice, which would in no way solve the problem. The problem
itself had to be understood, and not how to respond to the problem or what to do about it. The right
approach to the problem was important, because the problem itself held the right action.
The waters of the river were dancing, for the sun had made on them a path of light. A white sail
crossed the path, but the dance was not disturbed. It was a dance of pure delight. The trees were
full of birds, scolding, preening, flying away only to come back again. Several monkeys were tearing
off the tender leaves and stuffing them in their mouths; their weight bent the delicate branches into
long curves, yet they held on lightly and were unafraid. With what ease they moved from branch to
branch; though they jumped, it was a flow, the taking off and the landing were one movement. They
would sit with their tails hanging and reach for the leaves. They were high up, and took no notice
122CHAPTER 56. 57 ’SELF-ESTEEM’
of the people passing below. As darkness approached, the parrots came by the hundred to settle
down for the night among the thick leaves. One saw them come and disappear into the foliage. The
new moon was just visible. Far away a train whistled as it was crossing the long bridge around the
curve of the river. This river was sacred, and people came from far distances to bathe in it, that
their sins might be washed away. Every river is lovely and sacred, and the beauty of this one was
its wide, sweeping curve and the islands of sand between deep stretches of water; and those silent
white sails that went up and down the river every day.
”I want to be free from a particular relationship,” she said.
What do you mean by wanting to be free? When you say, ”I want to be free,” you imply that you are
not free. In what way are you not free?
”I am free physically; I am free to come and go, because physically I am no longer the wife. But I
want to be completely free; I do not want to have anything to do with that particular person.”
In what way are you related to that person, if you are already physically free? Are you related to him
in any other way?
”I do not know, but I have great resentment against him. I do not want to have anything to do with
him.”
You want to be free, and yet you have resentment against him? Then you are not free of him. Why
have you this resentment against him ?
”I have recently discovered what he is: his meanness, his real lack of love, his complete selfishness.
I cannot tell you what a horror I have discovered in him. To think that I was jealous of him, that I
idolized him, that I submitted to him! Finding him to be stupid and cunning when I thought him an
ideal husband, loving and kind, has made me resentful of him. To think I had anything to do with
him makes me feel unclean. I want to be completely free from him.” You may be physically free from
him, but as long as you have resentment against him, you are not free. If you hate him, you are tied
to him; if you are ashamed of him, you are still enslaved by him. Are you angry with him, or with
yourself? He is what he is, and why be angry with him? Is your resentment really against him? Or,
having seen what is, are you ashamed of yourself for having been associated with it? Surely, you are
resentful, not of him, but of your own judgment, of your own actions. You are ashamed of yourself.
Being unwilling to see this, you blame him for what he is. When you realize that your resentment
against him is an escape from your own romantic idolization, then he is out of the picture. You are
not ashamed of him, but of yourself for being associated with him. It is with yourself that you are
angry, and not with him.
”Yes, that is so.”
If you really see this, experience it as a fact, then you are free of him. He is no longer the object of
your enmity. Hate binds as love does.
”But how am I to be free from my own shame, from my own stupidity? I see very clearly that he is
what he is, and is not to be blamed; but how am I to be free of this shame, this resentment which
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has been slowly ripening in me and has come to fullness in this crisis? How am I to wipe out the
past?”
Why you desire to wipe out the past is of more significance than knowing how to wipe it out. The
intention with which you approach the problem is more important than knowing what to do about it.
Why do you want to wipe out the memory of that association.
”I dislike the memory of all those years. It has left a very bad taste in my mouth. Is that not a good
enough reason?”
Not quite, is it? Why do you want to wipe out those past memories? Surely, not because they leave
a bad taste in your mouth. Even if you were able through some means to wipe out the past, you
might again be caught in actions that you would be ashamed of. Merely wiping out the unpleasant
memories does not solve the problem, does it?
”I thought it did; but what is the problem then? Are you not making it unnecessarily complex? It is
already complex enough, at least my life is. Why add another burden to it?”
Are we adding a further burden, or are we trying to understand what is and be free of it? Please have
a little patience. What is the urge that is prompting you to wipe out the past? It may be unpleasant,
but why do you want to wipe it out? You have a certain idea or picture of yourself which these
memories contradict, and so you want to get rid of them. You have a certain estimation of yourself,
have you not?
”Of course, otherwise…”
We all place ourselves at various levels, and we are constantly falling from these heights. It is the
falls we are ashamed of. Self-esteem is the cause of our shame, of our fall. It is this self-esteem
that must be understood, and not the fall. If there is no pedestal on which you have put yourself,
how can there be any fall? Why have you put yourself on a pedestal called self-esteem, human
dignity, the ideal, and so on? If you can understand this, then there will be no shame of the past;
it will have completely gone. You will be what you are without the pedestal. If the pedestal is not
there, the height that makes you look down or look up, then you are what you have always avoided.
It is this avoidance of what is, of what you are, that brings about confusion and antagonism, shame
and resentment. You do not have to tell me or another what you are, but be aware of what you are,
whatever it is, pleasant or unpleasant: live with it without justifying or resisting it. Live with it without
naming it; for the very term is a condemnation or an identification. Live with it without fear, for fear
prevents communion, and without communion you cannot live with it. To be in communion is to love.
Without love, you cannot wipe out the past; with love, there is no past. Love, and time is not.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 124 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 57
58 ’FEAR’
SHE HAD TRAVELLED a long way, half across the world. There was a wary look about her, a
guarded approach, a tentative opening that would close up at any suggestion of too deep an inquiry.
She was not timid; but she was unwilling, though not consciously, to expose her inward state. Yet
she wanted to talk about herself and her problems, and had come all that distance expressly to do
so. She was hesitant, uncertain of her words, aloof, and at the same time eager to talk about herself.
She had read many books on psychology, and while she had never been analysed, she was entirely
capable of analysing herself; in fact, she said that from childhood she was used to analysing her
own thoughts and feelings.
Why are you so intent upon analysing yourself?
”I do not know, but I have always done it ever since I can remember.”
Is analysis a way of protecting yourself against yourself, against emotional explosions and
consequent regrets?
”I am pretty sure that is why I analyse, constantly interrogate. I do not want to get caught up in all
the mess about me, personal and general. It is too hideous, and I want to keep out of it. I see now
that I have used analysis as a means of keeping myself intact, of not getting caught in the social and
family turmoil.”
Have you been able to avoid getting caught?
”I am not at all sure. I have succeeded in some directions, but in others I do not think I have. In
talking about all this, I see what an extraordinary thing I have done. I have never looked at it all so
clearly before.”
125CHAPTER 57. 58 ’FEAR’
Why are you protecting yourself so cleverly, and against what? You say, against the mess around
you; but what is there in the mess against which you have to protect yourself? If it is a mess and you
see it clearly as such, then you do not have to guard yourself against it. One guards oneself only
when there is fear and not understanding. So what are you afraid of?
”I do not think I am afraid; I simply do not want to get entangled in the miseries of existence. I have
a profession that supports me, but I want to be free of the rest of the entanglements, and I think I
am.”
If you are not afraid, then why do you resist entanglements? One resists something only when one
does not know how to deal with it. If you know how a motor works, you are free of it; if anything goes
wrong, you can put it right. We resist that which we do not understand; we resist confusion, evil,
misery, only when we do not know its structure, how it is put together. You resist confusion because
you are not aware of its structure, of its make-up. Why are you not aware of it?
”But I have never thought about it that way.”
It is only when you are in direct relationship with the structure of confusion that you can be aware
of the working of its mechanism. It is only when there is communion between two people that
they understand each other; if they resist each other, there is no understanding. Communion or
relationship can exist only when there is no fear.
”I see what you mean.”
Then what are you afraid of?
”What do you mean by fear?”
Fear can exist only in relationship; fear cannot exist by itself, in isolation. There is no such thing as
abstract fear; there is fear of the known or the unknown, fear of what one has done or what one may
do; fear of the past or of the future. The relationship between what one is and what one desires
to be causes fear. Fear arises when one interprets the fact of what one is in terms of reward and
punishment. Fear comes with responsibility and the desire to be free from it. There is fear in the
contrast between pain and pleasure. Fear exists in the conflict of the opposites. The worship of
success brings the fear of failure. Fear is the process of the mind in the struggle of becoming. In
becoming good, there is the fear of evil; in becoming complete, there is the fear of loneliness; in
becoming great, there is the fear of being small. Comparison is not understanding; it is prompted by
fear of the unknown in relation to the known. Fear is uncertainty in search of security.
The effort to become is the beginning of fear, the fear of being or not being. The mind, the residue
of experience, is always in fear of the unnamed, the challenge. The mind, which is name, word,
memory, can function only within the field of the known; and the unknown, which is challenge from
moment to moment, is resisted or translated by the mind in terms of the known. This resistance or
translation of the challenge is fear; for the mind can have no communion with the unknown. The
known cannot commune with the unknown; the known must cease for the unknown to be.
The mind is the maker of fear; and when it analyses fear, seeking its cause in order to be free from
it, the mind only further isolates itself and thereby increases fear. When you use analysis to resist
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confusion, you are increasing the power of resistance; and resistance of confusion only increases
the fear of it, which hinders freedom. In communion there is freedom, but not in fear.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 127 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 58
60 ’THE FUTILITY OF RESULT’
THEY HAD COME from different parts of the world, and had been discussing some of the problems
that confront most of us. It is good to talk things over; but mere words, clever arguments and wide
knowledge do not bring freedom from aching problem. Cleverness and knowledge may and often
do show their own futility, and the discovery of their futility makes the mind silent. In that silence,
understanding of the problem comes; but to seek that silence is to breed another problem, another
conflict. Explanations, the uncovering of cause, analytical dissections of the problem, do not in any
way resolve it; for it cannot be resolved by the ways of the mind. The mind can only breed further
problems, it can run away from the problem through explanations, ideals, intentions; but do what
it will, the mind cannot free itself from the problem. The mind itself is the field in which problems,
conflicts, grow and multiply. Thought cannot silence itself; it can put on a cloak of silence, but that
is only concealment and pose. Thought can kill itself by disciplined action towards a predetermined
end; but death is not silent. Death is more vociferous than life. Any movement of the mind is a
hindrance to silence.
Through the open windows came a confusion of sounds: the loud talk and quarrelling in the village,
an engine letting off steam, the cries of children and their free laughter, the rumble of a passing lorry,
the buzzing of bees, the strident call of the crows. And amidst all this noise, a silence was creeping
into the room, unsought and uninvited. Through words and arguments, through misunderstandings
and struggles, that silence was spreading its wings. The quality of that silence is not the cessation
of noise, of chatter and word; to include that silence, the mind must lose its capacity to expand. That
silence is free from all compulsions, conformities, efforts; it is inexhaustible and so ever new, ever
fresh. But the word is not that silence.
Why is it that we geek results, goals? Why is it that the mind is ever pursuing an end? And why
should it not pursue an end? In coming here, are we not seeking something, some experience,
128CHAPTER 58. 60 ’THE FUTILITY OF RESULT’
some delight? We are tired and fed up with the many things that we have been playing with; we
have turned away from them, and now we want a new toy to play with. We go from one thing to
another, like a woman who goes window shopping, till we find something that is entirely satisfying;
and then we settle down to stagnate. We are forever craving something; and having tasted many
things which were mostly unsatisfactory, we now want the ultimate thing: God, truth, or what you
will. We want a result, a new experience, a new sensation that will endure in spite of everything.
We never see the futility of result, but only of a particular result; so we wander from one result to
another, hoping always to find the one that will end all search,
The search for result, for success, is binding, limiting; it is ever coming to an end. Gaining is a
process of ending. To arrive is death. Yet that is what we are seeking, is it not? We are seeking
death, only we call it result, goal, purpose. We want to arrive. We are tired of this everlasting
struggle, and we want to get there – ”there” placed at whatever level. We do not see the wasteful
destructiveness of struggle, but desire to be free of it through gaining a result. We do not see the
truth of struggle, of conflict, and so we use it as a means of getting what we want, the most satisfying
thing; and that which is most satisfying is determined by the intensity of our discontent. This desire
for result always ends in gain; but we want a neverending result So, what is our problem? How to be
free from the craving for results, is that it?
”I think that is it. The very desire to be free is also a desire for a result, is it not?”
We shall get thoroughly entangled if we pursue that line. Is it that we cannot see the futility of result,
at whatever level we may place it? Is that our problem? Let us see our problem clearly, and then
perhaps we shall be able to understand it. Is it a question of seeing the futility of one result and so
discarding all desire for results? If we perceive the uselessness of one escape, then all escapes are
vain. Is that our problem? Surely, it is not quite that, is it? Perhaps we can approach it differently.
Is not experience a result also? If we are to be free from results, must we not also be free from
experience? For is not experience an outcome, an end?
”The end of what?”
The end of experiencing. Experience is the memory of experiencing, is it not? When experiencing
ends there is experience, the result. While experiencing, there is no experience; experience is
but the memory of having experienced. As the state of experiencing fades, experience begins.
Experience is ever hindering experiencing, living. Results, experiences, come to an end; but
experiencing is inexhaustible. When the inexhaustible is hindered by memory, then the search for
results begins. The mind, the result, is always seeking an end, a purpose, and that is death. Death
is not when the experiencer is not. Only then is there the inexhaustible.
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61 ’THE DESIRE FOR BLISS’
THE SINGLE TREE on the wide green lawn was the centre of the little world which included the
woods, the house and the small lake; the whole surrounding area seemed to flow towards the tree,
which was high and spreading. It must have been very old, but there was a freshness about it,
as though it had just come into being; there were hardly any dead branches, and its leaves were
spotless, glistening in the morning sun. Because it was alone, all things seemed to come to it. Deer
and pheasants, rabbits and cattle congregated in its shade, especially at midday. The symmetrical
beauty of that tree gave a shape to the sky, and in the early morning light the tree appeared to be the
only thing that was living. From the woods, the tree seemed far away; but from the tree, the woods,
the house and even the sky seemed close – one often felt one could touch the passing clouds.
We had been seated under the tree for some time, when he came to join us. He was seriously
interested in meditation, and said that he had practiced it for many years. He did not belong to
any particular school of thought, and though he had read many of the Christian mystics, he was
more attracted to the meditations and disciplines of the Hindu and Buddhist saints. He had realized
early, he continued, the immaturity of asceticism, with its peculiar fascination and cultivation of
power through abstinence, and he had from the beginning avoided all extremes. He had, however,
practised discipline, an unvarying self-control, and was determined to realize that which lay through
and beyond meditation. He had led what was considered to be a strict moral life, but that was only
a minor incident, nor was he attracted to the ways of the world. He had once played with worldly
things, but the play was over some years ago. He had a job of sorts, but that too was quite incidental.
The end of meditation is meditation itself. The search for something through and beyond meditation
is end-gaining; and that which is gained is again lost. Seeking a result is the continuation of self-
projection; result, however lofty, is the projection of desire. Meditation as a means to arrive, to gain,
to discover, only gives strength to the meditator. The meditator is the meditation; meditation is the
understanding of the meditator.
130CHAPTER 59. 61 ’THE DESIRE FOR BLISS’
”I meditate to find ultimate reality, or to allow that reality to manifest itself. It is not exactly a result I
am seeking, but that bliss which occasionally one senses. It is there; and as a thirsty man craves for
water, I want that inexpressible happiness. That bliss is infinitely greater than all joy, and I pursue it
as my most cherished desire.”
That is, you meditate to gain what you want. To attain what you desire, you strictly discipline yourself,
follow certain rules and regulations; you lay out and follow a course in order to have that which is at
the end of it. You hope to achieve certain results, certain well-marked stages, depending upon your
persistence of effort, and progressively experience greater and greater joy. This well-laid-out course
assures you of the final result. So your meditation is a very calculated affair, is it not?
”When you put it that way, it does seem, in the superficial sense, rather absurd; but deeply, what is
wrong with it? What is wrong essentially with seeking that bliss? I suppose I do want a result for all
my efforts; but again, why shouldn’t one?”
This desire for bliss implies that bliss is something final, everlasting, does it not? All other results
have been unsatisfactory; one has ardently pursued worldly goals and has seen their transient
nature, and now one wants the everlasting state, an end that has no ending. The mind is seeking a
final and imperishable refuge; so it disciplines and train itself, practises certain virtues to gain what
it wants. It may once have experienced that bliss, and now it is panting after it like other pursuers of
results, you are pursuing yours, only you have placed it at a different level; you may call it higher, but
that is irrelevant. A result means an ending; arrival implies another effort to become. The mind is
never at rest, it is always striving, always achieving, always gaining – and, of course, always in fear
of losing. This process is called meditation. Can a mind which is caught in endless becoming be
aware of bliss? Can a mind that has imposed discipline upon itself ever be free to receive that bliss?
Through effort and struggle, through resistance and denials, the mind makes itself insensitive; and
can such a mind be open and vulnerable? Through the desire for that bliss, have you not built a wall
around yourself which the imponderable, the unknown, cannot penetrate? Have you not effectively
shut yourself off from the new? Out of the old, you have made a path for the new; and can the new
be contained in the old?
The mind can never create the new; the mind itself is a result, and all results are an outcome of the
old. Results can never be new; the pursuit of a result can never be spontaneous; that which is free
cannot pursue an end. The goal, the ideal, is always a projection of the mind, and surely that is not
meditation. Meditation is the freeing of the meditator; in freedom alone is there discovery, sensitivity
to receive. Without freedom, there can be no bliss; but freedom does not come through discipline.
Discipline makes the pattern of freedom, but the pattern is not freedom. The pattern must be broken
for freedom to be. The breaking of the mould is meditation. But this breaking of the mould is not a
goal, a ideal. The mould is broken from moment to moment. The broken moment is the forgotten
moment. It is the remembered moment that gives shape to the mould, and only then does the maker
of the mould come into being, the creator of all problems, conflicts, miseries.
Meditation is freeing the mind of its own thoughts at all levels. Thought creates the thinker. The
thinker is not separate from thought; they are a unitary process, and not two separate processes.
The separate processes only lead to ignorance and illusion. The meditator is the meditation. Then
the mind is alone, not made alone; it is silent, not made silent. Only to the alone can the causeless
come, only to the alone is there bliss.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 131 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 60
62 ’THOUGHT AND CONSCIOUSNESS’
ALL THINGS WERE withdrawing into themselves. The trees were enclosing themselves in their
own being; the birds were folding their wings to brood over their day’s wanderings; the river had lost
its glow, and the waters were no longer dancing but quiet and closed. The mountains were distant
and unapproachable, and man had withdrawn into his house. Night had come, and there was the
stillness of isolation. There was no communion; each thing had closed itself, set itself apart. The
flower, the sound, the talk – everything was unexposed, invulnerable. There was laughter, but it was
isolated and distant; the talk was muffled and from within. Only the stars were inviting, open and
communicating; but they too were very far away.
Thought is always an outward response, it can never respond deeply. Thought is always the outer;
thought is always an effect, and thinking is the reconciliation of effects. Thought is always superficial,
though it may place itself at different levels. Thought can never penetrate the profound, the implicit.
Thought cannot go beyond itself, and every attempt to do so is its own frustration.
”What do you mean by thought?”
Thought is response to any challenge; thought is not action, doing. Thought is an outcome, the
result of a result; it is the result of memory. Memory is thought, and thought is the verbalization of
memory. Memory is experience. The thinking process is the conscious process, the hidden as well
as the open. This whole thinking process is consciousness; the waking and the sleeping, the upper
and the deeper levels are all part of memory, experience. Thought is not independent. There is
no independent thinking; ”independent thinking” is a contradiction in terms. Thought, being a result,
opposes or agrees, compares or adjusts, condemns or justifies, and therefore it can never be free. A
result can never be free; it can twist about, manipulate, wander, go a certain distance, but it cannot
be free from its own mooring. Thought is anchored to memory, and it can never be free to discover
the truth of any problem.
132CHAPTER 60. 62 ’THOUGHT AND CONSCIOUSNESS’
”Do you mean to say that thought has no value at all?”
It has value in the reconciliation of effects, but it has no value in itself as a means to action. Action
is revolution, not the reconciliation of effects. Action freed from thought, idea, belief, is never within
a pattern. There can be activity within the pattern, and that activity is either violent, bloody, or the
opposite; but it is not action. The opposite is not action, it is a modified continuation of activity. The
opposite is still within the field of result, and in pursuing the opposite, thought is caught within the net
of its own responses. Action is not the result of thought; action has no relation to thought. Thought,
the result, can never create the new; the new is from moment to moment, and thought is always the
old, the past, the conditioned. It has value but no freedom. All value is limitation, it binds. Thought
is binding, for it is cherished.
”What relationship is there between consciousness and thought?”
Are they not the same? Is there any difference between thinking and being conscious? Thinking
is a response; and is being conscious not also a response? When one is conscious of that chair,
it is a response to a stimulus; and is not thought the response of memory to a challenge? It is this
response that we call experience. Experiencing is challenge and response; and this experiencing,
together with the naming or recording of it – this total process, at different levels, is consciousness,
is it not? Experience is the result, the outcome of experiencing. The result is given a term; the
term itself is a conclusion, one of the many conclusions which constitute memory. This concluding
process is consciousness. The conclusion, the result, is self-consciousness. The self is memory,
the many conclusions; and thought is the response of memory. Thought is always a conclusion;
thinking is concluding, and therefore it can never be free.
Thought is always the superficial, the conclusion. Consciousness is the recording of the superficial.
The superficial separates itself as the outer and the inner, but this separation does not make thought
any the less superficial.
”But is there not something which is beyond thought, beyond time, something that is not created by
the mind?”
Either you have been told about that state, have read about it, or there is the experiencing of it. The
experiencing of it can never be an experience, a result; it cannot be thought about – and if it is, it is
a remembrance and not experiencing. You can repeat what you have read or heard, but the word
is not the thing; and the word, the very repetition, prevents the state of experiencing. That state of
experiencing cannot be as long as there is thinking; thought, the result, the effect, can never know
the state of experiencing.
”Then how is thought to come to an end?”
See the truth that thought, the outcome of the known, can never be in the state of experiencing.
Experiencing is always the new; thinking is always of the old. See the truth of this, and truth brings
freedom – freedom from thought, the result, Then there is that which is beyond consciousness, which
is neither sleeping nor waking, which is nameless: it is
Commentaries On Living Series 1 133 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 61
63 ’SELF-SACRIFICE’
HE WAS RATHER fat and very pleased with himself. He had been to prison several times and
had been beaten by the police, and now he was a well-known politician on his way to becoming
a minister. He was at several of the meetings, sitting unobtrusively, one among the many; but the
many were aware of him, and he was conscious of them. When he spoke, he had the authoritative
voice of the platform; many of the people looked at him, and his voice came down to their level.
Though he was among them, he had set himself apart; he was the big politician, known and looked
up to; but the regard only went to a certain point, and no further. One was aware of all this as the
discussion began, and there was that peculiar atmosphere that comes when a well-known figure is
among the audience, an atmosphere of surprise and expectation, of camaraderie and suspicion, of
condescending aloofness and pleasure.
He had come with a friend, and the friend began to explain who he was: the number of times he had
been to prison, the beatings he had had, and the immense sacrifices he had made for the cause
of the freedom of his country. He had been a wealthy man, thoroughly Europeanised, with a large
house and gardens, several cars, and so on. As the friend was narrating the big man’s exploits, his
voice became more and more admiring and respectful; but there was an undercurrent, a thought
that seemed to say, ”He may not be all that he should be, but after all, look at the sacrifices he has
made, at least that is something.” The big man himself talked of improvement, of hydro-electrical
development, of bringing prosperity to the people, of the current threat of Communism, of vast
schemes and goals. Man was forgotten, but plans and ideologies remained.
Renunciation to gain an end is barter; in it there is no living up, but only exchange. Self-sacrifice
is an extension of the self. The sacrifice of the self is a refinement of the self, and however subtle
the self may make itself, it is still enclosed, petty, limited. Renunciation for a cause, however great,
however extensive and significant, is substitution of the cause for the self; the cause or the idea
134CHAPTER 61. 63 ’SELF-SACRIFICE’
becomes the self, the ”me” and the ”mine.” Conscious sacrifice is the expansion of the self, living up
in order to gather again; conscious sacrifice is negative assertion of the self. To give up is another
form of acquisition. You renounce this in order to gain that. This is put at a lower level, that at a
higher level; and to gain the higher, you ”give up” the lower. In this process, there is no living up,
but only a gaining of greater satisfaction; and the search for greater satisfaction has no element of
sacrifice. Why use a righteous-sounding word for a gratifying activity in which all indulge? You ”gave
up” your social position in order to gain a different kind of position, and presumably you have it now;
so your sacrifice has brought you the desired reward. Some want their reward in heaven, others
here and now.
”This reward has come in the course of events, but consciously I never sought reward when I first
joined the movement.”
The very joining of a popular or an unpopular movement is its own reward, is it not? One may not
consciously join for a reward, but the inward promptings that compel one to join are complex, and
without understanding them one can hardly say that one has not sought reward. Surely, what is
important is to understand this urge to renounce, to sacrifice, is it not? Why do we want to give up?
To answer that, must we not first find out why we are attached? It is only when we are attached that
we talk about detachment; there would be no struggle to be detached if there were no attachment.
There would be no renunciation if there were no possession. We possess, and then renounce in
order to possess something else. This progressive renunciation is looked upon as being noble and
edifying.
”Yes, that is so. If there were no possession, of course there would be no need of renunciation.”
So, renunciation, self-sacrifice, is not a gesture of greatness, to be praised and copied. We possess
because without possession we are not. Possessions are many and varied. One who possesses no
worldly things may be attached to knowledge, to ideas; another may be attached to virtue, another
to experience, another to name and fame, and so on. Without possessions, the ”me” is not; the ”me”
is the possession, the furniture, the virtue, the name. In its fear of not being, the mind is attached to
name, to furniture, to value; and it will drop these in order to be at a higher level, the higher being the
more gratifying, the more permanent. The fear of uncertainty, of not being, makes for attachment, for
possession. When the possession is unsatisfactory or painful, we renounce it for a more pleasurable
attachment. The ultimate gratifying possession is the word God, or its substitute, the State.
”But it is a natural thing to be afraid of being nothing. You are suggesting, I take it, that one should
love to be nothing.”
As long as you are attempting to become something, as long as you are possessed by something,
there will inevitably be conflict, confusion and increasing misery. You may think that you yourself,
in your achievement and success, will not be caught in this mounting disintegration; but you cannot
escape it, for you are of it. Your activities, your thoughts, the very structure of your existence is
based on conflict and confusion, and therefore on the process of disintegration. As long as you are
unwilling to be nothing, which in fact you are, you must inevitably breed sorrow and antagonism.
The willingness to be nothing is not a matter of renunciation, of enforcement, inner or outer, but of
seeing the truth of what is. Seeing the truth of what is brings freedom from the fear of insecurity,
the fear which breeds attachment and leads to the illusion of detachment, renunciation. The love of
Commentaries On Living Series 1 135 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 61. 63 ’SELF-SACRIFICE’
what is is the beginning of wisdom. Love alone shares, it alone can commune; but renunciation and
sell-sacrifice are the ways of isolation and illusion.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 136 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 62
64 ’THE FLAME AND THE SMOKE’
IT HAD BEEN warm all day and it was a trial to be out. The glare of the road and of the water,
already harsh and penetrating, was made more intense by the white houses; and the earth that had
been green was now bright golden and parched. The rains would not come for many months. The
little stream had dried up and was now a winding ribbon of sand. Some cattle were in the shade
of the trees, and the boy who was looking after them sat apart, flinging stones and singing in his
loneliness. The village was some miles away, and he was by himself; he was thin and underfed, but
cheerful, and his song was not too sad.
Beyond the hill was the house, and we reached it as the sun was going down. From the roof one
could see the green tops of the palms, stretching in an unending wave to the yellow sands. The
palms cast a yellow shade, and their green was golden. Beyond the yellow sands was the green-
grey sea. White waves were crowding on to the beach, but the deep waters were quiet. The clouds
over the sea were taking on colour, though the sun was setting far away from them. The evening
star was just showing herself. A cool breeze had come up, but the roof was still warm. A small group
had gathered, and they must have been there for some time.
”I am married and the mother of several children, but I have never felt love. I am beginning to wonder
if it exists at all. We know sensations, passions, excitements and satisfying pleasures, but I wonder
if we know love. We often say that we love, but there is always a withholding. Physically we may not
withhold, we may give ourselves completely a gift; but even then there is a withholding. The giving is
a gift of the senses, but that which alone can give is unawakened, far away. We meet and get lost in
the smoke, but that is not the flame. Why is it that we have not got the flame? Why is the flame not
burning without smoke? I wonder if we have become too clever, too knowing to have that perfume.
I suppose I am too well read, too modern and stupidly superficial. In spite of clever talk, I suppose I
am really dull.”
137CHAPTER 62. 64 ’THE FLAME AND THE SMOKE’
But is it a matter of dullness? Is love a bright ideal, the unattainable which becomes attainable only
if the conditions are fulfilled? Has one the time to fulfil all the conditions? We talk about beauty,
write about it, paint it, dance it, preach it, but we are not beautiful, nor do we know love. We know
only the words. To be open and vulnerable is to be sensitive; where there is a withholding, there
is insensitivity. The vulnerable is the insecure, the free from tomorrow; the open is the implicit,
the unknown. That which is open and vulnerable is beautiful; the enclosed is dull and insensitive.
Dullness, like cleverness, is a form of self-protection. We open this door, but keep that one closed,
for we want the fresh breeze only through a particular opening. We never go outside or open all
the doors and windows at the same time. Sensitivity is not a thing you get in time. The dull can
never become the sensitive; the dull is always the dull. Stupidity can never become intelligent. The
attempt to become intelligent is stupid. That is one of our difficulties, is it not? We are always trying
to become something – and dullness remains.
”Then what is one to do?”
Do nothing but be what you are, insensitive. To do is to avoid what is, and the avoidance of what is
is the grossest form of stupidity. Whatever it does, stupidity is still stupidity. The insensitive cannot
become the sensitive; all it can do is to be aware of what it is, to let the story of what it is unfold. Do
not interfere with insensitivity, for that which interferes is the insensitive, the stupid. Listen, and it will
tell you its story; do not translate or act, but listen without interruption or interpretation right to the
end of the story. Then only will there be action. The doing is not important, but the listening is.
To give, there must be the inexhaustible. The withholding that gives is the fear of ending, and only in
ending is there the inexhaustible. Giving is not ending. Giving is from the much or the little; and the
much or the little is the limited, the smoke, the giving and taking. The smoke is desire as jealousy,
anger, disappointment; the smoke is the fear of time; the smoke is memory, experience. There is no
giving, but only extending the smoke. Withholding is inevitable, for there is nothing to give. Sharing
is not giving; the consciousness of sharing or giving puts an end to communion. The smoke is not
the flame but we mistake it for the flame. Be aware of the smoke, that which is without blowing away
the smoke to see the flame.
”Is it possible to have that flame, or is it only for the few?” Whether it is for the few or the many is
not the point, is it? If we pursue that path it can only lead to ignorance and illusion. Our concern is
with the flame. Can you have that flame, that flame without smoke? Find out; observe the smoke
silently and patiently. You cannot dispel the smoke, for you are the smoke. As the smoke goes, the
flame will come. This flame is inexhaustible. Everything has a beginning and an ending, it is soon
exhausted, worn out. When the heart is empty of the things of the mind, and the mind is empty of
thought, then is there Love. That which is empty is inexhaustible.
The battle is not between the flame and the smoke, but between the different responses within the
smoke. The flame and the smoke can never be in conflict with each other. To be in conflict, they
must be in relationship; and how can there be relationship between them? The one is when the
other is not.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 138 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 63
65 ’OCCUPATION OF THE MIND’
IT WAS A narrow street, fairly crowded, but without too much traffic. When a bus or a car passed,
one had to go to the very edge, almost into the gutter. There were a few very small shops, and a
small temple without doors. This temple was exceptionally clean, and the local people were there,
though not in large numbers. At the side of one of the shops a boy was sitting on the ground making
garlands and small bouquets of flowers; he must have been twelve or fourteen. The thread was in
a small jar of water, and in front of him, spread in little heaps on a damp cloth, were jasmine, a few
roses, marigold and other flowers. With the string in one hand he would pick up with the other an
assortment of flowers, and with a quick, deft twist of the string they would be tied and a bouquet
would be made. He was paying hardly any attention to what his hands were doing; his eyes would
wander over to the passing people, smile in recognition of someone, come back to his hands, and
wander off again. presently he was joined by another boy, and they began talking and laughing, but
his hands never left off their task. By now there was quite a pile of tied flowers, but it was a little
too early to sell them. The boy stopped, got up and went off, but soon returned with another boy
smaller than himself, perhaps his brother. Then he resumed his pleasant work with the same ease
and rapidity. Now people were coming to buy, one by one or in groups. They must have been his
regular customers, for there were smiles, and a few words were exchanged. From then on he never
moved from his place for over an hour. There was the fragrance of many flowers, and we smiled at
each other.
The road led to a path, and the path to the house.
How we are bound to the past! But we are not bound to the past: we are the past. And what
a complicated thing the past is, layer upon layer of undigested memories, both cherished and
sorrowful. It pursues us day and night, and occasionally there is a breakthrough, revealing a clear
light. The past is like a shadow, making things dull and weary; in that shadow, the present loses
139CHAPTER 63. 65 ’OCCUPATION OF THE MIND’
its clarity, its freshness, and tomorrow is the continuation of the shadow. The past, the present and
the future are tied together by the long string of memory; the whole bundle is memory, with little
fragrance. Thought moves through the present to the future and back again; like a restless animal
tied to a post, it moves within its own radius, narrow or wide, but it is never free of its own shadow.
This movement is the occupation of the mind with the past, the present and the future. The mind is
the occupation. If the mind is not occupied, it ceases to exist; its very occupation is its existence.
The occupation with insult and flattery, with God and drink, with virtue and passion, with work and
expression, with storing up and giving, is all the same; it is still occupation, worry, restlessness. To
be occupied with something, whether with furniture or God, is a state of pettiness, shallowness.
Occupation gives,to the mind a feeling of activity, of being alive. That is why the mind stores up, or
renounces; it sustains itself with occupation. The mind must be busy with something. What it is busy
with is of little importance; the important thing is that it be occupied, and the better occupations have
social significance. To be occupied with something is the nature of the mind, and its activity springs
from this. To be occupied with God, with the State, with knowledge, is the activity of a petty mind.
Occupation with something implies limitation, and the God of the mind is a petty god, however high
it may place him. Without occupation, the mind is not; and the fear of not being makes the mind
restless and active. This restless activity has the appearance of life, but it is not life; it leads always
to death – a death which is the same activity in another form.
The dream is another occupation of the mind, a symbol of its restlessness. Dreaming is the
continuation of the conscious state, the extension of what is not active during the waking hours.
The activity of both the upper and the deeper mind is occupational. Such a mind can be aware of an
end only as a continued beginning; it can never be aware of ending, but only of a result, and result
is ever continuous. The search for a result is the search for continuity. The mind, the occupation,
has no ending; and only to that which ends can there be the new, only to that which dies can there
be life. The death of occupation, of the mind, is the beginning of silence, of total silence. There is
no relationship between this imponderable silence and the activity of the mind. To have relationship,
there must be contact, communion; but there is no contact between silence and the mind. The mind
cannot commune with silence; it can have contact only with its own self-projected state which it calls
silence. But this silence is not silence, it is merely another form of occupation. Occupation is not
silence. There is silence only with the death of the mind’s occupation with silence.
Silence is beyond the dream, beyond the occupation of the deeper mind. The deeper mind is a
residue, the residue of the past, open or hidden. This residual past cannot experience silence; it can
dream about it, as it often does, but the dream is not the real. The dream is often taken for the real,
but the dream and the dreamer are the occupation of the mind. The mind is a total process, and not
an exclusive part. The total process of activity, residual and acquiring, cannot commune with that
silence which is inexhaustible.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 140 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 64
66 ’CESSATION OF THOUGHT’
HE WAS A scholar, well versed in the ancient literature, and made a practice of quoting from the
ancients to top off his own thoughts. One wondered if he really had any thoughts independent of the
books. Of course, there is no independent thought; all thought is dependent, conditioned. Thought
is the verbalization of influences. To think is to be dependent; thought can never be free. But he
was concerned with learning; he was burdened with knowledge and carried it highly. He began right
away talking in Sanskrit, and was very surprised and even somewhat shocked to find that Sanskrit
was not at all understood. He could hardly believe it. ”What you say at the various meetings shows
that you have either read extensively in Sanskrit, or have studied the translations of some of the
great teachers,” he said. When he found it was not so, and that there had not been any reading of
religious, philosophical I or psychological books, he was openly incredulous.
It is odd what importance we give to the printed word, to so-called sacred books. The scholars, as
the laymen, are gramophones; they go on repeating, however often the records may be changed.
They are concerned with knowledge, and not with experiencing. Knowledge is an impediment to
experiencing. But knowledge is a safe haven, the preserve of a few; and as the ignorant are
impressed by knowledge, the knower is respected and honoured. Knowledge is an addiction, as
drink; knowledge does not bring understanding. Knowledge can be taught, but not wisdom; there
must be freedom from knowledge for the coming of wisdom. Knowledge is not the coin for the
purchase of wisdom; but the man who has entered the refuge of knowledge does not venture
out, for the word feeds his thought and he is gratified with thinking. Thinking is an impediment
to experiencing; and there is no wisdom without experiencing. Knowledge, idea, belief, stand in the
way of wisdom.
An occupied mind is not free, spontaneous, and only in spontaneity can there be discovery. An
occupied mind is self-enclosing; it is unapproachable, not vulnerable, and therein lies its security.
141CHAPTER 64. 66 ’CESSATION OF THOUGHT’
Thought, by its very structure, is self-isolating; it cannot be made vulnerable. Thought cannot be
spontaneous, it can never be free. Thought is the continuation of the past, and that which continues
cannot be free. There is freedom only in ending.
An occupied mind creates what it is working on. It can turn out the bullock cart or the jet plane.
We can think we are stupid, and we are stupid. We can think we are God, and we are our own
conception: ”I am That.”
”But surely it is better to be occupied with the things of God than with the things of the world, is it
not?”
What we think, we are; but it is the understanding of the process of thought that is important, and
not what we think about. Whether we think about God, or about drink, is not important; each has
its particular effect, but in both cases thought is occupied with its own self-projection. Ideas, ideals,
goals, and so on, are all the projections or extensions of thought. To be occupied with one’s own
projections, at whatever level, is to worship the self. The Self with a capital ”S” is still a projection of
thought. Whatever thought is occupied with, that it is; and what it is, is nothing else but thought. So
it is important to understand the thought process.
Thought is response to challenge, is it not? Without challenge, there is no thought. The process of
challenge and response is experience; and experience verbalized is thought. Experience is not only
of the past, but also of the past in conjunction with the present; it is the conscious as well as the
hidden. This residue of experience is memory, influence; and the response of memory, of the past
is thought.
”But is that all there is to thought? Are there not greater depths to thought than the mere response
of memory?”
Thought can and does place itself at different levels, the stupid and the profound, the noble and
the base; but it is still thought, is it not? The God of thought is still of the mind, of the word. The
thought of God is not God, it is merely the response of memory. Memory is long-lasting, and so may
appear to be deep; but by its very structure it can never be deep. Memory may be concealed, not
in immediate view, but that does not make it profound. Thought can never be profound, or anything
more than what it is. Thought can give to itself greater value, but it remains thought. When the mind
is occupied with its own self-projection, it has not gone beyond thought, it has only assumed a new
role, a new pose; under the cloak it is still thought.
”But how can one go beyond thought?”
That is not the point, is it? One cannot go beyond thought, for the ”one,” the maker of effort, is the
result of thought. In uncovering the thought process, which is self-knowledge, the truth of what is
puts an end to the thought process. The truth of what is is not to be found in any book, ancient or
modern. What is found is the word, but not truth.
”Then how is one to find truth?”
One cannot find it. The effort to find truth brings about a self-projected end; and that end is not
truth. A result is not truth; result is the continuation of thought, extended or projected. Only when
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thought ends is there truth. There is no ending of thought through compulsion, through discipline,
through any form of resistance. Listening to the story of what is brings its own liberation. It is truth
that liberates, not the effort to be free.
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67 ’DESIRE AND CONFLICT’
IT WAS A pleasant group; most of them were eager, and there were a few who listened to refute.
Listening is an art not easily come by, but in it there is beauty and great understanding. We listen with
the various depths of our being, but our listening is always with a preconception or from a particular
point of view. We do not listen simply; there is always the intervening screen of our own thoughts,
conclusions and prejudices. We listen with pleasure or resistance, with grasping or rejection, but
there is no listening. To listen there must be an inward quietness, a freedom from the strain of
acquiring, a relaxed attention. This alert yet passive state is able to hear what is beyond the verbal
conclusion. Words confuse, they are only the outward means of communication; but to commune
beyond the noise of words, there must be in listening an alert passivity. Those who love may listen;
but it is extremely rare to find a listener. Most of us are after results, achieving goals, we are forever
overcoming and conquering, and so there is no listening. It is only in listening that one hears the
song of the words.
”Is it possible to be free of all desire? Without desire, is there life? Is not desire life itself? To seek to
be free of desire is to invite death, is it not?”
What is desire? When are we aware of it? When do we say we desire? Desire is not an abstraction,
it exists only in relationship. Desire arises in conflict, in relationship. Without contact, there is no
desire. Contact may be at any level, but without it there is no sensation, no response, no desire. We
know the process of desire, the way it comes into being: perception, contact, sensation, desire. But
when are we aware of desire? When do I say I have a desire? Only when there is the disturbance
of pleasure or of pain. It is when there is an awareness of conflict, of disturbance, that there is the
cognizance of desire. Desire is the inadequate response to challenge. The perception of a beautiful
car gives rise to the disturbance of pleasure. This disturbance is the consciousness of desire; The
focusing of disturbance, caused by pain or by pleasure, is self-consciousness. Self-consciousness
144CHAPTER 65. 67 ’DESIRE AND CONFLICT’
is desire. We are conscious when there is the disturbance of inadequate response to challenge.
Conflict is self-consciousness. Can there be freedom from this disturbance, from the conflict of
desire?
”Do you mean freedom from the conflict of desire, or from desire itself?”
Are conflict and desire two separate states? If they are, our inquiry must lead to illusion. If there
were no disturbance of pleasure or pain, of wanting, seeking, fulfilling, either negatively or positively,
would there be desire? And do we want to get rid of disturbance? If we can understand this, then
we may be able to grasp the significance of desire. Conflict is self-consciousness; the focusing of
attention through disturbance is desire. Is it that you want to get rid of the conflicting element is
desire, and keep the pleasurable element? Both pleasure and conflict are disturbing, are they not?
Or do you think pleasure does not disturb?
”Pleasure is not disturbing.”
Is that true? Have you never noticed the pain of pleasure? Is not the craving for pleasure ever on the
increase, ever demanding more and more? Is not the craving for more as disturbing as the urgency
of avoidance? Both bring about conflict. We want to keep the pleasurable desire, and avoid the
painful; but if we look closely, both are disturbing. But do you want to be free from disturbance?
”If we have no desire we will die; if we have no conflict we will go to sleep.”
Are you speaking from experience, or have you merely an idea about it? We are imagining what
it would be like to have no conflict and so are preventing the experiencing of whatever that state
is in which all conflict has ceased. Our problem is, what causes conflict? Can we not see a
beautiful or an ugly thing without conflict coming into being? Can we not observe, listen without
self-consciousness? Can we not live without disturbance? Can we not be without desire? Surely,
we must understand the disturbance, and not seek a way of overcoming or exalting desire. Conflict
must be understood, not ennobled or suppressed.
What causes conflict? Conflict arises when the response is not adequate to the challenge; and this
conflict is the focusing of consciousness as the self. The self, the consciousness focused through
conflict, is experience. Experience is response to a stimulus or challenge; without terming or naming,
there is no experience. Naming is out of the storehouse, memory; and this naming is the process
of verbalizing, the making of symbols, images, words, which strengthens memory. Consciousness,
the focusing of the self through conflict, is the total process of experience, of naming, of recording.
”In this process, what is it that gives rise to conflict? Can we be free from conflict? And what is
beyond conflict?” It is naming that gives rise to conflict, is it not? You approach the challenge, at
whatever level, with a record, with an idea, with a conclusion, with prejudice; that is, you name the
experience. This terming gives quality to experience, the quality arising out of naming. Naming is
the recording of memory. The past meets the new; challenge is met by memory, the past. The
responses of the past cannot understand the living, the new, the challenge; the responses of the
past are inadequate, and from this arises conflict, which is self-consciousness. Conflict ceases when
there is no process of naming. You can watch in yourself how the naming is almost simultaneous with
the response. The interval between response and naming is experiencing. Experiencing, in which
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there is neither the experiencer nor the experienced, is beyond conflict. Conflict is the focusing of
the self, and with the cessation of conflict there is the ending of all thought and the beginning of the
inexhaustible.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 146 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 66
68 ’ACTION WITHOUT PURPOSE’
HE BELONGED TO various and widely different organizations, and was active in them all. He wrote
and talked, collected money, organized. He was aggressive, insistent and effective. He was a very
useful person, much in demand, and was forever going up and down the land. He had been through
the political agitations, had gone to prison, followed the leaders, and now he was becoming an
important person in his own right. He was all for the immediate carrying out of great schemes; and
like all these educated people, he was versed in philosophy. He said he was a man of action, and
not a contemplative; he used a Sanskrit phrase which was intended to convey a whole philosophy
of action. The very assertion that he was a man of action implied that he was one of the essential
elements of life – perhaps not he personally, but the type. He had classified himself and thereby
blocked the understanding of himself.
Labels seem to give satisfaction. We kept the category to which we are supposed to belong as
a satisfying explanation of life. We are worshippers of words and labels; we never seem to go
beyond the symbol, to comprehend the worth of the symbol. By calling ourselves this or that, we
ensure ourselves against further disturbance, and settle back. One of the curses of ideologies and
organized beliefs is the comfort, the deadly gratification they offer. They put us to sleep, and in the
sleep we dream, and the dream becomes action. How easily we are distracted! And most of us
want to be distracted; most of us are tired out with incessant conflict, and distractions become a
necessity, they become more important than what is. We can play with distractions, but not with
what is; distractions are illusions, and there is a perverse delight in them.
What is action? What is the process of action? Why do we act? Mere activity is not action, surely;
to keep busy is not action, is it? The housewife is busy, and would you call that action?
”No, of course not. She is only concerned with everyday, petty affairs. A man of action is occupied
with larger problems and responsibilities. Occupation with wider and deeper issues may be called
147CHAPTER 66. 68 ’ACTION WITHOUT PURPOSE’
action, not only political but spiritual. It demands capacity, efficiency, organized efforts a sustained
drive towards a purpose. Such a man is not a contemplative, a mystic, a hermit, he is a man of
action.”
Occupation with wider issues you would call action. What are wider issues? Are they separate from
everyday existence? Is action apart from the total process of life? Is there action when there is no
integration of all the many layers of existence? Without understanding and so integrating the total
process of life, is not action mere destructive activity? Man is a total process, and action must be
the outcome of this totality.
”But that would imply not only inaction, but indefinite postponement. There is an urgency of action,
and it is no good philosophizing about it.”
We are not philosophizing, but only wondering if your so-called action is not doing infinite harm.
Reform always needs further reform. Partial action is no action at all, it brings about disintegration.
If you will have the patience, we can find now, not in the future, that action which is total, integrated.
Can purposive action be called action? To have a purpose, an ideal, and work towards it – is that
action? When action is for a result, is it action?
”How else can you act?”
You call action that which has a result, an end in view, do you not? You plan the end, or you
have an idea, a belief, and work towards it. Working towards an object, an end, a goal, factual or
psychological, is what is generally called action. This process can be understood in relation to some
physical fact, such as building a bridge; but is it as easily understood with regard to psychological
purposes? Surely, we are talking of the psychological purpose, the ideology, the ideal, or the belief
towards which you are working. Would you call action this working towards a psychological purpose?
”Action without a purpose is no action at all, it is death. Inaction is death.”
Inaction is not the opposite of action, it is quite a different state, but for the moment that is irrelevant;
we may discuss that later, but let us come back to our point. Working towards an end, an ideal, is
generally called action, is it not? But how does the ideal come into being?, Is it entirely different
from what is). Is antithesis different and apart from thesis? Is the ideal of non-violence wholly other
than violence? Is not the ideal self-projected? Is it not homemade? In acting towards a purpose, an
ideal, you are pursuing a self-projection, are you not?
”Is the ideal a self-projection?”
You are this, and you want to become that. Surely, that is the outcome of your thought. It may not
be the outcome of your own thought, but it is born of thought, is it not? Thought projects the ideal;
the ideal is part of thought. The ideal is not something beyond thought; it is thought itself.
”What’s wrong with thought? Why shouldn’t thought create the ideal?”
You are this, which does not satisfy, so you want to be that. If there were an understanding of this,
would that come into being? Because you do not understand this, you create that, hoping through
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that to understand or to escape from this. Thought creates the ideal as well as the problem; the
ideal is a self-projection, and your working towards that self-projection is what you call action, action
with a purpose. So your action is within the limits of your own projection, whether God or the State.
This movement within your own bounds is the activity of the dog chasing its tail; and is that action?
”But is it possible to act without a purpose?”
Of course it is. If you see the truth of action with a purpose, then there is just action. Such action is
the only effective action, it is the only radical revolution.
”You mean action without the self, don’t you?”
Yes, action without the idea. The idea is the self identified with God or with the State. Such identified
action only creates more conflict, more confusion and misery. But it is hard for the man of so-called
action to put aside the idea. Without the ideology he feels lost, and he is; so he is not a man of
action, but a man caught in his own self-projections whose activities are the glorification of himself.
His activities contribute to separation, to disintegration.
”Then what is one to do?”
Understand what your activity is, and only then is there action.
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69 ’CAUSE AND EFFECT’
”I KNOW YOU HAVE healed,” he said, ”and will you not heal my son? He is nearly blind. I have seen
a few doctors, and they can do nothing. They advise me to take him to Europe or America, but I am
not a rich man and I cannot afford it. Will you not please do something? He is our only child, and
my wife is heart-stricken.”
He was a petty official, poor but educated, and like all of his group he knew Sanskrit and its literature.
He kept on saying that it was the boy’s karma that he should suffer, and theirs too. What had they
done to deserve this punishment? What evil had they committed, in a previous life or in the earlier
part of this one, to have to bear such pain? There must be a cause for this calamity, hidden in some
past action.
There may be an immediate cause for this blindness which the physicians have not yet discovered;
some inherited disease may have brought it about. If the doctors cannot discover the physical cause,
why do you seek a metaphysical one in the distant past?
”By seeking the cause I may be better able to understand the effect.”
Do you understand anything by knowing its cause? By knowing why one is afraid, is one free of
fear? One may know the cause, but does that in itself bring understanding? When you say that you
will understand the effect by knowing the cause, you mean that you will take comfort in knowing how
this thing has come about, do you not?
”Of course, that is why I want to know what action in the past has produced this blindness. It will
certainly be most comforting.”
Then you want comfort and not understanding.
150CHAPTER 67. 69 ’CAUSE AND EFFECT’
”But are they not the same thing? To understand is to find comfort. What is the good of
understanding if there is no joy in it?”
Understanding a fact may cause disturbance, it does not necessarily bring joy. You want comfort,
and that is what you are seeking. You are disturbed by the fact of your son’s ailment, and you want
to be pacified. This pacification you call understanding. You start out, not to understand, but to be
comforted; your intention is to find a way to quiet your disturbance, and this you call the search for
the cause. Your chief concern is to be put to sleep, to be undisturbed, and you are seeking a way
to do it. We put ourselves to sleep through various ways: God, rituals, ideals, drink, and so on. We
want to escape from disturbance, and one of the escapes is this search for the cause.
”Why shouldn’t one seek freedom from disturbance? Why shouldn’t one avoid suffering?”
Through avoidance is there freedom from suffering? You may shut the door on some ugly thing,
on some fear; but it is still there behind the door, is it not? What is suppressed, resisted, is not
understood, is it? You may suppress or discipline your child, but surely that does not yield the
understanding of him. You are seeking the cause in order to avoid the pain of disturbance; with
that intention you look, and naturally you will find what you are seeking. There is a possibility of
being free of suffering only when one observes its process, when one is aware of every phase of it,
cognizant of its whole structure. To avoid suffering is only to strengthen it. The explanation of the
cause is not the understanding of the cause. Through explanation you are not freed from suffering;
the suffering is still there, only you have covered it over with words, with conclusions, either your
own or those of another. The study of explanations is not the study of wisdom; when explanations
cease, then only is wisdom possible. You are anxiously seeking explanations which will put you to
sleep, and you find them; but explanation is not truth. Truth comes when there is observation without
conclusions, without explanations, without words. The observer is built out of words, the self is made
up of explanations, conclusions, condemnations, justifications, and so on. There is communion with
the observed only when the observer is not; and only then is there understanding, freedom from the
problem.
”I think I see this; but is there not such a thing as karma?”
What do you mean by that word?
”Present circumstances are the result of previous actions, immediately past or long removed. This
process of cause and effect, with all its ramifications, is more or less what is meant by karma.”
That is only an explanation, but let us go beyond the words. Is there a fixed cause producing a
fixed effect? When cause and effect are fixed, is there not death? Anything static, rigid, specialized,
must die. The specialized animals soon come to an end, do they not? Man is the unspecialized,
and so there is a possibility of his continued existence. That which is pliable endures; that which is
not pliable is broken. The acorn cannot become anything but an oak tree; the cause and the effect
are in the acorn. But man is not so completely enclosed, specialized; hence, if he does not destroy
himself through various ways, he can survive. Are cause and effect fixed, stationary? When you use
the word ”and” between cause and effect, does it not imply that both are stationary? But is cause
ever stationary? Is effect always unchangeable? Surely, cause-effect is a continuous process, is it
not? Today is the result of yesterday, and tomorrow is the result of today; what was cause becomes
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effect, and what was effect becomes cause. It is a chain-process, is it not? One thing flows into
another, and at no point is there a halt. It is a constant movement, with no fixation. There are many
factors that bring about this cause-effect-cause movement.
Explanations, conclusions, are stationary, whether they are of the right or of the left, or of the
organized belief called religion. When you try to cover the living with explanations, there is death
to the living, and that is what most of us desire; we want to be put to sleep by word, by idea, by
thought. Rationalization is merely another way to quiet the disturbed state; but the very desire to be
put to sleep, to find the cause, to seek conclusions, brings disturbance, and so thought is caught
in a net of its own making. Thought cannot be free nor can it ever make itself free. Thought is the
result of experience, and experience is always conditioning. Experience is not the measure of truth.
Awareness of the false as the false is the freedom of truth.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 152 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 68
70 ’DULLNESS’
WHEN THE TRAIN started there was still light, but the shadows were lengthening. The town wound
itself around the railway line. People came out to watch the train go by, and passengers waved to
their friends. With a great roar we began to cross the bridge over a broad, curving river; it was
several miles wide at this point, and the other shore was just visible in the fast-fading light. The train
crossed the bridge very slowly, as though it were picking its way along; the spans were numbered,
and there were fifty-eight of them between the two shores. How beautiful were those waters, silent,
rich and deeply flowing ! There were islands of sand that looked pleasantly cool in the distance. The
town, with its noise, dust and squalor, was being left behind, and the clean evening air was coming
in through the windows; but there would be dust again as soon as we left the long bridge.
The man in the lower berth was very talkative, and as we had a whole night before us, he felt he
had a right to ask questions. He was a heavy-built man with large hands and feet. He began by
talking about himself, his life, his troubles and his children. He was saying that India should become
as prosperous as America; this overpopulation must be controlled, and the people must be made to
feel their responsibility. He talked of the political situation and the war, and ended with an account
of his own travels.
How insensitive we are, how lacking in swift and adequate response, how little free to observe!
Without sensitivity, how can there be pliability and a quickening perception; how can there
be receptivity, an understanding free of striving? The very striving prevents understanding.
Understanding comes with high sensitivity, but sensitivity is not a thing to be cultivated. That which
is cultivated is a pose, an artificial veneer; and this coating is not sensitivity, it is a mannerism,
shallow or deep according to influence. Sensitivity is not a cultural effect, the result of influence;
it is a state of being vulnerable, open. The open is the implicit, the unknown, the imponderable.
But we take care not to be sensitive; it is too painful, too exacting, it demands constant adjustment,
153CHAPTER 68. 70 ’DULLNESS’
which is consideration. To consider is to be watchful; but we would rather be comforted, put to
sleep, made dull. The newspapers, the magazines, the books, through our addiction to reading,
leave their dulling imprint; for reading is a marvellous escape, like drink or a ceremony. We want
to escape from the pain of life, and dullness is the most effective way: the dullness brought about
by explanations, by following a leader or an ideal, by being identified with some achievement, some
label or characteristic. Most of us want to be made dull, and habit is very effective in putting the mind
to sleep. The habit of discipline, of practice, of sustained effort to become – there are respectable
ways of being made insensitive.
”But what could one do in life if one were sensitive? We would all shrivel up, and there would be no
effective action.”
What do the dull and insensitive bring to the world? What is the outcome of their ”effective” action?
Wars, confusion within and without, ruthlessness and increasing misery for themselves and so for
the world. The action of the unwatchful inevitably leads to destruction, to physical insecurity, to
disintegration. But sensitivity is not easy to come by; sensitivity is the understanding of the simple,
which is highly complex. It is not a withdrawal, a shrivelling up, an isolating process. To act with
sensitivity is to be aware of the total process of the actor.
”To understand the total process of myself will take a long time, and meanwhile my business will go
to ruin and my family will starve.”
Your family will not starve; even if you have not saved up enough money, it is always possible to
arrange that they shall be fed. Your business will undoubtedly go to ruin; but disintegration at other
levels of existence is already taking place. You are only concerned with the outward break-up, you
do not want to see or know what is happening within yourself. You disregard the inner and hope
to build up the outer; yet the inner is always overcoming the outer. The outer cannot act without
the fullness of the inner; but the fullness of the inner is not the repetitious sensation of organized
religion nor the accumulation of facts called knowledge. The way of all these inner pursuits must
be understood for the outer to survive, to be healthy. Do not say that you have no time, for you
have plenty of time; it is not a matter of lack of time, but of disregard and disinclination. You have
no inward richness, for you want the gratification of inner riches as you already have that of the
outer. You are not seeking the wherewithal to feed your family, but the satisfaction of possessing.
The man who possesses, whether property or knowledge, can never be sensitive, he can never be
vulnerable or open. To possess is to be made dull, whether the possession is virtue or coins. To
possess a person is to be unaware of that person; to seek and to possess reality is to deny it. When
you try to become virtuous, you are no longer virtuous; your seeking virtue is only the attainment of
gratification at a different level. Gratification is not virtue, but virtue is freedom.
How can the dull, the respectable, the unvirtuous be free? The freedom of aloneness is not the
enclosing process of isolation. To be isolated in wealth or in poverty, in knowledge or in success,
in idea or in virtue, is to be dull, insensitive. The dull, the respectable cannot commune; and when
they do,it is with their own self-projections. To commune there must be sensitivity, vulnerability, the
freedom from becoming, which is freedom from fear. Love is not a becoming, a state of ”I shall be”.
That which is becoming cannot commune, for it is ever isolating itself. Love is the vulnerable; love is
the open, the imponderable, the unknown.
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71 ’CLARITY IN ACTION’
IT WAS A lovely morning, pure after the rains. There were tender new leaves on the trees, and
the breeze from the sea had set them dancing. The grass was green and lush, and the cattle were
hungrily eating it up, for after a few months there would not be a blade of it left. The fragrance of
the garden filled the room, and children were shouting and laughing. The palm trees had golden
coco-nuts, and the banana leaves, large and swaying, were not yet torn by age and wind. How
beautiful the earth was, and what a poem of colour! Fast the village, beyond the big houses and the
groves, was the sea, full of light and with thunderous waves. Far out there was a small boat, a few
logs tied together, with a solitary man fishing.
She was quite young, in her twenties, and recently married, but the passing years were already
leaving their mark upon her. She said she was of good family, cultured and hard working; she had
taken her M.A. with honours, and one could see that she was bright and alert. Once started, she
spoke easily and fluently, but she would suddenly become self-conscious and silent. She wanted
to unburden herself, for she said she had not talked to anyone about her problem, not even to her
parents. Gradually, bit by bit, her sorrow was put into words. Words convey meaning only at a
certain level; they have a way of distorting, of not giving fully the significance of their symbol, of
creating a deception that is entirely unintentional. She wanted to convey much more than merely
what the words meant, and she succeeded; she could not speak of certain things, however hard
she tried, but her very silence conveyed those pains and unbearable indignities of a relationship that
had become merely a contract. She had been struck and left alone by her husband, and her young
children were hardly companions. What was she to do? They were now living apart, and should she
go back?
What a strong hold respectability has on us ! What will they say? Can one live alone, especially
a woman, without their saying nasty things? Respectability is a cloak for the hypocrite; we
155CHAPTER 69. 71 ’CLARITY IN ACTION’
commit every possible crime in thought, but outwardly we are irreproachable. She was courting
respectability, and was confused. It is strange how, when one is clear within oneself, whatever may
happen is right. When there is this inward clarity, the right is not according to one’s desire, but
whatever is is right. Contentment comes with the understanding of what is. But how difficult it is to
be clear!
”How am I to be clear about what I should do?”
Action does not follow clarity: clarity is action. You are concerned with what you should do, and not
with being clear. You are torn between respectability and what you should do, between the hope and
what is. The dual desire for respectability and for some ideal action brings conflict and confusion,
and only when you are capable of looking at what is, is there clarity. What is is not what should
be, which is desire distorted to a particular pattern; what is is the actual, not the desirable but the
fact. Probably you have never approached it this way; you have thought or cunningly calculated,
weighing this against that, planning and counter-planning, which has obviously led to this confusion
which makes you ask what you are to do. Whatever choice you may make in the state of confusion
can only lead to further confusion. See this very simply and directly; if you do, then you will be able
to observe what is without distortion. The implicit is its own action. If what is is clear, then you will
see that there is no choice but only action, and the question of what you should do will never arise;
such a question arises only when there is the uncertainty of choice. Action is not of choice; the
action of choice is the action of confusion.
”I am beginning to see what you mean: I must be clear in myself, without the persuasion of
respectability, without self-interested calculation, without the spirit of bargaining. I am clear, but
it is difficult to maintain clarity, is it not?”
Not at all. To maintain is to resist. You are not maintaining clarity and opposing confusion: you are
experiencing what is confusion, and you see that any action arising from it must inevitably be still
more confusing. When you experience all this, not because another has said it but because you see
it directly for yourself, then the clarity of what is is there; you do not maintain clarity, it is there.
”I quite see what you mean. Yes, I am clear; it is all right. But what of love? We don’t know what
love means. I thought I loved, but I see I do not.”
From what you have told me, you married out of fear of loneliness and through physical urges and
necessities; and you have found that all this is not love. You may have called it love to make it
respectable, but actually it was a matter of convenience under the cloak of the word ”love”. To most
people, this is love, with all its confusing smoke: the fear of insecurity, of loneliness, of frustration, of
neglect in old age, and so on. But all this is merely a thought process, which is obviously not love.
Thought makes for repetition, and repetition makes relationship stale. Thought is a wasteful process,
it does not renew itself, it can only continue; and what has continuity cannot be the new, the fresh.
Thought is sensation, thought is sensuous, thought is the sexual problem. Thought cannot end
itself in order to be creative; thought cannot become something other than it is, which is sensation.
Thought is always the stale, the past, the old; thought can never be new. As you have seen, love
is not thought. Love is when the thinker is not. The thinker is not an entity different from thought;
thought and the thinker are one. The thinker is the thought.
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Love is not sensation; it is a flame without smoke. You will know love when you as the thinker are
not. You cannot sacrifice yourself, the thinker, for love. There can be no deliberate action for love,
because love is not of the mind. The discipline, the will to love, is the thought of love; and the thought
of love is sensation, Thought cannot think about love, for love is beyond the reaches of the mind.
Thought is continuous, and love is inexhaustible. That which is inexhaustible is ever new, and that
which has continuance is ever in the fear of ending. That which ends knows the eternal beginning
of love.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 157 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 70
72 ’IDEOLOGY’
”ALL THIS TALK about psychology, the inner workings of the mind, is a waste of time; people want
work and food. Are you not deliberately misleading your audiences when it is obvious that the
economic situation must first be attacked? What you say may ultimately be effective, but what is the
good of all this stuff when people are starving? You can’t think or do anything without having a full
stomach.”
One must of course have something in the stomach to be able to carry on; but to have food for all,
there must be a fundamental revolution in the ways of our thinking, and hence the importance of
attacking the psychological front. To you, an ideology is far more important than the production of
food. You may talk about feeding the poor and of having consideration for them, but are you not
much more concerned with an idea, with an ideology?
”Yes, we are; but an ideology is only a means of gathering people together for collective action.
Without an idea there can be no collective action; the idea, the plan comes first, and then action
follows.” So you also are concerned with psychological factors first, and from that what you call
action will follow. You do not mean, then, that to talk of psychological factors is deliberately to
mislead the people. What you mean is that you have the only rational ideology, so why bother to
consider further? You want to act collectively for your ideology, and that is why you say any further
consideration of the psychological process is not only a waste of time but also a deviation from the
main issue, which is the setting up of a classless society with work for all, and so on.
”Our ideology is the result of wide historical study, it is history interpreted according to facts; it is
a factual ideology, not like the superstitious beliefs of religion. Our ideology has direct experience
behind it, not mere visions and illusions.”
158CHAPTER 70. 72 ’IDEOLOGY’
The ideologies or dogmas of organized religions are also based on experience, perhaps that of the
one who has given out the teachings. They also are founded on historical facts. Your ideology
may be the outcome of study, of comparison, of accepting certain facts and denying others, and
your conclusions may be the product of experience; but why reject the ideologies of others as being
illusory when they also are the result of experience? You gather a group around your ideology, as
do others around theirs; you want collective action, and so do they in a different way. In each case,
what you call collective action springs from an idea; you are both concerned with ideas, positive or
negative, to bring about collective action. Each ideology has experience behind it, only you refute
the validity of their experience, and they refute the validity of yours. They say that your system
is impractical, will lead to slavery, and so on, and you call them warmongers and say that their
system must inevitably lead to economic disaster. So both of you are concerned with ideologies,
not with feeding people or bringing about their happiness. The two ideologies are at war and man is
forgotten.
”Man is forgotten to save man. We sacrifice the present man to save the future man.”
You liquidate the present for the future. You assume the power of Providence in the name of the
State as the Church has done in the name of God. You both have your gods and your holy book; you
both have the true interpreters, the priests – and woe to anyone who deviates from the true and the
authentic ! There is not much difference between you, you are both very similar; your ideologies may
vary, but the process is more or less the same. You both want to save the future man by sacrificing
the present man – as though you knew all about the future, as though the future were a fixed thing
and you had the monopoly of it! Yet you are both as uncertain of tomorrow as any other. There
are so many imponderable facts in the present that make the future. You both promise a reward,
a Utopia, a heaven in the future; but the future is not an ideological conclusion. Ideas are always
concerned with the past or the future, but never with the present. You cannot have an idea about the
present, for the present is action, the only action there is. All other action is delay, postponement,
and so no action at all; it is an avoidance of action. Action based on an idea, either of the past or
of the future, is inaction; action can only be in the present, in the now. Idea is of the past or of the
future, and there can be no idea of the present. To an ideologist the past or the future is a fixed
state, for he himself is of the past or of the future. An ideologist is never in the present; to him, life
is always in the past or in the future, but never in the now. Idea is ever of the past, threading its way
through the present to the future. For an ideologist the present is a passage to the future and so not
important; the means do not matter at all, but only the end. Use any means to get to the end. The
end is fixed, the future is known, therefore liquidate anyone who stands in the way of the end.
”Experience is essential for action, and ideas or explanations come from experience. Surely you do
not deny experience. Action without the framework of idea is anarchical, it is chaos, leading straight
to the asylum. Are you advocating action without the cohesive power of idea? How can you do
anything without the idea first?”
As you say, the idea, the explanation, the conclusion, is the outcome of experience; without
experience there can be no knowledge; without knowledge there can be no action. Does idea
follow action, or is there idea first and then action? You say experience comes first, and then action,
is that it? What do you mean by experience?
”Experience is the knowledge of a teacher, of a writer, of a revolutionary, the knowledge which he
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has gathered from his studies and from experiences, either his own or those of another. From
knowledge or experience ideas are constructed, and from this ideological structure flows action.”
Is experience the only criterion, the true standard of measurement? What do we mean by
experience? Our talking together is an experience; you are responding to stimuli, and this response
to challenge is experience, is it not? Challenge and response are almost a simultaneous process;
they are a constant movement within the framework of a background. It is the background that
responds to challenge, and this responding to challenge is experience, is it not? The response
is from the background, from a conditioning. Experience is always conditioned, and so then is
idea. Action based on idea is conditioned, limited action. Experience, idea, in opposition to another
experience, idea, does not produce synthesis but only further opposition. Opposites can never
produce a synthesis. An integration can take place only when there is no opposition; but ideas
always breed opposition, the conflict of the opposites. Under no circumstances can conflict bring
about a synthesis.
Experience is the response of the background to challenge. The background is the influence of the
past, and the past is memory. The response of memory is idea. An ideology built out of memory,
called experience, knowledge, can never be revolutionary. It may call itself revolutionary, but it is only
a modified continuity of the past. An opposite ideology or doctrine is still idea, and idea must ever
be of the past. No ideology is the ideology; but if you said that your ideology is limited, prejudiced,
conditioned, like any other, no one would follow you. You must say it is the only ideology that can
save the world; and as most of us are addicted to formulas, to conclusions, we follow and are
thoroughly exploited, as the exploiter is also exploited. Action based on an idea can never be a
freeing action, but is always binding. Action towards an end, a goal, is in the long run inaction; in
the short view it may assume the role of action, but such action is self-destructive, which is obvious
in our daily life.
”But can one ever be free from all conditioning? We believe it is not possible.”
Again, the idea, the belief imprisons you. You believe, another does not believe; you are both
prisoners to your belief, you both experience according to your conditioning. One can find out if
it is possible to be free only by inquiring into the whole process of conditioning, of influence. The
understanding of this process is self-knowledge. Through self-knowledge alone is there freedom
from bondage, and this freedom is devoid of all belief, all ideology.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 160 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 71
73 ’BEAUTY’
THE VILLAGE WAS dirty, but there was tidiness around each hut. The front steps were washed and
decorated daily, and inside the hut was clean though somewhat smoky from the cooking. The whole
family was there, father, mother and children, and the old lady must have been the grandmother.
They all seemed so cheerful and strangely contented. Verbal communication was impossible, as we
did not know their language. We sat down, and there was no embarrassment. They went on with
their work, but the children came near, a boy and a girl, and sat down, smiling. The evening meal
was nearly ready, and there was not too much of it. As we left, they all came out and watched; the
sun was over the river, behind a vast, solitary cloud. The cloud was on fire and made the waters
glow like remembered forest fires.
The long rows of huts were divided by a wide-ish path, and on each side of the path were open, filthy
gutters where every imaginable horror was being bred. One could see white worms struggling in the
black slime. Children were playing on the path, completely absorbed in their games, laughing and
shouting, indifferent to every passer-by. Along the embankment of the river, palms stood out against
the burning sky. Pigs, goats and cattle were wandering about the huts, and the children would push
a goat or a withered cow out of the way. The village was settling down for the coming darkness, and
the children too were becoming quiet as their mothers called them.
The large house had a lovely garden with high, white walls all around it. The garden was full of
colour and bloom, and a great deal of money and care must have gone into it. It was extraordinarily
peaceful in that garden; everything was flourishing, and the beauty of the large tree seemed to
protect all the other things that were growing. The fountain must have been a delight to the many
birds, but how it was quietly singing to itself, undisturbed and alone. Everything was enclosing itself
for the night.
161CHAPTER 71. 73 ’BEAUTY’
She was a dancer, not by profession but by choice. She was considered by some to be a fairly
good dancer. She must have felt proud of her art, for there was arrogance about her, not only the
arrogance of achievement but also that of some inner recognition of her own spiritual worth. As
another would be satisfied with outward success, she was gratified by her spiritual advancement.
The advance of the spirit is a self-imposed deception, but it is very gratifying. She had jewels on,
and her nails were red; her lips were painted the appropriate colour. She not only danced, but also
gave talks on art, on beauty, and on spiritual achievement. Vanity and ambition were on her face;
she wanted to be known both spiritually and as an artist, and now the spirit was gaining.
She said she had no personal problems, but wanted to talk about beauty and the spirit. She did
not care about personal problems, which were stupid anyhow, but was concerned with wider issues.
What was beauty? Was it inner or outer? Was it subjective or objective, or a combination of both?
She was so sure of her ground, and surety is the denial of the beautiful. To be certain is to be
self-enclosed and invulnerable. Without being open, how can there be sensitivity?
”What is beauty?”
Are you waiting for a definition, for a formula, or do you desire to inquire? ”But must one not have
the instrument for inquiry? Without knowing, without explanations, how can one inquire? We must
know where we are going before we can go.”
Does not knowledge prevent inquiry? When you know, how can there be inquiry? Does not the
very word ”knowing” indicate a state in which inquiry has ceased? To know is not to inquire; so
you are merely a asking for a conclusion, a definition. Is there a measure for beauty? Is beauty
the approximation to a known or an imaginary pattern? Is beauty an abstraction without a frame?
Is beauty exclusive, and can the exclusive be the integrated? Can the outer be beautiful without
inner freedom? Is beauty decoration, adornment? Is the outward show of beauty an indication of
sensitivity? What is it that you are seeking? A combination of the outer and the inner? How can
there be outer beauty without the inner? On which do you lay emphasis
”I lay emphasis on both; without the perfect form, how can there be perfect life? Beauty is the
combination of the outer and the inner.”
So you have a formula for becoming beautiful. The formula is not beauty, but only a series of words.
Being beautiful is not the process of becoming beautiful. What is it that you are seeking?
”The beauty of both form and spirit. There must be a lovely vase for the perfect flower.”
Can there be inner harmony, and so perhaps outer harmony, without sensitivity? Is not sensitivity
essential for perception either of the ugly or the beautiful? Is beauty the avoidance of the ugly?
”Of course it is.”
Is virtue avoidance, resistance? If there is resistance, can there be sensitivity? Must there not be
freedom for sensitivity? Can the self-enclosed be sensitive? Can the ambitious be sensitive, aware
of beauty? Sensitivity, vulnerability to what is, is essential, is it not? We want to identify ourselves
with what we call the beautiful and avoid what we call the ugly. We want to be identified with the
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lovely garden and shut our eyes to the smelly village. We want to resist and yet receive. Is not
all identification resistance? To be aware of the village and the garden without resistance, without
comparison, is to be sensitive. You want to be sensitive only to beauty, to virtue, and resist evil, the
ugly. Sensitivity, vulnerability is a total process, it cannot be cut off at a particular gratifying level.
”But I am seeking beauty, sensitivity.”
Is that really so? If it is, then all concern about beauty must cease. This consideration, this worship
of beauty is an escape from what is, from yourself, is it not? How can you be sensitive if you are
unaware of what you are, of what is? The ambitious, the crafty, the pursuers of beauty, are only
worshipping their own self-projections. They are wholly self-enclosed, they have built a wall around
themselves; and as nothing can live in isolation, there is misery. This search for beauty and the
incessant talk of art are respectable and highly regarded escapes from life, which is oneself.
”But music is not an escape.”
It is when it replaces the understanding of oneself. Without the understanding of oneself, all activity
leads to confusion and pain. There is sensitivity only when there is the freedom which understanding
brings – the understanding of the ways of the self, of thought.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 163 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 72
74 ’INTEGRATION’
THE LITTLE PUPPIES were plump and clean, and were playing in the warm sand. There were six
of them, all white and light brown. The mother was lying a little away from them in the shade. She
was thin and worn out, and so mangy that she had hardly a hair on her. There were several wounds
on her body, but she wagged her tail and was so proud of those round puppies. She probably would
not survive for more than a month or so. She was one of those dogs that prowl about, picking up
what they can from the filthy streets or around a poor village, always hungry and always on the run.
Human beings threw stones at her, chased her from their door, and they were to be avoided. But
here in the shade the memories of yesterday were distant, and she was exhausted; Besides, the
puppies were being petted and talked to. It was late afternoon; the breeze from across the wide
river was fresh and cooling, and for the moment there was contentment. Where she would get her
next meal was another matter, but why struggle now ?
Past the village, along the embankment, beyond the green fields and then down a dusty and noisy
road, was the house in which people were waiting a to talk over. They were of every type: the
thoughtful and the eager, the lazy and the argumentative, the quick-witted and those who lived
according to definitions and conclusions. The thoughtful were patient, and the quick-witted were
sharp with those who dragged; but the slow had to come with the fast. Understanding comes
in flashes, and there must be intervals of silence for the flashes to take place; but the quick are
too impatient to allow space for these flashes. Understanding is not verbal, nor is there such a
thing as intellectual understanding. Intellectual understanding is only on the verbal level, and so no
understanding at all. Understanding does not come as a result of thought, for thought after all is
verbal. There is no thought without memory, and memory is the word, the symbol, the process of
image-making. At this level there is no understanding. Understanding comes in the space between
two words, in that interval before the word shapes thought. Understanding is neither for the quick-
witted nor for the slow, but for those who are aware of this measureless space.
164CHAPTER 72. 74 ’INTEGRATION’
”What is disintegration? We see the rapid disintegration of human relationship in the world, but more
so in ourselves. How can this falling apart be stopped? How can we integrate?”
There is integration if we can be watchful of the ways of disintegration. Integration is not on one or
two levels of our existence, it is the coming together of the whole. Before that can be, we must find
out what we mean by disintegration, must we not? Is conflict an indication of disintegration? We are
not seeking a definition, but the significance behind that word.
”Is not struggle inevitable? All existence is struggle; without struggle there would be decay. If I did
not struggle towards a goal I would degenerate. To struggle if as essential as breathing.”
A categorical statement stops all inquiry. We are trying to find out what are the factors of
disintegration, and perhaps conflict, struggle, is one of them. What do we mean by conflict, struggle?
”Competition, striving, making an effort, the will to achieve, discontent, and so on.”
Struggle is not only at one level of existence, but at all levels. The process of becoming is struggle,
conflict, is it not? The clerk becoming the manager, the vicar becoming the bishop, the pupil
becoming the Master – this psychological becoming is effort, conflict.
”Can we do without this process of becoming? Is it not a necessity? How can one be free of conflict?
Is there not fear behind this effort?”
We are trying to find out, to experience, not merely at the verbal level, but deeply, what makes for
disintegration, and not how to be free of conflict or what lies behind it. Living and becoming are
two different states, are they not? Existence may entail effort; but we are considering the process
of becoming, the psychological urge to be better, to become something, the struggle to change
what is into its opposite. This psychological becoming may be the factor that makes everyday living
painful, competitive, a vast conflict. What do we mean by becoming? The psychological becoming
of the priest who wants to be the bishop, of the disciple who wants to be the Master, and so on.
In this process of becoming there is effort, positive or negative; it is the struggle to change what
is into something else, is it not? I am this, and I want to become that, and this becoming is a
series of conflicts. When I have become that, there is still another that, and so on endlessly. The
this becoming that is without end, and so conflict is without end. Now, why do I want to become
something other than what I am?
”Because of our conditioning, because of social influences, because of our ideals. We cannot help
it, it is our nature.”
Merely to say that we cannot help it puts an end to discussion. It is a sluggish mind that makes
this assertion and just puts up with suffering, which is stupidity. Why are we so conditioned? Who
conditions us? Since we submit to being conditioned, we ourselves make those conditions. Is it the
ideal that makes us struggle to become that when we are this? Is it the goal, the Utopia, that makes
for conflict? Would we degenerate if we did not struggle towards an end?
”Of course. We would stagnate, go from bad to worse. It is easy to fall into hell but difficult to climb
to heaven.”
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Again we have ideas, opinions about what would happen, but we do not directly experience the
happening. Ideas prevent understanding, as do conclusions and explanations. Do ideas and ideals
make us struggle to achieve, to become? I am this, and does the ideal make me struggle to become
that? Is the ideal the cause of conflict? Is the ideal wholly dissimilar from what is? If it is completely
different, if it has no relationship with what is, then what is cannot become the ideal. To become,
there must be relationship between what is and the ideal, the goal. You say the ideal is giving us the
impetus to struggle, so let us find out how the ideal comes into being. Is not the ideal a projection of
the mind?
”I want to be like you. Is that a projection?”
Of course it is. The mind has an idea, perhaps pleasurable, and it wants to be like that idea, which
is a projection of your desire. You are this, which you do not like, and you want to become that,
which you like. The ideal is a self-projection; the opposite is an extension of what is; it is not the
opposite at all, but a continuity of what is, perhaps somewhat modified. The projection is self-willed,
and conflict is the struggle towards the projection. What is projects itself as the ideal and struggles
towards it, and this struggle is called becoming. The conflict between the opposites is considered
necessary, essential. This conflict is the what is trying to become what it is not; and what it is not
is the ideal, the self-projection. You are struggling to become something, and that something is part
of yourself. The ideal is your own projection. See how the mind has played a trick upon itself. You
are struggling after words, pursuing your own projection, your own shadow. You are violent, and you
are struggling to become non-violent, the ideal; but the ideal is a projection of what is, only under
a different name. This struggle is considered necessary, spiritual, evolutionary, and so on; but it is
wholly within the cage of the mind and only leads to illusion.
When you are aware of this trick which you have played upon yourself, then the false as the false
is seen. The struggle towards an illusion is the disintegrating factor. All conflict, all becoming is
disintegration. When there is an awareness of this trick that the mind has played upon itself, then
there is only what is. When the mind is stripped of all becoming, of all ideals, of all comparison
and condemnation, when its own structure has collapsed, then the what is has undergone complete
transformation. As long as there is the naming of what is there is relationship between the mind and
what is; but when this naming process – which is memory, the very structure of the mind – is not,
then what is is not. In this transformation alone is there integration.
Integration is not the action of will, it is not the process of becoming integrated. When disintegration
is not, when there is no conflict, no struggle to become, only then is there the being of the whole,
the complete.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 166 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 73
75 ’FEAR AND ESCAPE’
WE WERE STEADILY climbing, without any perceptible movement. Below us was a vast sea
of clouds, white and dazzling, wave upon wave as far as the eye could see. They looked so
astonishingly solid and inviting. Occasionally, as we climbed higher in a wide circle there were
breaks in this brilliant foam, and far below was the green earth. Above us was the clear blue sky
of winter, soft and immeasurable. A massive range of snowcovered mountains stretched from north
to south, sparkling in the brilliant sun. These mountains reached an elevation of over fourteen
thousand feet, but we had risen above them and were still climbing. They were a familiar range of
peaks, and they looked so near and serene. The higher peaks lay to the north, and we shot off to
the south, having reached the required altitude of twenty thousand feet.
The passenger in the next seat was very talkative. He was unfamiliar with those mountains, and had
dozed as we climbed; but now he was awake and eager for a talk. It appeared that he was going out
on some business for the first time; he seemed to have many interests, and spoke with considerable
information about them. The sea was now below us, dark and distant, and a few ships were dotted
here and there. There was not a tremor of the wings, and we passed one lighted town after another
along the coast. He was saying how difficult it was not to have fear, not particularly of a crash, but
of all the accidents of life. He was married and had children, and there was always fear – not of the
future alone, but of everything in general. It was a fear that had no particular object, and though he
was successful, this fear made his life weary and painful. He had always been rather apprehensive,
but now it had become extremely persistent and his dreams were of a frightening nature. His wife
knew of his fear, but she was not aware of its seriousness.
Fear can exist only in relation to something. As an abstraction, fear is a mere word, and the word is
not the actual fear. Do you know specifically of what you are afraid?
167CHAPTER 73. 75 ’FEAR AND ESCAPE’
”I have never been able to lay my finger on it, and my dreams too are very vague; but threading
through them all there is fear. I have talked to friends and doctors about it, but they have either
laughed it off or otherwise not been of much help. It has always eluded me, and I want to be free of
the beastly thing.”
Do you really want to be free, or is that just a phrase?
”I may sound casual, but I would give a great deal to be rid of this fear. I am not a particularly
religious person, but strangely enough I have prayed to have it taken away from me. When I am
interested in my work, or in a game, it is often absent; but like some monster it is ever waiting, and
soon we are companions again.” Have you that fear now? Are you aware now that it is somewhere
about? Is the fear conscious or hidden ?
”I can sense it, but I do not know whether it is conscious or unconscious.”
Do you sense it as something far away or near – not in space or distance, but as a feeling?
”When I am aware of it, it seems to be quite close. But what has that got to do with it?”
Fear can come into being only in relation to something. That something may be your family, your
work, your preoccupation with the future, with death. Are you afraid of death?
”Not particularly, though I would like to have a quick death and not a long-drawn-out one. I don’t
think it is my family that I have this anxiety about, nor is it my job.”
Then it must be something deeper than the superficial relationships that is causing this fear. One
may be able to point out what it is, but if you can discover it for yourself it will have far greater
significance. Why are you not afraid of the superficial relationships?
”My wife and I love each other; she wouldn’t think of looking at another man, and I am not attracted
to other women. We find completeness in each other. The children are an anxiety, and what one can
do, one does; but with all this economic mess in the world, one cannot give them financial security,
and they will have to do the best they can. My job is fairly secure, but there is the natural fear of
anything happening to my wife.”
So you are sure of your deeper relationship. Why are you so certain?
”I don’t know, but I am. One has to take some things for granted, hasn’t one?”
That’s not the point. Shall we go into it? What makes you so sure of your intimate relationship?
When you say that you and your wife find completeness in each other, what do you mean?
”We find happiness in each other: companionship, understanding, and so on. In the deeper sense,
we depend on each other. It would be a tremendous blow if anything happened to either of us. We
are in that sense dependent.” What do you mean by ”dependent”? You mean that without her you
would be lost, you would feel utterly alone, is that it? She would feel the same; so you are mutually
dependent.
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”But what is wrong with that?”
We are not condemning or judging, but only inquiring. Are you sure you want to go into all this? You
are quite sure? All right, then let’s go on.
Without your wife, you would be alone, you would be lost in the deepest sense; so she is essential to
you, is she not? You depend on her for your happiness, and this dependence is called love. You are
afraid to be alone. She is always there to cover up the fact of your loneliness, as you cover up hers;
but the fact is still there, is it not? We use each other to cover up this loneliness; we run away from
it in so many ways, in so many different forms of relationship, and each such relationship becomes
a dependence. I listen to the radio because music makes me happy, it takes me away from myself;
books and knowledge are also a very convenient escape from myself. And on all these things we
depend.
”Why should I not escape from myself? I have nothing to be proud of, and by being identified with
my wife, who is much better than I am, I get away from myself.”
Of course, the vast majority escape from themselves. But by escaping from yourself, you have
become dependent. Dependence grows stronger, escapes more essential, in proportion to the fear
of what is. The wife, the book, the radio, become extraordinarily important; escapes come to be
all-significant, of the greatest value. I use my wife as a means of running away from myself, so I am
attached to her. I must possess her, I must not lose her; and she likes to be possessed, for she is
also using me. There is a common need to escape, and mutually we use each other. This usage is
called love. You do not like what you are, and so you run away from yourself, from what is.
”That is fairly clear. I see something in that, it makes sense. But why does one run away? What is
one escaping from?”
From your own loneliness, your own emptiness, from what you are. If you run away without seeing
what is, you obviously cannot understand it; so first you have to stop running, escaping and only
then can you watch yourself as you are. But you cannot observe what is if you are always criticizing
it, if you like or dislike it. You call it loneliness and run away from it; and the very running away from
what is is fear. You are afraid of this loneliness, of this emptiness, and dependence is the covering of
it. So fear is constant; it is constant as long as you are running away from what is. To be completely
identified with something, with a person or an idea, is not a guarantee of final escape, for this fear
is always in the background. It comes through dreams, when there is a break in identification; and
there is always a break in identification, unless one is unbalanced.
”Then my fear arises from my own hollowness, my insufficiency. I see that all right, and it is true; but
what am I to do about it?”
You cannot do anything about it. Whatever you do is an activity of escape. That is the most essential
thing to realize. Then you will see that you are not different or separate from that hollowness. You
are that insufficiency. The observer is the observed emptiness. Then if you proceed further, there
is no longer calling it loneliness; the terming of it has ceased. If you proceed still further, which is
rather arduous, the thing known as loneliness is not; there is a complete cessation of loneliness,
emptiness, of the thinker as the thought. This alone puts an end to fear.
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”Then what is love?”
Love is not identification; it is not thought about the loved. You do not think about love when it is
there; you think about it only when it is absent, when there is distance between you and the object
of your love. When there is direct communion, there is no thought, no image, no revival of memory;
it is when the communion breaks, at any level, that the process of thought, of imagination, begins.
Love is not of the mind. The mind makes the smoke of envy, of holding, of missing, of recalling the
past, of longing for tomorrow, of sorrow and worry; and this effectively smothers the flame. When
the smoke is not, the flame is. The two cannot exist together; the thought that they exist together is
merely a wish. A wish is a projection of thought, and thought is not love.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 170 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 74
76 ’EXPLOITATION AND ACTIVITY’
IT WAS EARLY in the morning and the cheerful birds were making an awful lot of noise. The sun
was just touching the tree tops, and in the deep shade there were still no patches of light A snake
must recently have crossed the lawn, for there was a long, narrow clearing of the dew. The sky
had not yet lost its colour, and great white clouds were gathering. Suddenly the noise of the birds
stopped, then increased with warning, scolding cries as a cat came and lay down under a bush. A
big hawk had caught a white-and-black bird, and was tearing at it with its sharp, curving beak. It held
its prey with eager ferocity, and became threatening as two or three crows came near. The hawk’s
eyes were yellow with narrow black slits and they were watching the crows and us without blinking.
”Why shouldn’t I be exploited? I don’t mind being used for the cause, which has great significance,
and I want to be completely identified with it. What they do with me is of little importance. You see,
I am of no account. I can’t do much in this world, and so I am helping those who can. But I have
a problem of personal attachment which distracts me from the work. It is this attachment I want to
understand.”
But why should you be exploited? Are you not as important as the individual or the group that is
exploiting you?
”I don’t mind being exploited for the cause, which I consider has great beauty and worth in the world.
Those with whom I work are spiritual people with high ideals, and they know better than I do what
should be done.”
Why do you think they are more capable of doing good than you are? How do you know they
are ”spiritual,” to use your own word, and have wider vision? After all, when you offered your
services, you must have considered this matter; or were you attracted, emotionally stirred, and
171CHAPTER 74. 76 ’EXPLOITATION AND ACTIVITY’
so gave yourself to the work? ”It is a beautiful cause, and I offered my services because I felt that I
must help it.”
You are like those men who join the army to kill or to be killed for a noble cause. Do they know what
they are doing? Do you know what you are doing? How do you know that the cause you are serving
is ”spiritual”?
”Of course you are right. I was in the army for four years during the last war; I joined it, like many
other men, out of a feeling of patriotism. I don’t think I considered then the significance of killing; it
was the thing to do, we just joined. But the people I am helping now are spiritual.”
Do you know what it means to be spiritual? For one thing, to be ambitious is obviously not spiritual.
And are they not ambitious?
”I am afraid they are. I had never thought about these things, I only wanted to help something
beautiful.”
Is it beautiful to be ambitious and cover it up with a lot of high-sounding words about Masters,
humanity, art, brotherhood? Is it spiritual to be burdened with self-centredness which is extended to
include the neighbour and the man across the waters? You are helping those who are supposed to
be spiritual, not knowing what it is all about and willing to be exploited.
”Yes, it is quite immature, isn’t it? I don’t want to be disturbed in what I am doing, and yet I have a
problem; and what you are saying is even more disturbing.”
Shouldn’t you be disturbed? After all, it is only when we are disturbed, awakened, that we begin to
observe and find out. We are exploited because of our own stupidity, which the clever ones use in
the name of the country, of God, of some ideology. How can stupidity do good in the world even
though the crafty make use of it? When the cunning exploit stupidity, they also are stupid, for they too
do not know where their activities are leading. The action of the stupid, of those who are unaware
of the ways of their own thought, leads inevitably to conflict confusion and misery.
Your problem may not necessarily be a distraction. Since it is there, how can it be? ”It is disturbing
my dedicated work.”
Your dedication is not complete since you have a problem which you find distracting. Your dedication
may be a thoughtless action, and the problem may be an indication, a warning not to get caught up
in your present activities
”But I like what I am doing.”
And that may be the whole trouble. We want to get lost in some form of activity; the more satisfying
the activity, the more we cling to it. The desire to be gratified makes us stupid, and gratification
at all levels is the same; there is no higher and lower gratification. Though we may consciously or
unconsciously disguise our gratification in noble words, the very desire to be gratified makes us dull,
insensitive. We get satisfaction, comfort psychological security through some kind of activity; and
gaining it, or imagining that we have gained it, we do not desire to be disturbed. But there is always
Commentaries On Living Series 1 172 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 74. 76 ’EXPLOITATION AND ACTIVITY’
disturbance – unless we are dead, or understand the whole process of conflict, struggle. Most of
us want to be dead, to be insensitive, for living is painful; and against that pain we build walls of
resistance, the walls of conditioning. These seemingly protecting walls only breed further conflict
and misery. Is it not important to understand the problem rather than to find a way out of it? Your
problem may be the real, and your work may be an escape without much significance.
”This is all very disturbing, and I shall have to think about it very carefully.”
It was getting warm under the trees and we left. But how can a shallow mind ever do good? Is not the
doing of ”good” the indication of a shallow mind? Is not the mind, however cunning, subtle, learned,
always shallow? The shallow mind can never become the unfathomable; the very becoming is the
way of shallowness. Becoming is the pursuit of the self-projected. The projection may be verbally
of the highest, it may be an extensive vision, scheme or plan; yet it is ever the child of the shallow.
Do what it will, the shallow can never become the deep; any action on its part, any movement of the
mind at any level, is still of the shallow. It is very hard for the shallow mind to see that its activities
are vain, useless. It is the shallow mind that is active, and this very activity keeps it in that state. Its
activity is its own conditioning. The conditioning, conscious or hidden, is the desire to be free from
conflict, from struggle, and this desire builds walls against the movement of life, against unknown
breezes; and within these walls of conclusions, beliefs, explanations, ideologies, the mind stagnates.
Only the shallow stagnate, die.
The very desire to take shelter through conditioning breeds more strife, more problems; for
conditioning is separating, and the separate, the isolated cannot live. The separate, by joining
itself to other separates, does not become the whole. The separate is always the isolated, though it
may accumulate and gather, expand, include and identify. Conditioning is destructive, disintegrating;
but the shallow mind cannot see the truth of this, for it is active in search of truth. This very activity
hinders the receiving of truth. Truth is action, not the activity of the shallow, of the seeker, of the
ambitious. Truth is the good, the beautiful, not the activity of the dancer, of the planner, of the
spinner of words. It is truth that liberates the shallow, not his scheme to be free. The shallow,
the mind can never make itself free; it can only move from one conditioning to another, thinking
the other is more free. The more is never free, it is conditioning, an extension of the less. The
movement of becoming, of the man who wants to become the Buddha or the manager, is the activity
of the shallow. The shallow are ever afraid of what they are; but what they are is the truth. Truth is
in the silent observation of what is, and it is truth that transforms what is.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 173 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 75
77 ’THE LEARNED OR THE WISE?’
THE RAINS HAD washed away the dust and heat of many months, and the leaves were sparklingly
clean, with new leaves beginning to show. All through the night the frogs filled the air with their deep
croaking; they would take a rest, and start again. The river was swift-flowing, and there was softness
in the air. The rains were not over by any means. Dark clouds were gathering, and the sun was
hidden. The earth, the trees and the whole of Nature seemed to be waiting for another purification.
The road was dark brown, and the children were playing in the puddles; they were making mud-pies,
or building castles and houses with surrounding walls. There was joy in the air after months of heat,
and green grass was beginning to cover the earth. Everything was renewing itself.
This renewal is innocence.
The man considered himself vastly learned, and to him knowledge was the very essence of life.
Life without knowledge was worse than death. His knowledge was not about one or two things, but
covered a great many phases of life; he could talk with assurance about the atom and Communism,
about astronomy and the yearly flow of water in the river, about diet and overpopulation. He was
strangely proud of his knowledge and, like a clever showman, he brought it to impress; it made
the others silent and respectful. How frightened we are of knowledge, what awesome respect we
show to the knower! His English was sometimes rather difficult to understand. He had never been
outside of his own country, but he had books from other countries. He was addicted to knowledge
as another might be to drink or to some other appetite.
”What is wisdom, if it is not knowledge? Why do you say that one must suppress all knowledge?
Is not knowledge essential? Without knowledge, where would we be? We would still be as the
primitives, knowing nothing of the extraordinary world we live in. Without knowledge, existence at
any level would be impossible. Why are you so insistent in saying that knowledge is an impediment
to understanding?”
174CHAPTER 75. 77 ’THE LEARNED OR THE WISE?’
Knowledge is conditioning. Knowledge does not give freedom. One may know how to build an
airplane and fly to the other end of the world in a few hours, but this is not freedom. Knowledge is
not the creative factor, for knowledge is continuous, and that which has continuity can never lead to
the implicit, the imponderable, the unknown. Knowledge is a hindrance to the open, to the unknown.
The unknown can never be clothed in the known; the known is always moving to the past; the past
is ever overshadowing the present, the unknown. Without freedom, without the open mind, there
can be no understanding. Understanding does not come with knowledge. In the interval between
words, between thoughts, comes understanding; this interval is silence unbroken by knowledge, it
is the open, the imponderable, the implicit.
”Is not knowledge useful, essential? Without knowledge, how can there be discovery?”
Discovery takes place, not when the mind is crowded with knowledge, but when knowledge is
absent; only then is there stillness and space, and in this state understanding or discovery comes
into being. Knowledge is undoubtedly useful at one level, but at another it is positively harmful. When
knowledge is used as a means of self-aggrandizement, to puff oneself up, then it is mischievous,
breeding separation and enmity. Self-expansion is disintegration, whether in the name of God, of
the State, or of an ideology. Knowledge at one level, though conditioning, is necessary: language,
technique, and so on. This conditioning is a safeguard, an essential for outer living; but when this
conditioning is used psychologically, when knowledge becomes a means of psychological comfort,
gratification, then it inevitably breeds conflict and confusion. Besides, what do we mean by knowing?
What actually do you know?
”I know about a great many things.”
You mean you have lots of information, data about many things. You have gathered certain facts;
and then what? Does information about the disaster of war prevent wars? You have, I am sure,
plenty of data about the effects of anger and violence within oneself and in society; but has this
information put an end to hate and antagonism? ‘Knowledge about the effects of war may not put
an immediate end to wars, but it will eventually bring about peace. People must be educated, they
must be shown the effects of war, of conflict.”
People are yourself and another. You have this vast information, and are you any less ambitious, less
violent, less self-centred? Because you have studied revolutions, the history of inequality, are you
free from feeling superior, giving importance to yourself? Because you have extensive knowledge
of the world’s miseries and disasters, do you love? Besides, what is it that we know, of what have
we knowledge?
”Knowledge is experience accumulated through the ages. In one form it is tradition, and in another
it is instinct, both conscious and unconscious. The hidden memories and experiences, whether
handed down or acquired, act as a guide and shape our action; these memories, both racial
and individual, are essential, because they help and protect man. Would you do away with such
knowledge?”
Action shaped and guided by fear is no action at all. Action which is the outcome of racial
prejudices, fears, hopes, illusions, is conditioned; and all conditioning, as we said, only breeds
further conflict and sorrow. You are conditioned as a brahmin in accordance with a tradition which
Commentaries On Living Series 1 175 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 75. 77 ’THE LEARNED OR THE WISE?’
has been going on for centuries; and you respond to stimuli, to social changes and conflicts,
as a brahmin. You respond according to your conditioning, according to your past experiences,
knowledge, so new experience only conditions further. Experience according to a belief, according
to an ideology, is merely the continuation of that belief, the perpetuation of an idea. Such experience
only strengthens belief. Idea separates, and your experience according to an idea, a pattern,
makes you more separative. Experience as knowledge, as a psychological accumulation, only
conditions, and experience is then another way of self-aggrandizement Knowledge as experience at
the psychological level is a hindrance to understanding.
”Do we experience according to our belief?”
That is obvious, is it not? You are conditioned by a particular society – which is yourself at a different
level – to believe in God, in social divisions; and another is conditioned to believe that there is
no God, to follow quite a different ideology. Both of you will experience according to your beliefs,
but such experience is a hindrance to the unknown. Experience, knowledge, which is memory, is
useful at certain levels; but experience as a means of strengthening the psychological ”me,” the ego,
only leads to illusion and sorrow. And what can we know if the mind is filled with experiences,
memories, knowledge? Can there be experiencing if we know? Does not the known prevent
experiencing? You may know the name of that flower, but do you thereby experience the flower?
Experiencing comes fist, and the naming only gives strength to the experience. The naming prevents
further experiencing. For the state of experiencing, must there not be freedom from naming, from
association, from the process of memory?
Knowledge is superficial, and can the superficial lead to the deep? Can the mind, which is the result
of the known, of the past, ever go above and beyond its own projection? To discover, it must stop
projecting. Without its projections, mind is not. Knowledge, the past, can project only that which is
the known. The instrument of the known can never be the discoverer. The known must cease for
discovery; the experience must cease for experiencing. Knowledge is a hindrance to understanding.
”What have we left if we are without knowledge, experience, memory? We are then nothing.”
Are you anything more than that now? When you say, ”Without knowledge we are nothing,” you are
merely making a verbal assertion without experiencing that state, are you not? When you make
that statement there is a sense of fear, the fear of being naked. Without these accretions you are
nothing – which is the truth. And why not be that? Why all these pretensions and conceits? We
have clothed this nothingness with fancies, with hopes, with various comforting ideas; but beneath
these coverings we are nothing, not as some philosophical abstraction, but actually nothing. The
experiencing of that nothingness is the beginning of wisdom.
How ashamed we are to say we do not know! We cover the fact of not knowing with words and
information. Actually, you do not know your wife, your neighbour; how can you when you do not
know yourself? You have a lot of information, conclusions, explanations about yourself, but you are
not aware of that which is, the implicit. Explanations, conclusions, called knowledge, prevent the
experiencing of what is. Without being innocent, how can there be wisdom? Without dying to the
past how can there be the renewing of innocence? Dying is from moment to moment; to die is not
to accumulate; the experiencer must die to the experience. Without experience, without knowledge,
the experiencer is not. To know is to be ignorant; not to know is the beginning of wisdom.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 176 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 76
78 ’STILLNESS AND WILL’
THERE WAS HARDLY anyone on the long, curving beach. A few fishermen were going back to
their village among the tall palms. As they walked they made thread, rolling the cotton on their
naked thighs and winding it on the bobbin; it was a very fine thread, and strong. Some of them
walked with ease and grace, and others with dragging feet. They were ill-fed, thin, and burnt dark
by the sun. A boy passed by singing, with long, cheerful strides; and the sea came rolling in. There
was no strong breeze, but it was a heavy sea, with thunderous waves. The moon, almost full was
just rising out of the blue-green water, and the breakers were white against the yellow sands.
How essentially simple life is, and how we complicate it! Life is complex, but we do not know how to
be simple with it. Complexity must be approached simply, otherwise we shall never understand it.
We know too much, and that is why life eludes us; and the too much is so little. With that little we
meet the immense; and how can we measure the immeasurable? Our vanity dulls us, experience
and knowledge bind us, and the waters of life pass us by. To sing with that boy, to drag wearily with
those fishermen, to spin thread on one’s thigh, to be those villagers and that couple in the car – to
be all that, not as a trick of identity, needs love. Love is not complex, but the mind makes it so. We
are too much with the mind, and the ways of love we do not know. We know the ways of desire and
the will of desire, but we do not know love. Love is the flame without the smoke. We are too familiar
with the smoke; it fills our heads and heats, and we see darkly. We are not simple with the beauty
of the flame; we torture ourselves with it. We do not live with the flame, following swiftly wherever it
may lead. We know too much, which is always little, and we make a path for love. Love eludes us,
but we have the empty frame. Those who know that they do not know are the simple; they go far,
for they have no burden of knowledge.
He was a sannyasi of some repute; he had the saffron robe and the distant look. He was saying that
he had renounced the world many years ago and was now approaching the stage when neither this
177CHAPTER 76. 78 ’STILLNESS AND WILL’
world nor the other world interested him. He had practised many austerities, driven the body hard
and fast, and had extraordinary control over his breathing and nervous system. This had given him
a great sense of power, though he had not sought it.
Is not this power as detrimental to understanding as the power of ambition and vanity? Greed, like
fear, breeds the power of action. All sense of power, of domination, gives strength to the self, to the
”me” and the ”mine; and is not the self a hindrance to reality?
”The lower must be suppressed or made to conform to the higher. Conflict between the various
desires of the mind and the body must be stilled; in the process of control, the rider tastes power,
but power is used to climb higher or go deeper. Power is harmful only when used for oneself, and
not when used to clear the way for the supreme. Will is power, it is the directive; when used for
personal ends it is destructive, but when used in the right direction it is beneficial. Without will, there
can be no action.”
Every leader uses power as a means to an end, and so does the ordinary man; but the leader says
that he is using it for the good of the whole, while the everyday man,is just out for himself. The goal
of the dictator, of the man of power, of the leader, is the same as that of the led; they are similar, one
is the expansion of the other; and both are self-projections. We condemn one and praise the other;
but are not all goals the outcome of one’s own prejudices, inclinations, fears and hopes? You use
will, effort, power, to make way for the supreme; that supreme is fashioned out of desire, which is
will. Will creates its own goal and sacrifices or suppresses everything to that end. The end is itself,
only it is called the supreme, or the State, or the ideology.
”Can conflict come to an end without the power of will?”
Without understanding the ways of conflict and how it comes into being, of what value is it merely
to suppress or sublimate conflict, or find a substitute for it? You may be able to suppress a disease,
but it is bound to show itself again in another form. Will itself is conflict, it is the outcome of struggle;
will is purposive, directed desire. Without comprehending the process of desire, merely to control it
is to invite further burning, further pain. Control is evasion. You may control a child or a problem,
but you have not thereby understood either. Understanding is of far greater importance than arriving
at an end. The action of will is destructive, for action towards an end is self-enclosing, separating,
isolating. You cannot silence conflict, desire, for the maker of the effort is himself the product of
conflict, of desire. The thinker and his thoughts are the outcome of desire; and without understanding
desire, which is the self placed at any level, high or low, the mind is ever caught in ignorance. The
way to the supreme does not lie through will, through desire. The supreme can come into being only
when the maker of effort is not. It is will that breeds conflict, the desire to become or to make way
for the supreme. When the mind which is put together through desire comes to an end, not through
effort, then in that stillness, which is not a goal, reality comes into being.
”But is not simplicity essential for that stillness?”
What do you mean by simplicity? Do you mean identification with simplicity, or being simple?
”You cannot be simple without identifying yourself with that which is simple, externally as well as
inwardly.”
Commentaries On Living Series 1 178 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 76. 78 ’STILLNESS AND WILL’
You become simple, is that it? You are complex, but you become simple through identification,
through identifying yourself with the peasant or with the monk’s robe. I am this, and I become
that. But does this process of becoming lead to simplicity, or merely to the idea of simplicity?
Identification with an idea called the simple is not simplicity, is it? Am I simple because I keep on
asserting that I am simple, or keep on identifying myself with the pattern of simplicity? Simplicity lies
in the understanding of what is, not in trying to change what is into simplicity. Can you change what
is into something it is not? Can greed, whether for God, money or drink, ever become non-greed?
What we identify ourselves with is always the self-projected, whether it is the supreme, the State or
the family. Identification at any level is the process of the self.
Simplicity is the understanding of what is, however complex it may appear. The what is is not difficult
to understand, but what prevents understanding is the distraction of comparison, of condemnation,
of prejudice, whether negative or positive, and so on. It is these that make for complexity. What
is is never complex in itself, it is always simple. What you are is simple to understand, but it is
made complex by your approach to it; so there must be an understanding of the whole process of
approach, which makes for complexity. If you do not condemn the child, then he is what he is and it
is possible to act. The action of condemnation leads to complexity; the action of what is is simplicity.
Nothing is essential for stillness but stillness itself; it is its own beginning and its own end. No
essential bring it about, for it is. No means can ever lead to stillness. It is only when stillness is
something to be gained, achieved, that the means become essential. If stillness is to be bought,
then the coin becomes important; but the coin, and that which it purchases, are not stillness. Means
are noisy, violent, or subtly acquisitive, and the end is of like nature, for the end is in the means. If
the beginning is silence, the end is also silence. There are no means to silence; silence is when
noise is not. Noise does not come to an end through the further noise of effort, of discipline, of
austerities, of will. See the truth of this, and there is silence.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 179 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 77
79 ’AMBITION’
THE BABY HAD been crying all night, and the poor mother had been doing her best to quiet him.
She sang to him, she scolded him, she petted and rocked him; but it was no good. The baby must
have been teething, and it was a weary night for the whole family. But now the dawn was coming
over the dark trees, and at last the baby became quiet. There was a peculiar stillness as the sky
grew lighter and lighter. The dead branches were clear against the sky, slender and naked; a child
called, a dog barked, a lorry rattled by, and another day had begun. Presently the mother came out
carrying the baby, carefully wrapped, and walked along the road past the village, where she waited
for a bus. Presumably she was taking him to the doctor. She looked so tired and haggard after that
sleepless night, but the baby was fast asleep.
Soon the sun was over the tree tops, and the dew sparkled on the green grass. Far away a train
whistled, and the distant mountains looked cool and shadowy. A large bird flew noisily away, for we
had disturbed her brooding. Our approach must have been very sudden, for she hadn’t had time
to cover her eggs with dry leaves. There were over a dozen of them. Even though uncovered they
were hardly visible, she had so cleverly concealed them, and now she was watching from a distant
tree. We saw the mother with her brood a few days later, and the nest was empty.
It was shady and cool along the path, which led through the damp woods to the distant hilltop, and
the wattle was in bloom. It had rained heavily a few days before, and the earth was soft and yielding.
There were fields of young potatoes, and far down in the valley was the town. It was a beautiful,
golden morning. Beyond the hill the path led back,to the house.
She was very clever. She had read all the latest books, had seen the latest plays, and was well
informed about some philosophy which had become the latest craze. She had been analysed and
had apparently read a great deal of psychology, for she knew the jargon. She made a point of seeing
180CHAPTER 77. 79 ’AMBITION’
all the important people, and had casually met someone who brought her along. She talked easily
and expressed herself with poise and effect. She had been married, but had had no children; and
one felt that all that was behind her, and that now she was on a different journey. She must have
been rich, for she had about her that peculiar atmosphere of the wealthy. She began right away
by asking, ”In what way are you helping the world in this present crisis?” It must have been one of
her stock questions. She went on to ask, more eagerly, about the prevention of war, the effects of
Communism, and the future of man.
Are not wars, the increasing disasters and miseries, the outcome of our daily life? Are we not, each
one of us, responsible for this crisis? The future is in the present; the future will not be very different
if there is no comprehension of the present. But do you not think that each one of us is responsible
for this conflict and confusion?
”It may be so; but where does this recognition of responsibility lead? What value has my little action
in the vast destructive action? In what way is my thought going to affect the general stupidity of
man? What is happening in the world is sheer stupidity, and my intelligence is in no way going to
affect it. Besides, think of the time it would take for individual action to make any impression on the
world.”
Is the world different from you? Has not the structure of society been built up by people like you and
me? To bring about a radical change in the structure, must not you and I fundamentally transform
ourselves? How can there be a deep revolution of values if it does not begin with us? To help in
the present crisis, must one look for a new ideology, a new economic plan? Or must one begin
to understand the conflict and confusion within oneself, which, in its projection, is the World? Can
new ideologies bring unity between man and man? Do not beliefs set man against man? Must we
not put away our ideological barriers – for all barriers are ideological – and consider our problems,
not through the bias of conclusion and formulas, but directly and without prejudice? We are never
directly in relationship with our problems, but always through some belief or formulation. We can
solve our problems only when we are directly in relationship with them. It is not our problems which
set man against man, but our ideas about them. Problems bring us together, but ideas separate us.
If one may ask, why are you so apparently concerned about the crisis?
”Oh, I don’t know. I see so much suffering, so much misery, and I feel something must be done
about it.”
Are you really concerned, or are you merely ambitious to do something?
”When you put it that way, I suppose I am ambitious to do something in which I shall succeed.”
So few of us are honest in our thinking. We want to be successful, either directly for ourselves, or
for the ideal, the belief with which we have identified ourselves. The ideal is our own projection,
it is the product of our mind, and our mind experiences according to our conditioning. For these
self-projections we work, we slave away and die. Nationalism, like the worship of God, is only the
glorification of oneself. It is oneself that is important, actually or ideologically, and not the disaster
and the misery. We really do not want to do anything about the crisis; it is merely a new topic for the
clever, a field for the socially active and for the idealist.
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Why are we ambitious?
”If we were not, nothing would get done in the world. If we were not ambitious we would still be
driving about in horsecarriages. Ambition is another name for progress. Without progress, we would
decay, wither away.”
In getting things done in the world, we are also breeding wars and untold miseries. Is ambition
progress? For the moment we are not considering progress, but ambition. Why are we ambitious?
Why do we want to succeed, to be somebody? Why do we struggle to be superior? Why all
this effort to assert oneself, whether directly, or through an ideology or the State? Is not this self-
assertion the main cause of our conflict and confu- sion? Without ambition, would we perish? Can
we not physically survive without being ambitious ?
”Who wants to survive without success, without recognition?”
Does not this desire for success, for applause, bring conflict both within and without? Would being
free of ambition mean decay? Is it stagnation to have no conflict? We can drug ourselves, put
ourselves to sleep with beliefs, with doctrines, and so have no deep conflicts. For most of us, some
kind of activity is the drug. Obviously, such a state is one of decay, disintegration. But when we are
aware of the false as the false, does it bring death? To be aware that ambition in any form, whether
for happiness, for God, or for success, is the beginning of conflict both within and without, surely
does not mean the end of all action, the end of life.
Why are we ambitious?
”I would be bored if I were not occupied in striving to achieve some kind of result. I used to be
ambitious for my husband, and I suppose you would say it was for myself through my husband; and
now I am ambitious for myself through an idea. I have never thought about ambition, I have just
been ambitious.”
Why are we clever and ambitious? Is not ambition an urge to avoid what is? Is not this cleverness
really stupid, which is what we are? Why are we so frightened of what is? What is the good
of running away if whatever we are is always there? We may succeed in escaping, but what we
are is still there, breeding conflict and misery. Why are we so frightened of our loneliness, of our
emptiness? Any activity away from what is is bound to bring sorrow and antagonism. Conflict is
the denial of what is or the running away from what is; there is no conflict other than that. Our
conflict becomes more and more complex and insoluble because we do not face what is. There is
no complexity in what is, but only in the many escapes that we seek.
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80 ’SATISFACTION’
THE SKY WAS heavy with clouds and the day was warm, though the breeze was playing with the
leaves. There was distant thunder, and a sprinkling of rain was laying the dust on the road. The
parrots were flying about wildly, screeching their little heads off, and a big eagle was sitting on the
topmost branch of a tree, preening itself and watching all the play that was going on down below.
A small monkey was sitting on another branch, and the two of them watched each other at a safe
distance. Presently a crow joined them. After its morning toilet the eagle remained very still for a
while, and then flew off. Except for the human beings, it was a new day; nothing was like yesterday.
The trees and the parrots were not the same; the grass and the shrubs had a wholly different
quality. The remembrance of yesterday only darkens today, and comparison prevents perception.
How lovely were those red and yellow flowers ! Loveliness is not of time. We carry our burdens
from day to day, and there is never a day without the shadow of many yesterdays. Our days are one
continuous movement, yesterday mingling with today and tomorrow; there is never an ending. We
are frightened of ending; but without ending, how can there be the new? Without death, how can
there be life? And how little we know of either! We have all the words, the explanations, and they
satisfy us. Words distort ending, and there is ending only when the word is not. The ending that is
of words we know; but the ending without words, the silence that is not of words, we never know. To
know is memory; memory is ever continuous, and desire is the thread that binds day to day. The
end of desire is the new. Death is the new, and life as continuance is only memory, an empty thing.
With the new, life and death are one.
A boy was walking with long strides, singing as he walked. He smiled at all those he passed and
seemed to have many friends. He was ill-clad, with a dirty cloth around his head, but he had a
shining face and bright eyes. With his rapid strides he passed a fat man wearing a cap. The fat
man waddled, head down, worried and anxious. He did not hear the song the boy was singing, nor
even glance at the singer. The boy strode on through the big gates; passing the beautiful gardens
183CHAPTER 78. 80 ’SATISFACTION’
and crossing the bridge over the river, he rounded a bend towards the sea, where he was joined by
some companions, and as darkness gathered they all began to sing together. The lights of a car lit
up their faces, and their eyes were deep with unknown pleasures. It was raining heavily now, and
everything was dripping wet.
He was a doctor not only of medicine but also of psychology. Thin, quiet and self-contained, he had
come from across the seas, and had been long enough in this country to be used to the sun and the
heavy rains. He had worked, he said, as a doctor and psychologist during the war, and had helped
as much as his capacity allowed, but he was dissatisfied with what he had given. He wanted to give
much more, to help much more deeply; what he gave was so little, and there was something missing
in it all.
We sat without a word for a long period while he gathered the pressures of his distress. Silence
is an odd thing. Thought does not make for silence, nor does it build it up. Silence cannot be put
together, nor does it come with the action of will. Remembrance of silence is not silence. Silence
was there in the room with throbbing stillness, and the talk did not disturb if. The talk had meaning
in that silence, and silence was the background of the word. Silence gave expression to thought, but
the thought was not silence. Thinking was not, but silence was; and silence penetrated, gathered
and gave expression. Thinking can never penetrate, and in silence there is communion.
The doctor was saying that he was dissatisfied with everything: with his work, with his capacities,
with all the ideas he had so carefully cultivated. He had tried the various schools of thought, and
was dissatisfied with them all. During the many months since he had arrived here, he had been
to various teachers, but had come away with still greater dissatisfaction. He had tried many isms,
including cynicism, but dissatisfaction was still there.
Is it that you are seeking satisfaction and have not so far found it? Is the desire for satisfaction
causing discontent? Searching implies the known. You say you are dissatisfied, and yet you are
searching; you are looking for satisfaction, and you have not yet found it. You want satisfaction,
which means that you are not dissatisfied. If you were really dissatisfied with everything, you would
not be seeking a way out of it. Dissatisfaction which seeks to be satisfied soon finds what it wants
in some kind of relationship with possessions, with a person, or with some ism.
”I have been through all that yet I am completely dissatisfied.”
You may be dissatisfied with outward relationships, but perhaps you are seeking some psychological
attachment that will give full satisfaction.
”I have been through that too, but I am still dissatisfied.”
I wonder if you really are? If you were wholly discontented, there would be no movement in any
particular direction, would there? If you are thoroughly dissatisfied with being in a room, you do
not seek a bigger room with nicer furniture; yet this desire to find a better room is what you call
dissatisfaction. You are not dissatisfied with all rooms, but only with this particular one, from which
you want to escape. Your dissatisfaction arises from not having found complete satisfaction. You
are really seeking gratification, so you are constantly on the move, judging, comparing, weighing,
denying; and naturally you are dissatisfied. Is this not so?
Commentaries On Living Series 1 184 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 78. 80 ’SATISFACTION’
”It looks that way, doesn’t it?”
So you are really not dissatisfied; it is simply that you have not so far been able to find complete
and lasting satisfaction in anything. That is what you want: complete satisfaction, some deep inner
contentment that will endure.
”But I want to help, and this discontent prevents me from giving myself to it completely.”
Your goal is to help and to find complete gratification in it. You really do not want to help, but to find
satisfaction in helping. You look for gratification in helping, another looks for it in some ism, and yet
another in some kind of addiction. You are looking for a completely satisfying drug which for the
time being you call helping. In seeking to equip yourself to help, you are equipping yourself to be
completely gratified. What you really want is lasting self-gratification.
With most of us, discontent finds an easy contentment. Discontent is soon put to sleep; it is
soon drugged, made quiet and respectable. Outwardly you may have finished with all isms,
but psychologically, deep down, you are seeking something that you can hold on to. You
say you have finished with all personal relationship with another. It may be that in personal
relationship you have not found lasting gratification, and so you are seeking relationship with
an idea, which is always self-projected. In the search for a relationship that will be completely
gratifying, for a secure refuge that will weather all storms, do you not lose the very thing that
brings contentment? Contentment, perhaps, is an ugly word, but real contentment does not imply
stagnation, reconciliation, appeasement, insensitivity. Contentment is the understanding of what
is, and what is is never static. A mind that is interpreting, translating what is, is caught in its own
prejudice of satisfaction. Interpretation is not understanding.
With the understanding of what is comes inexhaustible love, tenderness, humility. Perhaps that is
what you are in search of; but that cannot be sought and found. Do what you will, you will never
find it. It is there when all search has come to an end. You can search only for that which you
already know, which is more gratification. Searching and watching are two different processes;
one is binding, and the other brings understanding. Search, having always an end in view, is ever
binding; passive watchfulness brings understanding of what is from moment to moment. In the what
is from moment to moment there is ever an ending; in search there is continuity. Search can never
find the new; only in ending is there the new. The new is the inexhaustible. Love alone is ever
renewing.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 185 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 79
81 ’WISDOM IS NOT ACCUMULATION OF KNOWLEDGE’
THE CABIN WAS high up in the mountains, and to get there one had to cross the wide desert by car,
passing through may towns, and through luxuriant orchards and rich farms that had been reclaimed
from the desert by irrigation and hard work. One town was especially pleasant with green lawns
and big shady trees, for nearby was a river that came down from the distant mountains into the very
heart of the desert. Beyond this town, following the cascading river, the road led on towards the
snowy peaks. The earth was now rocky, bare and sunburnt, but there were many trees along the
river’s banks. The road curved in and out, rising higher and higher, and passing through forests of
ancient pines with the scent of the sun among them. The air had become cool and fresh, and soon
we arrived at the cabin.
After a couple of days, when it had got used to us, a red-and-black squirrel would come and sit
on the window-sill and somewhat scold us. It wanted nuts. Every visitor must have fed it; but now
visitors were few, and it was eager to store up for the coming winter. It was a very active, cheerful
squirrel, and it was always ready to gather what it could for the many cold and snowy months ahead.
Its home was in the hollow of a tree that must have been dead for many years. It would grab a nut,
race across to the huge trunk, climb up it noisily, scolding and threatening, disappear into a hole,
and then come down again with such speed that one thought it would fall; but it never did. We spent
a morning giving it a whole bag of nuts; it became very friendly and would come right into the room,
its fur shining and its large beady eyes sparkling. Its claws were sharp, and its tail very bushy. It was
a gay, responsible little animal, and it seemed to own the whole neighbourhood, for it kept off all the
other squirrels.
He was a pleasant man, and eager for wisdom. He wanted to collect it as that squirrel gathered
nuts. Though he was not too well-to-do, he must have travelled a good bit, for he seemed to have
met many people in many countries. He had apparently read very extensively also, for he would
186CHAPTER 79. 81 ’WISDOM IS NOT ACCUMULATION OF KNOWLEDGE’
bring out a phrase or two from some philosopher or saint. He said he could read Greek easily and
had a smattering of Sanskrit. He was getting old and was eager to gather wisdom.
Can one gather wisdom?
”Why not? It is experience that makes a man wise, and knowledge is essential for wisdom.”
Can a man who has accumulated be wise?
”Life is a process of accumulation, the gradual building up of character, a slow unfoldment.
Experience, after all, is the storing up of knowledge. Knowledge is essential for all understanding.”
Does understanding come with knowledge, with experience? Knowledge is the residue of
experience, the gathering of the past. Knowledge, consciousness, is always the past; and can
the past ever understand? Does not understanding come in those intervals when thought is silent?
And can the effort to lengthen or accumulate those silent spaces bring understanding?
” Without accumulation, we would not be; there would be no continuity of thought, of action.
Accumulation is character, accumulation is virtue. We cannot exist without gathering. If I did not
know the structure of that motor, I would be unable to understand it; if I did not know the structure of
music, I would be unable to appreciate it deeply. Only the shallow enjoy music. To appreciate music,
you must know how it is made, put together. Knowing is accumulation. There is no appreciation
without knowing the facts. Accumulation of some kind is necessary for understanding, which is
wisdom.”
To discover, there must be freedom, must there not? If you are bound, weighed down, you cannot
go far. How can there be freedom if there is accumulation of any kind? The man who accumulates,
whether money or knowledge, can never be free. You may be free from the acquisitiveness of things,
but the greed for knowledge is still bondage, it holds you. If a mind that is tethered to any form of
acquisition capable of wandering far and discovering? Is virtue accumulation? Can a mind that is
accumulating virtue ever be virtuous? Is not virtue the freedom from becoming? Character may be
a bondage too. Virtue can never be a bondage, but all accumulation is.
”How can there be wisdom without experience?”
Wisdom is one thing, and knowledge another. Knowledge is the accumulation of experience; it is
the continuation of experience, which is memory. Memory can be cultivated, strengthened, shaped,
conditioned; but is wisdom the extension of memory? Is wisdom that which has continuance?
We have knowledge, the accumulation of ages; and why are we not wise, happy, creative? Will
knowledge make for bliss? Knowing, which is the accumulation of experience, is not experiencing.
Knowing prevents experiencing. The accumulation of experience is a continuous process, and each
experience strengthens this process; each experience strengthens memory, gives life to it. Without
this constant reaction of memory, memory would soon fade away. Thought is memory, the word,
the accumulation of experience. Memory is the past, as consciousness is. This whole burden of
the past is the mind, is thought. Thought is the accumulated; and how can thought ever be free to
discover the new? It must end for the new to be.
”I can comprehend this up to a point; but without thought, how can there be understanding ?”
Commentaries On Living Series 1 187 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 79. 81 ’WISDOM IS NOT ACCUMULATION OF KNOWLEDGE’
Is understanding a process of the past, or is it always in the present? Understanding means action
in the present. Have you not noticed that understanding is in the instant, that it is not of time? Do you
understand gradually? Understanding is always immediate, now, is it not? Thought is the outcome
of the past; it is founded on the past, it is a response of the past. The past is the accumulated,
and thought is the response of the accumulation. How, then, can thought ever understand? Is
understanding a conscious process? Do you deliberately set out to understand? Do you choose to
enjoy the beauty of an evening?
”But is not understanding a conscious effort?”
What do we mean by consciousness? When are you conscious? Is consciousness not the
response to challenge, to stimulus, pleasant or painful? This response to challenge is experience.
Experience is naming, terming, association. Without naming, there would be no experience, would
there? This whole process of challenge, response, naming, experience, is consciousness, is it not?
Consciousness is always a process of the past. Conscious effort, the will to understand, to gather,
the will to be, is a continuation of the past, perhaps modified, but still of the past. When we make an
effort to be or to become something, that something is the projection of ourselves. When we make
a conscious effort to understand, we are hearing the noise of our own accumulations. It is this noise
that prevents understanding.
‘Then what is wisdom?”
Wisdom is when knowledge ends. Knowledge has continuity; without continuity there is no
knowledge. That which has continuity can never be free, the new. There is freedom only to that
which has an ending. Knowledge can never be new, it is always becoming the old. The old is ever
absorbing the new and thereby gaining strength. The old must cease for the new to be.
”You are saying, in other words, that thought must end for wisdom to be. But how is thought to end?”
There is no ending to thought through any kind of discipline, practice, compulsion. The thinker is
the thought, and he cannot operate upon himself; when he does, it is only a self-deception. He is
thought, he is not separate from thought; he may assume that he is different, pretend to be dissimilar,
but that is only the craftiness of thought to give itself permanency. When thought attempts to end
thought it only strengthens itself. Do what it will, thought cannot end itself. It is only when the truth
of this is seen that thought comes to an end. There is freedom only in seeing the truth of what is,
and wisdom is the perception of that truth. The what is is never static, and to be passively watchful
of it there must be freedom from all accumulation.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 188 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 80
82 ’DISTRACTION’
IT WAS A long, wide canal, leading from the river into lands that had no water. The canal was
higher than the river, and the water which entered it was controlled by a system of locks. It was
peaceful along that canal; heavy-laden barges moved up and down it, and their white triangular
sails stood out against the blue sky and the dark palms. It was a lovely evening, calm and free,
and the water was very still. The reflections of the palms and of the mango trees were so sharp
and clear that it was confusing to distinguish the actual from the reflection. The setting sun made
the water transparent, and the glow of evening was on its face. The evening star was beginning to
show among the reflections. The water was without a movement, and the few passing villagers, who
generally talked so loud and long, were silent. Even the whisper among the leaves had stopped.
From the meadow came some animal; it drank, and disappeared as silently as it had come. Silence
held the land, it seemed to cover everything.
Noise ends, but silence is penetrating and without end. One can shut oneself off from noise, but
there is no enclosure against silence; no wall can shut it out, there is no resistance against it. Noise
shuts all things out, it is excluding and isolating; silence includes all things within itself. Silence, like
love, is indivisible; it has no division of noise and silence. The mind cannot follow it or be made still
to receive it. The mind that is made still can only reflect its own images, and they are sharp and
clear, noisy in their exclusion. A mind that is made still can only resist, and all resistance is agitation.
The mind that is still and not made still is ever experiencing silence; the thought, the word, is then
within the silence, and not outside of it. It is strange how, in this silence, the mind is tranquil, with a
tranquility that is not formed. As tranquillity is not marketable, has no value, and is not usable, it has
a quality of the pure, of the alone. That which can be used is soon worn out. Tranquillity does not
begin or end, and a mind thus tranquil is aware of a bliss that is not the reflection of its own desire.
She said she had always been agitated by something or other; if it was not the family, it was the
neighbour or some social activity. Agitation had filled her life, and she had never been able to find
189CHAPTER 80. 82 ’DISTRACTION’
the reason for these constant upheavals. She was not particularly happy; and how could one be
with the world as it was? She had had her share of passing happiness, but all that was in the past
and now she was hunting for something that would give a meaning to life. She had been through
many things which at the time seemed worth while, but which afterwards faded into nothingness.
She had been engaged in many social activities of the serious kind; she had ardently believed in the
things of religion, had suffered because of death in her family, and had faced a major operation. Life
had not been easy with her, she added, and there were millions of others in the world like herself.
She wanted to go beyond all this business, whether foolish or necessary and find something that
was really worth while.
The things that are worth while are not to be found. They cannot be bought, they must happen; and
the happening cannot be cunningly planned. Is it not true that anything that has deep significance
always happens, it is never brought about? The happening is important, not the finding. The finding
is comparatively easy, but the happening is quite another matter. Not that it is difficult; but the urge
to seek, to find, must wholly stop for the happening to take place. Finding implies losing; you must
have in order to lose. To possess or be possessed is never to be free to understand.
But why has there always been this agitation, this restlessness? Have you seriously inquired into it
before?
”I have attempted it half-heartedly, but never purposely. I have always been distracted.”
Not distracted, if one may point out; it is simply that this has never been a vital problem to you. When
there is a vital problem, then there is no distraction. Distraction does not exist; distraction implies a
central interest from which the mind wanders; but if there is a central interest, there is no distraction.
The mind’s wandering from one thing to another is not distraction, it is an avoidance of what is. We
like to wander far away because the problem is very close. The wandering gives us something to
do, like worry and gossip; and though the wandering is often painful, we prefer it to what is. Do you
seriously wish to go into all this, or are you merely playing around with it?
”I really want to go through to the very end of it. That is why I have come.”
You are unhappy because there is no spring that keeps the well full, is that it? You may once have
heard the whisper of water on the pebbles, but now the riverbed is dry. You have known happiness,
but it has always receded, it is always a thing of the past. Is that spring the thing you are groping
after? And can you seek it, or must you come upon it unexpectedly? If you knew where it was, you
would find means to get to it; but not knowing, there is no path to it. To know it is to prevent the
happening of it. Is that one of the problems?
”That definitely is. Life is so dull and uncreative, and if that thing could happen one wouldn’t ask for
anything more.”
Is loneliness a problem?
”I don’t mind being lonely, I know how to deal with it. I either go out for a walk, or sit quietly with it till
it goes. Besides, I like being alone.”
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We all know what it is to be lonely: an aching, fearsome emptiness that cannot be appeased. We
also know how to run away from it, for we have all explored the many avenues of escape. Some are
caught in one particular avenue, and others keep on exploring; but neither are in direct relationship
with what is. You say you know how to deal with loneliness. If one may point out, this very action
upon loneliness is your way of avoiding it. You go out for a walk, or sit with loneliness till it goes. You
are always operating upon it, you do not allow it to tell its story. You want to dominate it, to get over
it, to run away from it; so your relationship with it is that of fear.
Is fulfilment also a problem? To fulfil oneself in something implies the avoidance of what one is, does
it not? I am puny; but if I identify myself with the country, with the family, or with some belief, I feel
fulfilled, complete. This search for completeness is the avoidance of what is.
”Yes, that is so; that is also my problem.”
If we can understand what is, then perhaps all these problems will cease. Our approach to any
problem is to avoid it; we want to do something about it. The doing prevents our being in direct
relationship with it, and this approach blocks the understanding of the problem. The mind is occupied
with finding a way to deal with the problem, which is really an avoidance of it; and so the problem
is never understood, it is still there. For the problem, the what is, to unfold and tell its story fully,
the mind must be sensitive, quick to follow. If we anaesthetize the mind through escapes, through
knowing how to deal with the problem, or through seeking an explanation or a cause for it, which is
only a verbal conclusion, then the mind is made dull and cannot swiftly follow the story which the
problem, the what is, is unfolding. See the truth of this and the mind is sensitive; and only then can
it receive. Any activity of the mind with regard to the problem only makes it dull and so incapable of
following, of listening to the problem. When the mind is sensitive – not made sensitive, which is only
another way of making it dull – then the what is, the emptiness, has a wholly different significance.
Please be experiencing as we go along, do not remain on the verbal level.
What is the relationship of the mind to what is? So far, the what is has been given a name, a term,
a symbol of association, and this naming prevents direct relationship, which makes the mind dull,
insensitive. The mind and what is are not two separate processes, but naming separates them.
When this naming ceases, there is a direct relationship: the mind and the what is are one. The what
is is now the observer himself without a term, and only then is the what is transformed; it is no longer
the thing called emptiness with its associations of fear, and so on. Then the mind is only the state
of experiencing, in which the experiencer and the experienced are not. Then there is immeasurable
depth, for he who measures is gone. That which is deep is silent, tranquil, and in this tranquillity is
the spring of the inexhaustible. The agitation of the mind is the usage of word. When the word is
not, the measureless is.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 191 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 81
83 ’TIME’
HE WAS AN oldish man, but well preserved, with long, grey hair and a white beard. He had lectured
about philosophy at universities in different parts of the world. He was very scholarly and quiet.
He said he did not meditate; nor was he religious in the ordinary sense. He was concerned with
knowledge only; and though he lectured on philosophy and religious experiences, he hadn’t any of
his own nor was he looking for any. He had come to talk over the question of time.
How difficult it is for the man of possessions to be free! It is a great hardship for a rich man to put
aside his wealth. Only when there are other and greater inducements will he forgo the comforting
realization that he is a rich man; he must find the fulfilment of his ambition at another level before he
will let go the one he has. To the rich man, money is power, and he is the wielder of it; he may give
away large sums, but he is the giver.
Knowledge is another form of possession, and the man of knowledge is satisfied with it; for him it
is an end in itself. He has a feeling – at least this one had – that knowledge will somehow solve our
problems if only it can be spread, thick or thin, around the world. It is much more difficult for the man
of knowledge to be free from his possessions than for the man of wealth. It is strange how easily
knowledge takes the place of understanding and wisdom. If we have information about things, we
think we understand; we think that knowing or being informed about the cause of a problem will make
it non-existent. We search for the cause of our problems, and this very search is the postponement
of understanding. Most of us know the cause; the cause of hate is not very deeply hidden, but
in looking for the cause we can still enjoy its effects. We are concerned with the reconciliation of
effects, and not with the understanding of the total process. Most of us are attached to our problems,
without them we would be lost; problems give us something to do, and the activities of the problem
fill our lives. We are the problem and its activities.
192CHAPTER 81. 83 ’TIME’
Time is a very strange phenomenon. Space and time are one; the one is not without the other. Time
to us is extraordinarily important, and each one gives to it his own particular significance. Time to
the savage has hardly any meaning, but to the civilized it is of immense significance. The savage
forgets from day to day; but if the educated man did that, he would be put in an asylum or would
lose his job. To a scientist, time is one thing; to a layman, it is another. To an historian, time is the
study of the past; to a man on the stock market, it is the ticker; to a mother, it is the memory of her
son; to an exhausted man, it is rest in the shade. Each one translates it according to his particular
needs and satisfactions, shaping it to suit his own cunning mind. Yet we cannot do without time. If
we are to live at all, chronological time is as essential as the seasons. But is there psychological
time, or is it merely a deceptive convenience of the mind? Surely, there is only chronological time,
and all else is deception. There is time to grow and time to die, time to sow and time to reap; but is
not psychological time, the process of becoming, utterly false?
”What is time to you? Do you think of time? Are you aware of time?”
Can one think of time at all except in the chronological sense? We can use time as a means,
but in itself it has little meaning, has it not? Time as an abstraction is a mere speculation, and all
speculation is vain. We use time as a means of achievement, tangible or psychological. Time is
needed to go to the station, but most of us use time as a means to a psychological end, and the
ends are many. We are aware of time when there is an impediment to our achievement, or when
there is the interval of becoming successful. Time is the space between what is and what might,
should, or will be. The beginning going towards the end is time.
”Is there no other time? What about the scientific implications of time-space?”
There is chronological and there is psychological time. The chronological is necessary, and it is
there; but the other is quite a different matter. Cause-effect is said to be a time process, not only
physically but also psychologically. It is considered that the interval between cause and effect is
time; but is there an interval? The cause and the effect of a disease may be separated by time,
which is again chronological; but is there an interval between psychological cause and effect? Is
not cause-effect a single process? There is no interval between cause and effect Today is the effect
of yesterday and the cause of tomorrow; it is one movement, a continuous flowing. There is no
separation, no distinct line between cause and effect; but inwardly we separate them in order to
become, to achieve. I am this, and I shall become that. To become that I need time – chronological
time used for psychological purposes. I am ignorant, but I shall become wise. Ignorance becoming
wise is only progressive ignorance; for ignorance can never become wise, any more than greed can
ever become non-greed. Ignorance is the very process of becoming.
Is not thought the product of time? Knowledge is the continuation of time. Time is continuation.
Experience is knowledge, and time is the continuation of experience as memory. Time as
continuation is an abstraction, and speculation is ignorance. Experience is memory, the mind.
The mind is the machine of time. The mind is the past. Thought is ever of the past; the past is
the continuation of knowledge. Knowledge is ever of the past; knowledge is never out of time, but
always in time and of time. This continuation of memory, knowledge, is consciousness. Experience
is always in the past; it is the past. This past in conjunction with the present is moving to the
future; the future is the past, modified perhaps, but still the past. This whole process is thought, the
mind. Thought cannot function in any field other than that of time. Thought may speculate upon the
timeless, but it will be its own projection. All speculation is ignorance.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 193 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 81. 83 ’TIME’
”Then why do you even mention the timeless? Can the timeless ever be known? Can it ever be
recognized as the timeless?”
Recognition implies the experiencer, and the experiencer is always of time. To recognize something,
thought must have experienced it; and if it has experienced it, then it is the known. The known is not
the timeless, surely. The known is always within the net of time. Thought cannot know the timeless;
it is not a further acquisition, a further achievement; there is no going towards it. It is a state of being
in which thought, time, is not.
”What value has it?”
None at all. It is not marketable. It cannot be weighed for a purpose. Its worth is unknown.
”But what part does it play in life?”
If life is thought, then none at all. We want to gain it as a source of peace and happiness, as a shield
against all trouble, or as a means of uniting people. It cannot be used for any purpose. Purpose
implies means to an end, and so we are back again with the process of thought. Mind cannot
formulate the timeless, shape it to its own end; it cannot be used. Life has meaning only when the
timeless is; otherwise life is sorrow, conflict and pain. Thought cannot solve any human problem, for
thought itself is the problem. The ending of knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is not
of time, it is not the continuation of experience, knowledge. Life in time is confusion and misery; but
when that which is is the timeless, there is bliss.
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84 ’SUFFERING’
A LARGE DEAD animal was floating down the river. On it there were several vultures, tearing away
at the carcass; they would fight off the other vultures till they had their fill, and only then would they
fly away. The others waited on the trees, on the banks, or hovered overhead. The sun had just risen,
and there was heavy dew on the grass. The green fields on the other side of the river were misty,
and the voices of the peasants carried so dearly across the water. It was a lovely morning, fresh
and new. A baby monkey was playing around the mother among the branches. It would race along
a branch, leap to the next one and race back again, or jump up and down near the mother. She was
bored by these antics, and would come down the tree and go up another. When We began to climb
down, the baby would run and cling to her, getting on her back or swinging under her. It had such a
small face, with eyes that were full of play and frightened mischief.
How frightened we are of the new, of the unknown! We like to remain enclosed in our daily habits,
routines, quarrels and anxieties. We like to think in the same old way, take the same road, see the
same faces and have the same worries. We dislike to meet strangers, and when we do we are aloof
and distraught. And how frightened we are to encounter an unfamiliar animal 1. We move within the
walls of our own thought; and when we do venture out, it is still within the extension of those walls.
We have never an ending, but always nourish the continuous. We carry from day to day the burden
of yesterday; our life is one long, continuous movements and our minds are dull and insensitive.
He could hardly stop weeping. It was not controlled or retrained weeping, but a sobbing that shook
his whole body. He was a youngish man, alert with eyes that had seen visions. He was unable to
speak for some time; and when at last he did, his voice shook and he would burst into great sobs,
unashamed and free. Presently he said:
”I haven’t wept at all since the day of my wife’s death. I don’t know what made me cry like that, but
it has been a relief. I have wept before, with her when she was alive, and then weeping was as
195CHAPTER 82. 84 ’SUFFERING’
cleansing as laughter; but since her death everything has changed. I used to paint, but now I can’t
touch the brushes or look at the things I have done. For the last six months I also have seemed to
be dead. We had no children, but she was expecting one; and now she is gone. Even now I can
hardly realize it, for we did everything together. She was so beautiful and so good, and what shall I
do now? I am sorry to have burst out like that, and GOD knows what made me do it; but I know it
is good to have cried. It will never be the same again, though; something has gone out or my life.
The other day I picked up the brushes, and they were strangers to me. Before, I didn’t even know I
held a brush in my hand; but now it has weight, it is cumbersome. I have often walked to the river,
wanting never to come back; but I always did. I couldn’t see people, as her face was always there.
I sleep, drink and eat with her, but I know it can never be the same again. I have reasoned about it
all, tried to rationalize the event and understand it; but I know she is not there. I dream of her night
after night; but I cannot sleep all the time, though I have tried. I dare not touch her things, and the
very smell of them drives me almost crazy. I have tried to forget, but do what I will, it can never be
the same again. I used to listen to the birds, but now I want to destroy everything. I can’t go on like
this. I haven’t seen any of our friends since then, and without her they mean nothing to me. What
am I to do?”
We were silent for a long time.
Love that turns to sorrow and to hate is not love. Do we know what love is? Is it love that, when
thwarted, becomes fury? Is there love when there is gain and loss?
”In loving her, all those things ceased to exist. I was completely oblivious of them all, oblivious even
of myself. I knew such love, and I still have that love for her; but now I am aware of other things also,
of myself, of my sorrow, of the days of my misery.”
How quickly love turns to hate, to jealousy, to sorrow ! How deeply we are lost in the smoke, and how
distant is that which was so close! Now we are aware of other things, which have suddenly become
so much more important. We are now aware that we are lonely, without a companion, without the
smile and the familiar sharp word; we are aware of ourselves now, and not only of the other. The
other was everything, and we nothing; now the other is not, and we are that which is. The other is
a dream, and the reality is what we are. Was the other ever real, or a dream of our own creation,
clothed with the beauty of our own joy which soon fades? The fading is death, and life is what we
are. Death cannot always cover life, however much we may desire it; life is stronger than death. The
what is is stronger than what is not. How we love death, and not life! The denial of life is so pleasant,
so forgetting. When the other is, we are not; when the other is, we are free, uninhibited; the other is
the flower, the neighbour, the scent, the remembrance. We all want the other, we are all identified
with the other; the other is important, and not ourselves. The other is the dream of ourselves; and
upon waking, we are what is. The what is is deathless, but we want to put an end to what is. The
desire to end gives birth to the continuous, and what is continuous can never know the deathless.
”I know I cannot go on living like this, a half-death. I am not at all sure that I understand what you
are saying. I am too dazed to take anything in.”
Do you not often find that, though you are not giving your full attention to what is being said or
to what you are reading, there has nevertheless been a listening, perhaps unconsciously, and
that something has penetrated in spite of yourself? Though you have not deliberately looked at
Commentaries On Living Series 1 196 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 82. 84 ’SUFFERING’
those trees, yet the image of them suddenly comes up in every detail – have you never found that
happening? Of course you are dazed from the recent shock; but in spite of that, as you come out
of it, what we are saying now will be remembered and then it may be of some help. But what is
important to realize is this: when you come out of the shock, the suffering will be more intense, and
your desire will be to escape, to run away from your own misery. There are only too many people
who will help you to escape; they will offer every plausible explanation, conclusions which they or
others have arrived at, every kind of rationalization; or you yourself will find some form of withdrawal,
pleasant or unpleasant, to drown your misery. Till now you have been too close to the event, but as
the days go by you will crave for some kind of consolation: religion, cynicism, social activity, or some
ideology. But escapes of any kind, whether God or drink, only prevent the understanding of sorrow.
Sorrow has to be understood and not ignored. To ignore it is to give continuity to suffering; to ignore
it is to escape from suffering. To understand suffering needs an operational, experimental approach.
To experiment is not to seek a definite result. If you seek a definite result, experiment is not possible.
If you know what you want, the going after it is not experimentation. If you seek to get over suffering,
which is to condemn it, then you do not understand its whole process; when you try to overcome
suffering, your only concern is to avoid it. To understand suffering, there must be no positive action
of the mind to justify or to overcome it: the mind must be entirely passive, silently watchful, so that
it can follow without hesitation the unfolding of sorrow. Mind cannot follow the story of sorrow if it
is tethered to any hope, conclusion or remembrance. To follow the swift movement of what is, the
mind must be free; freedom is not to be had at the end, it must be there at the very beginning.
”What is the meaning of all this sorrow?”
Is not sorrow the indication of conflict, the conflict of pain and pleasure? Is not sorrow the intimation
of ignorance? Ignorance is not lack of information about facts; ignorance is unawareness of the total
process of oneself. There must be suffering as long as there is no understanding of the ways of the
self; and the ways of the self are to be discovered only in the action of relationship.
”But my relationship has come to an end.”
There is no end to relationship. There may be the end of a particular relationship; but relationship
can never end. To be is to be related, and nothing can live in isolation. Though we try to isolate
ourselves through a particular relationship, such isolation will inevitably breed sorrow. Sorrow is the
process of isolation.
”Can life ever be what it has been?”
Can the joy of yesterday ever be repeated today? The desire for repetition arises only when there
is no joy today; when today is empty, we look to the past or to the future. The desire for repetition is
desire for continuity, and in continuity there is never the new. There is happiness, not in the past or
in the future, but only in the movement of the present.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 197 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 83
85 ’SENSATION AND HAPPINESS’
WE WERE HIGH up over the green sea, and the noise of the propellers beating the air and the roar
of the exhaust made talking difficult. Besides, there were some college boys going to a athletic meet
on the island; one of them had a banjo, and he played upon it and sang for many hours. He egged on
the others, and they all joined in singing together. The boy with the banjo had a good voice, and the
songs were American, songs of the crooners and the cowboys, or jazz. They did it all very well, just
like the gramophone records. They were an odd group, concerned only with the present; they had
not a thought of anything but immediate enjoyment. Tomorrow held all the troubles: job, marriage,
old age and death. But here, high over the sea, it was American songs and picture papers. The
lightning among the dark clouds they ignored, and they never saw the curve of the land as it pursued
the sea, nor the distant village in the sun.
The island was almost below us now. It was green and sparkling, freshly washed by the rains. How
neat and orderly everything was from that altitude! The highest hill was flattened, and the white
waves had no movement. A brown fishing boat with sails was hurrying before the storm; she would
reach safety, for the port was in sight. The winding river came down to the sea, and the soil was
golden brown. At that height one saw what was happening on both sides of the river, and the past
and the future met. The future was not hidden, though it lay around the bend. At that height there
was neither the past nor the future; curving space did not conceal either the time of sowing or the
time of reaping.
The man in the next seat began to talk of the difficulties of life. He complained of his job, the
incessant travelling, the inconsiderateness of his family, and the futility of modern politics. He was
on his way to some far-off place, and was rather sad at leaving his home. As he talked he became
more and more serious, more and more concerned about the world ad particularly about himself
and his family.
198CHAPTER 83. 85 ’SENSATION AND HAPPINESS’
”I would like to go away from it all to some quiet place, work a little, and be happy. I don’t think I
have been happy in all my life, and I don’t know what it means. We live, breed, work and die, like
any other animal. I have lost all enthusiasm, except for making money, and that too is becoming
rather boring. I am fairly good at my job and earn a good salary, but what it is all about I haven’t the
vaguest idea. I would like to be happy, and what do you think I can do about it?”
It is a complex thing to understand, and this is hardly the place for a serious talk.
”I am afraid I have no other time; the moment we land I must be off again. I may not sound serious,
but there are spots of seriousness in me; the only trouble is, they never seem to get together. I am
really quite serious at heart. My father and my older relations were known for their earnestness, but
the present economic conditions don’t allow one to be completely serious. I have been drawn away
from all that, but I would like to get back to it and forget all this stupidity. I suppose I am weak and
grumbling about circumstances; but all the same, I would like to be really happy.”
Sensation is one thing, and happiness is another. Sensation is always seeking further sensation,
ever in wider and wider circles. There is no end to the pleasures of sensation; they multiply, but
there is always dissatisfaction in their fulfilment; there is always the desire for more, and the demand
for more is without end. Sensation and dissatisfaction are inseparable, for the desire for more binds
them together. Sensation is the desire for more and also the desire for less. In the very act of
the fulfilment or sensation, the demand for more is born. The more is ever in the future; it is the
everlasting dissatisfaction with what has been. There is conflict between what has been and what
will be. Sensation is always dissatisfaction. One may clothe sensation in religious garb, but it is
still what it is: a thing of the mind and a source of conflict and apprehension. Physical sensations
are always crying for more; and when they are thwarted, there is anger, jealousy, hatred. There is
pleasure in hatred, and envy is satisfying; when one sensation is thwarted, satisfaction is found in
the very antagonism that frustration has brought.
Sensation is ever a reaction, and it wanders from one reaction to another. The wanderer is the mind;
the mind is sensation. The mind is the storehouse of sensation, pleasant and unpleasant, and all
experience is reaction. The mind is memory, which alter all is reaction. Reaction or sensation can
never be satisfied; response can never be content. Response is always negation, and what is not
can never be. Sensation knows no contentment. Sensation, reaction must always breed conflict,
and the very conflict is further sensation. Confusion breeds confusion. The activity of the mind,
at all its different levels, is the furthering of sensation; and when its expansion is denied, it finds
gratification in contraction. Sensation, reaction, is the conflict of the opposites; and in this conflict of
resistance and acceptance, yielding and denying, there is satisfaction which is ever seeking further
satisfaction.
Mind can never find happiness. Happiness is not a thing to be pursued and found, as sensation.
Sensation can be found again and again, for it is ever being lost; but happiness cannot be found.
Remembered happiness is only a sensation, a reaction for or against the present. What is over is
not happiness; the experience of happiness which is over is sensation, for remembrance is the past
and the past is sensation. Happiness is not sensation.
Have you ever been aware of being happy?
”Of course I have, thank God, otherwise I would not know what it is to be happy.”
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Surely, what you were aware of was the sensation of an experience which you call happiness; but
that is not happiness. What you know is the past, not the present; and the past is sensation, reaction,
memory. You remember that you were happy; and can the past tell what happiness is? It can recall
but it cannot be. Recognition is not happiness; to know what it is to be happy, is not happiness.
Recognition is the response of memory; and can the mind, the complex of memories, experiences,
ever be happy? The very recognition prevents the experiencing.
When you are aware that you are happy, is there happiness? When there is happiness, are you
aware of it? Consciousness comes only with conflict, the conflict of remembrance of the more.
Happiness is not the remembrance of the more. Where there is conflict, happiness is not. Conflict
is where the mind is. Thought at all levels is the response of memory, and so thought invariably
breeds conflict. Thought is sensation, and sensation ia not happiness. Sensations are ever seeking
gratifications. The end is sensation, but happiness is not an end; it cannot be sought out.
”But how can sensations come to an end?”
To end sensation is to invite death. Mortification is only another form of sensation. In mortification,
physical or psychological, sensitivity is destroyed, but not sensation. Thought that mortifies itself is
only seeking further sensation, for thought itself is sensation. Sensation can never put an end to
sensation; it may have different sensations at other levels, but there is no ending to sensation. To
destroy sensation is to be insensitive, dead; not to see, not to smell, not to touch is to be dead,
which is isolation. Our problem is entirely different, is it not? Thought can never bring happiness; it
can only recall sensations, for thought is sensation. It cannot cultivate, produce, or progress towards
happiness. Thought can only go towards that which it knows, but the known is not happiness; the
known is sensation. Do what it will, thought cannot be or search out happiness. Thought can only
be aware of its own structure, its own movement when thought makes an effort to put an end to
itself, it is only seeking to be more successful, to reach a goal, an end which will be more gratifying.
The more is knowledge, but not happiness. Thought must be aware of its own ways, of its own
cunning deceptions. In being aware of itself, without any desire to be or not to be, the mind comes
to a state of inaction. Inaction is not death; it is a passive watchfulness in which thought is wholly
inactive. It is the highest state of sensitivity. When the mind is completely inactive at all its levels,
only then is there action. All the activities of the mind are mere sensations, reactions to stimulation,
to influence, and so not action at all. When the mind is without activity, there is action; this action is
without cause, and only then is there bliss.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 200 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 84
86 ’TO SEE THE FALSE AS THE FALSE’
IT WAS A beautiful evening. The sky was flaming red behind the rice fields, and the tall, slender
palms were swaying in the breeze. The bus loaded with people was making a lot of noise as it
climbed the little hill, and the river wound round the hill as it made its way to the sea. The cattle were
fat, the vegetation was thick, and there was an abundance of flowers. plump little boys were playing
in a field, and the little girls looked on with astonished eyes. There was a small shrine nearby, and
someone was lighting a lamp in front of the image. In a solitary house the evening prayers were
being said, and the room was lighted by a lamp which was not too bright. The whole family had
gathered there, and they all seemed to be enjoying their prayers. A dog was fast asleep in the
middle of the road, and a cyclist went round it. It was getting dark now, and the fireflies lit up the
faces of the people who silently passed by. One was caught in a woman’s hair, giving her head a
soft glow.
How kind we naturally are, especially away from the towns, in the fields and the small villages! Life
is more intimate among the less educated, where the fever of ambition has not yet spread. The boy
smiles at you, the old woman wonders, the man hesitates and passes by. A group stops its loud
talk and turns to look with surprised interest, and a woman waits for you to pass her. We know so
little of ourselves; we know, but we do not understand; we know, but we have no communion with
another. We do not know ourselves. And how can we know another? We can never know another,
we can only commune with another. We can know the dead, but never the living; what we know is
the dead past, not the living. To be aware of the living, we must bury the dead in ourselves. We
know the names of trees, of bird, of shops, but what do we know of ourselves beyond some words
and appetites? We have information, conclusions about so many things; but there is no happiness,
no peace that is not stagnant. Our lives are dull and empty, or so full of words and activity that it
blinds us. Knowledge is not wisdom, and without wisdom there is no peace, no happiness.
201CHAPTER 84. 86 ’TO SEE THE FALSE AS THE FALSE’
He was a young man, a professor of some kind, dissatisfied, worried and burdened with
responsibilities. He began by narrating his troubles, the weary lot of man. He had been well
educated, he said – which was mostly a matter of knowing how to read and gathering information
from books. He stated that he had been to as many of the talks as he could, and went on to explain
that for years he had been trying to give up smoking, but had never been able to give it up entirely.
He wanted to give it up because it was expensive as well as stupid. He had done everything he could
to stop smoking, but had always come back to it. This was one of his problems, among others. He
was intense, nervous and thin.
Do we understand anything if we condemn it? To push it away, or to accept it, is easy; but the very
condemnation or acceptance is an avoidance of the problem. To condemn a child is to push him
away from you in order not to be bothered by hun; but the child is still there. To condemn is to
disregard, to pay no attention; and there can be no understanding through condemnation.
”I have condemned myself for smoking, over and over again. It is difficult not to condemn.”
Yes, it is difficult not to condemn, for our conditioning is based on denial, justification, comparison
and resignation. This is our background, the conditioning with which we approach every problem.
This very conditioning breeds the problem, the conflict. You have tried to rationalize away the
smoking, have you not? When you say it is stupid, you have thought it all out and come to the
conclusion that it is stupid. And yet rationalization has not made you give it up. We think that we
can be free from a problem by knowing its cause; but the knowing is merely information, a verbal
conclusion. This knowledge obviously prevents the understanding of the problem. Knowing the
cause of a problem and understanding the problem are two entirely different things.
”But how else can one approach a problem?”
That is what we are going to find out. When we discover what the false approach is, we shall be
aware of the only approach. The understanding of the false is the discovery of the true. To see
the false as the false is arduous. We look at the false through comparison, through the measure of
thought; and can the false be seen as the false through any thought process? Is not thought itself
conditioned and so false?
”But how can we know the false as the false without the thought process?”
This is our whole trouble, is it not? When we use thought to solve a problem, surely we are using
an instrument which is not at all adequate; for thought itself is a product of the past, of experience.
Experience is always in the past. To see the false as the false, thought must be aware of itself as
a dead process. Thought can never be free, and there must be freedom to discover, freedom from
thought.
”I don’t quite see what you mean.”
One of your problems is smoking. You have approached it with condemnation, or you have tried to
rationalize it away. This approach is false. How do you discover that it is false? Surely, not through
thought, but by being passively watchful of how you approach the problem. Passive watchfulness
does not demand thought; on the contrary, if thought is functioning there can be no passivity.
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Thought functions only to condemn or justify, to compare or accept; if there is a passive watchfulness
of this process, then it is perceived as what it is.
”Yes, I see that; but how does this apply to my smoking?”
Let us experiment together to find out if one can approach the problem of smoking without
condemnation, comparison, and so on. Can we look at the problem afresh, without the past
overshadowing it? It is extremely difficult to look at it without any reaction, is it not? We seem unable
to be aware of it passively, there is always some kind of response from the past. It is interesting to
see how incapable we are of observing the problem as though it were new. We carry along with
us all our past efforts, conclusions, intentions; we cannot look at the problem except through these
curtains.
No problem is ever old, but we approach it with the old formulations, which prevent our understanding
it. Be passively watchful of these responses. Just be passively aware of them, see that they cannot
solve the problem. The problem is real, it is an actuality, but the approach is utterly inadequate.
The inadequate response to what is breeds conflict; and conflict is the problem. If there is an
understanding of this whole process, then you will find that you will act adequately with regard to
smoking.
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87 ’SECURITY’
THE SMALL STREAM was flowing very gently beside the path that wound round the rice fields, and
it was crowded with lotuses; they were dark violet with golden hearts, and they were clear of the
water. Their scent remained close to them, and they were very beautiful. The sky was overcast; it
was beginning to drizzle, and there was thunder among the clouds. The lightning was still far away,
but it was coming towards the tree under which we were sheltering. It began to rain heavily, and the
lotus leaves were collecting drops of water; when the drops became too large, they slipped off the
leaves, only to form again. The lightning was now above the tree, and the cattle were frightened and
straining at their ropes. A black calf, wet and shivering, was calling piteously; it broke its rope and ran
towards a nearby hut. The lotuses were closing themselves tightly, shutting their heats against the
gathering darkness; one would have had to tear the violet petals to get at the golden hearts. They
would remain tightly closed till the coming of the sun. Even in their sleep they were beautiful. The
lightning was moving towards the town; it was now quite dark, and one could just hear the murmur
of the stream. The path led past the village to the road which took us back to the noisy town.
He was a young man, in his twenties; he was well fed, had travelled a little and been to college.
He was nervous and there was anxiety in his eyes. It was late, but he wanted to talk; he wanted
someone to explore his mind for him. He exposed himself very simply, without any hesitation or
pretension. His problem was clear, but not to him; he went groping about.
We do not listen and discover what is; we foist our ideas and opinions on another, trying to force the
other into the frame of our thought. Our own thoughts and judgments are so much more important
to us than to find out what is. The what is is always simple; it is we who are complex. We make the
simple, the what is, complex, and we get lost in it. We listen only to the increasing noise of our own
confusion. To listen, we must be free. It is not that there must be no distractions, for thinking itself is
a form of distraction. We must be free to be silent, and only then is it possible to hear.
204CHAPTER 85. 87 ’SECURITY’
He was saying that just as he was going off to sleep he would sit up with a start of naked fear. Then
the room would lose its proportions; the walls would go flat, there would be no roof, and the floor
would disappear. He would be frightened and sweating. This had been going on for many years.
What are you frightened of?
”I don’t know; but when I wake up with fear, I go to my sister, or to my father and mother, and talk
with them for some time to calm myself, and then go off to sleep. They understand, but I am in my
twenties and it is getting rather silly.”
Are you anxious about the future?
”Yes, somewhat. Though we have money, I am still rather anxious about it.”
Why?
”I want to marry and provide comfort for my future wife.”
Why be anxious about the future? You are quite young, and you can work and give her what is
necessary. Why be so preoccupied with this? Are you afraid of losing your social position? ”Partly.
We have a car, some property and reputation. Naturally I don’t want to lose all this, which may be
the cause of my fear. But it isn’t quite this. It is the fear of not being. When I wake up with fear, I feel
I am lost, that I am nobody, that I am falling to pieces.”
After all, a new government may come in and you may lose your property, your holdings; but you are
quite young, and you can always work. Millions are losing their worldly goods, and you too may have
to face that. Besides, the things of the world are to be shared and not to be exclusively possessed.
At your age, why be so conservative, so afraid of losing?
”You see, I want to marry a particular girl, and I am anxious that nothing should stop it. Nothing is
likely to stop it, but I miss her and she misses me, and this may be another cause of my fear.”
Is that the cause of your fear? You say that nothing out of the ordinary is likely to happen to prevent
your marrying her, so why this fear?
”Yes, it is true that we can marry whenever we decide to, so that cannot be the cause of my fear, at
least not now. I think I am really frightened of not being, of losing my identity, my name.”
Even if you did not care about your name, but had your property and so on, would you not still be
afraid? What do we mean by identity? It is to be identified with a name, with property, with a person,
with ideas; it is to be associated with something, to be recognized as this or that, to be labelled as
belonging to a particular group or country, and so on. You are afraid of losing your label, is that it?
”Yes. Otherwise, what am I? Yes, that is it.”
So you are your possessions. Your name and reputation, your car and other property, the girl you
are going to marry, the ambitions that you have – you are these things. These things, together with
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certain characteristics and values, go to make up what you call ”I; you are the sum total of all this,
and you are afraid of losing it. As with everyone else, there is always the possibility of loss; a war
may come, there may be a revolution or a change in government towards the left. Something may
happen to deprive you of these things, now or tomorrow. But why be afraid of insecurity? Is not
insecurity the very nature of all things? Against this insecurity you are building walls that will protect
you; but these walls can be and are being broken down. You may escape from it for a time, but the
danger of insecurity is always there. That which is, you cannot avoid; insecurity is there, whether
you like it or not. This does not mean that you must resign yourself to it, or that you must accept or
deny it; but you are young, and why be afraid of insecurity?
”Now that you put it this way, I don’t think I am afraid of insecurity. I really don’t mind working; I work
over eight hours a day at my job, and though I don’t particularly like it, I can carry on. No, I am not
afraid of losing property, the car, and so on; and my fiancee and I can marry whenever we want to. I
see now that it is none of this that is making me fearful. Then what is it?”
Let us find out together. I might be able to tell you, but it would not be your discovery; it would only
be on the verbal level, and so utterly useless. The finding of it will be your own experiencing of it,
and it is this that is really important. Discovering is experiencing; we will discover it together.
If it is none of these things that you are frightened of losing, if you are not afraid of being insecure
outwardly, then of what are you anxious? Don’t answer right away; just listen, be watchful to find
out. Are you quite sure it is not physical insecurity that you are frightened of? As far as one can be
sure of such things, you say that you are not frightened of it. If you are sure that this is not a mere
verbal assertion, then of what are you afraid?
”I am quite sure I am not frightened of being physically insecure; we can marry and have what we
need. It is something more than the mere loss of things that I am afraid of. But what is it?”
We will find out, but let us consider it quietly. You really want to find out, don’t you? ”Of course I do,
especially now that we have gone as far as this. What is it that I am frightened of?”
To find out we must be quiet, watchful, but not pressing. If you are not frightened of physical
insecurity, are you frightened of being inwardly insecure, of being unable to achieve the end which
you have set for yourself? Don’t answer, just listen. Do you feel incapable of becoming somebody?
Probably you have a religious ideal; and do you feel you have not the capacity to live up to or achieve
it? Do you feel a sense of hopelessness about it, a sense of guilt or frustration?
”You are perfectly right. Ever since I heard you some years ago as a boy, it has been my ideal, if I
may say so, to be like you. It’s in our blood to be religious, and I have felt I could be like that; but
there has always been a deep fear of never coming near it.”
Let us go slowly. Though you are not frightened of being outwardly insecure, you are frightened of
being insecure inwardly. Another man makes himself secure outwardly with a reputation, with fame,
with money, and so on, while you want to be secure inwardly with an ideal; and you feel you have
no capacity to become that ideal. Why do you want to become or achieve an ideal? Isn’t it only to
be secure, to feel safe? This refuge you call an ideal; but actually you want to be safe, protected. Is
that it?
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”Now that you point it out, that is exactly it.”
You have discovered this now, have you not? But let us proceed further. You see the obvious
shallowness of outward security; but do you also see the falseness of seeking inward security
through becoming the ideal? The ideal is your refuge, instead of money. Do you really see this?
”Yes, I really do.”
Then be what you are. When you see the falseness of the ideal, it drops away from you. You are
what is. From there proceed to understand what is – but not towards any particular end, for the end,
the goal is always away from what is. The what is is yourself, not at any particular period or in any
given mood, but yourself as you are from moment to moment. Do not condemn yourself or become
resigned to what you see, but be watchful without interpreting the movement of what is. This will &
arduous, but there is delight in it. Only to the free is there happiness, and freedom comes with the
truth of what is.
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88 ’WORK’
ALOOF AND INCLINED to be cynical, he was some kind of minister in the Government. He had
been brought along, or more probably dragged, by a friend, and seemed rather surprised at finding
himself there. The friend wanted to talk something over and evidently thought that the other might
as well come along and hear his problem. The minister was curious and rather superior. He was
a big man, sharp of eye and a facile talker. He had arrived in life, and was settling back. To travel
is one thing, and to arrive is another. Travelling is constant arriving, and arrival that has no further
travelling is death. How easily we are gratified, and how quickly discontent finds contentment! We
all want a refuge of some kind, a haven from all conflict, and we generally find it. The clever, like the
foolish, find their haven and are alert within it.
”I have been trying to understand my problem for a number of years, but I haven’t been able to get
to the bottom of it. In my work I have always brought about antagonism; enmity has somehow crept
in amongst all the people I have tried to help. In helping some, I sow opposition among others. With
one hand I give, and with the other I seem to injure. This has been going on for more years than I
can remember, and now a situation has arisen in which I have to act rather decisively. I really don’t
want to hurt anyone, and I am at a loss what to do.”
Which is more important: not to hurt, not to create enmity, or to do some piece of work?
”In the course of my work I do hurt others. I am one of those people who throw themselves into
their work; if I undertake something, I want to see it through. I have always been that way. I think I
am fairly efficient and I hate to see inefficiency. After all, if we undertake some kind of social work,
we must go through with it, and those who are inefficient or slack naturally get hurt and become
antagonistic. The work of bringing help to others is important, and in helping the needy I hurt those
who come in the way. But I really don’t want to hurt people, and I have begun to realize that I must
do something about it.”
208CHAPTER 86. 88 ’WORK’
Which to you is important: to work, or not to hurt people?
”When one sees so much misery and plunges into the work of reform, in the course of that work one
hurts certain people, though most unwillingly.”
In saving one group of people, others are destroyed. One country survives at the expense of another.
The so-called spiritual people, in their ardour for reform, save some and destroy others; they bring
blessings and also curses. We always seem to be kind to some and brutal to others. Why?
Which to you is important: to work, or not to hurt people?
”After all, one has to hurt certain people, the slovenly, the inefficient, the selfish, it seems inevitable.
Don’t you hurt people by your talks? I know a rich man who has been very hurt by what you say
about the wealthy.”
I do not want to hurt anyone. If people are hurt in the process of certain work, then to me that work
has to be put aside. I have no work, no schemes for any kind of reform or revolution. With me work
is not first, but not to hurt others. If the rich man feels hurt by what is said, he is not hurt by me,
but by the truth of what is, which he dislikes; he doesn’t want to be exposed. It is not my intention
to expose another. If a man is temporarily exposed by the truth of what is and gets angry at what
he sees, he puts the blame on others; but that is only an escape from the fact. It is foolish to be
angry with a fact. Avoidance of a fact through anger is one of the commonest and most thoughtless
reactions.
But you have not answered my question. Which to you is important: to work, or not to hurt people?
”Work has to be done, don’t you think?” put in the minister. Why should it be done? If in the course of
benefiting some you hurt or destroy others, what value has it? You may save your particular country,
but you exploit or maim another. Why are you so concerned about your country, your party, your
ideology? Why are you so identified with your work? Why does work matter so much?
”We have to work, be active, otherwise we might as well be dead. When the house is burning, we
cannot for the moment be concerned with fundamental issues.”
To the merely active, fundamentals are never the issue; they are only concerned with activity, which
brings superficial benefits and deep harms. But if I may ask our friend: why is a certain kind of work
so important to you? Why are you so attached to it?
”Oh, I don’t know, but it gives me a great deal of happiness.”
So you are really not interested in the work itself, but in what you get out of it. You may not make
money at it, but you derive happiness from it. As another gains power, position and prestige in saving
his party or his country, so you gain pleasure from your work; as another finds great satisfaction,
which he calls a blessing, in serving his saviour, his guru, his Master, so you are satisfied by what
you call altruistic work. Actually it is not the country, the work, or the saviour that is important to
you, but what you get out of it. Your own happiness is all-important, and your particular work gives
you what you want. You are really not interested in the people you are supposed to be helping; they
Commentaries On Living Series 1 209 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 86. 88 ’WORK’
are only a means to your happiness. And obviously the inefficient, those who stand in your way, get
hurt; for the work matters, the work being your happiness. This is the brutal fact, but we cunningly
cover it with high-sounding words like service, country, peace, God, and so on.
So, if one may point out, you really do not mind hurting people who hinder the efficiency of the
work that gives you happiness. You find happiness in certain work, and that work, whatever it be,
is you. You are interested in getting happiness, and the work offers you the means; therefore the
work becomes very important, and then of course you are very efficient, ruth- less, dominating for
the sake of that which gives you happiness. So you do not mind hurting people, breeding enmity.
”I have never seen it that way before, and it is perfectly true. But what am I to do about it?”
Is it not important to find out also why you have taken so many years to see a simple fact like this?
”I suppose, as you say, I really didn’t care whether I hurt people or not so long as I got my way. I
generally do get my way, because I have always been very efficient and direct – which you would
call ruthlessness, and you are perfectly right. But what am I to do now?”
You have taken all these years to see this simple fact because until now you have been unwilling to
see it; for in seeing it you are attacking the very foundation of your being. You have sought happiness
and found it, but it has always brought conflict and antagonism; and now, perhaps for the first time,
you are facing facts about yourself. What are you going to do? Is there not a different approach to
work? Is it not possible to be happy and work, rather than to seek happiness in work? When we use
work or people as a means to an end, then obviously we have no relationship, no communion either
with the work or with people; and then we are incapable of love. Love is not a means to an end; it
is its own eternity. When I use you and you use me, which is generally called relationship, we are
important to each other only as a means to something else; so we are not important to each other
at all. From this mutual usage, conflict and antagonism must inevitably arise. So what are you going
to do? Let us both discover what to do rather than seek an answer from another. If you can search
it out, your finding of it will be your experiencing of it; then it will be real and not just a confirmation
or conclusion, a mere verbal answer.
”What, then, is my problem?”
Can we not put it this way? Spontaneously, what is your first reaction to the question: Does the work
come first? If it does not, then what does?
”I am beginning to see what you are trying to get at. My first response is shock; I am really appalled
to see what I have been doing in my work for so many years. This is the first time I have faced
the fact of what is, as you call it, and I assure you it is not very pleasant. If I can go beyond it,
perhaps I shall see what is important, and then the work will naturally follow. But whether the work
or something else comes first is still not clear to me.”
Why is it not clear? Is clarity a matter of time, or of willingness to see? Will the desire not to see
disappear by itself in the course of time? Is not your lack of clarity due to the simple fact that you
don’t want to be clear because it would upset the whole pattern of your daily life? If you are aware
that you are deliberately postponing, are you not immediately clear? It is this avoidance that brings
confusion.
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”It is all becoming very clear to me now, and what I shall do is immaterial. Probably I shall do what I
have been doing, but with quite a different spirit. We shall see.”
Commentaries On Living Series 1 211 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 87
59”HOW AM I TO LOVE?”
WE WERE HIGH up on the side of a mountain overlooking the valley, and the large stream was a
silver ribbon in the sun. Here and there the sun came through the thick foliage, and there was the
scent of many flowers. It was a delicious morning, and the dew was still heavy on the ground. The
scented breeze was coming across the valley, bringing the distant noise of people, the sound of bells
and of an occasional water-horn. In the valley the smoke was going straight up, and the breeze was
not strong enough to disperse it. The column of smoke was a lovely thing to watch; it rose from the
bottom of the valley and tried to reach up to the very heavens, like that ancient pine. A large black
squirrel which had been scolding us gave it up at last and came down the tree to investigate further,
and then, partially satisfied, went bounding away. A tiny cloud was forming, but otherwise the sky
was clear, a soft, pale blue.
He had no eyes for all this. He was consumed with his immediate problem, as he had been
consumed with his problems before. The problems moved and had their being around himself.
He was a very rich man; he was lean and hard, but had an easy air with a ready smile. He was now
looking across the valley, but the quickening beauty had not touched him; there was no softening
of the face, the lines were still hard and determined. He was still hunting, not for money, but for
what he called God. He was forever talking about love and God. He had hunted far and wide, and
had been to many teachers; and as he was getting on in years, the hunt was becoming more keen.
He had come several times to talk over these matters, but there was always a look of cunning and
calculation; he was constantly weighing how much it would cost to find his God, how expensive the
journey would be. He knew that he could not take with him what he had; but could he take something
else, a coin that had value where he was going? He was a hard man, and there was never a gesture
of generosity either of the heart or of the hand. He was always very hesitant to give the little extra; he
felt everyone must be worthy of his reward, as he had been worthy. But he was there that morning
to further expose himself; for there was trouble brewing, serious disturbances were taking place in
his otherwise successful life. The goddess of success was not with him altogether.
212CHAPTER 87. 59”HOW AM I TO LOVE?”
”I am beginning to realize what I am,” he said. ”I have these many years subtly opposed and resisted
you. You talk against the rich, you say hard things about us, and I have been angry with you; but I
have been unable to hit you back, for I cannot get at you. I have tried in different ways, but I cannot
lay my hands on you. But what do you want me to do? I wish to God I had never listened to you
or come anywhere near you. I now have sleepless nights, and I always slept so well before; I have
torturing dreams, and I rarely used to dream at all. I have been afraid of you, I have silently cursed
you – but I cannot go back. What am I to do? I have no friends, as you pointed out, nor can I buy
them as I used to – I am too exposed by what has happened. perhaps I can be your friend. You have
offered help, and here I am. What am I to do?”
To be exposed is not easy; and has one exposed oneself? Has one opened that cupboard which
one has so carefully locked, stuffing into it the things which one does not want to see? Does one
want to open it and see what is there?
”I do, but how am I to go about it?”
Does one really want to, or is one merely playing with the intention? Once open, however little, it
cannot be closed again. The door will always remain open; day and night, its contents will be spilling
out. One may try to run away, as one always does; but it will be there, waiting and watching. Does
one really want to open it?
”Of course I do, that is why I have come. I must face it, for I am coming to the end of things. What
am I to do?”
Open and look. To accumulate wealth one must injure, be cruel, ungenerous; there must be
ruthlessness, cunning calculation, dishonesty; there must be the search for power, that egocentric
action which is merely covered over by such pleasant-sounding words as responsibility, duty,
efficiency, rights.
”Yes, that is all true, and more. There has been no consideration of anyone; the religious pursuits
have been mere cloaks of respectability. Now that I look at it, I see that everything revolved around
me. I was the centre, though I pretended not to be. I see all that. But what am I to do?”
First one must recognize things for what they are. But beyond all this, how can one wipe these
things away if there is no affection, no love, that flame without smoke? It is this flame alone that will
wipe away the contents of the cupboard, and nothing else; no analysis, no sacrifice, no renunciation
can do it. When there is this flame, then it will no longer be a sacrifice, a renunciation; then you will
meet the storm without waiting for it.
”But how am I to love? I know I have no warmth for people; I have been ruthless, and they are not
with me who should be with me. I am utterly alone, and how am I to know love? I am not a fool to
think that I can get it by some conscious act, buy it through some sacrifice, some denial. I know I
have never loved, and I see that if I had, I would not be in this situation. What am I to do? Should I
give up my properties, my wealth?”
If you find the garden that you have so carefully cultivated has produced only poisonous weeds, you
have to tear them out by the roots; you have to pull down the walls that have sheltered them. You
Commentaries On Living Series 1 213 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 87. 59”HOW AM I TO LOVE?”
may or may not do it, for you have extensive gardens, cunningly walled-in and well-guarded. You
will do it only when there is no bartering; but it must be done, for to die rich is to have lived in vain.
But beyond all this, there must be the flame that cleanses the mind and the heart, making all things
new. That flame is not of the mind, it is not a thing to be cultivated. The show of kindliness can be
made to shine, but it is not the flame; the activity called service, though beneficial and necessary, is
not love; the much-practised and disciplined tolerance, the cultivated compassion of the church and
temple, the gentle speech, the soft manner, the worship of the saviour, of the image, of the ideal –
none of this is love.
”I have listened and observed, and I am aware that there is no love in any of these things. But my
heart is empty, and how is it to be filled? What am I to do?”
Attachment denies love. Love is not to be found in suffering; though jealousy is strong, it cannot
bind love. Sensation and its gratification is ever coming to an end; but love is inexhaustible.
”These are mere words to me. I am starving: feed me.”
To be fed, there must be hunger. If you are hungry, you will find food. Are you hungry, or merely
greedy for the taste of some other food? If you are greedy, you will find that which will gratify; but it
will soon come to an end, and it will not be love.
”But what am I to do?”
You keep on repeating that question. What you are to do is not important; but it is essential to be
aware of what you are doing. You are concerned with future action, and that is one way of avoiding
immediate action. You do not want to act, and so you keep on asking what you are to do. You are
again being cunning, deceiving yourself, and so your heart is empty. You want to fill it with the things
of the mind; but love is not of the mind. Let your heart be empty. Do not fill it with words, with the
actions of the mind. Let your heart be wholly empty; then only will it be filled.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 214 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 88
1 ’THREE PIOUS EGOISTS’
THE OTHER DAY three pious egoists came to see me. The first was a sannyasi, a man who had
renounced the world; the second was an orientalist and a great believer in brotherhood; and the
third was a confirmed worker for a marvellous Utopia. Each of the three was strenuous in his own
work and looked down on the others’ attitudes and activities, and each was strengthened by his own
conviction. Each was ardently attached to his particular form of belief, and all were in a strange way
ruthless.
They told me, especially the Utopian, that they were ready to deny or sacrifice themselves and their
friends for what they believed. They appeared meek and gentle, particularly the man of brotherhood,
but there was a hardness of heart and that peculiar intolerance which is characteristic of the superior.
They were the chosen, the interpreters; they knew and were certain.
The sannyasi said, in the course of a serious talk, that he was preparing himself for his next life. This
life, he declared, had very little to offer him, for he had seen through all the illusions of worldliness
and had forsaken worldly ways. He had some personal weaknesses and certain difficulties in
concentration, he added, but in his next life he would be the ideal which he had set for himself.
His whole interest and vitality lay in his conviction that he was to be something in his next life. We
talked at some length, and his emphasis was always on the tomorrow, on the future. The past
existed, he said, but always in relation to the future; the present was merely a passage to the future,
and today was interesting only because of tomorrow. If there were no tomorrow, he asked, then why
make an effort? One might just as well vegetate or be like the pacific cow.
The whole of life was one continuous movement from the past through the momentary present to
the future. We should use the present, he said, to be something in the future: to be wise, to be
215CHAPTER 88. 1 ’THREE PIOUS EGOISTS’
strong, to be compassionate. Both the present and the future were transient, but tomorrow ripened
the fruit. He insisted that today is but a steppingstone, and that we should not be too anxious or too
particular about it; we should keep clear the ideal of tomorrow and make the journey successfully.
Altogether, he was impatient of the present.
The man of brotherhood was more learned, and his language more poetic; he was expert in handling
words, and was altogether suave and convincing. He too had carved a divine niche for himself in
the future. He was to be something. This idea filled his heart, and he had gathered his disciples for
that future. Death, he said, was a beautiful thing, for it brought one nearer to that divine niche which
was making it possible for him to live in this sorrowful and ugly world.
He was all for changing and beautifying the world, and was working ardently for the brotherhood
of man. He considered that ambition, with its attendant cruelties and corruption, was inevitable in
a world where you had to get things done; and unfortunately, if you wanted certain organizational
activities carried on, you had to be a little bit on the hard side. The work was important because
it was helping mankind, and anyone who opposed it had to be put aside – gently, of course. The
organization for that work was of the utmost value and must not be hindered. ”Others have their
paths,” he said, ”but ours is essential, and anyone who interferes is not one of us.”
The Utopian was a strange mixture of the idealist and the practical man. His Bible was not the old
but the new. He believed in the new implicitly. He knew the outcome of the future, for the new book
foretold what it was to be. His plan was to confuse, organize and carry out. The present, he said,
was corrupt, it must be destroyed, and out of this destruction the new would be built. The present
was to be sacrificed for the future. The future man was all-important, not the present man.
”We know how to create that future man,” he said, ”we can shape his mind and heart; but we must
get into power to do any good. We will sacrifice ourselves and others to bring about a new state.
Anyone who stands in the way we will kill, for the means is of no consequence; the end justifies any
means.’,
For ultimate peace, any form of violence could be used; for ultimate individual freedom, tyranny in
the present was inevitable. ”When we have the power in our hands,” he declared, ”we will use every
form of compulsion to bring about a new world without class distinctions, without priests. From our
central thesis we will never move; we are fixed there, but our strategy and tactics will vary depending
upon changing circumstances. We plan, organize and act to destroy the present man for the future
man.”
The sannyasi, the man of brotherhood and the Utopian all live for tomorrow, for the future. They
are not ambitious in the worldly sense, they do not want high honours, wealth or recognition; but
they are ambitious in a much more subtle way. The Utopian has identified himself with a group
which he thinks will have the power to reorient the world; the man of brotherhood aspires to be
exalted, and the sannyasi to attain his goal. All are consumed with their own becoming, with their
own achievement and expansion. They do not see that this desire denies peace, brotherhood and
supreme happiness.
Ambition in any form – for the group, for individual salvation, or for spiritual achievement – is action
postponed. Desire is ever of the future; the desire to become is inaction in the present. The now
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has greater significance than the tomorrow. In the now is all time, and to understand the now is to
be free of time. Becoming is the continuation of time, of sorrow. Becoming does not contain being.
Being is always in the present, and being is the highest form of transformation. Becoming is merely
modified continuity, and there is radical transformation only in the present, in being.
Commentaries On Living Series 1 217 Jiddu Krishnamurti

Commentaries On Living Series 2
COMMENTARIES ON LIVING SERIES II CHAPTERCHAPTER 1
2 ’CONDITIONING’
HE WAS VERY concerned with helping humanity, with doing good works, and was active in various
social-welfare organizations. He said he had literally never taken a long holiday, and that since his
graduation from college he had worked constantly for the betterment of man. Of course he wasn’t
taking any money for the work he was doing. His work had always been very important to him, and
he was greatly attached to what he did. He had become a first-class social worker, and he loved it.
But he had heard something in one of the talks about the various kinds of escape which condition
the mind, and he wanted to talk things over.
”Do you think being a social worker is conditioning? Does it only bring about further conflict?”
Let us find out what we mean by conditioning. When are we aware that we are conditioned? Are
we ever aware of it? Are you aware that you are conditioned, or are you only aware of conflict, of
struggle at various levels of your being? Surely, we are aware, not of our conditioning, but only of
conflict, of pain and pleasure.
”What do you mean by conflict?”
Every kind of conflict: the conflict between nations, between various social groups, between
individuals, and the conflict within oneself. Is not conflict inevitable as long as there is no integration
between the actor and his action, between challenge and response? Conflict is our problem, is it
not? Not any one particular conflict, but all conflict: the struggle between ideas, beliefs, ideologies,
between the opposites. If there were no conflict there would be no problems.
”Are you suggesting that we should all seek a life of isolation, of contemplation?”
2CHAPTER 1. 2 ’CONDITIONING’
Contemplation is arduous, it is one of the most difficult things to understand. Isolation, though each
one is consciously or unconsciously seeking it in his own way, does not solve our problems; on the
contrary, it increases them. We are trying to understand what are the factors of conditioning which
bring further conflict. We are only aware of conflict, of pain and pleasure, and we are not aware of
our conditioning. What makes for conditioning?
”Social or environmental influences: the society in which we were born, the culture in which we have
been raised, economic and political pressures, and so on.”
That is so; but is that all? These influences are our own product, are they not? Society is the
outcome of man’s relationship with man, which is fairly obvious. This relationship is one of use, of
need, of comfort, of gratification, and it creates influences, values that bind us. The binding is our
conditioning. By our own thoughts and actions we are bound; but we are not aware that we are
bound, we are only aware of the conflict of pleasure and pain. We never seem to go beyond this;
and if we do, it is only into further conflict. We are not aware of our conditioning, and until we are,
we can only produce further conflict and confusion.
”How is one to be aware of one’s conditioning?”
It is possible only by understanding another process, the process of attachment. If we can
understand why we are attached, then perhaps we can be aware of our conditioning.
”Isn’t that rather a long way round to come to a direct question?”
Is it? just try to be aware of your conditioning. You can only know it indirectly, in relation to something
else. You cannot be aware of your conditioning as an abstraction, for then it is merely verbal,
without much significance. We are only aware of conflict. Conflict exists when there is no integration
between challenge and response. This conflict is the result of our conditioning. Conditioning is
attachment: attachment to work, to tradition, to property, to people, to ideas, and so on. If there
were no attachment, would there be conditioning? Of course not. So why are we attached? I am
attached to my country because through identification with it I become somebody. I identify myself
with my work, and the work becomes important. I am my family, my property; I am attached to them.
The object of attachment offers me the means of escape from my own emptiness. Attachment is
escape, and it is escape that strengthens conditioning. If I am attached to you, it is because you
have become the means of escape from myself; therefore you are very important to me and I must
possess you, hold on to you. You become the conditioning factor, and escape is the conditioning.
If we can be aware of our escapes, we can then perceive the factors, the influences that make for
conditioning.
”Am I escaping from myself through social work?”
Are you attached to it, bound to it? Would you feel lost, empty, bored, if you did not do social work?
”I am sure I would.”
Attachment to your work is your escape. There are escapes at all the levels of our being. You
escape through work, another through drink, another through religious ceremonies, another through
Commentaries On Living Series 2 3 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 1. 2 ’CONDITIONING’
knowledge, another through God, and still another is addicted to amusement. All escapes are the
same, there is no superior or inferior escape. God and drink are on the same level as long as they
are escapes from what we are. When we are aware of our escapes, only then can we know of our
conditioning.
”What shall I do if I cease to escape through social work? Can I do anything without escaping? Is
not all my action a form of escape from what I am?”
Is this question merely verbal, or does it reflect an actuality, a fact which you are experiencing? If
you did not escape, what would happen? Have you ever tried it?
”What you are saying is so negative, if I may say so. You don’t offer any substitute for work.”
Is not all substitution another form of escape? When one particular form of activity is not
satisfactory or brings further conflict, we turn to another. To replace one activity by another without
understanding escape is rather futile, is it not? It is these escapes and our attachment to them that
make for conditioning. Conditioning brings problems, conflict. It is conditioning that prevents our
understanding of the challenge; being conditioned, our response must inevitably create conflict.
”How can one be free from conditioning?”
Only by understanding, being aware of our escapes. Our attachment to a person, to work, to an
ideology, is the conditioning factor; this is the thing we have to understand, and not seek a better
or more intelligent escape. All escapes are unintelligent, as they inevitably bring about conflict. To
cultivate detachment is another form of escape, of isolation; it is attachment to an abstraction, to
an ideal called detachment. The ideal is fictitious, ego-made, and becoming the ideal is an escape
from what is. There is the understanding of what is, an adequate action towards what is, only when
the mind is no longer seeking any escape. The very thinking about what is is an escape from what
is. Thinking about the problem is escape from the problem; for thinking is the problem, and the only
problem. The mind, unwilling to be what it is, fearful of what it is, seeks these various escapes; and
the way of escape is thought. As long as there is thinking, there must be escapes, attachments,
which only strengthen conditioning.
Freedom from conditioning comes with the freedom from thinking. When the mind is utterly still, only
then is there freedom for the real to be.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 4 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 2
3 ’THE FEAR OF INNER SOLITUDE’
HOW NECESSARY it is to die each day, to die each minute to every thing to the many yesterdays
and to the moment that has just gone by! Without death there is no renewing, without death there
is no creation. The burden of the past gives birth to its own continuity, and the worry of yesterday
gives new life to the worry of today.
Yesterday perpetuates today, and tomorrow is still yesterday. There is no release from this continuity
except in death. In dying there is joy. This new morning, fresh and clear, is free from the light and
darkness of yesterday; the song of that bird is heard for the first lime, and the noise of those children
is not that of yesterday. We carry the memory of yesterday, and it darkens our being. As long as
the mind is the mechanical machine of memory, it knows no rest, no quietude, no silence; it is ever
wearing itself out. That which is still can be reborn, but anything that is in constant activity wears out
and is useless. The well-spring is in ending, and death is as near as life.
She said she had studied for a number of years with one of the famous psychologists and had
been analysed by him, which had taken considerable time. Though she had been brought up
as a Christian and had also studied Hindu philosophy and its teachers, she had never joined
any particular group or associated herself with any system of thought. As always, she was still
dissatisfied, and had even put aside the psychoanalysis; and now she was engaged in some kind of
welfare work. She had been married and had known all the misfortunes of family life as well as its
joys. She had taken refuge in various ways: in social prestige, in work, in money, and in the warm
delight of this country by the blue sea. Sorrows had multiplied, which she could bear; but she had
never been able to go beyond a certain depth, and it was not very deep.
Almost everything is shallow and soon comes to an end, only to begin again with a further
shallowness. The inexhaustible is not to be discovered through any activity of the mind.
5CHAPTER 2. 3 ’THE FEAR OF INNER SOLITUDE’
”I have gone from one activity to another, from one misfortune to another, always being driven and
always pursuing. Now that I have reached the end of one urge, and before I follow another which will
carry me on for a number of years, I have acted on a stronger impulse, and here I am. I have had
a good life, gay and rich. I have been interested in many things and have studied certain subjects
fairly deeply; but somehow, after all these years, I am still on the fringe of things, I don’t seem able to
penetrate beyond a certain point; I want to go deeper, but I cannot. I am told I am good at what I have
been doing, and it is that very goodness that binds me. My conditioning is of the beneficent kind:
doing good to others, helping the needy, consideration, generosity, and so on; but it is binding, like
any other conditioning. My problems to be free, not only of this conditioning, but of all conditioning,
and to go beyond. This has become an imperative necessity, not only from hearing the talks, but
also from my own observation and experience. I have for the time being put aside my welfare work,
and whether or not I shall continue with it will be decided later.”
Why have you not previously asked yourself the reason for all these activities?
”It has never before occurred to me to ask myself why I am in social work. I have always wanted to
help, to do good, and it wasn’t just empty sentimentality. I have found that the people with whom I
live are not real, but only masks; it is those who need help that are real. Living with the masked is
dull and stupid, but with the others there is struggle, pain.”
Why do you engage in welfare or in any other kind of work? ”I suppose it is just to carry on. One must
live and act, and my conditioning has been to act as decently as possible. I have never questioned
why I do these things, and now I must find out. But before we go any further, let me say that I am a
solitary person; though I see many people, I am alone and I like it. There is something exhilarating
in being alone.”
To be alone, in the highest sense, is essential; but the aloneness of withdrawal gives a sense of
power, of strength, of invulnerability. Such aloneness is isolation, it is an escape, a refuge. But isn’t
it important to find out why you have never asked yourself the reason for all your supposedly good
activities? Shouldn’t you inquire into that?
”Yes, let us do so. I think it is the fear of inner solitude that has made me do all these things.”
Why do you use the word ‘fear’ with regard to inner solitude? Outwardly you don’t mind being alone,
but from inner solitude you turn away. Why? Fear is not an abstraction, it exists only in relationship
to something. Fear does not exist by itself; it exists as a word, but it is felt only in contact with
something else. What is it that you are afraid of?
”Of this inner solitude.”
There is fear of inner solitude only in relation to something else. You cannot be afraid of inner
solitude, because you have never looked at it; you are measuring it now with what you already know.
You know your worth, if one may put it that way, as a social worker, as a mother, as a capable and
efficient person, and so on; you know the worth of your outer solitude. So it is in relation to all this
that you measure or approach inner solitude; you know what has been, but you don’t know what is.
The known looking at the unknown brings about fear; it is this activity that causes, fear.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 6 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 2. 3 ’THE FEAR OF INNER SOLITUDE’
”Yes, that is perfectly true. I am comparing the inner solitude with the things I know through
experience. It is these experiences that are causing fear of something I have really not experienced
at all.”
So your fear is really not of the inner solitude, but the past is afraid of something it does not know,
has not experienced. The past wants to absorb the new, make of it an experience. But can the past,
which is you, experience the new, the unknown? The known can experience only that which is of
itself, it can never experience the new, the unknown. By giving the unknown a name, by calling it
inner solitude, you have only recognized it verbally, and the word is taking the place of experiencing;
for the word is the screen of fear. The term ‘inner solitude’ is covering the fact, the what is, and the
very word is creating fear.
”But somehow I don’t seem to be able to look at it.”
Let us first understand why we are not capable of looking at the fact, and what is preventing our
being passively watchful of it. Don’t attempt to look at it now, but please listen quietly to what is
being said.
The known, past experience, is trying to absorb what it calls the inner solitude; but it cannot
experience it, for it does not know what it is; it knows the term, but not what is behind the term.
The unknown cannot be experienced. You may think or speculate about the unknown, or be afraid
of it; but thought cannot comprehend it, for thought is the outcome of the known, of experience. As
thought cannot know the unknown, it is afraid of it. There will be fear as long as thought desires to
experience, to understand the unknown.
”Then what… ?”
Please listen. If you listen rightly, the truth of all this will be seen, and then truth will be the only
action. Whatever thought does with regard to inner solitude is an escape, an avoidance of what
is. In avoiding what is, thought creates its own conditioning which prevents the experiencing of the
new, the unknown. Fear is the only response of thought to the unknown; thought may call it by
different terms, but still it is fear. Just see that thought cannot operate upon the unknown, upon what
is behind the term ‘inner solitude’. Only then does what is unfold itself, and it is inexhaustible.
Now, if one may suggest, leave it alone; you have heard, and let that work as it will. To be still after
tilling and sowing is to give birth to creation.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 7 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 3
4 ’THE PROCESS OF HATE’
SHE WAS A teacher, or rather had been one. She was affectionate and kindly, and this had almost
become a routine. She said she had taught for over twenty-five years and had been happy in it;
and although towards the end she had wanted to get away from the whole thing, she had stuck
to it. Recently she had begun to realize what was deeply buried in her nature. She had suddenly
discovered it during one of the discussions, and it had really surprised and shocked her. It was there,
and it wasn’t a mere self-accusation; and as she looked back through the years she could now see
that it had always been there. She really hated. It was not hatred of anyone in particular, but a
feeling of general hate, a suppressed antagonism towards everyone and everything. When she first
discovered it, she thought it was something very superficial which she could easily throw off; but as
the days went by she found that it wasn’t just a mild affair, but a deep-rooted hatred which had been
going on all her life. What shocked her was that she had always thought she was affectionate and
kind.
Love is a strange thing; as long as thought is woven through it, it is not love. When you think of
someone you love, that person becomes the symbol of pleasant sensations, memories, images; but
that is not love. Thought is sensation, and sensation is not love. The very process of thinking is the
denial of love. Love is the flame without the smoke of thought, of jealousy, of antagonism, of usage,
which are things of the mind. As long as the heart is burdened with the things of the mind, there
must be hate; for the mind is the seat of hate, of antagonism, of opposition, of conflict. Thought is
reaction, and reaction is always, in one way or another, the source of enmity. Thought is opposition,
hate; thought is always in competition, always seeking an end, success; its fulfilment is pleasure and
its frustration is hate. Conflict is thought caught in the opposites; and the synthesis of the opposites
is still hate, antagonism. ”You see, I always thought I loved the children, and even when they grew up
they used to come to me for comfort when they were in trouble. I took it for granted that I loved them,
especially those who were my favorites away from the classroom; but now I see there has always
8CHAPTER 3. 4 ’THE PROCESS OF HATE’
been an undercurrent of hate, of deep-rooted antagonism. What am I to do with this discovery? You
have no idea how appalled I am by it, and though you say we must not condemn, this discovery has
been very salutary.”
Have you also discovered the process of hate? To see the cause, to know why you hate, is
comparatively easy; but are you aware of the ways of hate? Do you observe it as you would a
strange new animal?
”It is all so new to me, and I have never watched the process of hate.”
Let us do so now and see what happens; let us be passively watchful of hate as it unrolls itself. Don’t
be shocked, don’t condemn or find excuses; just passively watch it. Hate is a form of frustration, is
it not? Fulfilment and frustration always go together.
What are you interested in, not professionally, but deep down?
”I always wanted to paint.”
Why haven’t you?
”My father used to insist that I should not do anything that didn’t bring in money. He was a very
aggressive man, and money was to him the end of all things; he never did a thing if there was no
money in it, or if it didn’t bring more prestige, more power.‘More’ was his god, and we were all his
children. Though I liked him, I was opposed to him in so many ways. This idea of the importance
of money was deeply embedded in me; and I liked teaching, probably because it offered me an
opportunity to be the boss. On my holidays I used to paint, but it was most unsatisfactory; I wanted
to give my life to it, and I actually gave only a couple of months a year. Finally I stopped painting,
but it was burning inwardly. I see now how it was breeding antagonism.”
Were you ever married? Have you children of your own?
”I fell in love with a married man, and we lived together secretly. I was furiously jealous of his wife
and children, and I was scared to have babies, though I longed for them. All the natural things the
everyday companionship and so on, were denied me, and jealousy was a consuming fury. He had
to move to another town, and my jealousy never abated. It was an unbearable thing. To forget it all,
I took to teaching more intensely. But now I see I am still jealous, not of him, for he is dead, but of
happy people, of married people, of the successful, of almost any one. What we could have been
together was denied to us!”
Jealousy is hate, is it not? If one loves, there is no room for anything else. But we do not love; the
smoke chokes our life, and the flame dies.
”I can see now that in school, with my married sisters, and in almost all my relationships, there was
war going on, only it was covered up. I was becoming the ideal teacher; to become the ideal teacher
was my goal, and I was being recognized as such.”
The stronger the ideal, the deeper the suppression, the deeper the conflict and antagonism.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 9 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 3. 4 ’THE PROCESS OF HATE’
”Yes, I see all that now; and strangely, as I watch, I don’t mind being what I actually am.”
You don’t mind it because there is a kind of brutal recognition, is there not? This very recognition
brings a certain pleasure; it gives vitality, a sense of confidence in knowing yourself, the power of
knowledge. As jealousy, though painful, gave a pleasurable sensation, so now the knowledge of
your past gives you a sense of mastery which is also pleasurable. You have now found a new term
for jealousy, for frustration, for being left: it is hate and the knowledge of it. There is pride in knowing,
which is another form of antagonism. We move from one substitution to another; but essentially, all
substitutions are the same, though verbally they may appear to be dissimilar. So you are caught in
the net of your own thought, are you not?
”Yes, but what else can one do?”
Don’t ask, but watch the process of your own thinking. How cunning and deceptive it is! It promises
release, but only produces another crisis, another antagonism. Just be passively watchful of this and
let the truth of it be. ”Will there be freedom from jealousy, from hate, from this constant, suppressed
battle?”
When you are hoping for something positively or negatively, you are projecting your own desire; you
will succeed in your desire, but that is only another substitution, and so the battle is on again. This
desire to gain or to avoid is still within the field of opposition, is it not? See the false as the false,
then the truth is. You don’t have to look for it. What you seek you will find, but it will not be truth.
It is like a suspicious man finding what he suspects, which is comparatively easy and stupid. Just
be passively aware of this total thought process, and also of the desire to be free of it. ”All this has
been an extraordinary discovery for me, and I am beginning to see the truth of what you are saying.
I hope it won’t take more years to go beyond this conflict. There I am hoping again! I shall silently
watch and see what happens.”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 10 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 4
5 ’PROGRESS AND REVOLUTION’
THEY WERE CHANTING in the temple. It was a clean temple of carved stone, massive and
indestructible. There were over thirty priests, naked to the waist; their pronunciation of the Sanskrit
was precise and distinct, and they knew the meaning of the chant. The depth and sound of the words
made those walls and pillars almost tremble, and instinctively the group that was there became
silent. The creation, the beginning of the world was being chanted, and how man was brought forth.
The people had closed their eyes, and the chant was producing a pleasant disturbance: nostalgic
remembrances of their childhood, thoughts of the progress they had made since those youthful days,
the strange effect of Sanskrit words, delight in hearing the chant again. Some were repeating the
chant to themselves, and their lips were moving. The atmosphere was getting charged with strong
emotions, but the priests went on with the chant and the gods remained silent.
How we hug to ourselves the idea of progress. We like to think we shall achieve a better state,
become more merciful, peaceful and virtuous. We love to cling to this illusion, and few are deeply
aware that this becoming is a pretence, a satisfying myth. We love to think that someday we shall be
better, but in the meantime we carry on. Progress is such a comforting word, so reassuring, a word
with which we hypnotize ourselves. The thing which is cannot become something different; greed
can never become non-greed, any more than violence can become non-violence. You can make pig
iron into a marvellous, complicated machine, but progress is illusion when applied to self-becoming.
The idea of the ‘me’ becoming something glorious is the simple deception of the craving to be great.
We worship the success of the State, of the ideology, of the self, and deceive ourselves with the
comforting illusion of progress. Thought may progress, become something more, go towards a
more perfect end, or make itself silent; but as long as thought is a movement of acquisitiveness or
renunciation, it is always a mere reaction. Reaction ever produces conflict, and progress in conflict
is further confusion, further antagonism.
11CHAPTER 4. 5 ’PROGRESS AND REVOLUTION’
He said he was a revolutionary, ready to kill or be killed for his cause, for his ideology. He was
prepared to kill for the sake of a better world. To destroy the present social order would of course
produce more chaos, but this confusion could be used to build a classless society. What did it matter
if you destroyed some or many in the process of building a perfect social order? What mattered was
not the present man, but the future man; the new world that they were going to build would have no
inequality, there would be work for all, and there would be happiness.
How can you be so sure of the future? What makes you so certain of it? The religious people
promise heaven, and you promise a better world in the future; you have your book and your priests,
as they have theirs, so there is really not much difference between you. But what makes you so sure
that you are clear-sighted about the future?
”Logically, if we follow a certain course the end is certain. Moreover, there is a great deal of historical
evidence to support our position.” We all translate the past according to our particular conditioning
and interpret it to suit our prejudices. You are as uncertain of tomorrow as the rest of us, and thank
heaven it is so! But to sacrifice the present for an illusory future is obviously most illogical.
”Do you believe in change, or are you a tool of the capitalist bourgeoisie?”
Change is modified continuity, which you may call revolution; but fundamental revolution is quite
a different process, it has nothing to do with logic or historical evidence. There is fundamental
revolution only in understanding the total process of action, not at any particular level, whether
economic or ideological, but action as an integrated whole. Such action is not reaction. You
only know reaction, the reaction of antithesis, and the further reaction which you call synthesis.
Integration is not an intellectual synthesis, a verbal conclusion based on historical study. Integration
can come into being only with the understanding of reaction. The mind is a series of reactions; and
revolution based on reactions, on ideas, is no revolution at all, but only a modified continuity of what
has been. You may call it revolution, but actually it is not.
”What to you is revolution?”
Change based on an idea is not revolution; for idea is the response of memory, which is again a
reaction. Fundamental revolution is possible only when ideas are not important and so have ceased.
A revolution born of antagonism ceases to be what it says it is; it is only opposition, and opposition
can never be creative.
”The kind of revolution you are talking about is purely an abstraction, it has no reality in the modern
world. You are a vague idealist, utterly impractical.”
On the contrary, the idealist is the man with an idea, and it is he who is not revolutionary. Ideas divide,
and separation is disintegration, it is not revolution at all. The man with an ideology is concerned
with ideas, words, and not with direct action; he avoids direct action. An ideology is a hindrance to
direct action.
”Don’t you think there can be equality through revolution?”
Revolution based on an idea, however logical and in accordance with historical evidence, cannot
bring about equality. The very function of idea is to separate people. Belief, religious or political,
Commentaries On Living Series 2 12 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 4. 5 ’PROGRESS AND REVOLUTION’
sets man against man. So-called religions have divided people, and still do. Organized belief, which
is called religion, is, like any other ideology, a thing of the mind and therefore separative. You with
your ideology are doing the same, are you not? You also are forming a nucleus or group around an
idea; you want to include everyone in your group, just as the believer does. You want to save the
world in your way, as he in his. You murder and liquidate each other, all for a better world. Neither
of you is interested in a better world, but in shaping the world according to your idea. How can idea
make for equality.
”Within the fold of the idea we are all equal, though we may have different functions. We are first what
the idea represents, and afterwards we are individual functionaries. In function we have gradations,
but not as representatives of the ideology.”
This is precisely what every other organized belief has proclaimed. In the eyes of God we are all
equal, but in capacity there is variation; life is one, but social divisions are inevitable. By substituting
one ideology for another you have not changed the fundamental fact that one group or individual
treats another as inferior. Actually, there is inequality at all the levels of existence. One has capacity,
and another has not; one leads, and an other follows; one is dull, and another is sensitive, alert,
adaptable; one paints or writes, and another digs; one is a scientist, and another a sweeper.
Inequality is a fact, and no revolution can do away with it. What so-called revolution does is to
substitute one group for another, and the new group then assumes power, political and economic; it
becomes the new upper class which proceeds to strengthen itself by privileges, and so on; it knows
all the tricks of the other class, which has been thrown down. It has not abolished inequality, has it?
”Eventually it will. When the whole world is of our way of thinking, then there will be ideological
equality.”
Which is not equality at all, but merely an idea, a theory, the dream of another world, like that of the
religious believer. How very near you are to each other! Ideas divide, they are separative, opposing,
breeding conflict. An idea can never bring about equality, even in its own world. If we all believed
the same thing at the same time, at the same level, there would be equality of a sort; but that is an
impossibility, a mere speculation which can only lead to illusion.
”Are you scouting all equality? Are you being cynical and condemning all efforts to bring about equal
opportunity for all?”
I am not being cynical, but am merely stating the obvious facts; nor am I against equal opportunity.
Surely, it is possible to go beyond and perhaps discover an effective approach to this problem of
inequality, only when we understand the actual, the what is. To approach what is with an idea, a
conclusion, a dream, is not to understand what is. Prejudiced observation is no observation at all.
The fact is, there is inequality at all the levels of consciousness, of life; and do what we may, we
cannot alter that fact.
Now, is it possible to approach the fact of inequality without creating further antagonism, further
division? Revolution has used man as a means to an end. The end was important, but not man.
Religions have maintained, at least verbally, that man is important; but they too have used man for
the building up of belief, of dogma. The utilizing of man for a purpose must of necessity breed the
sense of the superior and the inferior, the one who is near and the one who is far, the one who knows
Commentaries On Living Series 2 13 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 4. 5 ’PROGRESS AND REVOLUTION’
and the one who does not know. This separation is psychological inequality, and it is the factor of
disintegration in society. At present we know relationship only as utility; society uses the individual,
just as individuals use each other, in order to benefit in various ways. This using of another is the
fundamental cause of the psychological division of man against man.
We cease to use one another only when idea is not the motivating factor in relationship. With idea
comes exploitation, and exploitation breeds antagonism.
”Then what is the factor that comes into being when idea ceases?”
It is love, the only factor that can bring about a fundamental revolution. Love is the only true
revolution. But love is not an idea; it is when thought is not. Love is not a tool of propaganda;
it is not something to be cultivated and shouted about from the house tops. Only when the flag,
the belief, the leader, the idea as planned action, drop away, can there be love; and love is the only
creative and constant revolution.
”But love won’t run machinery, will it?”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 14 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 5
6 ’BOREDOM’
IT HAD STOPPED raining; the roads were clean, and the dust had been washed from the trees.
The earth was refreshed, and the frogs were loud in the pond; they were big, and their throats were
swollen with pleasure. The grass was sparkling with tiny drops of water, and there was peace in
the land after the heavy downpour. The cattle were soaking wet, but during the rain they never took
shelter, and now they were contentedly grazing. Some boys were playing in the little stream that the
rain had made by the road side; they were naked, and it was good to see their shining bodies and
their bright eyes. They were having the time of their life, and how happy they were! Nothing else
mattered, and they smiled out of joy as one said something to them, though they didn’t understand
a word. The sun was coming out and the shadows were deep.
How necessary it is for the mind to purge itself of all thought, to be constantly empty, not made
empty, but simply empty; to die to all thought, to all of yesterday’s memories, and to the coming
hour! It is simple to die, and it is hard to continue; for continuity is effort to be or not to be. Effort
is desire, and desire can die only when the mind ceases to acquire. How simple it is just to live!
But it is not stagnation. There is great happiness in not wanting, in not being something, in not
going somewhere. When the mind purges itself of all thought, only then is there the silence of
creation. The mind is not tranquil as long as it is travelling in order to arrive. For the mind, to arrive
is to succeed, and success is ever the same, whether at the beginning or at the end. There is no
purgation of the mind if it is weaving the pattern of its own becoming.
She said she had always been active in one way or another, either with her children, or in social
affairs, or in sports; but behind this activity there was always boredom, pressing and constant. She
was bored with the routine of life, with pleasure, pain, flattery, and everything else. Boredom was
like a cloud that had hung over her life for as long as she could remember. She had tried to escape
from it, but every new interest soon became a further boredom, a deadly weariness. She had read
15CHAPTER 5. 6 ’BOREDOM’
a great deal, and had had the usual turmoils of family life, but through it all there was this weary
boredom. It had nothing to do with her health, for she was very well.
Why do you think you get bored? Is it the outcome of some frustration, of some fundamental desire
which has been thwarted?
”Not especially. There have been some superficial obstructions, but they have never bothered me;
or when they have, I have met them fairly intelligently and have never been stumped by them. I
don’t think my trouble is frustration, for I have always been able to get what I want. I haven’t cried
for the moon, and have been sensible in my demands; but there has nevertheless been this sense
of boredom with everything, with my family and with my work.”
What do you mean by boredom? Do you mean dissatisfaction? Is it that nothing has given you
complete satisfaction?
”It isn’t quite that. I am as dissatisfied as any normal person, but I have been able to reconcile myself
to the inevitable dissatisfactions.”
What are you interested in? Is there any deep interest in your life?
”Not especially. If I had a deep interest I would never be bored. I am naturally an enthusiastic
person, I assure you, and if I had an interest I wouldn’t easily let it go. I have had many intermittent
interests, but they have all led in the end to this cloud of boredom.”
What do you mean by interest? Why is there this change from interest to boredom? What does
interest mean? You are interested in that which pleases you, gratifies you, are you not? Is not
interest a process of acquisitiveness? You would not be interested in anything if you did not get
something out of it, would you? There is sustained interest as long as you are acquiring; acquisition
is interest, is it not? You have tried to gain satisfaction from every thing you have come in contact
with; and when you have thoroughly used it, naturally you get bored with it. Every acquisition is a
form of boredom, weariness. We want a change of toys; as soon as we lose interest in one, we turn
to another, and there is always a new toy to turn to. We turn to something in order to acquire; there
is acquisition in pleasure, in knowledge, in fame, in power, in efficiency, in having a family, and so
on. When there is nothing further to acquire in one religion, in one saviour, we lose interest and turn
to another. Some go to sleep in an organization and never wake up, and those who do wake up
put them selves to sleep again by joining another. This acquisitive movement is called expansion of
thought, progress.
”Is interest always acquisition?”
Actually, are you interested in anything which doesn’t give you something, whether it be a play, a
game, a conversation, a book, or a person? If a painting doesn’t give you something, you pass it by;
if a person doesn’t stimulate or disturb you in some way, if there is no pleasure or pain in a particular
relationship, you lose interest, you get bored. Haven’t you noticed this?
”Yes, but I have never before looked at it in this way.”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 16 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 5. 6 ’BOREDOM’
You wouldn’t have come here if you didn’t want something. You want to be free of boredom. As
I cannot give you that freedom, you will get bored again; but if we can together understand the
process of acquisition, of interest, of boredom, then perhaps there will be freedom. Freedom cannot
be acquired. If you acquire it, you will soon be bored with it. Does not acquisition dull the mind?
Acquisition, positive or negative, is a burden. As soon as you acquire you lose interest. In trying to
possess, you are alert, interested; but possession is boredom. You may want to possess more, but
the pursuit of more is only a movement towards boredom. You try various forms of acquisition, and
as long as there is the effort to acquire, there is interest; but there is always an end to acquisition,
and so there is always boredom. Isn’t this what has been happening?
”I suppose it is, but I haven’t grasped the full significance of it.”
That will come presently.
Possessions make the mind weary. Acquisition, whether of knowledge, of property, of virtue, makes
for insensitivity. The nature of the mind is to acquire, to absorb, is it not? Or rather,the pattern
it has created for itself is one of gathering in; and in that very activity the mind is preparing its
own weariness, boredom. Interest, curiosity, is the beginning of acquisition, which soon becomes
boredom; and the urge to be free from boredom is another form of possession. So the mind goes
from boredom to interest to boredom again, till it is utterly weary; and these successive waves of
interest and weariness are regarded as existence.
”But how is one to be free from acquiring without further acquisition?”
Only by allowing the truth of the whole process of acquisition to be experienced, and not by trying
to be non-acquisitive, detached. To be non-acquisitive is another form of acquisition which soon
becomes wearisome. The difficulty, if one may use that word, lies, not in the verbal understanding
of what has been said, but in experiencing the false as the false. To see the truth in the false is
the beginning of wisdom. The difficulty is for the mind to be still; for the mind is always worried,
it is always after something, acquiring or denying, searching and finding. The mind is never still,
it is in continuous movement. The past, over shadowing the present, makes its own future. It is
a movement in time, and there is hardly ever an interval between thoughts. One thought follows
another without a pause; the mind is ever making itself sharp and so wearing itself out. If a pencil
is being sharpened all the time, soon there will be nothing left of it; similarly, the mind uses itself
constantly and is exhausted. The mind is always afraid of coming to an end. But, living is ending
from day to day; it is the dying to all acquisition, to memories, to experiences, to the past. How can
there be living if there is experience? Experience is knowledge, memory; and is memory the state
of experiencing? In the state of experiencing, is there memory as the experiencer? The purgation
of the mind is having, is creation. Beauty is in experiencing,not in experience; for experience is ever
of the past, and the past is not the experiencing, it is not the living. The purgation of the mind is
tranquillity of heart.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 17 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 6
7 ’DISCIPLINE’
WE HAD DRIVEN through heavy traffic, and presently we turned off the main road into a sheltered
lane. Leaving the car, we followed a path that wove through palm groves and along a field of green
ripening rice. How lovely was that long, curving rice field, bordered by the tall palms! It was a cool
evening, and a breeze was stirring among the trees with their heavy foliage. Unexpectedly, round a
bend, there was a lake. It was long, narrow and deep, and on both sides of it the palms stood so
close together as to be almost impenetrable. The breeze was playing with the water, and there was
murmuring along the shore. Some boys were bathing, naked, unashamed and free. Their bodies
were glistening and beautiful, well formed, slender and supple. They would swim out into the middle
of the lake, then come back and start again. The path led on past a village, and on the way back
the full moon made deep shadows; the boys had gone, the moonlight was upon the waters, and the
palms were like white columns in the shadowy dark.
He had come from some distance, and was eager to find out how to subdue the mind. He said
that he had deliberately withdrawn from the world and was living very simply with some relatives,
devoting his time to the overcoming of the mind. He had practiced a certain discipline for a number of
years, but his mind was still not under control; it was always ready to wander off, like an animal on a
leash. He had starved himself, but that did not help; he had experimented with his diet, and that had
helped a little, but there was never any peace. His mind was forever throwing up images, conjuring
up past scenes, sensations and incidents; or it would think of how it would be quiet tomorrow. But
tomorrow never came, and the whole process became quite nightmarish. On very rare occasions
the mind was quiet, but the quietness soon became a memory, a thing of the past.
What is overcome must be conquered again and again. Suppression is a form of overcoming, as
are substitution and sublimation. To desire to conquer is to give birth to further conflict. Why do you
want to conquer, to calm the mind?
18CHAPTER 6. 7 ’DISCIPLINE’
”I have always been interested in religious matters; I have studied various religions, and they all say
that to know God the mind must be still. Ever since I can remember I have always wanted to find
God, the pervading beauty of the world, the beauty of the rice field and the dirty village. I had a very
promising career, had been abroad and all that kind of thing; but one morning I just walked out to
find that stillness. I heard what you said about it the other day, and so I have come.”
To find God, you try to subdue the mind. But is calmness of mind a way to God? Is calmness the
coin which will open the gates of heaven? You want to buy your way to God to truth, or what name
you will. Can you buy the eternal through virtue, through renunciation, through mortification? We
think that if we do certain things, practice virtue, pursue chastity, withdraw from the world, we shall
be able to measure the measureless; so it’s just a bargain, isn’t it? Your ‘virtue’ is a means to an
end.
”But discipline is necessary to curb the mind, otherwise there is no peace. I have just not disciplined
it sufficiently; it’s my fault, not the fault of the discipline.”
Discipline is a means to an end. But the end is the unknown. Truth is the unknown, it cannot be
known; if it is known, it is not truth. If you can measure the immeasurable, then it is not. Our
measurement is the word, and the word is not the real. Discipline is the means; but the means and
the end are not two dissimilar things, are they? Surely, the end and the means are one; the means is
the end, the only end; there is no goal apart from the means. Violence as a means to peace is only
the perpetuation of violence The means is all that matters, and not the end; the end is determined
by the means; the end is not separate, away from the means.
”I will listen and try to understand what you are saying. When I don’t, I will ask.”
You use discipline, control, as a means to gain tranquillity, do you not? Discipline implies conformity
to a pattern; you control in order to be this or that. Is not discipline, in its very nature, violence?
It may give you pleasure to discipline yourself, but is not that very pleasure a form of resistance
which only breeds further conflict? Is not the practice of discipline the cultivation of defence? And
what is defended is always attacked. Does not discipline imply the suppression of what is in order
to achieve a desired end? Suppression, substitution and sublimation only increase effort and bring
about further conflict. You may succeed in suppressing a disease, but it will continue to appear
in different forms until it is eradicated. Discipline is the suppression, the overcoming of what is.
Discipline is a form of violence; so through a‘wrong’ means we hope to gain the ‘right’ end. Through
resistance, how can there be the free, the true? Freedom is at the beginning, not at the end; the
goal is the first step the means is the end. The first step must be free, and not the last. Discipline
implies compulsion, subtle or brutal, outward or self-imposed; and where there is compulsion, there
is fear. Fear, compulsion, is used as a means to an end, the end being love.
Can there be love through fear? Love is when there is no fear at any level.
”But without some kind of compulsion, some kind of conformity, how can the mind function at all?”
The very activity of the mind is a barrier to its own understanding. Have you never noticed that there
is understanding only when the mind, as thought, is not functioning? Understanding comes with the
ending of the thought process, in the interval between two thoughts. You say the mind must be still,
Commentaries On Living Series 2 19 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 6. 7 ’DISCIPLINE’
and yet you desire it to function. If we can be simple in watchfulness, we shall understand; but our
approach is so complex that it prevents understanding. Surely, we are not concerned with discipline,
control, suppression, resistance, but with the process and the ending of thought itself. What do we
mean when we say that the mind wanders? Simply that thought is everlastingly enticed from one
attraction to another, from one association to another, and is inconstant agitation. Is it possible for
thought to come to an end?
”That is exactly my problem. I want to end thought. I can see now the futility of discipline; I really see
the falseness, the stupidity of it, and I won’t pursue that line any more. But how can I end thought?”
Again, listen without prejudice, without interposing any conclusions, either your own or those of
another; listen to understand and not merely to refute or accept. You ask how you can put an end to
thought. Now, are you, the thinker, an entity separate from your thoughts? Are you entirely dissimilar
from your thoughts? Are you not your own thoughts? Thought may place the thinker at a very high
level and give a name to him, separate him from itself; yet the thinker is still within the process of
thought, is he not? There is only thought, and thought creates the thinker; thought gives form to
the thinker as a permanent, separate entity. Thought sees itself to be impermanent, in constant
flux, so it breeds the thinker as a permanent entity apart and dissimilar from itself. Then the thinker
operates on thought; the thinker says, ”I must put an end to thought”. But there is only the process
of thinking, there is no thinker apart from thought. The experiencing of this truth is vital, it is not a
mere repetition of phrases. There are only thoughts, and not a thinker who thinks thoughts.
”But how did thought arise originally?”
Through perception, contact, sensation, desire and identification; ‘I want’, ‘I don’t want’, and so on.
That is fairly simple, is it not? Our problem is, how can thought end? Any form of compulsion,
conscious or unconscious, is utterly futile, for it implies a controller, one who disciplines; and such
an entity, as we see, is nonexistent. Discipline is a process of condemnation, comparison, or
justification; and when it is clearly seen that there is no separate entity as the thinker, the one
who disciplines, then there are only thoughts, the process of thinking. Thinking is the response
of memory, of experience, of the past. This again must be perceived, not on the verbal level, but
there must be an experi- cencing of it. then only is there passive watchfulness in which the thinker
is not, an awareness in which thought is entirely absent. The mind, the totality of experience, the
self-consciousness which is ever in the past, is quiet only when it is not projecting itself; and this
projection is the desire to become.
The mind is empty only when thought is not. Thought cannot come to an end save through passive
watchfulness of every thought. In this awareness there is no watcher and no censor; without
the censor, there is only experiencing. In experiencing there is neither the experiencer nor the
experienced. The experienced is the thought, which gives birth to the thinker. Only when the mind
is experiencing is there stillness, the silence which is not made up, put together; and only in that
tranquillity can the real come into being. Reality is not of time and is not measurable.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 20 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 7
9 ’EFFORT’
IT BEGAN TO rain gently enough, but suddenly it was as though the heavens had opened and there
was a deluge. In the street the water was almost knee-deep, and it was well over the pavement.
There was not a flutter among the leaves, and they too were silent in their surprise. A car passed by
and then stalled, water having gotten into its essential parts. People were wading across the street,
soaked to the skin, but they were enjoying this down-pour. The garden beds were being washed out
and the lawn was covered with several inches of brown water. A dark blue bird with fawn-colored
wings was trying to take shelter among the thick leaves, but it got wetter and wetter and shook itself
so often. The downpour lasted for some time, and then stopped as suddenly as it had begun. All
things were washed clean.
How simple it is to be innocent! Without innocence, it is impossible to be happy. The pleasure of
sensations is not the happiness of innocence. Innocence is freedom from the burden of experience.
It is the memory of experience that corrupts, and not the experiencing itself. Knowledge, the burden
of the past, is corruption. The power to accumulate, the effort to become destroys innocence; and
without innocence, how can there be wisdom? The merely curious can never know wisdom; they will
find, but what they find will not be truth. The suspicious can never know happiness, for suspicion is
the anxiety of their own being, and fear breeds corruption. Fearlessness is not courage but freedom
from accumulation.
”I have spared no effort to get somewhere in the world, and have become a very successful
moneymaker; my efforts in that direction have produced the results I wanted. I have also tried
hard to make a happy affair of my family life, but you know how it is. Family life is not the same
as making money or running an industry. One deals with human beings in business, but it is at a
different level. At home there is a great deal of friction with very little to show for it, and one’s efforts
in this field only seem to increase the mess. I am not complaining, for that is not my nature, but the
21CHAPTER 7. 9 ’EFFORT’
marriage system is all wrong. We marry to satisfy your sexual urges, without really knowing anything
about each other; and though we live in the same house and occasionally and deliberately produce
a child, we are like strangers to each other, and the tension that only married people know is always
there. I have done what I think is my duty, but it has not produced the best results, to put it mildly.
We are both dominant and aggressive people, and it is not easy. Our efforts to cooperate have not
brought about a deep companionship between us. Though I am very interested in psychological
matters, it has not been of great help, and I want to go much more deeply into this problem.”
The sun had come out, the birds were calling, and the sky was clear and blue after the storm.
What do you mean by effort?
”To strive after something. I have striven after money and position, and I have won both. I have also
striven to have a happy family life, but this has not been very successful; so now I am struggling
after something deeper.”
We struggle with an end in view; we strive after achievement; we make a constant effort to become
something, positively or negatively. The struggle is always to be secure in some way, it is always
towards something or away from something. Effort is really an endless battle to acquire, is it not?
”Is it wrong to acquire?” We shall go into that presently; but what we call effort is this constant
process of travelling and arriving, of acquiring in different directions. We get tired of one kind of
acquisition, and turn to another; and when that is gathered, we again turn to something else. Effort
is a process of gathering knowledge, experience, efficiency, virtue, possessions, power, and so on;
it is an end less becoming, expanding, growing. Effort towards an end, whether worthy or unworthy,
must always bring conflict; conflict is antagonism, opposition, resistance. Is that necessary?
”Necessary to what?”
Let us find out. Effort at the physical level may be necessary; the effort to build a bridge, to produce
petroleum, coal, and soon, is or may be beneficial; but how the work is done, how things are
produced and distributed, how profits are divided, is quite another matter. If at the physical level man
is used for an end, for an ideal, whether by private interests or by the State, effort only produces
more confusion and misery. Effort to acquire for the individual, for the State, or for a religious
organization, is bound to breed opposition. Without understanding this striving after acquisition,
effort at the physical level will inevitably have a disastrous effect on society.
Is effort at the psychological level – the effort to be, to achieve, to succeed – necessary or beneficial?
”If we made no such effort, would we not just rot, disintegrate?”
Would we? So far, what have we produced through effort at the psychological level?
”Not very much, I admit. Effort has been in the wrong direction. The direction matters, and rightly
directed effort is of the greatest significance. It is because of the lack of right effort that we are in
such a mess.”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 22 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 7. 9 ’EFFORT’
So you say there is right effort and wrong effort, is that it? Do not let us quibble over words, but how
do you distinguish between right and wrong effort? According to what criterion do you judge? What
is your standard? Is it tradition, or is it the future ideal, the ‘ought to be’?
”My criterion is determined by what brings results. It is the re- sult that is important, and without the
enticement of a goal we would make no effort.”
If the result is your measure, then surely you are not concerned with the means; or are you?
”I will use the means according to the end. If the end is happiness, then a happy means must be
found.”
Is not the happy means the happy end? The end is in the means, is it not? So there is only the
means. The means itself is the end, the result.
”I have never before looked at it this way, but I see that it is so.”
We are inquiring into what is the happy means. If effort produces conflict, opposition within and
without, can effort ever lead to happiness? If the end is in the means, how can there be happiness
through conflict and antagonism? If effort produces more problems, more conflict, it is obviously
destructive and disintegrating. And why do we make effort? Do we not make effort to be more, to
advance, to gain? Effort is for more in one direction, and for less in another. Effort implies acquisition
for oneself or for a group, does it not?
”Yes, that is so. Acquiring for oneself is at another level the acquisitiveness of the State or the
church.”
Effort is acquisition, negative or positive. What is it, then, that we are acquiring? At one level we
acquire the physical necessities, and at another we use these as a means of self-aggrandizement;
or, being satisfied with a few physical necessities, we acquire power, position, fame. The rulers, the
representatives of the State, may live outwardly simple lives and possess but few things, but they
have acquired power and so they resist and dominate.
”Do you think all acquisition is baneful?”
Let us see. Security, which is having the essential physical needs, is one thing, and acquisitiveness
is another. It is acquisitiveness in the name of race or country, in the name of God, or in the name of
the individual, that is destroying the sensible and efficient organization of physical necessities for the
well being of man. We must all have adequate food, clothing and shelter, that is simple and clear.
Now, what is it that we are seeking to acquire, apart from these things?
One acquires money as a means to power, to certain social and psychological gratifications, as a
means to the freedom to do what one wants to do. One struggles to attain wealth and position in
order to be powerful in various ways; and having succeeded in outer things, one now wants to be
successful, as you say, with regard to inner things.
What do we mean by power? To be powerful is to dominate, to overcome, to suppress, to feel
superior, to be efficient, and soon.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 23 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 7. 9 ’EFFORT’
Consciously or unconsciously the ascetic as well as the worldly person feels and strives for this
power. power is one of the completest expressions of the self, whether it be the power of knowledge,
the power over oneself, worldly power, or the power of abstinence. The feeling; of power, of
domination, is extraordinarily gratifying. You may seek gratification through power, another through
drink, another through worship, another through knowledge, and still another through trying to be
virtuous. Each may have its own particular sociological and psychological effect, but all acquisition is
gratification. Gratification at any level is sensation, is it not? We are making effort to acquire greater
or more subtle varieties of sensation, which at one time we call experience, at another knowledge,
at another love, at another the search for God or truth; and there is the sensation of being righteous,
or of being the efficient agent of an ideology. Effort is to acquire gratification, which is sensation.
You have found gratification at one level, and now you are seeking it at another; and when you
have acquired it there, you will move to another level, and so keep going. This constant desire
for gratification for more and more subtle forms of sensation, is called progress, but it is ceaseless
conflict. The search after ever wider gratification is without end, and so there is no end to conflict
antagonism, and hence no happiness.
”I see your point. You are saying that the search for gratification in any form is really the search
for misery. Effort towards gratification is everlasting pain. But what is one to do? Give up seeking
gratification and just stagnate?”
If one does not seek gratification, is stagnation inevitable? Is the state of non-anger necessarily
a lifeless state? Surely, gratification at any level is sensation. Refinement of sensation is only the
refinement of word. The word, the term, the symbol, the image, plays an extraordinarily important
part in our lives, does it not? We may no longer seek the touch, the satisfaction of physical contact,
but the word, the image becomes very significant.
At one level we gather gratification through crude means, and at another through means that are
more subtle and refined; but the gathering of words is for the same purpose as the gathering of
things, is it not? Why do we gather?
”Oh, I suppose it is because we are so discontented, so utterly bored with ourselves, that we will do
anything to get away from our own shallowness. That is really so – and it just strikes me that I am
exactly in that position. This is rather extraordinary!”
Our acquisitions are a means of covering up our own emptiness; our minds are like hollow drums,
beaten upon by every passing hand and making a lot of noise. This is our life, the conflict of never-
satisfying escapes and mounting misery. It is strange how we are never alone, never strictly alone.
We are always with something with a problem, with a book, with a person; and when we are alone,
our thoughts are with us. To be alone, naked, is essential. All escapes, all gatherings, all effort to
be or not to be, must cease; and then only is there the aloneness that can receive the alone, the
measureless.
”How is one to stop escaping?”
By seeing the truth that all escapes only lead to illusion and misery. The truth frees; you cannot do
anything about it. Your very action to stop escaping is another escape. The highest state of inaction
is the action of truth.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 24 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 8
10 ’DEVOTION AND WORSHIP’
A MOTHER WAS beating her child, and there were painful screams. The mother was very angry,
and while she was beating she was talking to it violently. When presently we came back she was
caressing the child, hugging as though she would squeeze the life out of it. She had tears in her
eyes. The child was rather bewildered, but was smiling up at the mother.
Love is a strange thing, and how easily we lose the warm flame of it! The flame is lost, and the smoke
remains. The smoke fills our hearts and minds, and our days are spent in tears and bitterness. The
song is forgotten, and the words have lost their meaning; the perfume has gone, and our hands are
empty. We never know how to keep the flame clear of smoke, and the smoke always smothers the
flame. But love is not of the mind, it is not in the net of thought, it cannot be sought out, cultivated,
cherished; it is there when the mind is silent and the heart is empty of the things of the mind.
The room overlooked the river, and the sun was upon its waters.
He was by no means foolish, but was full of emotion, an exuberant sentiment in which he must have
taken delight, for it seemed to give him great pleasure. He was eager to talk; and when a green
golden bird was pointed out to him, he turned on his sentiment and gushed over it. Then he talked
of the beauty of the river, and sang a song about it. He had a pleasant voice, but the room was too
small. The green-golden bird was joined by another, and the two sat very close together, preening
themselves.
”Is not devotion a way to God? Is not the sacrifice of devotion the purification of the heart? Is not
devotion an essential part of our life?”
What do you mean by devotion?
25CHAPTER 8. 10 ’DEVOTION AND WORSHIP’
”Love of the highest; the offering of a flower before the image, the symbol of God. Devotion is
complete absorption, it is a love that excels the love of the flesh. I have sat for many hours at a time,
completely lost in the love of God. In that state I am nothing and I know nothing. In that state all life
is a unity, the sweeper and the king are one. It is a wondrous state. Surely you must know it.”
Is devotion love? Is it something apart from our daily exist- ence? Is it an act of sacrifice to be
devoted to an object, to knowledge, to service, or to action? Is it self-sacrifice when you are lost
in your devotion? When you have completely identified yourself with the object of your devotion, is
that self-abnegation? Is it selflessness to lose yourself in a book, in a chant, in an idea? Is devotion
the worship of an image, of a person, of a symbol? Has reality any symbol? Can a symbol ever
represent truth? Is not the symbol static, and can a static thing ever represent that which is living?
Is your picture you?
Let us see what we mean by devotion. You spend several hours a day in what you call the love, the
contemplation of God. Is that devotion? The man who gives his life to social betterment is devoted
to his work; and the general, whose job is to plan destruction, is also devoted to his work. Is that
devotion? If I may say so, you spend your time being intoxicated by the image or idea of God, and
others do the same thing in a different way. Is there a fundamental distinction between the two? Is
it devotion that has an object?
”But this worship of God consumes my whole life. I am not aware of anything but God. He fills my
heart.”
And the man who worships his work, his leader, his ideology, is also consumed by that with which he
is occupied. You fill your heart with the word ‘God’, and another with activity; and is that devotion?
You are happy with your image your symbol, and another with his books or music; and is that
devotion? Is it devotion to lose oneself in something? A man is devoted to his wife for various
gratifying reasons; and is gratification devotion? To identify oneself with one’s country is very
intoxicating; and is identification devotion?
”But giving myself over to God does nobody any harm. On the contrary, I both keep out of harm’s
way and do no harm to others.”
That at least is something; but though you may not do any outward harm, is not illusion harmful at a
deeper level both to you and to society?
”I am not interested in society. My needs are very few; I have controlled my passions and I spend
my days in the shadow of God.”
Is it not important to find out if that shadow has any substance behind it? To worship illusion is to
cling to one’s own gratification; to yield to appetite at any level is to be lustful.
”You are very disturbing, and I am not at all sure that I want to go on with this conversation. You see,
I came to worship at the same altar as yourself; but I find that your worship is entirely different, and
what you say is beyond me. But I would like to know what is the beauty of your worship. You have
no pictures, no images, and no rituals, but you must worship. Of what nature is your worship?”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 26 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 8. 10 ’DEVOTION AND WORSHIP’
The worshipper is the worshipped. To worship another is to worship oneself; the image, the symbol,
is a projection of oneself. After all, your idol, your book, your prayer, is the reflection of your
background; it is your creation, though it be made by another. You choose according to your
gratification; your choice is your prejudice. Your image is your intoxicant, and it is carved out of
your own memory; you are worshipping yourself through the image created by your own thought.
Your devotion is the love of yourself covered over by the chant of your mind. The picture is yourself,
it is the reflection of your mind. Such devotion is a form of self-deception that only leads to sorrow
and to isolation, which is death.
Is search devotion? To search after something is not to search; to seek truth is not to find it. We
escape from ourselves through search, which is illusion; we try in every way to take flight from what
we are. In ourselves we are so petty, so essentially nothing, and the worship of something greater
than ourselves is as petty and stupid as we are. Identification with the great is still a projection of the
small. The more is an extension of the less. The small in search of the large will find only what it is
capable of finding. The escapes are many and various but the mind in escape is still fearful, narrow
and ignorant.
The understanding of escape is the freedom from what is. The what is can be understood only when
the mind is no longer in search of an answer. The search for an answer is an escape from what
is. This search is called by various names, one of which is devotion; but to understand what is, the
mind must be silent.
”What do you mean by ‘what is‘?”
The what is is that which is from moment to moment. To understand the whole process of your
worship, of your devotion to that which you call God, is the awareness of what is. But you do not
desire to understand what is; for your escape from what is, which you call devotion, is a source of
greater pleasure, and so illusion becomes of greater significance than reality. The understanding of
what is does not depend upon thought, for thought itself is an escape. To think about the problem is
not to understand it. It is only when the mind is silent that the truth of what is unfolds.
”I am content with what I have. I am happy with my God, with my chant and my devotion. Devotion
to God is the song of my heart, and my happiness is in that song. Your song may be more clear and
open, but when I sing my heart is full. What more can a man ask than to have a full heart? We are
brothers in my song, and I am not disturbed by your song.”
When the song is real there is neither you nor I, but only the silence of the eternal. The song is not
the sound but the silence. Do not let the sound of your song fill your heart.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 27 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 9
11 ’INTEREST’
HE WAS A school principal with several college degrees. He had been very keenly interested in
education, and had also worked hard for various kinds of social reform; but now, he said, though
still quite young, he had lost the spring of life. He carried on with his duties almost mechanically,
going through the daily routine with weary boredom; there was no longer any zest in what he did,
and the drive which he had once felt was completely gone. He had been religiously inclined and had
striven to bring about certain reforms in his religion, but that too had dried up. He saw no value in
any particular action.
Why?
”All action leads to confusion, creating more problems, more mischief. I have tried to act with thought
and intelligence, but it invariably leads to some kind of mess; the several activities in which I have
engaged have all made me feel depressed, anxious and weary, and they have led nowhere. Now
I am afraid to act, and the fear of doing more harm than good has caused me to withdraw from all
save the minimum of action.”
What is the cause of this fear? Is it the fear of doing harm? Are you withdrawing from life because
of the fear of bringing about more confusion? Are you afraid of the confusion that you might create,
or of the confusion within yourself? If you were clear within yourself and from that clarity there were
action, would you then be fearful of any outward confusion which your action might create? Are you
afraid of the confusion within or without?
”I have not looked at it in this way before, and I must consider what you say.”
Would you mind bringing about more problems if you were clear in yourself? We like to run away
from our problems, by whatever means, and thereby we only increase them. To expose our problems
28CHAPTER 9. 11 ’INTEREST’
may appear confusing, but the capacity to meet the problems depends on the clarity of approach. If
you were clear, would your actions be confusing?
”I am not clear. I don’t know what I want to do. I could join some ism of the left or of the right but that
would not bring about clarity of action. One may shut one’s eyes to the absurdities of a particular
ism and work for it, but the fact remains that there is essentially more harm than good in the action
of all isms. If I were very clear within myself, I would meet the problems and try to clear them up.
But I am not clear. I have lost all incentive for action.”
Why have you lost incentive? Have you lost it in the over expenditure of limited energy? Have you
exhausted yourself in doing things that have no fundamental interest for you? Or is it that you have
not yet found out what you are genuinely interested in?
”You see, after college I was very keen on social reform, and I ardently worked at it for some
years; but I began to see the pettiness of it, so I dropped it and took up education. I really worked
hard at education for a number of years, not caring for anything else; but that too I finally dropped
because I was getting more and more confused. I was ambitious, not for myself, but for the work
to succeed; but the people with whom I worked were always quarrelling, they were jealous and
personally ambitious.”
Ambition is an odd thing. You say you were not ambitious for yourself, but only for the work to
succeed. Is there any difference between personal and so-called impersonal ambition? You would
not consider it personal or petty to identify yourself with an ideology and work ambitiously for it; you
would call that a worthy ambition, would you not? But is it? Surely, you have only substituted one
term for another, ‘impersonal’ for ‘personal; but the drive, the motive is still the same. You want
success for the work with which you are identified. For the term ‘I’ you have substituted the term
‘work’, ‘system’, ‘country’, ‘God’, but you are still important. Ambition is still at work, ruthless, jealous,
feudal. Is it because the work was not successful that you dropped it? Would you have carried on if
it had been?
”I don’t think that was it. The work was fairly successful, as any work is if one gives time, energy and
intelligence to it. I gave it up because it led nowhere; it brought about some temporary alleviation,
but there was no fundamental and lasting change.”
You had the drive when you were working, and what has happened to it? What has happened to the
urge, the flame? Is that the problem?
”Yes, that is the problem. I had the flame once, but now it is gone.”
Is it dormant, or is it burnt out through wrong usage so that only ashes are left? Perhaps you have not
found your real interest. Do you feel frustrated? Are you married? ”No, I do not think I am frustrated,
nor do I feel the need of a family or of the companionship of a particular person. Economically I am
content with little. I have always been drawn to religion in the deep sense of the word, but I suppose
I wanted to be ‘successful’ in that field too.”
If you are not frustrated, why aren’t you content just to live?
”I am not getting any younger, and I don’t want to rot, to vegetate.”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 29 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 9. 11 ’INTEREST’
Let us put the problem differently. What are you interested in?
Not what you should be interested in, but actually?
”I really don’t know.”
Aren’t you interested in finding out?
”But how am I to find out?”
Do you think there is a method, a way to find out what you are interested in? It is really important
to discover for yourself in what direction your interest lies. So far you have tried certain things, you
have given your energy and intelligence to them, but they have not deeply satisfied you. Either you
have burnt yourself out doing things that were not of fundamental interest to you, or your real interest
is still dormant, waiting to be awakened. Now which is it?
”Again, I don’t know. Can you help me to find out?”
Don’t you want to know for yourself the truth of the matter? If you have burnt yourself out, the
problem demands a certain approach; but if your fire is still dormant, then the awakening of it is
important. Now which is it? Without my telling you which it is, don’t you want to discover the truth
of it for yourself? The truth of what is is its own action. If you are burnt out, then it is a matter of
healing, recuperating; lying creatively fallow. This creative fallowness follows from the movement of
cultivating and sowing; it is inaction for complete future action. Or it may be that your real interest
has not yet been awakened. Please listen and find out. If the intention to find out is there, you
will find out, not by constant inquiry, but by being clear and ardent in your intention. Then you will
see that during the waking hours there is an alert watchfulness in which you are picking up every
intimation of that latent interest, and that dreams also play a part. In other words, the intention sets
going the mechanism of discovery.
”But how am I to know which interest is the real one? I have had several interests, and they have all
petered out. How do I know that what I may discover to be my real interest won’t also peter out?”
There is no guarantee, of course; but since you are aware of this petering out, there will be alert
watchfulness to discover the real. If I may put it this way you are not seeking your real interest; but
being in a passively watchful state, the real interest will show itself. If you try to find out what your
real interest is, you will choose one as against another you will weigh, calculate, judge. This process
only cultivates opposition; you spend your energies wondering if you have chosen rightly, and so on.
But when there is passive awareness, and not a positive effort on your part to find, then into that
awareness comes the movement of interest. Experiment with this and you will see.
”If I am not too hasty, I think I am beginning to sense my genuine interest. There is a vital quickening,
a new elan.”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 30 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 10
12 ’EDUCATION AND INTEGRATION’
IT WAS A beautiful evening. The sun was setting behind huge, black clouds, and against them
stood a clump of tall, slender palms. The river had become golden, and the distant hills were aglow
with the setting sun. There was thunder, but towards the mountains the sky was clear and blue.
The cattle were coming back from pasture, and a little boy was driving them home. He couldn’t
have been more than ten or twelve, and though he had spent the whole day by himself, he was
singing away and occasionally flicking the cattle that wandered off or were too slow. He smiled, and
his dark face lit up. Stopping out of curiosity, and distantly eager, he began to ask questions. He
was a village boy and would have no education; he would never be able to read and write, but he
already knew what it was to be alone with himself. He did not know that he was alone; it probably
never even occurred to him, nor was he depressed by it. He was just alone and contented. He
was not contented with something, he was just contented. To be contented with something is to be
discontented. To seek contentment through relationship is to be in fear. Contentment that depends
on relationship is only gratification. Contentment is a state of non-dependency. Dependency always
brings conflict and opposition. There must be freedom to be content. Freedom is and must always
be at the beginning; it is not an end, a goal to be achieved. One can never be free in the future.
Future freedom has no reality, it is only an idea. Reality is what is; and passive awareness of what
is is contentment.
The professor said he had been teaching for many years, ever since he graduated from college,
and had a large number of boys under him in one of the governmental institutions. He turned out
students who could pass examinations, which was what the government and the parents wanted.
Of course, there were exceptional boys who were given special opportunities, granted scholarships,
and so on, but the vast majority were indifferent, dull, lazy, and somewhat mischievous. There were
those who made something of themselves in whatever field they entered, but only very few had the
creative flame. During all the years he had taught, the exceptional boys had been very rare; now
31CHAPTER 10. 12 ’EDUCATION AND INTEGRATION’
and then there would be one who perhaps had the quality of genius, but it generally happened that
he too was soon smothered by his environment. As a teacher he had visited many parts of the
world to study this question of the exceptional boy, and everywhere it was the same. He was now
withdrawing from the teaching profession, for after all these years he was rather saddened by the
whole thing. However well boys were educated, on the whole they turned out to be a stupid lot.
Some were clever or assertive and attained high positions, but behind the screen of their prestige
and domination they were as petty and anxiety-ridden as the rest.
”The modern educational system is a failure, as it has produced two devastating wars and appalling
misery. Learning to read and write and acquiring various techniques, which is the cultivation of
memory, is obviously not enough, for it has produced unspeakable sorrow. What do you consider to
be the end purpose of education?”
Is it not to bring about an integrated individual? If that is the‘purpose’ of education, then we must
be clear as to whether the individual exists for society or whether society exists for the individual.
If society needs and uses the individual for its own purposes, then it is not concerned with the
cultivation of an integrated human being; what it wants is an efficient machine, a conforming and
respectable citizen, and this requires only a very superficial integration. As long as the individual
obeys and is willing to be thoroughly conditioned, society will find him useful and will spend time and
money on him. But if society exists for the individual, then it must help in freeing him from its own
conditioning influence. It must educate him to be an integrated human being.
”What do you mean by an integrated human being?”
To answer that question one must approach it negatively, obliquely; one cannot consider its positive
aspect.
”I don’t understand what you mean.”
Positively to state what an integrated human being is, only creates a pattern, a mould, an example
which we try to imitate; and is not the imitation of a pattern, an indication of disintegration? When
we try to copy an example, can there be integration? Surely, imitation is a process of disintegration;
and is this not what is happening in the world? We are all becoming very good gramophone
records; we repeat what so-called religions have taught us, or what the latest political, economic,
or religious leader has said. We adhere to ideologies and attend political mass-meetings; there is
mass-enjoyment of sport, mass-worship, mass-hypnosis. Is this a sign of integration? Conformity is
not integration, is it?
”This leads to the very fundamental question of discipline. Are you opposed to discipline?”
What do you mean by discipline? ”There are many forms of discipline: the discipline in a school,
the discipline of citizenship the party discipline the social and religious disciplines and self-imposed
discipline. Discipline may be according to an inner or an outer authority.”
Fundamentally, discipline implies some kind of conformity, does it not? It is conformity to an ideal, to
an authority; it is the cultivation of resistance, which of necessity breeds opposition. Resistance is
opposition. Discipline is a process of isolation, whether it is isolation with a particular group, or the
isolation of individual resistance. Imitation is a form of resistance, is it not?
Commentaries On Living Series 2 32 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 10. 12 ’EDUCATION AND INTEGRATION’
”Do you mean that discipline destroys integration? What would happen if you had no discipline in a
school?”
Is it not important to understand the essential significance of discipline, and not jump to conclusions
or take examples? We are trying to see what are the factors of disintegration, or what hinders
integration. Is not discipline in the sense of conformity, resistance, opposition, conflict, one of
the factors of disintegration? Why do we conform? Not only for physical security, but also for
psychological comfort, safety. Consciously or unconsciously, the fear of being insecure makes for
conformity both outwardly and inwardly. We must all have some kind of physical security; but it is
the fear of being psychologically insecure that makes physical security impossible except for the
few. Fear is the basis of all discipline: the fear of not being successful, of being punished, of not
gaining, and so on. Discipline is imitation, suppression, resistance, and whether it is conscious or
unconscious, it is the result of fear. Is not fear one of the factors of disintegration?
”With what would you replace discipline? Without discipline there would be even greater chaos than
now. Is not some form of discipline necessary for action?”
Understanding the false as the false, seeing the true in the false, and seeing the true as the true,
is the beginning of intelligence. It is not a question of replacement. You cannot replace fear with
something else; if you do, fear is still there. You may successfully cover it up or run away from it, but
fear remains. It is the elimination of fear, and not the finding of a substitute for it, that is important.
Discipline in any form whatsoever can never bring freedom from fear. Fear has to be observed,
studied, understood. Fear is not an abstraction; it comes into being only in relation to something,
and it is this relationship that has to be understood. To understand is not to resist or oppose. Is
not discipline, then, in its wider and deeper sense, a factor of disintegration? Is not fear, with its
consequent imitation and suppression, a disintegrating force?
”But how is one to be free from fear? In a class of many students, unless there is some kind of
discipline – or, if you prefer, fear – how can there be order?”
By having very few students and the right kind of education. This, of course, is not possible as long
as the State is interested in mass-produced citizens. The State prefers mass-education; the rulers
do not want the encouragement of discontent, for their position would soon be untenable. The State
controls education,it steps in and conditions the human entity for its own purposes; and the easiest
way to do this is through fear, through discipline, through punishment and reward, Freedom from
fear is another matter; fear has to be understood and not resisted, suppressed, or sublimated.
The problem of disintegration is quite complex, like every other human problem. Is not conflict
another factor of disintegration?
”But conflict is essential, otherwise we would stagnate. Without striving there would be no progress
no advancement, no culture. Without effort, conflict, we would still be savages.”
Perhaps we still are. Why do we always jump to conclusions or oppose when something new is
suggested? We are obviously savages when we kill thousands for some cause or other, for our
country; killing another human being is the height of savagery. But let us get on with what we were
talking about. Is not conflict a sign of disintegration?
Commentaries On Living Series 2 33 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 10. 12 ’EDUCATION AND INTEGRATION’
”What do you mean by conflict?”
Conflict in every form: between husband and wife, between two groups of people with conflicting
ideas, between what is and tradition, between what is and the ideal, the should be, the future.
Conflict is inner and outer strife. At present there is con- flict at all the various levels of our existence,
the conscious as well as the unconscious. Our life is a series of conflicts, a battleground – and for
what? Do we understand through strife? Can I understand you if I am in conflict with you? To
understand there must be a certain amount of peace. Creation can take place only in peace, in
happiness, not when there is conflict, strife. Our constant struggle is between what is and what
should be, between thesis and antithesis; we have accepted this conflict as inevitable, and the
inevitable has become the norm, the true – though it maybe false. Can what is be transformed by
the conflict with its opposite? I am this, and by struggling to be that, which is the opposite, have
I changed this? Is not the opposite, the antithesis, a modified projection of what is? Has not the
opposite always the elements of its own opposite? Through comparison is there understanding of
what is? Is not any conclusion about what is a hindrance to the understanding of what is? If you
would understand something, must you not observe it, study it? Can you study it freely if you are
prejudiced in favour of or against it? If you would understand your son must you not study him,
neither identifying yourself with nor condemning him? Surely, if you are in conflict with your son,
there is no understanding of him. So, is conflict essential to understanding?
”Is there not another kind of conflict, the conflict of learning how to do a thing, acquiring a technique?
One may have an intuitive vision of something, but it has to be made manifest, and carrying it out is
strife, it involves a great deal of trouble and pain.”
A certain amount, it is true; but is not creation itself the means? The means is not separate from
the end; the end is according to the means. The expression is according to creation; the style is
according to what you have to say. If you have something to say, that very thing creates its own
style. But if one is merely a technician, then there is no vital problem.
Is conflict in any field productive of understanding? Is there not a continuous chain of conflict in
the effort, the will to be, to become, whether positive or negative? Does not the cause of conflict
become the effect, which in its turn becomes the cause? There is no release from conflict until
there is an understanding of what is. The what is can never be understood through the screen of
idea; it must be approached afresh. As the what is is never static, the mind must not be bound to
knowledge, to an ideology, to a belief, to a conclusion. In its very nature, conflict is separative as all
opposition is; and is not exclusion, separation, a factor of disintegration? Any form of power, whether
individual or of the State, any effort to become more or to become less, is a process of disintegration.
All ideas, beliefs, systems of thought, are separative, exclusive. Effort, conflict, cannot under any
circumstances bring understanding, and so it is a degenerating factor in the individual as well as in
society.
”What, then, is integration? I more or less understand what are the factors of disintegration, but that
is only a negation. Through negation one cannot come to integration. I may know what is wrong,
which does not mean that I know what is right.”
Surely, when the false is seen as the false, the true is. When one is aware of the factors of
degeneration, not merely verbally but deeply, then is there not integration? Is integration static,
Commentaries On Living Series 2 34 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 10. 12 ’EDUCATION AND INTEGRATION’
something to be gained and finished with? Integration cannot be arrived at; arrival is death. It is not a
goal, an end, but a state of being; it is a living thing, and how can a living thing be a goal, a purpose?
The desire to be integrated is not different from another desire, and all desire is a cause of conflict.
When there is no conflict, there is integration. Integration is a state of complete attention. There
cannot be complete attention if there is effort, conflict, resistance, concentration. Concentration is a
fixation; concentration is a process of separation, exclusion, and complete attention is not possible
when there is exclusion. To exclude is to narrow down, and the narrow can never be aware of
the complete. Complete, full attention is not possible when there is condemnation, justification
or identification, or when the mind is clouded by conclusions, speculations, theories. When we
understand the hindrances, then only is there freedom. Freedom is an abstraction to the man in
prison; but passive watchfulness uncovers the hindrances, and with freedom from these, integration
comes into being.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 35 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 11
13 ’CHASTITY’
THE RICE WAS ripening, the green had a golden tinge, and the evening sun was upon it. There
were long, narrow ditches filled with water, and the water caught the darkening light. The palm trees
hung over the rice fields all along their edge, and among the palms there were little houses, dark and
secluded. The lane meandered lazily through the rice fields and palm groves. It was a very musical
lane. A boy was playing the flute, with the rice field before him. He had a clean, healthy body,
well-proportioned and delicate, and he wore only a clean white cloth around his loins; the setting
sun had just caught his face, and his eyes were smiling. He was practicing the scale, and when he
got tired of that, he would play a song. He was really enjoying it, and his enjoyment was contagious.
Though I sat down only a little distance away from him, he never stopped playing. The evening light,
the green-golden sea of the field, the sun among the palms, and this boy playing his flute, seemed
to give to the evening an enchantment that is rarely felt. Presently he stopped playing and came
over and sat beside me; neither of us said a word, but he smiled and it seemed to fill the heavens.
His mother called from some house hidden among the palms; he did not respond immediately, but
at the third call he got up, smiled, and went away. Further along the path a girl was singing to some
stringed instrument, and she had a fairly nice voice. Across the field someone picked up the song
and sang with full-throated ease, and the girl stopped and listened till the male voice had finished it.
It was getting, dark now. The evening star was over the field, and the frogs began to call.
How we want to possess the coconut, the woman, and the heavens! We want to monopolize, and
things seem to acquire greater value through possession. When we say, ‘It is mine’ the picture
seems to become more beautiful, more worthwhile; it seems to acquire greater delicacy, greater
depth and fullness.There is a strange quality of violence in possession. The moment one says, ‘It is
mine’, it becomes a thing to be cared for, defended, and in this very act there is a resistance which
breeds violence. Violence is ever seeking success; violence is self-fulfilment. To succeed is always
to fail. Arrival is death and travelling is eternal. To gain, to be victorious in this world, is to lose
36CHAPTER 11. 13 ’CHASTITY’
life. How eagerly we pursue an end! But the end is everlasting, and so is the conflict of its pursuit.
Conflict is constant overcoming, and what is conquered has to be conquered again and again. The
victor is ever in fear, and possession is his darkness. The defeated, craving victory, loses what is
gained, and so he is as the victor. To have the bowl empty is to have life that is deathless.
They had been married for only a short time and were still without a child. They seemed so young, so
distant from the marketplace, so timid. They wanted to talk things over quietly, without being rushed
and without the feeling that they were keeping others waiting. They were a nice looking couple, but
there was strain in their eyes; their smiles were easy, but behind the smile was a certain anxiety.
They were clean and fresh, but there was a whisper of inner struggle. Love is a strange thing, and
how soon it withers, how soon the smoke smothers the flame! The flame is neither yours nor mine;
it is just flame, clear and sufficient; it is neither personal nor impersonal; it is not of yesterday or
tomorrow. It has healing warmth and a perfume that is never constant. It cannot be possessed,
monopolized, or kept in one’s hand. If it is held, it burns and destroys, and smoke fills our being; and
then there is no room for the flame.
He was saying that they had been married for two years, and were now living quietly not far from a
biggish town. They had a small farm, twenty or thirty acres of rice and fruit, and some cattle. He
was interested in improving the breed, and she in some local hospital work. Their days were full,
but it was not the fullness of escape. They had never tried to run away from anything – except from
their relations, who were very traditional and rather tiresome. They had married in spite of family
opposition, and were living alone with very little help. Before they married they had talked things
over and decided not to have children.
Why?
”We both realized what a frightful mess the world is in, and to produce more babies seemed a sort of
crime. The children would almost inevitably become mere bureaucratic officials, or slaves to some
kind of religious-economic system. Environment would make them stupid, or clever and cynical.
Besides, we had not enough money to educate children properly.”
What do you mean by properly?
”To educate children properly we would have to send them to school not only here but abroad. We
would have to cultivate their intelligence, their sense of value and beauty, and help them to take life
richly and happily so that they would have peace in themselves; and of course they would have to be
taught some kind of technique which wouldn’t destroy their souls. Besides all this, considering how
stupid we ourselves were, we both felt that we should not pass on our own reactions and conditioning
to our children. We didn’t want to propagate modified examples of ourselves.”
Do you mean to say you both thought all this out so logically and brutally before you got married?
You drew up a good contract; but can it be fulfilled as easily as it was drawn up? Life is a little more
complex than a verbal contract, is it not?
”That is what we are finding out. Neither of us has talked about all this to anyone else either before
or since our marriage, and that has been one of our difficulties. We didn’t know anybody with whom
we could talk freely, for most older people take such arrogant pleasure in disapproving or patting us
Commentaries On Living Series 2 37 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 11. 13 ’CHASTITY’
on the back. We heard one of your talks, and we both wanted to come and discuss our problem with
you. Another thing is that, before our marriage, we vowed never to have any sexual relationship with
each other.”
Again, why?
”We are both very religiously inclined and we wanted to lead a spiritual life. Ever since I was a boy
I have longed to be un- worldly, to live the life of a sannyasi. I used to read a great many religious
books, which only strengthened my desire. As a matter of fact, I wore the saffron robe for nearly a
year.”
And you too?
”I am not as clever or as learned as he is, but I have a strong religious background. My grandfather
had a fairly good job, but he left his wife and children to become a sanyasi, and now my father wants
to do the same; so far my mother has won out, but one day he too may disappear, and I have the
same impulse to lead a religious life.”
Then, if I may ask, why did you marry?
”We wanted each other’s companionship,” he replied; ”we loved each other and had something in
common. We had felt this ever since our very young days together, and we didn’t see any reason
for not getting officially married. We thought of not marrying and living together without sex, but
this would have created unnecessary trouble. After our marriage everything was all right for about
a year, but our longing for each other became almost intolerable. At last it was so unbearable that
I used to go away; I couldn’t do my work, I couldn’t think of anything else, and I would have wild
dreams. I became moody and irritable, though not a harsh word passed between us. We loved and
could not hurt each other in word or act; but we were burning for each other like the midday sun,
and we decided at last to come and talk it over with you. I literally cannot carry on with the vow that
she and I have taken. You have no idea what it has been like.”
And what about you?
”What woman doesn’t want a child by the man she loves? I didn’t know I was capable of such love,
and I too have had days of torture and nights of agony. I became hysterical and would weep at the
least thing, and during certain times of the month it became a nightmare. I was hoping something
would happen,but even though we talked things over, it was no good. Then they started a hospital
nearby and asked my help, and I was delighted to get away from it all. But it was still no good. To
see him so close every day…” She was crying now with her heart.”So we have come to talk it all over.
What do you say?”
Is it a religious life to punish oneself? Is mortification of the body or of the mind a sign of
understanding? Is self-torture a way to reality? Is chastity denial? Do you think you can go far
through renunciation? Do you really think there can be peace through conflict? Does not the means
matter infinitely more than the end? The end may be, but the means is. The actual, the what is, must
be understood and not smothered by determinations, ideals and clever rationalizations. Sorrow is
not the way of happiness. The thing called passion has to be understood and not suppressed or
Commentaries On Living Series 2 38 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 11. 13 ’CHASTITY’
sublimated, and it is no good finding a substitute for it. Whatever you may do, any device that you
invent, will only strengthen that which has not been loved and understood. To love what we call
passion is to understand it. To love is to be indirect communion; and you cannot love something
if you resent it, if you have ideas, conclusions about it. How can you love and understand passion
if you have taken a vow against it? A vow is a form of resistance, and what you resist ultimately
conquers you. Truth is not to be conquered; you cannot storm it; it will slip through your hands if you
try to grasp it. Truth comes silently, without your knowing. What you know is not truth, it is only an
idea, a symbol. The shadow is not the real.
Surely, our problem is to understand ourselves and not to destroy ourselves. To destroy is
comparatively easy. You have a pattern of action which you hope will lead to truth. The pattern
is always of your own making, it is according to your own conditioning, as the end also is. You make
the pattern and then take a vow to carry it out. This is an ultimate escape from yourself. You are not
that self-projected pattern and its process; you are what you actually are, the desire, the craving. If
you really want to transcend and be free of craving, you have to understand it completely, neither
condemning nor accepting it; but that is an art which comes only through watchfulness tempered
with deep passivity.
”I have read some of your talks and can follow what you mean. But what actually are we to do?” It is
your life, your misery, your happiness, and dare another tell you what you should or should not do?
Have not others already told you? Others are the past, the tradition, the conditioning of which you
also are a part. You have listened to others, to yourself, and you are in this predicament; and do
you still seek advice from others, which is from yourself? You will listen, but you will accept what is
pleasing and reject what is painful, and both are binding. Your taking a vow against passion is the
beginning of misery, just as the indulgence of it is; but what is important is to understand this whole
process of the ideal, the taking of a vow, the discipline, the pain, all of which is a deep escape from
inward poverty, from the ache of inward insufficiency, loneliness. This total process is yourself.
”But what about children?”
Again, there is no ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The search for an answer through the mind leads nowhere. We use
children as pawns in the game of our conceit, and we pile up misery; we use them as another means
of escape from ourselves. When children are not used as a means, they have a significance which
is not the significance that you, or society, or the State may give them. Chastity is not a thing of the
mind; chastity is the very nature of love. Without love, do what you will, there can be no chastity. If
there is love, your question will find the true answer.
They remained in that room, completely silent, for a long time. Word and gesture had come to an
end.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 39 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 12
14 ’THE FEAR OF DEATH’
ON THE RED earth in front of the house there were quantities of trumpet-like flowers with golden
hearts. They had large, mauve petals and a delicate scent. They would be swept away during the
day, but in the darkness of night they covered the red earth. The creeper was strong with serrated
leaves which glistened in the morning sun. Some children carelessly trod on the flowers, and a
man getting hurriedly into his car never even looked at them. A passer-by picked one, smelt it, and
carried it away, to be dropped presently. A woman who must have been a servant came out of the
house, picked a flower, and put it in her hair. How beautiful those flowers were, and how quickly they
were withering in the sun!
”I have always been haunted by some kind of fear. As a child I was very timid, shy and sensitive, and
now I am afraid of old age and death. I know we must all die but no amount of rationalizing seems
to calm this fear. I have joined the Psychical Research Society, attended a few seances, and read
what the great teachers have said about death; but fear of it is still there.I even tied psychoanalysis,
but that was no good either. This fear has become quite a problem to me; I wake up in the middle
of the night with frightful dreams, and all of them are in one way or another concerned with death. I
am strangely frightened of violence and death. The war was a continual nightmare to me, and now
I am really very disturbed. It is not a neurosis, but I can see that it might become one. I have done
everything that I possibly can to control this fear; I have tried to run away from it, but at the end of
my escape I have not been able to shake it off. I have listened to a few rather stupid lectures on
reincarnation, and have somewhat studied the Hindu and Buddhist literature concerning it. But all
this has been very unsatisfactory, at least to me. I am not just superficially afraid of death, but there
is a very deep fear of it.”
How do you approach the future, the tomorrow death? Are you trying to find the truth of the matter,
or are you seeking reassurance, a gratifying assertion of continuity or annihilation? Do you want the
truth, or a comforting answer?
40CHAPTER 12. 14 ’THE FEAR OF DEATH’
”When you put it that way, I really do not know what I am afraid of; but the fear is both there and
urgent.”
What is your problem? Do you want to be free from fear, or are you seeking the truth regarding
death?
”What do you mean by the truth regarding death?”
Death is an unavoidable fact; do what you will, it is irrevo- cable, final and true. But do you want to
know the truth of what is beyond death?
”From everything I have studied and from the few materializations I have seen at seances, there is
obviously some kind of continuity after death. Thought in some form continues, which you yourself
have asserted. Just as the broadcasting of songs, words and pictures requires a receiver at the
other end, so thought which continues after death needs an instrument through which it can express
itself. The instrument may be a medium, or thought may incarnate itself in another manner. This
is all fairly clear and can be experimented with and understood; but even though I have gone into
this matter fairly deeply, there is still an unfathomable fear which I think is definitely connected with
death.”
Death is inevitable. Continuity can be ended, or it can be nourished and maintained. That which
has continuity can never renew itself, it can never be the new, it can never understand the unknown.
Continuity is duration, and that which is everlasting is not the timeless. Through time, duration, the
timeless is not. There must be ending for the new to be. The new is not within the continuation
of thought. Thought is continuous movement in time; this movement cannot enclose within itself a
state of being which is not of time. Thought is founded on the past, its very being is of time. Time is
not only chronological but it is thought as a movement of the past through the present to the future; it
is the movement of memory, of the word, the picture, the symbol,the record, the repetition. Thought,
memory, is continuous through word and repetition. The ending of thought is the beginning of the
new; the death of thought is life eternal. There must be constant ending for the new to be. That
which is new is not continuous; the new can never be within the field of time. The new is only in
death from moment to moment. There must be death every day for the unknown to be. The ending
is the beginning, but fear prevents the ending.
”I know I have fear, and I don’t know what is beyond it.”
What do we mean by fear? What is fear? Fear is not an abstraction, it does not exist independently,
in isolation. It comes into being only in relation to something. In the process of relationship, fear
manifests itself; there is no fear apart from relationship. Now what is it that you are afraid of? You
say you are afraid of death. What do we mean by death? Though we have theories, speculations,
and there are certain observable facts, death is still the unknown. Whatever we may know about it,
death itself cannot be brought into the field of the known; we stretch out a hand to grasp it, but it is
not. Association is the known, and the unknown cannot be made familiar; habit cannot capture it,
so there is fear.
Can the known, the mind, ever comprehend or contain the unknown? The hand that stretches
out can receive only the knowable, it cannot hold the unknowable. To desire experience is to give
Commentaries On Living Series 2 41 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 12. 14 ’THE FEAR OF DEATH’
continuity to thought; to desire experience is to give strength to the past; to desire experience is to
further the known. You want to experience death, do you not? Though living, you want to know what
death is. But do you know what living is? You know life only as conflict, confusion, antagonism,
passing joy and pain. But is that life? Are struggle and sorrow life? In this state which we call life we
want to experience something that is not in our own field of consciousness. This pain, this struggle,
the hate that is enfolded in joy, is what we call living; and we want to experience something which
is the opposite of what we call living. The opposite is the continuation of what is, perhaps modified.
But death is not the opposite. It is the unknown. The knowable craves to experience death, the
unknown; but, do what it will, it cannot experience death, therefore it is fearful. Is that it?
”You have stated it clearly. If I could know or experience what death is while living, then surely fear
would cease.”
Because you cannot experience death, you are afraid of it. Can the conscious experience that state
which is not to be brought into being through the conscious? That which can be experienced is the
projection of the conscious, the known. The known can only experience the known; experience
is always within the field of the known; the known cannot experience what is beyond its field.
Experiencing is utterly different from experience. Experienc- ing is not within the field of the
experiencer; but as experiencing fades, the experiencer and the experience come into being, and
then experiencing is brought into the field of the known. The knower, the experiencer, craves for the
state of experiencing, the unknown; and as the experiencer, the knower, cannot enter into the state
of experiencing, he is afraid. He is fear he is not separate from it. The experiencer of fear is not an
observer of it; he is fear itself, the very instrument of fear.
”What do you mean by fear? I know I am afraid of death. I don’t feel that I am fear, but I am fearful of
something. I fear and am separate from fear. Fear is a sensation distinct from the ‘I’ who is looking at
it, analysing it. I am the observer, and fear is the observed. How can the observer and the observed
be one?”
You say that you are the observer, and fear is the observed. But is that so? Are you an entity
separate from your qualities? Are you not identical with your qualities? Are you not your thoughts,
emotions, and so on? You are not separate from your qualities, thoughts. You are your thoughts.
Thought creates the I ‘you’, the supposedly separate entity; without thought, the thinker is not.
Seeing the impermanence of itself, thought creates the thinker as the permanent, the enduring; and
the thinker then becomes the experiencer, the analyser, the observer separate from the transient.
We all crave some kind of permanency, and seeing impermanence about us, thought creates the
thinker who is supposed to be permanent. The thinker then proceeds to buildup other and higher
states of permanency: the soul, the atman, the higher self, and so on. Thought is the foundation of
this whole structure. But that is another matter. We are concerned with fear. What is fear? Let us
see what it is.
You say you are afraid of death. Since you cannot experience it, you are afraid of it. Death is the
unknown, and you are afraid of the unknown. Is that it? Now, can you be afraid of that which you
do not know? If something is unknown to you, how can you be afraid of it? You are really afraid not
of the unknown, of death, but of loss of the known, because that might cause pain, or take away
your pleasure, your gratification. It is the known that causes fear, not the unknown. How can the
unknown cause fear? It is not measurable in terms of pleasure and pain: it is unknown.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 42 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 12. 14 ’THE FEAR OF DEATH’
Fear cannot exist by itself, it comes in relationship to something. You are actually afraid of the
known in its relation to death, are you not? Because you cling to the known, to an experience, you
are frightened of what the future might be. But the ‘what might be’, the future, is merely a reaction,
a speculation, the opposite of what is. This is so, is it not?
”Yes, that seems to be right.”
And do you know what is? Do you understand it? Have you opened the cupboard of the known and
looked into it? Are you not also frightened of what you might discover there? Have you ever inquired
into the known, into what you possess?
”No, I have not. I have always taken the known for granted. I have accepted the past as one accepts
sunlight or rain. I have never considered it; one is almost unconscious of it, as one is of one’s
shadow. Now that you mention it, I suppose I am also afraid to find out what might be there.”
Are not most of us afraid to look at ourselves? We might discover unpleasant things, so we would
rather not look, we prefer to be ignorant of what is. We are not only afraid of what might be in the
future, but also of what might be in the present. We are afraid to know ourselves as we are, and this
avoidance of what is is making us afraid of what might be. We approach the so-called known with
fear, and also the unknown, death. The avoidance of what is is the desire for gratification. We are
seeking security, constantly demanding that there shall be no disturbance; and it is this desire not
to be disturbed that makes us avoid what is and fear what might be. Fear is the ignorance of what
is, and our life is spent in a constant state of fear.
”But how is one to get rid of this fear?”
To get rid of something you must understand it. Is there fear, or only the desire not to see? It is the
desire not to see that brings on fear; and when you don’t want to understand the full significance of
what is, fear acts as a preventive. You can lead a gratifying life by deliberately avoiding all inquiry
into what is, and many do this; but they are not happy, nor are those who amuse them- selves with a
superficial study of what is. Only those who are earnest in their inquiry can be aware of happiness;
to them alone is there freedom from fear.
”Then how is one to understand what is?”
The what is is to be seen in the mirror of relationship, relationship with all things. The what is
cannot be understood in withdrawal, in isolation; it cannot be understood if there is the interpreter,
the translator who denies or accepts. The what is can be understood only when the mind is utterly
passive, when it is not operating on what is.
”Is it not extremely difficult to be passively aware?”
It is, as long as there is thought.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 43 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 13
15 ’THE FUSION OF THE THINKER AND HIS THOUGHTS’
IT WAS A small pond, but very beautiful. Grass covered its banks, and a few steps went down to it.
There was a small, white temple at one end, and all around it were tall, slender palms. The temple
was well built and well cared for; it was spotlessly clean, and at that hour, when the sun was well
behind the palm grove, there was no one there, not even the priest, who treated the temple and its
contents with great veneration. This small, decorative temple gave to the pond an atmosphere of
peace; the place was so still, and even the birds were silent. The slight breeze that stirred the palms
was dying down, and a few clouds floated across the sky, radiant with the evening sun. A snake
was swimming across the pond, in and out among the lotus leaves. The water was very clear, and
there were pink and violet lotuses. Their delicate scent clung close to the water and to the green
banks. There was not a thing stirring now, and the enchantment of the place seemed to fill the earth.
But the beauty of those flowers! They were very still, and one or two were beginning to close for
the night, shutting out the darkness. The snake had crossed the pond, come up the bank, and was
passing close by; its eyes were like bright, black beads, and its forked tongue was playing before it
like a small flame, making a path for the snake to follow.
Speculation and imagination are a hindrance to truth. The mind that speculates can never know the
beauty of what is; it is caught in the net of its own images and words. However far it may wander
in its image making, it is still within the shadow of its own structure and can never see what is
beyond itself. The sensitive mind is not an imaginative mind. The faculty to create pictures limits the
mind; such a mind is bound to the past, to remembrance, which makes it dull. Only the still mind is
sensitive. Accumulation in any form is a burden; and how can a mind be free when it is burdened?
Only the free mind is sensitive; the open is the imponderable, the implicit the unknown. Imagination
and speculation impede the open, the sensitive.
He had spent many years, he said, in search of truth. He had been the round of many teachers,
many gurus, and being still on his pilgrimage, he had stopped here to inquire. Bronzed by the sun
44CHAPTER 13. 15 ’THE FUSION OF THE THINKER AND HIS THOUGHTS’
and made lean by his wanderings, he was an ascetic who had renounced the world and left his
own faraway country. Through the practice of certain disciplines he had with great difficulty learned
to concentrate, and had subjugated the appetites. A scholar, with ready quotations, he was good
at argument and swift in his conclusions. He had learned Sanskrit, and its resonant phrases were
easy for him. All this had given a certain sharpness to his mind; but a mind that is made sharp is
not pliable free.
To understand, to discover, must not the mind be free at the very beginning? Can a mind that
is disciplined, suppressed, ever be free? Freedom is not an ultimate goal; it must be at the very
beginning, must it not? A mind that is disciplined, controlled, is free within its own pattern; but that
is not freedom. The end of discipline is conformity; its path leads to the known, and the known is
never the free. Discipline with its fear is the greed of achievement.
”I am beginning to realize that there is something fundamentally wrong with all these disciplines.
Though I have spent many years in trying to shape my thoughts to the desired pattern, I find that I
am not getting anywhere.”
If the means is imitation, the end must be a copy. The means makes the end, does it not? If the
mind is shaped in the beginning, it must also be conditioned at the end; and how can a conditioned
mind ever be free? The means is the end, they are not two separate processes. It is an illusion to
think that through a wrong means the true can be achieved. When the means is suppression, the
end also must be a product of fear.
”I have a vague feeling of the inadequacy of disciplines, even when I practice them, as I still do;
they are now all but an unconscious habit. From childhood my education has been a process of
conformity, and discipline has been almost instinctive with me ever since I first put on this robe.
Most of the books I have read, and all the gurus I have been to, prescribe control in one form or
another, and you have no idea how I went at it. So what you say seems almost a blasphemy; it is
really a shock to me, but it is obviously true. Have my years been wasted?”
They would have been wasted if your practices now prevented understanding, the receptivity to
truth, that is, if these impediments were not wisely observed and deeply understood. We are so
entrenched in our own make-believe that most of us dare not look at it or beyond it. The very urge
to understand is the beginning of freedom. So what is our problem?
”I am seeking truth, and I have made disciplines and practices of various kinds the means to that
end. My deepest instinct urges me to seek and find, and I am not interested in anything else.”
Let us begin near to go far. What do you mean by search? Are you looking for truth? And can it
be found by seeking? To seek truth, you must know what it is. Search implies a fore knowledge,
something already felt or known, does it not? Is truth something to be known, gathered and held?
Is not the intimation of it a projection of the past and so not truth at all, but a remembrance? Search
implies an outgoing or an inward process, does it not? And must not the mind be still for reality to
be? Search is effort to gain the more or the less, it is negative or positive acquisitiveness; and as
long as the mind is the concentration, the focus of effort, of conflict, can it ever be still? Can the mind
be still through effort? It can be made still through compulsion; but what is made can be unmade.
”But is not effort of some kind essential?”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 45 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 13. 15 ’THE FUSION OF THE THINKER AND HIS THOUGHTS’
We shall see. Let us inquire into the truth of search. To seek, there must be the seeker, an
entity separate from that which he seeks. And is there such a separate entity? Is the thinker,
the experiencer, different or separate from his thoughts and experiences? Without inquiring into this
whole problem, meditation has no meaning. So we must understand the mind, the process of the
self. What is the mind that seeks, that chooses, that is fearful, that denies and justifies? What is
thought?
”I have never approached the problem in this way, and I am now rather confused; but please
proceed.”
Thought is sensation, is it not? Through perception and contact there is sensation; from this arises
desire, desire for this and not for that. Desire is the beginning of identification, the ‘mine’ and the ‘not-
mine’. Thought is verbalized sensation; thought is the response of memory the word, the experience,
the image. Thought is transient changing, impermanent, and it is seeking permanency. So thought
creates the thinker, who then becomes the permanent; he assumes the role of the censor, the guide,
the controller, the moulder of thought. This illusory permanent entity is the product of thought, of the
transient. This entity is thought; without thought he is not. The thinker is made up of qualities; his
dualities cannot be separated from himself. The controller is the controlled, he is merely playing a
deceptive game with himself. Till the false is seen as the false, truth is not.
”Then who is the seer, the experiencer, the entity that says, ‘I understand’?”
As long as there is the experiencer remembering the experience, truth is not. Truth is not something
to be remembered, stored up, recorded, and then brought out. What is accumulated is not truth.
The desire to experience creates the experiencer, who then accumulates and remembers. Desire
makes for the separation of the thinker from his thoughts; the desire to become, to experience, to
be more or to be less, makes for division between the ex- periencer and the experience. Awareness
of the ways of desire is self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is the beginning of meditation.
”How can there be a fusion of the thinker with his thoughts?”
Not through the action of will, nor through discipline, nor through any form of effort, control or
concentration, nor through any other means. The use of a means implies an agent who is acting,
does it not? As long as there is an actor, there will be a division. The fusion takes place only
when the mind is utterly still without trying to be still. There is this stillness, not when the thinker
comes to an end, but only when thought itself has come to an end. There must be freedom from
the response of conditioning, which is thought. Each problem is solved only when idea, conclusion
is not; conclusion, idea, thought, is the agitation of the mind. How can there be understanding when
the mind is agitated? Earnestness must be tempered with the swift play of spontaneity. You will find,
if you have heard all that has been said, that truth will come in moments when you are not expecting
it. If I may say so, be open, sensitive, be fully aware of what is from moment to moment. Don’t
build around yourself a wall of impregnable thought. The bliss of truth comes when the mind is not
occupied with its own activities and struggles.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 46 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 14
16 ’THE PURSUIT OF POWER’
THE COW WAS in labour, and the two or three people who regularly attended to her milking, feeding
and cleaning were with her now. She was watching them, and if one went away for any reason, she
would gently call. At this critical time she wanted all her friends about her; they had come and she
was content, but she was labouring heavily. The little calf was born and it was a beauty, a heifer.
The mother got up and went round and round her new baby, nudging her gently from time to time;
she was so joyous that she would push us aside. She kept this up for a long time till she finally got
tired. We held the baby to suckle, but the mother was too excited. At last she calmed down, and
then she wouldn’t let us go. One of the ladies sat on the ground, and the new mother lay down and
put her head in her lap. She had suddenly lost interest in her calf, and her friends were more to her
now. It had been very cold, but at last the sun was coming up behind the hills, and it was getting
warmer.
He was a member of the government and was shyly aware of his importance. He talked of his
responsibility to his people; he explained how his party was superior to and could do things better
than the opposition, how they were trying to put an end to corruption and the black market, but
how difficult it was to find incorruptible and yet efficient people, and how easy it was for outsiders to
criticize and blame the government for the things that were not being done. He went on to say that
when people reached his age they should take things more easily; but most people were greedy for
power, even the inefficient. Deep down we were all unhappy and out for ourselves, though some
of us were clever at hiding our unhappiness and our craving for power. Why was there this urge to
power?
What do we mean by power? Every individual and group is after power: power for oneself, for
the party, or the ideology. The party and the ideology are an extension of oneself. The ascetic
seeks power through abnegation, and so does the mother through her child. There is the power of
47CHAPTER 14. 16 ’THE PURSUIT OF POWER’
efficiency with its ruthlessness, and the power of the machine in the hands of a few; there is the
domination of one individual by another, the exploitation of the stupid by the clever, the power of
money, the power of name and word, and the power of mind over matter. We all want some kind
of power, whether over ourselves or over others. This urge to power brings a kind of happiness, a
gratification that is not too transient. The power of renunciation is as the power of wealth. It is the
craving for gratification for happiness, that drives us to seek power. And how easily we are satisfied!
The ease of achieving some form of satisfaction blinds us. All gratifications blinding. Why do we
seek this power? ”I suppose primarily because it gives us physical comforts, a social position, and
respectability along recognized channels.”
Is the craving for power at only one level of our being? Do we not seek it inwardly as well as
outwardly? Why? Why do we worship authority, whether of a book, of a person, of the State, or of
a belief? Why is there this urge to cling to a person or to an idea? It was once the authority of the
priest that held us, and now it is the authority of the expert, the specialist. Have you not noticed how
you treat a man with a title, a man of position, the powerful executive? power in some form seems
to dominate our lives: the power of one over many, the using of one by another, or mutual use.
”What do you mean by using another?”
This is fairly simple, is it not? We use each other for mutual gratification. The present structure of
society, which is our relationship with each other, is based on need and usage. You need votes to get
you into power; you use people to get what you want, and they need what you promise. The woman
needs the man, and the man the woman. Our present relationship is based on need and use. Such
a relationship is inherently violent, and that is why the very basis of our society is violence. As long
as the social structure is based on mutual need and use, it is bound to be violent and disruptive;
as long as I use another for my personal gratification, or for the fulfilment of an ideology with which
I am identified, there can only be fear, distrust and opposition. Relationship is then a process of
self-isolation and disintegration. This is all painfully obvious in the life of the individual and in world
affairs.
”But it is impossible to live without mutual need!”
I need the postman, but if I use him to satisfy some inner urge, then the social need becomes a
psychological necessity and our relationship has undergone a radical change. It is this psychological
need and usage of another that makes for violence and misery. Psychological need creates the
search for power, and power is used for gratification at different levels of our being. The man who is
ambitious for himself or for his party, or who wants to achieve an ideal, is obviously a disintegrating
factor in society. ”Is not ambition inevitable?”
It is inevitable only as long as there is no fundamental transformation in the individual. Why should
we accept it as inevitable? Is the cruelty of man to man inevitable? Don’t you want to put an end to
it? Does not accepting it as inevitable indicate utter thoughtlessness?
”If you are not cruel to others, someone else will be cruel to you, so you have to be on top.”
To be on top is what every individual, every group, every ideology is trying to do, and so sustaining
cruelty, violence. There can be creation only in peace; and how can there be peace if there is
Commentaries On Living Series 2 48 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 14. 16 ’THE PURSUIT OF POWER’
mutual usage? To talk of peace is utter nonsense as long as our relationship with the one or with
the many is based on need and use. The need and use of another must inevitably lead to power
and dominance. The power of an idea and the power of the sword are similar; both are destructive.
Idea and belief set man against man, just as the sword does. Idea and belief are the very antithesis
of love.
”Then why are we consciously or unconsciously consumed with this desire for power?”
Is not the pursuit of power one of the recognized and respectable escapes from ourselves, from what
is? Everyone tries to escape from his own insufficiency, from his inner poverty, loneliness, isolation.
The actual is unpleasant, but the escape is glamourous and inviting. Consider what would happen
if you were about to be stripped of your power, your position, your hard earned wealth. You would
resist it, would you not? You consider yourself essential to the welfare of society, so you would resist
with violence, or with rational and cunning argumentation. If you were able voluntarily to set aside
all your many acquisitions at different levels, you would be as nothing, would you not?
”I suppose I would – which is very depressing. Of course I don’t want to be as nothing.”
So you have all the outer show without the inner substance, the incorruptible inward treasure. You
want your outward show, and so does another, and from this conflict arise hate and fear, violence
and decay. You with your ideology are as insufficient as the opposition, and so you are destroying
each other in the name of peace, sufficiency, adequate employment, or in the name of God. As
almost everyone craves to be on top, we have built a society of violence, conflict and enmity.
”But how is one to eradicate all this?”
By not being ambitious, greedy for power, for name, for position; by being what you are, simple and
a nobody. Negative thinking is the highest form of intelligence.
”But the cruelty and violence of the world cannot be stopped by my individual effort. And would it
not take infinite time for all individuals to change?”
The other is you. This question springs from the desire to avoid your own immediate transformation,
does it not? You are saying, in effect, ”What is the good of my changing if everyone else does not
change?” One must begin near to go far. But you really do not want to change; you want things to
go on as they are, especially if you are on top, and so you say it will take infinite time to transform
the world through individual transformation. The world is you; you are the problem; the problem is
not separate from you; the world is the projection of yourself. The world cannot be transformed till
you are. Happiness is in transformation and not in acquisition.
”But I am moderately happy. Of course there are many things in myself which I don’t like, but I
haven’t the time or the inclination to go after them.”
Only a happy man can bring about a new social order; but he is not happy who is identified with
an ideology or a belief, or who is lost in any social or individual activity. Happiness is not an end in
itself. It comes with the understanding of what is. Only when the mind is free from its own projections
can there be happiness. Happiness that is bought is merely gratification; happiness through action,
Commentaries On Living Series 2 49 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 14. 16 ’THE PURSUIT OF POWER’
through power, is only sensation; and as sensation soon withers, there is craving for more and more.
As long as the more is a means to happiness, the end is always dissatisfaction, conflict and misery.
Happiness is not a remembrance; it is that state which comes into being with truth, ever new, never
continuous.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 50 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 15
17 ’WHAT IS MAKING YOU DULL?’
HE HAD A small job, with a very poor salary; he came with his wife, who wanted to talk over their
problem. They were both quite young, and though they had been married for some years,they had
no children; but that was not the problem. His pay was barely enough to eke out an existence in
these difficult times, but as they had no children it was sufficient to survive. What the future held
no man knew, though it could hardly be worse than the present. He was disinclined to talk, but his
wife pointed out that he must. She had brought him along, almost forcibly it appeared, for he had
come very reluctantly; but there he was, and she was glad. He could not talk easily, he said, for he
had never talked about himself to anyone but his wife. He had few friends, and even to these he
never opened his heart, for they wouldn’t have understood him. As he talked he was slowly thawing,
and his wife was listening with anxiety. He explained that his work was not the problem; it was fairly
interesting, and anyhow it gave them food. They were simple, unassuming people, and both had
been educated at one of the universities.
At last she began to explain their problem. She said that for a couple of years now her husband
seemed to have lost all interest in life. He did his office work, and that was about all; he went to work
in the morning and came back in the evening, and his employers did not complain about him.
”My work is a matter of routine and does not demand too much attention. I am interested in what
I do, but it is all somehow a strain. My difficulty is not at the office or with the people with whom I
work, but it is within myself. As my wife said, I have lost interest in life, and I don’t quite know what
is the matter with me.”
”He was always enthusiastic, sensitive and very affectionate, but for the past year or more he has
become dull and indifferent to everything. He always used to be loving with me, but now life has
become very sad for both of us. He doesn’t seem to care whether I am there or not, and it has
51CHAPTER 15. 17 ’WHAT IS MAKING YOU DULL?’
become a misery to live in the same house. He is not unkind or anything of that sort, but has simply
become apathetic and utterly indifferent.”
Is it because you have no children?
”It isn’t that,” he said. ”Our physical relationship is all right, more or less. No marriage is perfect, and
we have our ups and downs, but I don’t think this dullness is the result of any sexual maladjustment.
Although my wife and I haven’t lived together sexually for some time now because of this dullness
of mine, I don’t think it is the lack of children that has brought it about.”
Why do you say that?
”Before this dullness came upon me, my wife and I realized that we couldn’t have children. It has
never bothered me, though she often cries about it. She wants children, but apparently one of us is
incapable of reproduction. I have suggested several things which might make it possible for her to
have a child, but she won’t try any of them. She will have a child by me or not at all, and she is very
deeply upset about it. After all, without the fruit, a tree is merely decorative. We have lain awake
talking about all this, but there it is. I realize that one can’t have everything in life, and it is not the
lack of children that has brought on this dullness; at least, I am pretty sure it is not.”
Is it due to your wife’s sadness, to her sense of frustration?
”You see, sir, my husband and I have gone into this matter pretty fully. I am more than sad not
to have had children, and I pray to God that I may have one some day. My husband wants me to
be happy, of course, but his dullness isn’t due to my sadness. If we had a child now, I would be
supremely happy, but for him it would merely be a distraction, and I suppose it is so with most men.
This dullness has been creeping upon him for the past two years like some internal disease. He
used to talk to me about everything, about the birds, about his office work, about his ambitions,
about his regard and love for me; he would open his heart to me. But now his heart is closed and
his mind is somewhere far away. I have talked to him, but it is no good.” Have you separated from
each other for a time to see how that worked?
”Yes. I went away to my family for about six months, and we wrote to each other; but this separation
made no difference. If anything, it made things worse. He cooked his own food, went out very little,
kept away from his friends, and was more and more withdrawn into himself. He has never been too
social in any case. Even after this separation he showed no quickening spark.”
Do you think this dullness is a cover, a pose, an escape from some unfulfilled inner longing?
”I am afraid I don’t quite understand what you mean.”
You may have an intense longing for something which needs fulfilment, and as that longing has no
release, perhaps you are escaping from the pain of it through becoming dull.
”I have never thought about such a thing, it has never occurred to me before. How am I to find out?”
Why hasn’t it occurred to you before? Have you ever asked yourself why you have become dull?
Don’t you want to know?
Commentaries On Living Series 2 52 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 15. 17 ’WHAT IS MAKING YOU DULL?’
”It is strange, but I have never asked myself what is the cause of this stupid dullness. I have never
put that question to myself.”
Now that you are asking yourself that question what is your response?
”I don’t think I have any. But I am really shocked to find how very dull I have become. I was never
like this. I am appalled at my own state.”
After all, it is good to know in what state one actually is. At least that is a beginning. You have never
before asked yourself why you are dull, lethargic; you have just accepted it and carried on, have you
not? Do you want to discover what has made you like this, or have you resigned yourself to your
present state?
”I am afraid he has just accepted it without ever fighting against it.”
You do want to get over this state, don’t you? Do you want to talk without your wife?
”Oh, no. There is nothing I cannot say in front of her. I know it is not a lack or an excess of sexual
relationship that has brought on this state, nor is there another woman. I couldn’t go to another
woman. And it is not the lack of children.”
Do you paint or write?
”I have always wanted to write, but I have never painted. On my walks I used to get some ideas, but
now even that has gone.”
Why don’t you try to put something on paper? It doesn’t matter how stupid it is; you don’t have to
show it to anyone. Why don’t you try writing something? But to go back. Do you want to find out
what has brought on this dullness, or do you want to remain as you are?
”I would like to go away somewhere by myself, renounce everything and find some happiness.”
Is that what you want to do? Then why don’t you do it? Are you hesitating on account of your wife?
”I am no good to my wife as I am; I am just a wash-out.”
Do you think you will find happiness by withdrawing from life, by isolating yourself? Haven’t you
sufficiently isolated yourself now? To renounce in order to find is no renunciation at all; it is only a
cunning bargain, an exchange, a calculated move to gain something. You give up this in order to
get that. Renunciation with an end in view is only a surrender to further gain. But can you have
happiness through isolation, through dissociation? Is not life association, contact, communion?
You may withdraw from one association to find happiness in another, but you cannot completely
withdraw from all contact. Even in complete isolation you are in contact with your thoughts, with
yourself. Suicide is the complete form of isolation.
”Of course I don’t want to commit suicide. I want to live, but I don’t want to continue as I am.”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 53 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 15. 17 ’WHAT IS MAKING YOU DULL?’
Are you sure you don’t want to go on as you are? You see, it is fairly clear that there is something
which is making you dull, and you want to run away from it into further isolation. To run away
from what is, is to isolate oneself. You want to isolate yourself, perhaps temporarily, hoping for
happiness. But you have already isolated yourself, and pretty thoroughly; further isolation, which you
call renunciation, is only a further withdrawal from life. And can you have happiness through deeper
and deeper self-isolation? The nature of the self is to isolate itself its very quality is exclusiveness.
To be exclusive is to renounce in order to gain. The more you withdraw from association, the greater
the conflict, resistance. Nothing can exist in isolation. However painful relationship may be, it has
to be patiently and thoroughly understood. Conflict makes for dullness. Effort to become something
only brings problems, conscious or unconscious. You cannot be dull without some cause, for, as
you say, you were once alert and keen. You haven’t always been dull. What has brought about this
change?
”You seem to know, and won’t you please tell him?”
I could, but what good would that be? He would either accept or reject it according to his mood and
pleasure; but is it not important that he himself should find out? Is it not essential for him to uncover
the whole process and see the truth of it? Truth is something that cannot be told to another. He
must be able to receive it, and none can prepare him for it. This is not indifference on my part; but
he must come to it openly, freely and unexpectedly.
What is making you dull? Shouldn’t you know it for yourself? Conflict, resistance, makes for dullness.
We think that through struggle we shall understand through competition we shall be made bright.
Struggle certainly makes for sharpness, but what is sharp is soon made blunt; what is in constant
use soon wears out. We accept conflict as inevitable, and build our structure of thought and action
upon this inevitability. But is conflict inevitable? Is there not a different way of living? There is if we
can understand the process and significance of conflict.
Again, why have you made yourself dull?
”Have I made myself dull?”
Can anything make you dull unless you are willing to be made dull? This willingness may be
conscious or hidden. Why have you allowed yourself to be made dull? Is there a deep-seated
conflict in you?
”If there is, I am totally unaware of it.”
But don’t you want to know? Don’t you want to understand it?
”I am beginning to see what you are driving at,” she put in, ”but I may not be able to tell my husband
the cause of his dullness because I am not quite sure of it myself.”
You may or may not see the way this dullness has come upon him; but would you be really helping
him if verbally you were to point it out? Is it not essential that he discovers it for himself? Please
see the importance of this, and then you will not be impatient or anxious. One can help another, but
he alone must undertake the journey of discovery. Life is not easy; it is very complex, but we must
Commentaries On Living Series 2 54 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 15. 17 ’WHAT IS MAKING YOU DULL?’
approach it simply. We are the problem; the problem is not what we call life. We can understand the
problem, which is ourselves, only if we know how to approach it. The approach is all important, and
not the problem.
”But what are we to do?”
You must have listened to all that has been said; if you have, then you will see that truth alone brings
freedom. Please don’t worry, but let the seed take root.
After some weeks they both came back. There was hope in their eyes and a smile upon their lips.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 55 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 16
18 ’KARMA’
SILENCE IS NOT to be cultivated, it is not to be deliberately brought about; it is not to be sought
out, thought of, or meditated upon. The deliberate cultivation of silence is as the enjoyment of some
longed for pleasure; the desire to silence the mind is but the pursuit of sensation. Such silence is
only a form of resistance, an isolation which leads to decay. Silence that is bought is a thing of the
market in which there is the noise of activity. Silence comes with the absence of desire. Desire is
swift, cunning and deep. Remembrance shuts off the sweep of silence, and a mind that is caught in
experience cannot be silent. Time, the movement of yesterday flowing into today and tomorrow, is
not silence. With the cessation of this movement there is silence, and only then can that which is
unnameable come into being. ”I have come to talk over karma with you. Of course I have certain
opinions about it, but I would like to know yours.”
Opinion is not truth; we must put aside opinions to find truth. There are innumerable opinions,
but truth is not of this or of that group. For the understanding of truth, all ideas, conclusions,
opinions, must drop away as the withered leaves fall from a tree. Truth is not to be found in books,
in knowledge, inexperience. If you are seeking opinions, you will find none here.
”But we can talk about karma and try to understand its significance, can we not.”
That, of course, is quite a different matter. To understand, opinions and conclusions must cease.
”Why do you insist upon that?”
Can you understand anything if you have already made up your mind about it, or if you repeat the
conclusions of another? To find the truth of this matter, must we not come to it afresh, with a mind
that is not clouded by prejudice? Which is more important, to be free from conclusions, prejudices,
56CHAPTER 16. 18 ’KARMA’
or to speculate about some abstraction? Is it not more important to find the truth than to squabble
about what truth is? An opinion as to what truth is, is not truth. Is it not important to discover the truth
concerning karma? To see the false as the false is to begin to understand it, is it not? How can we
see either the true or the false if our minds are entrenched in tradition, in words and explanations?
If the mind is tethered to a belief, how can it go far? To journey far, the mind must be free. Freedom
is not something to be gained at the end of long endeavour, it must be at the very beginning of the
journey.
”I want to find out what karma means to you.”
Sir, let us take the journey of discovery together. Merely to repeat the words of another has no deep
significance. It is like playing a gramophone record. Repetition or imitation does not bring about
freedom. What do you mean by karma?
”It is a Sanskrit word meaning to do, to be, to act, and so on. Karma is action, and action is the
outcome of the past. Action cannot be without the conditioning of the background. Through a
series of experiences, through conditioning and knowledge, the background of tradition is built up,
not only during the present life of the individual and the group, but throughout many incarnations.
The constant action and interaction between the background, which is the ‘me’, and society, life, is
karma; and karma binds the mind, the ‘me’. What I have done in my past life, or only yesterday,
holds and shapes me, giving pain or pleasure in the present. There is group or collective karma, as
well as that of the individual. Both the group and the individual are held in the chain of cause and
effect. There will be sorrow or joy, punishment or reward, according to what I have done in the past.”
You say action is the outcome of the past. Such action is not action at all, but only a reaction, is
it not? The conditioning the background, reacts to stimuli; this reaction is the response of memory,
which is not action, but karma. For the present we are not concerned with what action is. Karma
is the reaction which arises from certain causes and produces certain results. Karma is this chain
of cause and effect. Essentially, the process of time is karma, is it not? As long as there is a
past, there must be the present and the future. Today and tomorrow are the effects of yesterday;
yesterday in conjunction with today makes tomorrow. Karma, as generally understood, is a process
of compensation.
”As you say, karma is a process of time, and mind is the result of time. Only the fortunate few can
escape from the clutches of time; the rest of us are bound to time. What we have done in the past,
good or evil, determines what we are in the present.”
Is the background, the past, a static state? Is it not undergoing constant modification? You are not
the same today as you were yesterday; both physiologically and psychologically there is a constant
change going on, is there not?
”Of course.”
So the mind is not a fixed state. Our thoughts are transient, constantly changing; they are the
response of the background. If I have been brought up in a certain class of society in a definite
culture, I will respond to challenge, to stimuli, according to my conditioning. With most of us,
this conditioning is so deep- rooted that response is almost always according to the pattern. Our
Commentaries On Living Series 2 57 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 16. 18 ’KARMA’
thoughts are the response of the background. We are the background; that conditioning is not
separate or dissimilar from us. With the changing of the background our thoughts also change.
”But surely the thinker is wholly different from the background, is he not?”
Is he? Is not the thinker the result of his thoughts? Is he not composed of his thoughts? Is there
a separate entity, a thinker apart from his thoughts? Has not thought created the thinker, given him
permanence amidst the impermanence of thoughts? The thinker is the refuge of thought, and the
thinker places himself at different levels of permanency.
”I see this is so, but it is rather a shock to me to realize the tricks that thought is playing upon itself.”
Thought is the response of the background, of memory; memory is knowledge, the result of
experience. This memory, through further experience and response, gets tougher, larger, sharper,
more efficient. One form of conditioning can be substituted for another, but it is still conditioning.
The response of this conditioning is karma, is it not? The response of memory is called action, but it
is only reaction; this ‘action’ breeds further reaction, and so there is a chain of so-called cause and
effect. But is not the cause also the effect? Neither cause nor effect is static. Today is the result
of yesterday and today is the cause of tomorrow; what was the cause becomes the effect, and the
effect the cause. One flows into the other. There is no moment when the cause is not also the effect.
Only the specialized is fixed in its cause and so in its effect. The acorn cannot become anything but
an oak tree. In specialization there is death; but man is not a specialized entity, he can be what he
will. He can break through his conditioning – and he must, if he would discover the real. You must
cease to be a so-called Brahmin to realize God.
Karma is the process of time, the past moving through the present to the future; this chain is the
way of thought. Thought is the result of time, and there can be that which is immeasurable, timeless,
only when the process of thought has ceased. Stillness of the mind cannot be induced, it cannot
be brought about through any practice or discipline. If the mind is made still, then whatever comes
into it is only a self-projection, the response of memory. With the understanding of its conditioning,
with the choiceless awareness of its own responses as thought and feeling, tranquillity comes to the
mind. This breaking of the chain of karma is not a matter of time; for through time, the timeless is
not.
Karma must be understood as a total process not merely as something of the past. The past is
time, which is also the present and the future. Time is memory, the word, the idea. When the word,
the name, the association, the experience, is not, then only is the mind still, not merely in the upper
layers, but completely, integrally.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 58 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 17
19 ’THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE IDEAL’
”OUR LIFE HERE in India is more or less shattered; we want to make something of it again, but we
don’t know where to begin. I can see the importance of mass action, and also its dangers. I have
pursued the ideal of non-violence, but there has been bloodshed and misery. Since the Partition,
this country has had blood on its hands, and now we are building up the armed forces. We talk of
non-violence and yet prepare for war. I am as confused as the political leaders. In prison I used to
read a great deal, but it has not helped me to clarify my own position.”
”Can we take one thing at a time and somewhat go into it? First, you lay a great deal of emphasis
on the individual; but is not collective action necessary?”
The individual is essentially the collective, and society is the creation of the individual. The individual
and society are interrelated, are they not? They are not separate. The individual builds the structure
of society, and society or environment shapes the individual. Though environment conditions the
individual, he can always free himself, break away from his background. The individual is the maker
of the very environment to which he becomes a slave; but he has also the power to break away
from it and create an environment that will not dull his mind or spirit. The individual is important only
in the sense that he has the capacity to free himself from his conditioning and understand reality.
Individuality that is merely ruthless in its own conditioning builds a society whose foundations are
based on violence and antagonism. The individual exists only in relationship, otherwise he is not;
and it is the lack of understanding of this relationship that is breeding conflict and confusion. If the
individual does not understand his relationship to people, to property, and to ideas or beliefs, merely
to impose upon him a collective or any other pattern only defeats its own end. To bring about the
imposition of a new pattern will require so-called mass action; but the new pattern is the invention
of a few individuals, and the mass is mesmerized by the latest slogans, the promises of a new
Utopia. The mass is the same as before, only now it has new rulers, new phrases, new priests, new
59CHAPTER 17. 19 ’THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE IDEAL’
doctrines. This mass is made up of you and me, it is composed of individuals; the mass is fictitious,
it is a convenient term for the exploiter and the politician to play with. The many are pushed into
action, into war, and so on, by the few; and the few represent the desires and urges of the many. It is
the transformation of the individual that is of the highest importance, but not in terms of any pattern.
Patterns always condition, and a conditioned entity is always in conflict within himself and so with
society. It is comparatively easy to substitute a new pattern of conditioning for the old; but for the
individual to free himself from all conditioning is quite another matter.
”This requires careful and detailed thought, but I think I am beginning to understand it. You lay
emphasis on the individual, but not as a separate and antagonistic force within society.
”Now the second point. I have always worked for an ideal, and I don’t understand your denial of it.
Would you mind going into this problem?”
Our present morality is based on the past or the future on the traditional or the what ought to be.
The what ought to be is the ideal in opposition to what has been, the future in conflict with the past.
Non-violence is the ideal, the what should be; and the what has been is violence. The what has
been projects the what should be; the ideal is homemade, it is projected by its own opposite, the
actual. The antithesis is an extension of the thesis; the opposite contains the element of its own
opposite. Being violent, the mind projects its opposite, the ideal of non-violence. It is said that the
ideal helps to overcome its own opposite; but does it? Is not the ideal an avoidance, an escape
from the what has been, or from what is? The conflict between the actual and the ideal is obviously
a means of postponing the understanding of the actual, and this conflict only introduces another
problem which helps to cover up the immediate problem. The ideal is a marvellous and respectable
escape from the actual. The ideal of non-violence, like the collective Utopia, is fictitious; the ideal,
the what should be, helps us to cover up and avoid what is. The pursuit of the ideal is the search
for reward. You may shun the worldly rewards as being stupid and barbarous, which they are; but
your pursuit of the ideal is the search for reward at a different level, which is also stupid. The ideal
is a compensation, a fictitious state which the mind has conjured up. Being violent, separative and
out for itself, the mind projects the gratifying compensation, the fiction which it calls the ideal, the
Utopia, the future, and vainly pursues it. That very pursuit is conflict, but it is also a pleasurable
postponement of the actual. The ideal, the what should be, does not help in understanding what is;
on the contrary, it prevents understanding.
”Do you mean to say that our leaders and teachers have been wrong in advocating and maintaining
the ideal?”
What do you think?
”If I understand correctly what you say…”
Please, it is not a matter of understanding what another may say, but of finding out what is true.
Truth is not opinion; truth is not dependent on any leader or teacher. The weighing of opinions
only prevents the perception of truth. Either the ideal is a homemade fiction which contains its own
opposite, or it is not. There are no two ways about it. This does not depend on any teacher, you
must perceive the truth of it for yourself. ”If the ideal is fictitious, it revolutionizes all my thinking. Do
you mean to say that our pursuit of the ideal is utterly futile?,”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 60 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 17. 19 ’THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE IDEAL’
It is a vain struggle, a gratifying self-deception is it not?
”This is very disturbing, but I am forced to admit that it is. We have taken so many things for granted
that we have never allowed ourselves to observe closely what is in our hand. We have deceived
ourselves, and what you point out upsets completely the structure of my thought and action. It will
revolutionize education, our whole way of living and working. I think I see the implications of a mind
that is free from the ideal, from the what should be. To such a mind, action has a significance quite
different from that which we give it now. Compensatory action is not action at all, but only a reaction
– and we boast of action!…But without the ideal, how is one to deal with the actual, or with the what
has been?”
The understanding of the actual is possible only when the ideal, the what should be, is erased
from the mind; that is only when the false is seen as the false. The what should be is also the
what should not be. As long as the mind approaches the actual with either positive or negative
compensation, there can be no understanding of the actual. To understand the actual you must be
indirect communion with it; your relationship with it cannot be through the screen of the ideal, or
through the screen of the past, of tradition, of experience. To be free from the wrong approach is the
only problem. This means, really, the understanding of conditioning, which is the mind. The problem
is the mind itself, and not the problems it breeds; the resolution of the problems bred by the mind is
merely the reconciliation of effects, and that only leads to further confusion and illusion.
”How is one to understand the mind?”
The way of the mind is the way of life – not the ideal life, but the actual life of sorrow and pleasure, of
deception and clarity, of conceit and the pose of humility. To understand the mind is to be aware of
desire and fear.
”Please, this is getting a bit too much for me. How am I to understand my mind?” To know the mind,
must you not be aware of its activities? The mind is only experience, not just the immediate but also
the accumulated. The mind is the past in response to the present, which makes for the future. The
total process of the mind has to be understood.
”Where am I to begin?”
From the only beginning: relationship. Relationship is life; to be is to be related. Only in the mirror
of relationship is the mind to be understood, and you have to begin to see yourself in that mirror.
”Do you mean in my relationship with my wife with my neighbour, and so on? Is that not a very
limited process?”
What may appear to be small, limited, if approached rightly, reveals the fathomless. It is like a funnel,
the narrow opens into the wide. When observed with passive watchfulness, the limited reveals the
limitless. After all, at its source the river is small, hardly worth noticing.
”So I must begin with myself and my immediate relationships.”
Surely. Relationship is never narrow or small. With the one or with the many, relationship is a
complex process, and you can approach it pettily, or freely and openly. Again, the approach is
Commentaries On Living Series 2 61 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 17. 19 ’THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE IDEAL’
dependent on the state of the mind. If you do not begin with yourself, where else will you begin?
Even if you begin with some peripheral activity, you are in relationship with it, the mind is the centre
of it. Whether you begin near or far, you are there. Without understanding yourself, whatever you do
will inevitably bring about confusion and sorrow. The beginning is the ending.
”I have wandered far afield, I have seen and done many things, I have suffered and laughed like
so many others, and yet I have had to come back to myself. I am like that sannyasi who set out in
search of truth. He spent many years going from teacher to teacher, and each pointed out a different
way. At last he wearily returned to his home, and in his own house was the jewel! I see how foolish
we are, searching the universe for that bliss which is to be found only in our own hearts when the
mind is purged of its activities. You are perfectly right. I begin from where I started. I begin with what
I am.”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 62 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 18
20 ’TO BE VULNERABLE IS TO LIVE, TO WITHDRAW IS TO DIE’
THE HURRICANE HAD destroyed the crops, and the seawater was over the land. The train was
crawling along, and on both sides of the line the trees were down, the houses roofless, and the fields
utterly deserted. The storm had done a great deal of damage for miles around; living things were
destroyed, and the barren earth was open to the sky.
We are never alone; we are surrounded by people and by our own thoughts. Even when the people
are distant, we see things through the screen of our thoughts. There is no moment, or it is very
rare, when thought is not. We do not know what it is to be alone, to be free of all association, of all
continuity, of all word and image. We are lonely, but we do not know what it is to be alone. The ache
of loneliness fills our hearts, and the mind covers it with fear. Loneliness, that deep isolation, is the
dark shadow of our life. We do everything we can to run away from it, we plunge down every avenue
of escape we know, but it pursues us and we are never without it. Isolation is the way of our life; we
rarely fuse with another, for in ourselves we are broken, torn and unhealed. In ourselves we are not
whole complete, and the fusion with another is possible only when there is integration within. We
are afraid of solitude, for it opens the door to our insufficiency, the poverty of our own being; but it is
solitude that heals the deepening wound of loneliness. To walk alone, unimpeded by thought, by the
trail of our desires, is to go beyond the reaches of the mind. It is the mind that isolates, separates
and cuts off communion. The mind cannot be made whole; it cannot make itself complete, for that
very effort is a process of isolation, it is part of the loneliness that nothing can cover. The mind is
the product of the many, and what is put together can never be alone. Aloneness is not the result of
thought. Only when thought is utterly still is there the flight of the alone to the alone.
The house was well back from the road, and the garden had an abundance of flowers. It was a
cool morning, and the sky was very blue; the morning sun was pleasant, and in the shaded, sunken
garden the noise of the traffic, the call of the vendors, and the trotting of horses on the road, all
63CHAPTER 18. 20 ’TO BE VULNERABLE IS TO LIVE, TO WITHDRAW IS TO DIE’
seemed very distant. A goat had wandered into the garden; with its short tail wiggling, it nibbled at
the flowers till the gardener came and chased it away.
She was saying that she felt very disturbed, but did not want to be disturbed; she wanted to avoid
the painful state of uncertainty. Why was she so apprehensive of being disturbed?
What do you mean by being disturbed? And why be apprehensive about it?
”I want to be quiet, to be left alone. I feel disturbed even with you. Though I have seen you only
two or three times, the fear of being disturbed by you is coming heavily upon me. I want to find out
why I have this fear of being inwardly uncertain. I want to be quiet and at peace with myself, but I
am always being disturbed by something or other. Till recently I had managed to be more or less at
peace with myself; but a friend brought me along to one of your talks, and now I am strangely upset.
I thought you would strengthen me in my peace, but instead you have almost shattered it. I didn’t
want to come here, as I knew I would make a fool of myself; but still, here I am.”
Why are you so insistent that you should be at peace? Why are you making it into a problem? The
very demand to be at peace is conflict, is it not? If I may ask, what is it you want? If you want to
be left alone, undisturbed and at peace, then why allow yourself to be shaken? It is quite feasible to
shut all the doors and windows of one’s being, to isolate oneself and live in seclusion. That is what
most people want. Some deliberately cultivate isolation, and others, by their desires and activities,
both hidden and open, bring about this exclusion. The sincere ones become self-righteous with
their ideals and virtues, which are only a defence; and those who are thoughtless drift into isolation
through economic pressure and social influences. Most of us are seeking to build walls around
ourselves so as to be invulnerable, but unfortunately there is always an opening through which life
creeps in.
”I have generally managed to ward off most of the disturbances, but during the past week or two,
because of you, I have been more disturbed than ever. Please tell me why I am disturbed. What is
the cause of it?”
Why do you want to know the cause of it? Obviously, by knowing the cause you hope to eradicate
the effect. You really do not want to know why you are disturbed, do you? You only want to avoid
disturbance.
”I just want to be left alone, undisturbed and at peace; and why am I constantly disturbed?”
You have been defending yourself all your life have you not? What you are really interested in is to
find out how to stop up all the openings, and not how to live without fear, without dependence. From
what you have said and left unsaid, it is obvious that you have tried to make your life secure against
any kind of inward disturbance; you have withdrawn from any relationship that might cause pain.
You have managed fairly well to safeguard yourself against all shock, to live behind closed doors
and windows. Some are successful in doing this, and if pushed far enough its ultimate end is the
asylum; others fail and become cynical, bitter; and still others make themselves rich in things or in
knowledge, which is their safeguard. Most people, including the so-called religious, desire abiding
peace, a state in which all conflict has come to an end. Then there are those who praise conflict as
the only real expression of life, and conflict is their shield against life.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 64 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 18. 20 ’TO BE VULNERABLE IS TO LIVE, TO WITHDRAW IS TO DIE’
Can you ever have peace by seeking security behind the walls of your fears and hopes? All your life
you have withdrawn, because you want to be safe within the walls of a limited relationship which you
can dominate. Is this not your problem? Since you depend, you want to possess that upon which
you depend. You are afraid of and therefore avoid any relationship which you cannot dominate. Isn’t
that it?
”That is rather a brutal way of putting it, but perhaps that is it.”
If you could dominate the cause of your present disturbance, you would be at peace; but since you
cannot, you are very concerned. We all want to dominate when we do not understand; we want
to possess or be possessed when there is fear of ourselves. Uncertainty of ourselves makes for a
feeling of superiority, exclusion and isolation.
If I may ask, of what are you afraid? Are you afraid of being alone, of being left out, of being made
uncertain?
”You see, all my life I have lived for others, or so I thought. I have upheld an ideal and been praised
for my efficiency in doing the kind of work which is considered good; I have lived a life of self-
denial, without security without children, without a home. My sisters are well-married and socially
prominent, and my older brothers are high government officials. When I visit them, I feel I have
wasted my life. I have become bitter, and I deeply regret all the things that I haven’t had. I now
dislike the work I was doing, it no longer brings me any happiness, and I have abandoned it to
others. I have turned my back upon it all. As you point out, I have become hard in my self-defence.
I have anchored myself in a younger brother who is not well off and who considers himself a seeker
of God. I have tried to make myself inwardly secure, but it has been a long and painful struggle.
It is this younger brother who brought me to one of your talks, and the house which I had been so
carefully building began to tumble down. I wish to God I had never come to hear you, but I cannot
rebuild it, I cannot go through all that suffering and anxiety again. You have no idea what it has been
like for me to see my brothers and sisters with position, prestige, and money. But I won’t go into
all that. I have cut myself off from them, and I rarely see them. As you say, I have gradually shut
the door upon all relationships except one or two; but as misfortune would have it, you came to this
town, and now everything is wide open again, all the old wounds have come to life, and I am deeply
miserable. What am I to do?”
The more we defend, the more we are attacked; the more we seek security, the less of it there is;
the more we want peace, the greater is our conflict; the more we ask, the less we have. You have
tried to make yourself invulnerable, shockproof; you have made yourself inwardly unapproachable
except to one or two, and have closed all the doors to life. It is slow suicide. Now, why have you
done all this? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Don’t you want to know? You have come
either to find away to close all the doors, or to discover how to be open, vulnerable to life. Which is
it you want – not as a choice, but as a natural, spontaneous thing?
”Of course I see now that it is really impossible to shut all the doors, for there is always an opening.
I realize what I have been doing; I see that my own fear of uncertainty has made for dependence
and domination. Obviously I could not dominate every situation, however much I might like to, and
that is why I limited my contacts to one or two which I could dominate and hold. I see all that. But
how am I to be open again, free and without this fear of inward uncertainty?”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 65 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 18. 20 ’TO BE VULNERABLE IS TO LIVE, TO WITHDRAW IS TO DIE’
Do you see the necessity of being open and vulnerable? If you do not see the truth of that then you
will again surreptitiously build walls around yourself. To see the truth in the false is the beginning of
wisdom; to see the false as the false is the highest comprehension. To see that what you have been
doing all these years can only lead to further strife and sorrow – actually to experience the truth of
it, which is not mere verbal acceptance – will put an end to that activity. You cannot voluntarily make
yourself open; the action of will cannot make you vulnerable. The very desire to be vulnerable
creates resistance. Only by understanding the false as the false is there freedom from it. Be
passively watchful of your habitual responses; simply be aware of them without resistance; passively
watch them as you would watch a child, without the pleasure or distaste of identification. passive
watchfulness itself is freedom from defence, from closing the door. To be vulnerable is to live, and
to withdraw is to die.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 66 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 19
21 ’DESPAIR AND HOPE’
THE LITTLE DRUM was beating out a gay rhythm and presently it was joined by a reed instrument;
together they filled the air. The drum dominated, but it followed the reed. The latter would stop, but
the little drum would go on sharp and clear, until it was again joined by the song of the reed. The
dawn was still faraway and the birds were quiet but the music filled the silence. There was a wedding
going on in the little village. During the previous evening there had been much gaiety; the songs
and laughter had gone on late into the night, and now the parties were being awakened by music.
presently the naked branches began to show against the pale sky; the stars were disappearing one
by one, and the music had come to an end. There were the shouts and calling of children, and noisy
quarrelling around the only water tap in the village. The sun was still below the horizon,but the day
had begun.
To love is to experience all things, but to experience without love is to live in vain. Love is vulnerable,
but to experience with out this vulnerability is to strengthen desire. Desire is not love and desire
cannot hold love. Desire is soon spent and in its spending is sorrow. Desire cannot be stopped; the
ending of desire by will, by any means that the mind can devise, leads to decay and misery. Only
love can tame desire, and love is not of the mind. The mind as the observer must cease for love to
be. Love is not a thing that can be planned and cultivated; it cannot be bought through sacrifice or
through worship. There is no means to love. The search for a means must come to an end for love
to be. The spontaneous shall know the beauty of love, but to pursue it ends freedom. To the free
alone is there love, but freedom never directs, never holds. Love is its own eternity.
She spoke easily, and words came naturally to her, though still young, there was sadness about her;
she smiled with distant remembrance and her smile was strained. She had been married but had
no children, and her husband had recently died. It was not one of those arranged marriages, nor
one of mutual desire. She did not want to use the word ‘love’, for it was in every book and on every
67CHAPTER 19. 21 ’DESPAIR AND HOPE’
tongue; but their relationship had been something extraordinary. From the day they were married till
the day of his death, there had never been so much as a cross word or a gesture of impatience nor
were they ever separated from each other, even for a day. A fusion had taken place between them,
and everything else – children, money, work, society – had become of secondary importance. This
fusion was not romantic sentimentalism or a thing imagined after his death, but it had been a reality
from the from the very first. Their joy had not been of desire, but of something that went beyond and
above the physical. Then suddenly, a couple of months ago, he was killed in an accident. The bus
took a curve too fast, and that was that.
”Now I am in despair; I have tried to commit suicide, but somehow I can’t. To forget, to be numb
I have done everything short of throwing myself into the river, and I haven’t had a good night’s
sleep these two months. I am in complete darkness; it is a crisis beyond my control which I cannot
understand, and I am lost.”
She covered her face with her hands. Presently she continued.
”It is not a despair that can be remedied or wiped away. With his death, all hope has come to an
end. people have said I will forget and remarry, or do something else. Even if I could forget, the
flame has gone out; it cannot be replaced, nor do I want to find a substitute for it. We live and die
with hope but I have none. I have no hope, therefore I am not bitter; I am in despair and darkness,
and I do not want light. My life is a living death, and I do not want anyone’s sympathy, love, or pity. I
want to remain in my darkness, without feeling, without remembering.”
Is that why you have come, to be made more dull, to be confirmed in your despair? Is that what you
want? If it is, then you will have what you desire. Desire is as pliable and as swift as the mind; it will
adjust itself to anything, mould itself to any circum- stances, build walls that will keep out light. Its
very despair is its delight. Desire creates the image it will worship. If you desire to live in darkness,
you will succeed. Is this why you have come, to be strengthened in your own desire?
”You see, a friend of mine told me about you, and I came impulsively. If I had stopped to think,
probably I wouldn’t have come. I have always acted rather impulsively, and it has never led me into
mischief. If you ask me why I have come, all I can say is that I don’t know. I suppose we all want
some kind of hope; one cannot live in darkness forever.”
What is fused cannot be pulled apart; what is integrated cannot be destroyed; if the fusion is there,
death cannot separate. Integration is not with another, but with and in oneself. The fusion of
the different entities in oneself is completeness with the other; but completeness with the other
is incompleteness in oneself. Fusion with the other is still incompleteness. The integrated entity is
not made whole by another; because he is complete, there is completeness in all his relationships.
What is incomplete cannot be made complete in relationship. It is illusion to think we are made
complete by another.
”I was made complete by him. I knew the beauty and the joy of it.”
But it has come to an end. There is always an ending to that which is incomplete. The fusion with
the other is always breakable; it is always ceasing to be. Integration must begin within oneself, and
only then is fusion indestructible. The way of integration is the process of negative thinking which is
the highest comprehension. Are you seeking integration?
Commentaries On Living Series 2 68 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 19. 21 ’DESPAIR AND HOPE’
”I don’t know what I am seeking, but I would like to understand hope, because hope seems to play
an important part in our life. When he was alive, I never thought of the future, I never thought of
hope or happiness; tomorrow did not exist as far as I was concerned. I just lived, without a care.”
Because you were happy. But now unhappiness, discontent, is creating the future, the hope – or its
opposite, despair and hopelessness. It is strange, is it not? When one is happy, time is nonexistent,
yesterday and tomorrow are wholly absent; one has no thought for the past or the future. But
unhappiness makes for hope and despair.
”We are born with hope and we take it with us to death.”
Yes, that is just what we do; or rather, we are born in misery, and hope takes us to death. What do
you mean by hope?
”Hope is tomorrow, the future, the longing for happiness for the betterment of today, for the
advancement of oneself; it is the desire to have a nicer home, a better piano or radio; it is the
dream of social improvement, a happier world, and so on.”
Is hope only in the future? Is there not hope also in the what has been, in the hold of the past?
Hope is in both the forward and the backward movement of thought. Hope is the process of time,
is it not? Hope is the desire for the continuation of that which has been pleasant, of that which can
be improved, made better; and its opposite is hopelessness, despair. We swing between hope and
despair. We say that we live because there is hope; and hope is in the past, or, more frequently, in
the future. The future is the hope of every politician, of every reformer and revolutionary, of every
seeker after virtue and what we call God. We say that we live by hope; but do we? Is it living when
the future or the past dominates us? Is living a movement of the past to the future? When there is
concern for tomorrow, are you living? It is because tomorrow has become so important that there
is hopelessness, despair. If the future is all important and you live for it and by it, then the past is
the means of despair. For the hope of tomorrow, you sacrifice today; but happiness is ever in the
now. It is the unhappy who fill their lives with concern for tomorrow, which they call hope. To live
happily is to live without hope. The man of hope is not a happy man, he knows despair. The state
of hopelessness projects hope or resentment, despair or the bright future.
”But are you saying that we must live without hope?”
Is there not a state which is neither hope nor hopelessness, a state which is bliss? After all, when
you considered yourself happy, you had no hope, had you?
”I see what you mean. I had no hope because he was beside me and I was happy to live from day
to day. But now he is gone, and… We are free of hope only when we are happy. It is when we are
unhappy, disease ridden, oppressed, exploited, that tomorrow becomes important; and if tomorrow
is impossible, we are in complete darkness, in despair. But how is one to remain in the state of
happiness?”
First see the truth of hope and hopelessness. Just see how you have been held by the false, by
the illusion of hope, and then by despair. Be passively watchful of this process – which is not as
easy as it sounds. You ask how to remain in the state of happiness. Is not this very question based
Commentaries On Living Series 2 69 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 19. 21 ’DESPAIR AND HOPE’
essentially on hope? You wish to regain what you have lost, or through some means to possess
it again. This question indicates the desire to gain, to become, to arrive, does it not? When you
have an objective, an end in view, there is hope; so again you are caught in your own unhappiness.
The way of hope is the way of the future, but happiness is never a matter of time. When there was
happiness, you never asked how to continue in it; if you had asked, you would have already tasted
unhappiness.
”You mean this whole problem arises only when one is in conflict, in misery. But when one is
miserable one wants to get out of it which is natural.”
The desire to find a way out only brings another problem. By not understanding the one problem, you
introduce many others. Your problem is unhappiness, and to understand it there must be freedom
from all other problems. Unhappiness is the only problem you have; don’t become confused by
introducing the further problem of how to get out of it. The mind is seeking a hope, an answer to the
problem, a way out. See the falseness of this escape, and then you will be directly confronted with
the problem. It is this direct relationship with the problem that brings a crisis, which we are all the
time avoiding; but it is only in the fullness and intensity of the crisis that the problem comes to an
end.
”Ever since the fatal accident I have felt that I must get lost in my own despair, nourish my own
hopelessness; but somehow it has been too much for me. Now I see that I must face it without
fear, and without the feeling of disloyalty to him. You see, I felt deep down that I would in some way
be disloyal to him if I continued to be happy; but now the burden is already lifting, and I sense a
happiness which is not of time.”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 70 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 20
22 ’THE MIND AND THE KNOWN’
THE DAILY PATTERN of life was repeating itself around the only water tap in the village; the water
was running slowly, and a group of women were awaiting their turn. Three of them were noisily and
bitterly quarrelling; they were completely absorbed in their anger and paid not the slightest attention
to anyone else,nor was anyone paying attention to them. It must have been a ritual. Like all rituals,
it was stimulating, and these women were enjoying the stimulation. An old woman helped a young
one to lift a big, brightly polished brass pot onto her head. She had a little pad of cloth to bear the
weight of the pot, which she held lightly with one hand. Her walk was superb, and she had great
dignity. A little girl came quietly, slipped her pot under the tap, and carried it away without saying a
word. Other women came and went, but the quarrel went on, and it seemed as though it would never
end. Suddenly the three stopped filled their vessels with water, and went away as though nothing
had happened. By now the sun was getting strong, and smoke was rising above the thatched roofs
of the village. The day’s first meal was being cooked. How suddenly peaceful it was! Except for the
crows, almost everything was quiet. Once the vociferous quarrel was over, one could hear the roar
of the sea beyond the houses, the gardens and the palm groves.
We carry on like machines with our tiresome daily routine. How eagerly the mind accepts a pattern
of existence, and how tenaciously it clings to it! As by a driven nail, the mind is held together by
idea, and around the idea it lives and has its being. The mind is never free, pliable, for it is always
anchored; it moves within the radius, narrow or wide, of its own centre. From its centre it dare not
wander; and when it does, it is lost in fear. Fear is not of the unknown, but of the loss of the known.
The unknown does not incite fear, but dependence on the known does. Fear is always with desire,
the desire for the more or for the less. The mind, with its incessant weaving of patterns, is the maker
of time; and with time there is fear, hope and death. Hope leads to death.
He said he was a revolutionary; he wanted to blast every social structure and start all over again.
He had eagerly worked for the extreme left, for the proletarian revolution, and that too had failed.
71CHAPTER 20. 22 ’THE MIND AND THE KNOWN’
Look what had happened in the country where that revolution was so gloriously accomplished!
Dictatorship, with its police and its army, had inevitably bred new class distinctions, and all within a
few years; what had been a glorious promise had come to nothing. He wanted a deeper and wider
revolution to be started all over again, taking care to avoid all the pitfalls of the former revolution.
What do you mean by revolution?
”A complete change of the present social structure, with or without bloodshed, according to a clear-
cut plan. To be effective, it must be well thought out, organized in every detail and scrupulously
executed. Such a revolution is the only hope, there is no other way out of this chaos.”
But won’t you have the same results again – compulsion and its officers?
”It may at first result in that, but we will break through it. There will always be a separate and united
group outside the government to watch over and guide it.”
You want a revolution according to a pattern, and your hope is in tomorrow, for which you are willing
to sacrifice yourself and others. Can there be a fundamental revolution if it is based on idea? Ideas
inevitably breed further ideas, further resistance and suppression. Belief engenders antagonism;
one belief gives rise to many, and there are hostility and conflict. Uniformity of belief is not peace.
Idea or opinion invariably creates opposition, which those in power must always seek to suppress. A
revolution based on idea brings into being a counter-revolution, and the revolutionary spends his life
fighting other revolutionaries, the better organized liquidating the weaker. You will be repeating the
same pattern, will you not? Would it be possible to talk over the deeper significance of revolution?
”It would have little value unless it led to a definite end. A new society must be built, and revolution
according to a plan is the only way to achieve it. I don’t think I will change my views, but let us see
what you have to say. What you will say has probably already been said by Buddha, Christ, and
other religious teachers, and where has it got us? Two thousand years and more of preaching about
being good, and look at the mess the capitalists have made!”
A society based on idea, shaped according to a particular pattern, breeds violence and is in a
constant state of disintegration. A patterned society functions only within the frame of its self-
projected belief. Society, the group, can never be in a state of revolution; only the individual can. But
if he is revolutionary according to a plan, a well-authenticated conclusion, he is merely conforming to
a self-projected ideal or hope. He is carrying out his own conditioned responses, modified perhaps,
but limited all the same. A limited revolution is no revolution at all; like reform, it is a retrogression.
A revolution based on deduction and conclusions, is but a modified continuity of the old pattern. For
a fundamental and lasting revolution we must understand the mind and idea.
”What do you mean by idea? Do you mean knowledge?”
Idea is the projection of the mind; idea is the outcome of experience, and experience is knowledge.
Experience is always interpreted according to the conscious or unconscious conditioning of the
mind. The mind is experience, the mind is idea; the mind is not separate from the quality of
thought. Knowledge, accumulated and accumulating, is the process of the mind. Mind is experience,
memory, idea, it is the total process of response. Till we understand the working of the mind of
Commentaries On Living Series 2 72 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 20. 22 ’THE MIND AND THE KNOWN’
consciousness, there cannot be a fundamental transformation of man and his relationships, which
constitute society. ”Are you suggesting that the mind as knowledge is the real enemy of revolution,
and that the mind can never produce the new plan, the new State? If you mean that because the
mind is still linked with the past it can never comprehend the new, and that whatever it may plan or
create is the outcome of the old, then how can there ever be any change at all?”
Let us see. Mind is held in a pattern; its very existence is the frame within which it works and moves.
The pattern is of the past or the future, it is despair and hope, confusion and Utopia, the what has
been and the what should be. With this we are all familiar. You want to break the old pattern and
substitute a ‘new’ one, the new being the modified old. You call it the new for your own purposes and
manoeuvres, but it is still the old. The so-called new has its roots in the old: greed, envy, violence,
hatred, power, exclusion. Embedded in these, you want to produce a new world. It is impossible.
You may deceive yourself and others, but unless the old pattern is broken completely there cannot
be a radical transformation. You may play around with it, but you are not the hope of the world.
The breaking of the pattern, both the old and the so-called new, is of the utmost importance if order
is to come out of this chaos. That is why it is essential to understand the ways of the mind. The
mind functions only within the field of the known, of experience whether conscious or unconscious,
collective or superficial. Can there be action without a pattern? Until now we have known action
only in relation to a pattern, and such action is always an approximation to what has been or what
should be. Action so far has been an adjustment to hope and fear, to the past or to the future.
”If action is not a movement of the past to the future, or between the past and the future then what
other action can there possibly be? You are not inviting us to inaction, are you?”
It would be a better world if each one of us were aware of true inaction, which is not the opposite
of action. But that is another matter. Is it possible for the mind to be without a pattern, to be free of
this backward and forward swing of desire? It is definitely possible. Such action is living in the now.
To live is to be without hope, without the care of tomorrow; it is not hope- lessness or indifference.
But we are not living, we are always pursuing death, the past or the future. Living is the greatest
revolution. Living has no pattern, but death has: the past or the future, the what has been or the
Utopia. You are living for the Utopia, and so you are inviting death and not life.
”That is all very well, but it leads us nowhere. Where is your revolution? Where is action? Where is
there a new manner of living?”
Not in death but in life. You are pursuing the ideal, the hope, and this pursuit you call action,
revolution. Your ideal, your hope is the projection of the mind away from what is. The mind, being
the result of the past, is bringing out of itself a pattern for the new, and this you call revolution. Your
new life is the same old one in different clothes. The past and the future do not hold life; they have
the remembrance of life and the hope of life, but they are not the living. The action of the mind is not
living. The mind can act only within the frame of death, and revolution based on death is only more
darkness, more destruction and misery.
”You leave me utterly empty, almost naked. It may be spiritually good for me, there is a lightness of
heart and mind, but it is not so helpful in terms of collective revolutionary action.”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 73 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 21
23 CONFORMITY AND FREEDOM
THE STORM BEGAN early in the morning with thunder and lightning, and now it was raining very
steadily; it had not stopped all day, and the red earth was soaking it up. The cattle were taking
shelter under a large tree, where there was also a small white temple. The base of the tree was
enormous, and the surrounding field was bright green. There was a railway line on the other side of
the field, and the trains would labour up the slight incline, giving a triumphant hoot at the top. When
one walked along the railway line one would occasionally come upon a large cobra, with beautiful
markings, cut in two by a recent train. The birds would soon get at the dead pieces, and in a short
time there wouldn’t be a sign of the snake.
To live alone needs great intelligence; to live alone and yet be pliable is arduous. To live
alone, without the walls of self-enclosing gratifications, needs extreme alertness; for a solitary life
encourages sluggishness, habits that are comforting and hard to break. A single life encourages
isolation, and only the wise can live alone without harm to themselves and to others. Wisdom is
alone, but a lonely path does not lead to wisdom. Isolation is death, and wisdom is not found in
withdrawal. There is no path to wisdom, for all paths are separative, exclusive. In their very nature,
paths can only lead to isolation, though these isolations are called unity, the whole, the one, and
so on. A path is an exclusive process; the means is exclusive, and the end is as the means. The
means is not separate from the goal, the what should be. Wisdom comes with the understanding of
one’s relationship with the field, with the passer-by, with the fleeting thought. To withdraw, to isolate
oneself in order to find, is to put an end to discovery. Relationship leads to an aloneness that is not
of isolation. There must be an aloneness, not of the enclosing mind, but of freedom. The complete
is the alone, and incompleteness seeks the way of isolation.
She had been a writer, and her books had quite a wide circulation. She said she had managed to
come to India only after many years. When she first started out she had no idea where she would
74CHAPTER 21. 23 CONFORMITY AND FREEDOM
end up; but now, after all this time, her destination had become clear. Her husband and her whole
family were interested in religious matters, not casually but quite seriously; nevertheless she had
made up her mind to leave them all, and had come in the hope of finding some peace. She hadn’t
known a soul in this country when she came, and it was very hard the first year. She went first to
a certain ashrama or retreat about which she had read. The guru there was a mild old man who
had had certain religious experiences on which he now lived, and who constantly repeated some
Sanskrit saying which his disciples understood. She was welcomed at this retreat, and she found
it easy to adjust herself to its rules. She remained there for several months, but found no peace,
so one day she announced her departure. The disciples were horrified that she could even think of
leaving such a master of wisdom; but she left. Then she went to an ashrama among the mountains
and stayed there for some time, happily at first, for it was beautiful with trees, streams, and wild
life. The discipline was rather rigorous, which she didn’t mind; but again the living were the dead.
The disciples were worshipping dead knowledge, dead tradition, a dead teacher. When she left
they also were shocked, and threatened her with spiritual darkness. She then went to a very well
known retreat where they repeated various religious assertions and regularly practiced prescribed
meditations; but gradually she found that she was being entrapped and destroyed. Neither the
teacher nor the disciples wanted freedom, though they talked about it. They were all concerned with
maintaining the centre, with holding the disciples in the name of the guru. Again she broke away
and went elsewhere; again the same story with a slightly different pattern.
”I assure you, I have been to most of the serious ashramas, and they all want to hold one, to grind
one down to fit the pattern of thought which they call truth. Why do they all want one to conform to
a particular discipline, to the mode of life laid down by the teacher? Why is it that they never give
freedom but only promise freedom?”
Conformity is gratifying; it assures security to the disciple, and gives power to the disciple as well
as to the teacher. Through conformity there is the strengthening of authority, secular or religious;
and conformity makes for dullness, which they call peace. If one wants to avoid suffering through
some form of resistance, why not pursue that path, though it involves a certain amount of pain?
Conformity anaesthetizes the mind to conflict. We want to be made dull, insensitive; we try to shut
off the ugly, and there by we also make ourselves dull to the beautiful. Conformity to the authority of
the dead or the living gives intense satisfaction. The teacher knows and you don’t know. It would be
foolish for you to try to find out anything for yourself when your comforting teacher already knows;
so you become his slave, and slavery is better than confusion. The teacher and the disciple thrive
on mutual exploitation. You really don’t go to an ashrama for freedom, do you? You go there to be
comforted, to live a life of enclosing discipline and belief, to worship and in turn be worshipped – all
of which is called the search for truth. They cannot offer freedom, for it would be their own undoing.
Freedom cannot be found in any retreat, in any system or belief, nor through the conformity and
fear called discipline. Disciplines cannot offer freedom; they may promise, but hope is not freedom.
Imitations a means to freedom is the very denial of freedom, for the means is the end; copy makes
for more copy, not for freedom. But we like to deceive ourselves, and that is why compulsion or the
promise of reward exists in different and subtle forms. Hope is the denial of life.
”I am now avoiding all ashramas like the very plague. I went to them for peace and I was given
compulsions, authoritarian doctrines and vain promises. How eagerly we accept the guru promise!
How blind we are! At last, after these many years, I am completely denuded of any desire to pursue
their promised rewards. physically I am worn out, as you can see; for very foolishly I really did try
Commentaries On Living Series 2 75 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 21. 23 CONFORMITY AND FREEDOM
their formulas. At one of these places, where the teacher is on the rise and very popular, when I
told them that I was coming to see you, they threw up their hands, and some had tears in their eyes.
That was the last straw! I have come here because I want to talk over something that is gripping my
heart. I hinted at it to one of the teachers, and his reply was that I must control my thought. It is this.
The ache of solitude is more than I can bear; not the physical solitude, which is welcome, but the
deep inner pain of being alone. What am I to do about it? How am I to regard this void?”
When you ask the way, you become a follower. Because there is this ache of solitude, you want
help, and the very demand for guidance opens the door to compulsion, imitation and fear. The‘how’
is not at all important, so let us understand the nature of this pain rather than try to overcome it,
avoid it, or go beyond it. Till there is complete understanding of this ache of solitude, there can be
no peace, no rest, but only incessant struggle; and whether we are aware of it or not, most of us are
violently or subtly trying to escape from its fear. This ache is only in relation to the past, and not in
relation to what is. What is has to be discovered, not verbally, theoretically, but directly experienced.
How can there be discovery of what actually is if you approach it with a sense of pain or fear? To
understand it must you not come to it freely, denuded of past knowledge concerning it?
Must you not come with a fresh mind, unclouded by memories, by habitual responses? please do
not ask how the mind is to be free to see the new, but listen to the truth of it. Truth alone liberates,
and not your desire to be free. The very desire and effort to be free is a hindrance to liberation.
To understand the new, must not the mind, with all its conclusions, safeguards, cease its activities?
Must it not be still, without seeking a way of escape from this solitude, a remedy for it? Must not the
ache of solitude be observed, with its movement of despair and hope? Is it not this very movement
that makes for solitude and its fear? Is not the very activity of the mind a process of isolation,
resistance? Is not every form of relationship the mind a way of separation, withdrawal? Is not
experience itself a process of self-isolation? So the problem is not the ache of solitude, but the mind
which projects the problem. The understanding of the mind is the beginning of freedom. Freedom is
not something in the future, it is the very first step. The activity of the mind can be understood only
in the process of response to every kind of stimulation. Stimulation and response are relationship at
all levels. Accumulation in any form, as knowledge, as experience, as belief, prevents freedom; and
it is only when there is freedom that truth can be.
”But is not effort necessary the effort to understand?”
Do we understand anything through struggle, through conflict? Does not understanding come when
the mind is utterly still, when the action of effort has ceased? The mind that is made still is not a
tranquil mind; it is a dead, insensitive mind. When desire is, the beauty of silence is not.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 76 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 22
24 ’TIME AND CONTINUITY’
THE EVENING LIGHT was on the water, and the dark trees were against the setting sun. A crowded
bus went by, followed by a big car with smart people in it. A child passed rolling a hoop. A woman
with a heavy load stopped to adjust it, then continued on her weary way. A boy on a bicycle saluted
someone, and was intent on getting home. Several women walked by, and a man stopped, lit a
cigarette, threw the match in the water, looked around, and went on. No one seemed to notice the
colours on the water and the dark trees against the sky. A girl came along carrying a baby, talking
and pointing to the darkening waters to amuse and distract it. Lights were appearing in the houses,
and the evening star was beginning to sail the heavens.
There is a sadness of which we are so little aware. We know the ache and sorrow of personal strife
and confusion; we know utility and the misery of frustration; we know the fullness of joy and its
transiency. We know our own sorrow, but we are not aware of the sadness of the other. How can we
be when we are enclosed in our own misfortunes and trials? When our hearts are weary and dull,
how can we feel the weariness of another? Sadness is so exclusive, isolating and destructive. How
quickly the smile fades! Everything seems to end in sorrow, the ultimate isolation.
She was very well read, capable and direct. She had studied sciences and religion, and had
carefully followed modern psychology. Though still quite young, she had been married – with the
usual miseries of marriage she added. Now she was footloose and eager to find something more
than the usual conditioning, to feel her way beyond the limits of the mind. Her studies had opened
her mind to possibilities beyond the conscious and the collective gatherings of the past. She had
attended several of the talks and discussions, she explained, and had felt that a source common to
all the great teachers was active; she had listened with care and had understood a great deal, and
had now come to discuss the inexhaustible and the problem of time.
77CHAPTER 22. 24 ’TIME AND CONTINUITY’
”What is the source beyond time, that state of being which is not within the reasoning of the mind?
What is the timeless, that creativity of which you have spoken?”
Is it possible to be aware of the timeless? What is the test of knowing or being aware of it? How
would you recognize it? By what would you measure it?
”We can only judge by its effects.”
But judging is of time; and are the effects of the timeless to be judged by the measurement of time?
If we can understand what we mean by time, perhaps it may be possible for the timeless to be; but
is it possible to discuss what that timeless is? Even if both of us are aware of it, can we talk about
it? We may talk about it, but our experience will not be the timeless. It can never be talked about
or communicated except through the means of time; but the word is not the thing, and through time
the timeless obviously cannot be understood. Timelessness is a state which comes only when time
is not. So let us rather consider what we mean by time.
”There are different kinds of time: time as growth, time as distance, time as movement.”
Time is chronological and also psychological. Time as growth is the small becoming the large, the
bullock cart evolving into the jet plane, the baby becoming the man. The heavens are filled with
growth, and so is the earth. This is an obvious fact, and it would be stupid to deny it. Time as
distance is more complex.
”It is known that a human being can be in two different places at the same time – at one place for
several hours, and at another for a few minutes during the same period.”
Thought can and does wander far afield while the thinker remains in one place. ”I am not referring to
that phenomenon. A person, a physical entity, has been known to be in two widely separated places
simultaneously. However our point is time.”
Yesterday using today as a passage to tomorrow the past flowing through the present to the future,
is one movement of time, not three separate movements. We know time as chronological and
psychological, growth and becoming. There is the growth of the seed into the tree, and there is the
process of psychological becoming. Growth is fairly clear, so let us put that aside for the time being.
Psychological becoming implies time. I am this and I shall become that, using time as a passage,
as a means; the what has been is becoming the what will be. We are very familiar with this process.
So thought is time, the thought that has been and the thought that will be, the what is and the ideal.
Thought is the product of time, and without the thinking process, time is not. The mind is the maker
of time, it is time.
”That is obviously true. Mind is the maker and user of time. Without the mind-process, time is not.
But is it possible to go beyond the mind? Is there a state which is not of thought?”
Let us together discover whether there is such a state or not. Is love thought? We may think of
someone we love; when the other is absent, we think of him, or we have an image, a photograph of
him. The separation makes for thought.
”Do you mean that when there is oneness, thought ceases and there is only love?”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 78 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 22. 24 ’TIME AND CONTINUITY’
Oneness implies duality, but that is not the point. Is love a thought process? Thought is of time; and
is love time-binding? Thought is bound by time, and you are asking if it is possible to be free from
the binding quality of time.
”It must be, otherwise there could be no creation. Creation is possible only when the process of
continuity ceases. Creation is the new, the new vision, the new invention, the new discovery, the
new formulation, not the continuity of the old.”
Continuity is death to creation.
”But how is it possible to put an end to continuity?”
What do we mean by continuity? What makes for continuity? What is it that joins moment to moment,
as the thread joins the beads in a necklace? The moment is the new, but the new is absorbed into
the old and so the chain of continuity is formed. Is there ever the new, or only recognition of the
new by the old? If the old recognizes the new, is it the new? The old can recognize only its own
projection; it may call it the new, but it is not. The new is not recognizable; it is a state of non-
recognition, non-association. The old gives itself continuity through its own projections; it can never
know the new. The new may be translated into the old, but the new cannot be with the old. The
experiencing of the new is the absence of the old. The experience and its expression is thought,
idea; thought translates the new in terms of the old. It is the old that gives continuity; the old is
memory, the word, which is time.
”How is it possible to put an end to memory?”
Is it possible? The entity that desires to put an end to memory is himself the forger of memory; he
is not apart from memory. That is so is it not?
”Yes, the maker of effort is born of memory, of thought; thought is the outcome of the past, conscious
or unconscious. Then what is one to do?”
Please listen, and you will do naturally, without effort, what is essential. Desire is thought; desire
forges the chain of memory. Desire is effort, the action of will. Accumulation is the way of desire; to
accumulate is to continue. Gathering experience knowledge, power or things, makes for continuity
and to deny these is to continue negatively. positive and negative continuance are similar. The
gathering centre is desire, the desire for the more or the less. This centre is the self, placed at
different levels according to one’s conditioning. Any activity of this centre only brings about the
further continuity of itself. Any move is time-binding; it prevents creation. The timeless is not with
the time-binding quality of memory. The limitless is not to be measured by memory, by experience.
There is the unnameable only when experience, knowledge, has wholly ceased. Truth alone frees
the mind from its own bondage.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 79 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 23
25 ’THE FAMILY AND THE DESIRE FOR SECURITY’
WHAT AN UGLY thing it is to be satisfied! Contentment is one thing and satisfaction another.
Satisfaction makes the mind dull and the heart weary; it leads to superstition and sluggishness,
and the edge of sensitivity is lost. It is those who are seeking gratification and those who have it
that bring confusion and misery; it is they who breed the smelly village and the noisy town. They
build temples for the graven image and perform satisfying rituals; they foster class segregation and
war; they are forever multiplying the means of gratification; money, politics, power and religious
organizations are their ways. They burden the earth with the irrespectability and its lamentations.
But contentment is another matter. It is arduous to be content. Contentment cannot be searched out
in secret places; it is not to be pursued, as pleasure is; it is not to be acquired; it cannot be bought
at the price of renunciation; it has no price at all; it is not reached by any means; it is not to be
meditated upon and gathered. The pursuit of contentment is only the search for greater satisfaction.
Contentment is the complete understanding of what is from moment to moment; it is the highest form
of negative understanding. Gratification knows frustration and success, but contentment knows no
opposites with their empty conflict. Contentment is above and beyond the opposites; it is not a
synthesis, for it has no relation to conflict. Conflict can only produce more conflict, it breeds further
illusion and misery. With contentment comes action that is not contradictory. Contentment of the
heart frees the mind from its activities of confusion and distraction. Contentment is a movement that
is not of time.
She explained that she had taken her master’s degree in science, with honours, had taught, and had
done some social work. In the short time since her graduation she had travelled about the country
doing various things: teaching mathematics in one place, doing social work in another, helping her
mother, and organizing for a society to which she belonged. She was not in politics, because she
considered it the pursuit of personal ambition and a stupid waste of time. She had seen through all
that, and was now about to be married.
80CHAPTER 23. 25 ’THE FAMILY AND THE DESIRE FOR SECURITY’
Have you made up your own mind whom to marry, or are your parents arranging the matter?
”Probably my parents. Perhaps it is better that way.”
Why, if I may ask?
”In other countries the boy and girl fall in love with each other; it may be all right at the beginning, but
soon there is contention and misery, the quarrelling and making up, the tedium of pleasure and the
routine of life. The arranged marriage in this country ends the same way, the fun goes out of it, so
there isn’t much to choose between the two systems. They are both pretty terrible, but what is one
to do? After all, one must marry, one can’t remain single all one’s life. It is all very sad, but at least
the husband gives a certain security and children are a joy; one can’t have one without the other.”
But what happens to all the years that you spent in acquiring your master’s degree?
”I suppose one will play with it, but children and the household work will take most of one’s time.”
Then what good has your so-called education done? Why spend so much time, money and effort to
end up in the kitchen? Don’t you want to do any kind of teaching or social work after your marriage?
”Only when there is time. Unless one is well-to-do, it is impossible to have servants and all the rest
of it. I am afraid all those days will be over once I get married – and I want to get married. Are you
against marriage?”
Do you regard marriage as an institution to establish a family? Is not the family a unit in opposition
to society? Is it not a centre from which all activity radiates, an exclusive relationship that dominates
every other form of relationship? Is it not a self-enclosing activity that brings about division,
separation the high and the low, the powerful and the weak? The family as a system appears to
resist the whole; each family opposes other families, other groups. Is not the family with its property
one of the causes of war?
”If you are opposed to the family, then you must be for the collectivization of men and women in
which their children belong to the State.”
Please don’t jump to conclusions. To think in terms of formulas and systems only brings about
opposition and contention. You have your system, and another his; the two systems fight it out,
each seeking to liquidate the other but the problem still remains.
”But if you are against the family, then what are you for?”
Why put the question that way? If there is a problem, is it not stupid to take sides according to one’s
prejudice? Is it not better to understand the problem than to breed opposition and enmity, thereby
multiplying our problems?
The family as it is now is a unit of limited relationship, self-enclosing and exclusive. Reformers and
so-called revolutionaries have tried to do away with this exclusive family spirit which breeds every
kind of antisocial activity; but it is a centre of stability as opposed to insecurity, and the present social
Commentaries On Living Series 2 81 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 23. 25 ’THE FAMILY AND THE DESIRE FOR SECURITY’
structure throughout the world cannot exist without this security. The family is not a mere economic
unit and any effort to solve the issue on that level must obviously fail. The desire for security is not
only economic, but much more profound and complex. If man destroys the family, he will find other
forms of security through the State, through the collective, through belief and soon, which will in turn
breed their own problems. We must understand the desire for inward, psychological security and
not merely replace one pattern of security with another.
So the problem is not the family, but the desire to be secure. Is not the desire for security, at any
level, exclusive? This spirit of exclusiveness shows itself as the family, as property, as the State, the
religion, and so on. Does not this desire for inward security build up outward forms of security which
are always exclusive? The very desire to be secure destroys security. Exclusion, separation, must
inevitably bring about disintegration; nationalism, class-antagonism and war, are its symptoms. The
family as a means of inward security is a source of disorder and social catastrophe.
”Then how is one to live, if not as a family?”
Is it not odd how the mind is always looking for a pattern, a blueprint? Our education is in formulas
and conclusions. The ‘how’ is the demand for a formula, but formulas cannot resolve the problem.
Please understand the truth of this. It is only when we do not seek inward security that we can live
outwardly secure. As long as the family is a centre of security, there will be social disintegration; as
long as the family is used as a means to a self-protective end, there must be conflict and misery.
Please do not look puzzled, it is fairly simple. As long as I use you or another for my inner,
psychological security, I must be exclusive; I am all-important, I have the greatest significance; it
is my family, my property. The relationship of utility is based on violence; the family as a means of
mutual inward security makes for conflict and confusion.
”I understand intellectually what you say but is it possible to live without this inward desire to be
secure?”
To understand intellectually is not to understand at all. You mean you hear the words and grasp their
meaning, and that is all; but this will not produce action. Using another as a means of satisfaction
and security is not love. Love is never security; love is a state in which there is no desire to be
secure; it is a state of vulnerability; it is the only state in which exclusiveness, enmity and hate are
impossible. In that state a family may come into being, but it will not be exclusive, self-enclosing.
”But we do not know such love. How is one..?”
It is good to be aware of the ways of one’s own thinking. The inward desire for security expresses
itself outwardly through exclusion and violence, and as long as its process is not fully understood
there can be no love. Love is not another refuge in the search for security. The desire for security
must wholly cease for love to be. Love is not something that can be brought about through
compulsion. Any form of compulsion, at any level, is the very denial of love. A revolutionary with
an ideology is not a revolutionary at all; he only offers a substitute, a different kind of security, a
new hope; and hope is death. Love alone can bring about a radical revolution or transformation
in relationship; and love is not a thing of the mind. Thought can plan and formulate magnificent
structures of hope, but thought will only lead to further conflict, confusion and misery. Love is when
the cunning, self-enclosing mind is not.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 82 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 24
26 ’THE ’I”
”MEDITATION IS OF the greatest importance to me; I have been meditating very regularly twice a
day for more than twenty-five years. At the beginning it was all very difficult, I had no control over
my thoughts and there were far too many distractions; but I gradually cut them out pretty thoroughly.
More and more I gave my time and energy to the final end. I have been to various teachers and
have followed several different systems of meditation, but somehow I was never satisfied with any of
them – perhaps ‘satisfaction’ is not the right word. They all led to a certain point, depending on the
particular system, and I found myself becoming a mere result of the system, which was not the final
end. But from all these experimentations I have learned to master my thoughts completely, and my
emotions also are entirely under control. I have practiced deep breathing to quiet the body and the
mind. I have repeated the sacred word and fasted for long periods; morally I have been upright, and
worldly things have no attraction for me. But after all these years of struggle and effort, of discipline
and denial, there is not the peace, the bliss of which the Great Ones speak. On rare occasions there
have been enlightening moments of deep ecstasy, the intuitive promise of greater things; but I seem
unable to pierce the illusion of my own mind, and I am endlessly caught in it. A cloud of confusing
despair is descending upon me and there is increasing sorrow.”
We were sitting on the bank of a wide river, close to the water. The town was up the river, some
distance away. A boy was sing- ing on the other bank. The sun was setting behind us and there were
heavy shadows on the water. It was a beautiful still evening with masses of clouds towards the east,
and the deep river seemed hardly to be flowing. To all this expanding beauty he was completely
oblivious; he was wholly absorbed in his problem. We were silent, and he had closed his eyes; his
stern face was calm, but inwardly there was an intense struggle going on. A flock of birds settled
down at the water’s edge; their cries must have carried across the river, for presently another flock
came from the other shore and joined them. There was a timeless silence covering the earth.
83CHAPTER 24. 26 ’THE ’I”
During all these years, have you ever stopped striving after the final end? Do not will and effort make
up the ‘I’, and can the process of time lead to the eternal?
”I have never consciously stopped striving after that for which my heart, my whole being longs. I
dare not stop; if I did, I would fall back, I would deteriorate. It is the very nature of all things to
struggle ever upwards, and without will and effort there would be stagnation; without this purposive
striving, I could never go beyond and above myself.”
Can the ‘I’ ever free itself from its own bondage and illusions? Must not the ‘I’ cease for the nameless
to be? And does not this constant striving after the final end only strengthen the self, however
concentrated its desire may be? You struggle after the final end, and another pursues worldly
things; your effort may be more ennobling, but it is still the desire to gain, is it not?
”I have overcome all passion, all desire, except this one, which is more than desire; it is the only
thing for which I live.”
Then you must die to this too, as you are dead to other longings and desires. Through all these
years of struggle and constant limitation, you have strengthened yourself in this one purpose, but it
is still within the field of the ‘I’. And you want to experience the unnameable – that is your longing, is
it not?
”Of course. Beyond a shadow of doubt I want to know the final end, I want to experience God.”
The experiencer is ever being conditioned by his experience. If the experiencer is aware that he is
experiencing, then the experience is the outcome of his self-projected desires. If you know you are
experiencing God, then that God is the projection of your hopes and illusions. There is no freedom
for the experiencer, he is forever caught in his own experiences; he is the maker of time and he can
never experience the eternal.
”Do you mean to say that that which I have diligently built up, with considerable effort and through
wise choice, must be destroyed? And must I be the instrument of its destruction?”
Can the ‘I’ positively set about abnegating itself? If it does, its motive, its intention is to gain that
which is not to be possessed. Whatever its activity, however noble its aim, any effort on the part of
the ‘I’ is still within the field of its own memories, idiosyncrasies and projections, whether conscious
or unconscious. The ‘I’ may divide itself into the organic ‘I’, and the ‘non-I’ or transcendental self; but
this dualistic separation is an illusion in which the mind is caught. Whatever may be the movement of
the mind, of the ‘I’, it can never free itself; it may go from level to level, from stupid to more intelligent
choice, but its movement will always be within the sphere of its own making.
”You seem to cut off all hope. What is one to do?”
You must be completely denuded, without the weight of the past or the enticement of a hopeful
future – which does not mean despair. If you are in despair, there is no emptiness, no nakedness.
You cannot ‘do’ anything. You can and must be still, without any hope, longing, or desire; but you
cannot determine to be still, suppressing all noise, for in that very effort there is noise. Silence is not
the opposite of noise.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 84 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 24. 26 ’THE ’I”
”But in my present state, what is to be done?”
If it may be pointed out, you are so eager to get on, so impatient to have some positive direction,
that you are not really listening.
The evening star was reflected in the peaceful river.
* * *
Early next morning he came back. The sun was just showing itself above the treetops, and there
was a mist over the river. A boat with wide sails, heavily laden with firewood, was lazily floating down
the river; except for the one at the rudder, the men were all asleep on different parts of the boat. It
was very still, and the daily human activities along the river had not yet begun.
”In spite of my outward impatience and anxiety, inwardly I must have been alert to what you were
saying yesterday, for when I woke up this morning there was a certain sense of freedom and a clarity
that comes with understanding. I did my usual morning meditation for an hour before sunrise, and I
am not at all sure that my mind isn’t caught in a number of widening illusions. May we proceed from
where we left off?”
We cannot begin exactly where we left off, but we can look at our problem afresh. The outward and
inward mind is ceaselessly active receiving impressions; caught in its memories and reactions; it is
an aggregate of many desires and conflicts. It functions only within the field of time, and in that field
there is contradiction, the opposition of will or desire, which is effort. This psychological activity of
the ‘I’, of the ‘me’ and the ‘mine’,must cease, for such activity causes problems and brings about
various forms of agitation and disorder. But any effort to stop this activity only makes for greater
activity and agitation.
”That is true, I have noticed it. The more one tries to make the mind still, the more resistance there
is, and one’s effort is spent in overcoming this resistance; so it becomes a vicious and unbreakable
circle.”
If you are aware of the viciousness of this circle and realize that you cannot break it, then with this
realization the censor, the observer, ceases to be.
”That seems to be the most difficult thing to do: to suppress the observer. I have tried, but so far I
have never been able to succeed. How is one to do it?”
Are you not still thinking in terms of the ‘I’ and the ‘non-I’? Are you not maintaining this dualism
within the mind by word, by the constant repetition of experience and habit? After all, the thinker
and his thought are not two different processes, but we make them so in order to attain a desired
end. The censor comes into being with desire. Our problem is not how to suppress the censor, but
to understand desire.
”There must be an entity which is capable of understanding, a state which is apart from ignorance.”
The entity which says, ‘I understand’ is still within the field of the mind; it is still the observer, the
censor, is it not?
Commentaries On Living Series 2 85 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 24. 26 ’THE ’I”
”Of course it is; but I do not see how this observer can be eradicated. And can it be?”
Let us see. We were saying that it is essential to understand desire. Desire can and does divide
itself into pleasure and pain, wisdom and ignorance; one desire opposes another, the more profitable
conflicts with the less profitable, and so on. Though for various reasons it may separate itself, desire
is in fact an invisible process, is it not?
”This is a difficult thing to grasp. I am so used to opposing one desire by another, to suppressing
and transforming desire, that I cannot as yet be fully aware of desire as a single, unitary process;
but now that you have pointed it out, I am beginning to feel that it is so.”
Desire may break itself up into many opposing and conflicting urges, but it is still desire. These many
urges go to make up the‘I’, with its memories, anxieties, fears, and so on, and the entire activity of
this ‘I’ is within the field of desire; it has no other field of activity. That is so, is it not?
”Please go on. I am listening with my whole being, trying to go beyond the words, deeply and without
effort.”
Our problem, then, is this: is it possible for the activity of desire to come to an end voluntarily, freely,
without any form of compulsion? It is only when this happens that the mind can be still. If you are
aware of this as a fact, does not the activity of desire come to an end?
”Only for a very brief period; then once again the habitual activity begins. How can this be stopped?..
But as I ask, I see the absurdity of asking!”
You see how greedy we are; we want ever more and more. The demand for the cessation of the ‘I’
becomes the new activity of the ‘I; but it is not new, it is merely another form of desire. Only when
the mind is spontaneously still can the other, that which is not of the mind, come into being.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 86 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 25
27 ’THE NATURE OF DESIRE’
IT WAS A calm evening, but many white sails were on the lake. In the far distance a snowcovered
peak hung as though suspended from the skies. The evening breeze from the north-east was not
yet blowing, but there were ripples on the water towards the north and more boats were putting out.
The water was very blue and the skies were very clear. It was a wide lake, but on sunny days the
towns could be seen on the other side. In this little bay, secluded and forgotten, it was very peaceful;
there were no tourists, and the steamboat that went round the lake never came here. Nearby was
a village of fishermen; and as the weather promised to be clear, there would be small boats, with
lanterns, fishing late into the night. In the enchantment of evening they were preparing their nets
and their boats. The valleys were in deep shadow, but the mountains still held the sun.
We had been walking for some time and we sat down by the path, for he had come to talk things
over.
”As far back as I can remember, I have had endless conflict, mostly within myself, though sometimes
it manifests outwardly. I am not greatly worried by any outward conflict, as I have learnt to adjust
myself to circumstances. This adjustment has been painful, however, for I am not easily persuaded
or dominated. Life has been difficult, but I am efficient enough to make a good living. But all this
is not my problem. What I cannot understand is this inward conflict which I am unable to control. I
often wake up in the middle of the night from violent dreams, and I never seem to have a moment’s
respite from my conflict; it goes on beneath the everyday occupations, and frequently explodes in
my more intimate relationships.”
What do you mean by conflict? What is the nature of it? ”Outwardly I am a fairly busy man, and my
work demands concentration and attention. When my mind is thus occupied, my inward conflicts
are forgotten; but as soon as there is a lull in my work, I am back in my conflicts. These conflicts
87CHAPTER 25. 27 ’THE NATURE OF DESIRE’
are of varying nature and at different levels. I want to be successful in my work, to be at the top
of my profession, with plenty of money and all the rest of it, and I know I can be. At another level,
I am aware of the stupidity of my ambition. I love the good things of life, and opposed to that, I
want to lead a simple, almost an ascetic existence. I hate a number of people, and yet I want to
forget and forgive. I can go on giving you instances, but I am sure you can understand the nature
of my conflicts. Instinctively I am a peaceful person, yet anger is easy for me. I am very healthy –
which may be a misfortune, at least in my case. Outwardly I give the appearance of being calm and
steady, but I am agitated and confused by my inward conflicts. I am well over thirty, and I really want
to break through the confusion of my own desires. You see, another of my difficulties is that I find it
almost impossible to talk these things over with anybody. This is the first time in many years that I
have opened up a little. I am not secretive, but I hate to talk about myself and I could not possibly
do so with any psychologist. Knowing all this, can you tell me whether it is possible for me to have
some kind of inward serenity?”
Instead of trying to do away with conflict, let us see if we can understand this agglomeration of
desire. Our problem is to see the nature of desire, and not merely to overcome conflict; for it is
desire that causes conflict. Desire is stimulated by association and remembrance; memory is part
of desire. The recollection of the pleasant and the unpleasant nourishes desire and breaks it up
into opposing and conflicting desires. The mind identifies itself with the pleasant as opposed to
the unpleasant; through the choice of pain and pleasure the mind separates desire, dividing it into
different categories of pursuits and values.
”Though there are many conflicting and opposing desires, all desires are one. Is that it?”
That is so, is it not? And it is really important to understand this, otherwise the conflict between
opposing desires is endless. The dualism of desire, which the mind has brought about, is an illusion.
There is no dualism in desire, but merely different types of desire. There is dualism only between
time and eternity. Our concern is to see the unreality of the dualism of desire. Desire does divide
itself into want and non-want, but the avoidance of the one and the pursuit of the other is still desire.
There is no escape from conflict through any of the opposites of desire, for desire itself breeds its
own opposition.
”I see rather vaguely that what you say is a fact, but it is also a fact that I am still torn between many
desires.”
It is a fact that all desire is one and the same, and we cannot alter that fact, twist it to suit our
convenience and pleasure, or use it as an instrument to free ourselves from the conflicts of desire;
but if we see it to be true then it has the power to set the mind free from breeding illusion. So we must
be aware of desire breaking itself up into separate and conflicting parts. We are these opposing and
conflicting desires we are the whole bundle of them, each pulling in a different direction.
”Yes, but what can we do about it?”
Without first catching a glimpse of desire as a single unit, whatever we may or may not do will be
of very little significance, for desire only multiplies desire and the mind is trapped in this conflict.
There is freedom from conflict only when desire, which makes up the ‘I’ with its remembrances and
recognitions, comes to an end.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 88 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 25. 27 ’THE NATURE OF DESIRE’
”When you say that conflict ceases only with the cessation of desire, does this imply an end to one’s
active life?”
It may or it may not. It is foolish on our part to speculate about what kind of life it will be without
desire.
”You surely do not mean that organic wants must cease.”
Organic wants are moulded and expanded by psychological desires; we are talking of these desires.
”Can we go more deeply into the functioning of these inner cravings?”
Desires are both open and hidden, conscious and concealed. The concealed are of far greater
significance than the obvious; but we cannot become familiar with the deeper if the superficial are
not understood and tamed. It is not that the conscious desires must be suppressed, sublimated,
or moulded to any pattern, but they must be observed and quieted. With the calming of superficial
agitation, there is a possibility that the deeper desires, motives and intentions will come to the
surface.
”How is one to quiet the surface agitation? I see the importance of what you are saying, but I do not
quite see how to approach the problem, how to experiment with it.”
The experimenter is not separate from that with which he is experimenting. The truth of this must
be seen. You who are experimenting with your desires are not an entity apart from those desires,
are you? The ‘I’ who says, ‘I will suppress this desire and go after that’, is himself the outcome of all
desire, is he not?
”One can feel that it is so, but actually to realize it, is quite another matter.”
If as each desire arises there is an awareness of this truth, then there is freedom from the illusion of
the experimenter as a separate entity unrelated to desire. As long as the ‘I’ exerts itself to be free
from desire, it is only strengthening desire in another direction and so perpetuating conflict. If there
is an awareness of this fact from moment to moment, the will of the censor ceases; and when the
experiencer is the experience, then you will find that desire with its many varying conflicts comes to
an end.
”Will all this help one to a calmer and fuller life?”
Certainly not at the beginning. It is sure to arouse more disturbances, and deeper adjustments
may have to be made; but the deeper and wider one goes into this complex problem of desire and
conflict, the simpler it becomes.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 89 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 26
28 ’THE PURPOSE OF LIFE’
THE ROAD IN front of the house went down to the sea, weaving its way past many small shops,
great flats, garages, temples, and a dusty, neglected garden. When it reached the sea, the road
be- came a big thoroughfare, with taxis, rattling buses, and all the noise of a modem city. Leading
off this thoroughfare there was a peaceful, sheltered avenue overhung with huge rain-trees, but in
the morning and evening it was busy with cars on their way to a smart club, with its golf course
and lovely gardens. As I walked along this avenue there were various types of beggars lying on
the pavement; they were not noisy, and did not even stretch out their hands to the passer-by. A girl
about ten years old was lying with her head on a tin can, resting with wide open eyes; she was dirty,
with matted hair, but she smiled as I smiled at her. Further along, a little girl, hardly three, came
forward with outstretched hand and an enchanting smile. The mother was watching from behind a
nearby tree. I took the outstretched hand and we walked together for a few paces, returning her to
her mother. As I had no coin, I returned with one the next day, but the little girl would not take it, she
wanted to play; so we played, and the coin was given to the mother. Whenever I walked along that
avenue the little girl was always there, with a shy smile and bright eyes.
Opposite the entrance to the fashionable club a beggar was seated on the ground; he was covered
with a filthy gunnysack, and his matted hair was full of dust. Some days, as I went by, he would
be lying down, his head in the dust, his naked body covered with the gunnysack; on other days
he would be sitting up, perfectly still, looking without seeing, with the massive rain-tree over him.
One evening there was gaiety at the club; it was all lit up, and sparkling cars full of laughing people
were driving in, tooting their horns. From the clubhouse came light music loud and airfilling. Many
policemen were at the entrance, where a large crowd had gathered to watch the smartly-dressed
and well fed people pass by in their cars. The beggar had turned his back on all this. One man was
offering him something to eat, and another a cigarette but he silently refused both without making a
movement. He was slowly dying, day by day, and the people passed by.
90CHAPTER 26. 28 ’THE PURPOSE OF LIFE’
Those rain-trees were massive against the darkening sky, and of fantastic shape. They had very
small leaves, but their branches seemed huge, and they had a strange majesty and aloofness in
that overcrowded city of noise and pain. But the sea was there, everlastingly in motion, restless
and infinite. There were white sails, mere specks in that infinitude, and on the dancing waters the
moon made a path of silver. The rich beauty of the earth, the distant stars, and deathless humanity.
Immeasurable vastness seemed to cover all things.
He was a youngish man, and had come from the other side of the country, a tiresome journey. He
had taken a vow not to marry till he had found the meaning and purpose of life. Determined and
aggressive, he worked in some office from which he had taken leave for a certain period to try to
find the answer to his search. He had a busy and argumentative mind, and was so taken up with his
own and other people’s answers that he would hardly listen. His words could not come fast enough,
and he quoted endlessly what the philosophers and teachers had said concerning the purpose of
life. He was tormented and deeply anxious.
”Without knowing the purpose of life, my very existence has no meaning, and all my action is
destructive. I earn a livelihood just to carry on; I suffer, and death awaits me. This is the way of
life but what is the purpose of it all? I do not know. I have been to the learned, and to the various
gurus; some say one thing, some another. What do you say?”
Are you asking in order to compare what is said here with what has been said elsewhere?
”Yes. Then I can choose, and my choice will depend on what I consider to be true.”
Do you think that the understanding of what is true is a matter of personal opinion and dependent
on choice? Through choice will you discover what is true?
”How else can one find the real if not through discrimination, through choice? I shall listen to you
very carefully, and if what you say appeals to me, I shall reject what the others have said and pattern
my life after the goal you have set. I am most earnest in my desire to find out what is the true
purpose of life.”
Sir, before going any further, is it not important to ask your- self if you are capable of seeking out
the true? This is suggested with respect, and not in a derogatory spirit. Is truth a matter of opinion,
of pleasure, of gratification? You say that you will accept what appeals to you, which means that
you are not interested in truth, but are after that which you find most gratifying. You are prepared to
go through pain, through compulsion, in order to gain that which in the end is pleasurable. You are
seeking pleasure, not truth. Truth must be something beyond like and dislike, must it not? Humility
must be the beginning of all search.
”That is why I have come to you, sir. I am really seeking; I look to the teachers to tell me what is
true, and I shall follow them in a humble and contrite spirit.”
To follow is to deny humility. You follow because you desire to succeed, to gain an end. An ambitious
man however subtle and hidden his ambition, is never humble. To pursue authority and set it up as
a guide is to destroy insight, understanding. The pursuit of an ideal prevents humility, for the ideal is
the glorification of the self, the ego. How can he who in different ways gives importance to the ‘me’,
ever be humble? Without humility, reality can never be.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 91 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 26. 28 ’THE PURPOSE OF LIFE’
”But my whole concern in coming here is to find out what is the true purpose of life.”
If one may be permitted to say so, you are just caught up in an idea, and it is becoming a fixation.
This is something of which one has to be constantly watchful. Wanting to know the true purpose
of life, you have read many philosophers and sought out many teachers. Some say this, some say
that, and you want to know the truth. Now, do you want to know the truth of what they say, or the
truth of your own inquiry?
”When you ask a straight question like that, I feel rather hesitant in my reply. There are people who
have studied and experienced more than I ever can, and it would be absurd conceit on my part to
discard what they say, which may help me to uncover the significance of life. But each one speaks
according to his own experience and understanding, and they sometimes contradict each other. The
Marxists say one thing, and the religious people say something quite different. Please help me to
find the truth in all this.”
To see the false as the false, and the truth in the false, and the true as the true, is not easy. To
perceive clearly, there must be freedom from desire, which twists and conditions the mind. You are
so eager to find the true significance of life that your very eagerness becomes a hindrance to the
understanding of your own inquiry. You want to know the truth of what you have read and of what
your teachers have said, do you not?
”Yes, most definitely.”
Then you must be able to find out for yourself what is true in all these statements. Your mind must
be capable of direct perception; if it is not, it will be lost in the jungle of ideas, opinions and beliefs. If
your mind has not the capacity to see what is true, you will be like a driven leaf. So what is important
is not the conclusions and assertions of others, whoever they be, but for you to have insight into
what is true. Is this not most essential?
”I think it is, but how am I going to have this gift?”
Understanding is not a gift reserved for the few, but it comes to those who are earnest in their
self-knowledge. Comparison does not bring about understanding; comparison is another form of
distraction, as judgment is evasion. For the truth to be, the mind must be without comparison,
without evaluation. When the mind is comparing, evaluating, it is not quiet, it is occupied. An
occupied mind is incapable of clear and simple perception.
”Does it mean, then, that I must strip myself of all the values that I have built up, the knowledge that
I have gathered?”
Must not the mind be free to discover? Does knowledge, information – the conclusions and
experiences of oneself and others, this vast accumulated burden of memory – bring freedom? Is
there freedom as long as there is the censor who is judging, condemning, comparing? The mind is
never quiet if it is always acquiring and calculating; and must not the mind be still for truth to be?
”I see that, but aren’t you asking too much of a simple and ignorant mind like mine?”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 92 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 26. 28 ’THE PURPOSE OF LIFE’
Are you simple and ignorant? If you really were, it would be a great delight to begin with true inquiry;
but unfortunately you are not. Wisdom and truth come to a man who truly says, ”I am ignorant I do
not know”. The simple, the innocent, not those who are burdened with knowledge, will see the light,
for they are humble.
”I want only one thing, to know the true purpose of life, and you shower me with things that are
beyond me. Can you not please tell me in simple words what is the true significance of life?”
Sir, you must begin very near to go far. You want the immense without seeing what is close by. You
want to know the significance of life. Life has no beginning and no end; it is both death and life; it
is the green leaf, and the withered leaf that is driven by the wind; it is love and its immeasurable
beauty, the sorrow of solitude and the bliss of aloneness. It cannot be measured, nor can the mind
discover it.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 93 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 27
29 ’VALUING AN EXPERIENCE’
ON THE HOT rock in the burning sun the village women were spreading the paddy that had been
kept in the storehouse. They had carried large bundles of it to the flat, sloping rock, and the two
oxen that were tied to the tree would presently tread on the paddy to release the grain. The valley
was far from any town, and the huge tamarind trees gave deep shadows. Through the valley a dusty
road made its way to the village and beyond. Cattle and innumerable goats covered the hillsides.
The rice fields were deep in water, and the white rice birds flew with lazy wings from one field to
another; they seemed without fear, but they were shy and would not let one get near them. The
mango trees were beginning to bloom, and the river made a cheerful noise with its clear running
water. It was a pleasant land, and yet poverty hung over it like a plague. Voluntary poverty is one
thing, but compulsory poverty is quite another. The villagers were poor and diseased, and although
there was now a medical dispensary and food was distributed, the damage wrought by centuries of
privation could not be wiped away in a few years. Starvation is not the problem of one community or
of one country, but of the whole world.
With the setting sun, a gentle breeze came from the east, and from the hills came strength. These
hills were not high, but high enough to give to the air a soft coolness, so different from the plains.
The stars seemed to hang down very close to the hills, and occasionally one would hear the cough
of a leopard. That evening the light behind the darkening hills seemed to give greater meaning and
beauty to all the things about one. As one sat on the bridge, the villagers going by on their way
home suddenly stopped talking, and only resumed their conversation as they disappeared into the
darkness. The visions that the mind can conjure up are so empty and dull; but when the mind does
not build out of its own materials – memory and time – , there is that without name.
A bullock cart, with a hurricane lamp burning, was coming up the road; slowly every part of the
steel-bound wheel touched the hard ground. The driver was asleep, but the oxen knew their way
94CHAPTER 27. 29 ’VALUING AN EXPERIENCE’
home; they went by, and then they too were swallowed up in the darkness. It was intensely still now.
The evening star was on the hill, but soon she would drop from sight. In the distance an owl was
calling, and all about one the insect world of the night was alive and busy; yet the stillness was not
broken. It held everything in it, the stars, the lonely owl, the myriad insects. If one listened to it, one
lost it; but if one were of it, it welcomed one. The watcher can never be of this stillness; he is an
outsider looking in, but he is not of it. The observer only experiences, he is never the experience,
the thing itself.
He had travelled all over the world, knew several languages, and had been a professor and a
diplomat. In his youth he had been at Oxford, and having made his way through life rather
strenuously, he had retired before the usual age. He was familiar with Western music, but liked
the music of his own country best. He had studied the different religions, and had been particularly
impressed with Buddhism; but after all, he added, stripped of their superstitions, dogmas and rituals,
they all essentially said the same thing. Some of the rituals had beauty in them, but finance
and romance had taken over most religions, and he himself was free of all rituals and dogmatic
accretions. He had played around with thought-transference and hypnosis, and was acquainted
with clairvoyance, but he had never looked upon them as an end in themselves. One could develop
extended faculties of observation, greater control over matter, and so on, but all this seemed to him
rather primitive and obvious. He had taken certain drugs, including the very latest, which for the time
being had given him an intensity of perception and experience beyond the superficial sensations;
but he had not given great importance to these experiences, for they did not in any way reveal the
significance of that which he felt was beyond all ephemeral things.
”I have tried various forms of meditation,” he said, ”and for a whole year I withdrew from all activity
to be by myself and meditate. At different times I have read what you say about meditation, and was
greatly struck by it. Right through from boyhood the very word ‘meditation’, or its Sanskrit equivalent,
has had a very strange effect upon me I have always found an extraordinary beauty and delight in
meditation, and it is one of the few things that I have really enjoyed in life – if one may use such a
word with regard to so profound a thing as meditation. That enjoyment has not gone from me, but
has deepened and widened through the years, and what you said about meditation has opened new
heavens to me. I don’t want to ask you anything more about meditation, because I have read almost
everything that you have so far said about it but I would like to talk over with you, if I may, an event
that happened quite recently.” He paused for a moment, and then went on.
”From what I have told you, you can see that I am not the kind of person to create symbolic
images and worship them. I have scrupulously avoided any identification with self-projected religious
concepts or figures. One has read or heard that some of the saints – or at least some of those whom
people have called saints – have had visions of Krishna, Christ, the Mother as Kali, the Virgin Mary,
and so on. I can see how easily one could hypnotize oneself through a belief and evoke some vision
which might radically alter the conduct of one’s life. But I do not wish to be under any delusion; and
having said all this, I want to describe something that took place a few weeks ago.
”A group of us had been meeting fairly often to talk things over seriously, and one evening we were
discussing rather heatedly the remarkable similarity between Communism and Catholicism, when
suddenly there appeared in the room a seated figure, with yellow robe and shaven head. I was quite
startled. I rubbed my eyes and looked at the faces of my friends. They were completely oblivious of
the figure, and were so occupied with their discussion that they did not notice my silence. I shook
Commentaries On Living Series 2 95 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 27. 29 ’VALUING AN EXPERIENCE’
my head coughed, and again rubbed my eyes, but the figure was still there. I cannot convey to you
what a beautiful face it had; its beauty was not merely of form, but of something infinitely greater. I
could not take my eyes off that face; and as it was getting to be too much for me, and not wanting my
friends to notice my silence and my astonished absorption, I got up and went out on the veranda.
The night air was fresh and cold. I walked up and down, and presently went in again. They were
still talking; but the atmosphere of the room had changed, and the figure was still where it had been
before, seated on the floor, with its extraordinary head cleanly shaven. I could not go on with what
we had been discussing, and presently all of us left. As I walked home the figure went before me.
That was several weeks ago, and it has still not left me though it has lost that forceful immanence.
When I close my eyes, it is there, and something very strange has happened to me. But before I
go into that, what is this experience? Is it a self-projection from the unconscious past, without my
cognizance and conscious volition, or is it something wholly independent of me, without any relation
to my consciousness? I have thought a great deal about the matter and I have not been able to find
the truth of it.”
Now that you have had this experience, do you value it? Is it important to you, if one may ask, and
do you hold on to it?
”In a way, I suppose I do, if I am to answer honestly. It has given me a creative release – not that I
write poems or paint, but this experience has brought about a deep sense of freedom and peace. I
value it because it has caused a profound transformation in myself. It is, indeed, vitally important to
me, and I would not lose it at any price.”
Are you not afraid of losing it? Do you consciously pursue that figure, or is it an everliving thing?
”I suppose I am apprehensive of losing it, for I do constantly dwell on that figure and am always
using it to bring about a desired state. I had never before thought of it in this way, but now that you
ask, I see what I am doing.”
Is it a living figure, or the memory of a thing that has come and gone?
”I am almost afraid to answer that question. please do not think me sentimental, but this experience
has meant a very great deal to me. Although I came here to talk the matter over with you and see
the truth of it, I now feel rather hesitant and unwilling to inquire into it; but I must. Sometimes it is a
living figure, but more often it is the recollection of a past experience.”
You see how important it is to be aware of what is and not be caught in what one would like it to
be. It is easy to create an illusion and live in it. Let us go patiently into the matter. Living in the
past, however pleasant, however edifying, prevents the experiencing of what is. The what is is ever
new, and the mind finds it extremely arduous and difficult not to live in the thousand yesterdays.
Because you are clinging to that memory the living experience is denied. The past has an ending,
and the living is the eternal. The memory of that figure is enchanting you, inspiring you, giving you
a sense of release; it is the dead that is giving life to the living. Most of us never know what it is to
live because we are living with the dead.
May I point out, sir, that apprehension of losing something very precious has crept in. Fear
has arisen in you. Out of that one experience you have brought into being several problems:
Commentaries On Living Series 2 96 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 27. 29 ’VALUING AN EXPERIENCE’
acquisitiveness, fear, the burden of experience, and the emptiness of your own being. If the mind
can free itself from all acquisitive urges, experiencing will have quite a different significance, and
then fear totally disappears. Fear is a shadow, and not a thing in itself. ”I am really beginning to see
what I have been doing. I am not excusing myself, but as the experience was intense, so has been
the desire to hold on to it. How difficult it is not to be caught in a deep emotional experience! The
memory of an experience is as invitingly forceful as the experience itself.”
It is most difficult to differentiate between experiencing and memory is it not? When does
experiencing become memory, a thing of the past? Wherein does the subtle difference lie? Is it
a matter of time? Time is not when experiencing is. Every experience becomes a movement into
the past; the present, the state of experiencing, is imperceptibly flowing into the past. Every living
experience, a second later, has become a memory, a thing of the past. This is the process we all
know, and it seems to be inevitable. But is it?
”I am following very keenly what you are unfolding, and I am more than delighted that you are talking
of this, because I am aware of myself only as a series of memories, at whatever level of my being. I
am memory. Is it possible to be, to exist in the state of experiencing? That is what you are asking is
it not?”
Words have subtle meanings to all of us, and if for a moment we can go beyond these references and
their reactions, perhaps we shall get at the truth. With most of us, experiencing is always becoming
memory. Why? Is it not the constant activity of the mind to take in or absorb, and to push away or
deny? Does it not hold on to what is pleasurable, edifying significant, and try to eliminate all that is
not useful to itself? And can it ever be without this process? Surely, that is a vain question, as we
shall find out in the very asking of it.
Now let us go further. This positive or negative accumulation, this evaluating process of the
mind, becomes the censor, the watcher, the experiencer, the thinker, the ego. At the moment of
experiencing, the experiencer is not; but the experiencer comes into being when choice begins, that
is, when the living is over and there is the beginning of accumulation. The acquisitive urge blots
out the living, the experiencing, making of it a thing of the past, of memory. As long as there is
the observer, the experiencer, there must inevitably be acquisitiveness, the gathering-in process; as
long as there is a separate entity who is watching and choosing experience is always a process of
becoming. Being or experiencing is, when the separate entity is not.
”How is the separate entity to cease?”
Why are you asking that question? The ‘how’ is a new way to acquire. We are now concerned with
acquisitiveness, and not with how to attain freedom from it. Freedom from something is no freedom
at all; it is a reaction, a resistance, which only breeds further opposition.
But let us go back to your original question. Was the figure self-projected, or did it come into being
uninfluenced by you? Was it independent of you? Consciousness is a complicated affair, and it
would be foolish to give a definite answer, would it not? But one can see that recognition is based on
a conditioning of the mind. You had studied Buddhism, and as you said, it had impressed you more
than any other religion, so the conditioning process had taken place. That conditioning may have
projected the figure, even though the conscious mind was occupied with a wholly different matter.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 97 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 27. 29 ’VALUING AN EXPERIENCE’
Also, your mind being made acute and sensitive by the way of your life, and by the discussion you
were having with your friends perhaps you ‘saw’ thought clothed in a Buddhist form, as another might
‘see’ it in a Christian form. But whether it was self-projected or otherwise, is not of vital importance,
is it?
”Perhaps not, but it has shown me a great deal.”
Has it? It did not reveal to you the working of your own mind, and you became a prisoner to that
experience. All experience has significance when with it there comes self-knowledge which is the
only releasing or integrating factor; but without self-knowledge, experience is a burden leading to
every kind of illusion.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 98 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 28
30 ’THIS PROBLEM OF LOVE’
A SMALL DUCK was coming up the wide canal like a ship under sail, alone and full of quacking
importance. The canal wound in and out through the town. There were no other ducks in sight, but
this one made enough noise for many ducks. The few who heard him paid no attention, but that
didn’t matter to the duck. He wasn’t frightened, but he felt himself to be a very prominent person on
that canal; he owned it. Beyond the town the countryside was pleasant with green pastures and fat
black and white cows. There were masses of clouds on the horizon and the skies seemed low, close
to the earth, with that light which only this part of the world seems to have. The land was as flat as
one’s palm, and the road climbed only to pass over the bridges that crossed the high canals. It was
a lovely evening; the sun was setting over the North Sea, and the clouds took on the colouring of
the setting sun.
Great streaks of light, blue and rose, shot across the sky.
She was the wife of a well-known man who was very high up in the government, almost at the top,
but not quite. Well-dressed and quiet in manner, she had that peculiar atmosphere of power and
wealth, the assurance of one long accustomed to being obeyed and getting things done. From one
or two things she said, it was evident that her husband had the brains and she the drive. Together
they had risen high, but just when much greater power and position were almost theirs, he had fallen
desperately ill. At this point in her narrative she could hardly continue, and tears rolled down her
cheeks. She had come in with smiling assurance, but it had rapidly disappeared. Sitting back, she
was silent for a time, and then continued.
”I have read some of your talks and have attended one or two of them. While I was listening to you,
what you said meant a great deal. But these things quickly escape one, and now that I am really in
great trouble I thought I would come and see you. I am sure you understand what has happened.
99CHAPTER 28. 30 ’THIS PROBLEM OF LOVE’
My husband is fatally ill, and all the things we lived and worked for are falling to pieces. The party
and its work will go on, but… Though there are nurses and doctors, I have been looking after him
myself, and for months I have had very little sleep. I can’t bear to lose him though the doctors say
there is little chance of his re- covery. I have thought and thought about all this, and I am almost sick
with anxiety. We have no children, as you know, and we have meant a great deal to each other. And
now…”
Do you really want to talk seriously and go into things?
”I feel so desperate and confused, I don’t believe I am capable of serious thinking; but I must come
to some kind of clarity within myself.”
Do you love your husband, or do you love the things which came about through him?
”I love…” She was too shocked to continue.
Please do not think the question brutal, but you will have to find the true answer to it, otherwise
sorrow will always be there. In uncovering the truth of that question there may be the discovery of
what love is. ”In my present state I cannot think it all out.”
But has not this problem of love passed through your mind?
”Once, perhaps, but I quickly got away from it. I always had so much to do before he was ill; and
now, of course, all thinking is pain. Did I love him because of the position and power that went with
him, or did I simply love him? I am already talking of him as though he were not! I really don’t know
in what way I love him. At present I am too confused, and my brain refuses to work. If I may, I would
like to come back another time, perhaps after I have accepted the inevitable.”
If I may point out, acceptance is also a form of death.
* * *
Several months passed before we met again. The papers had been full of his death, and now he
too was forgotten. His death had left marks on her face, and soon bitterness and resentment were
showing themselves in her talk.
”I haven’t talked to anyone about all these things,” she explained. ”I just withdrew from all my past
activities and buried myself in the country. It has been terrible, and I hope you won’t mind if I just
talk a little. All my life I have been tremendously ambitious, and before marrying I indulged in good
works of every kind. Soon after I married, and largely because of my hus- band, I left all the petty
wrangling of good works and plunged into politics with my whole heart. It was a much wider field of
struggle and I enjoyed every minute of it, the ups and the downs, the intrigues and the jealousies. My
husband was brilliant in his quiet way, and with my driving ambition we were always moving up. As
we had no children, all my time and thought were given over to furthering my husband. We worked
together splendidly, complementing each other in an extraordinary way. Everything was going as we
had planned, but I always had a gnawing fear that it was all going too well. Then one day, two years
ago, when my husband was being examined for some minor trouble, the doctor said there was a
Commentaries On Living Series 2 100 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 28. 30 ’THIS PROBLEM OF LOVE’
growth which must be examined immediately. It was malignant. For a time we were able to keep the
whole thing a dead secret; but six months ago it all began again, and it has been a pretty terrible
ordeal. When I last came to see you I was too distressed and miserable to think, but perhaps I can
now look at things with a little more clarity. Your question disturbed me more than I can tell you. You
may remember that you asked me if I loved my husband, or the things that went with him. I have
thought a great deal about it; but is it not too complex a problem to be answered by oneself?”
Perhaps; but unless one finds out what love is, there will always be pain and sad disappointments.
And it is difficult to discover where love ends and confusion begins, is it not?
”You are asking if my love for my husband was unmixed with my love for position and power. Did I
love my husband because he gave me the means for the fulfilment of my ambition? It is partly this,
and also the love of the man. Love is a mixture of so many things.”
Is it love when there is complete identification with another? And is not this identification a
roundabout way of giving importance to oneself? Is it love when there is the sorrow of loneliness,
the pain of being deprived of the things that seemingly gave significance to life? To be cut off from
the ways of self-fulfilment, from the things that the self has lived on, is the denial of self-importance,
and this brings about disenchantment, bitterness, the misery of isolation. And is this misery love?
”You are trying to tell me, are you not, that I did not love my husband at all? I am really appalled at
myself when you put it that way. And there is no other way to put it, is there? I had never thought
about all this, and only when the blow struck was there any real sorrow in my life. Of course, to have
had no children was a great disappointment, but it was tempered by the fact that I had my husband
and the work. I suppose they became my children. There is a fearful finality about death. Suddenly
I find myself alone, without anything to work for, put aside and forgotten. I now realize the truth
of what you say; but if you had said these things to me three or four years ago, I would not have
listened to you. I wonder if I have been listening to you even now, or merely seeking out reasons to
justify myself! May I come and talk to you again?”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 101 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 29
31 ’WHAT IS THE TRUE FUNCTION OF A TEACHER?’
THE BANYANS and the tamarinds dominated the small valley, which was green and alive after the
rains. In the open the sun was strong and biting, but in the shade it was pleasantly cool. The
shadows were deep, and the old trees were shapely against the blue sky. There was an astonishing
number of birds in that valley, birds of many different kinds, and they would come to these trees
and so quickly disappear in them. There would probably be no more rain for several months but
now the countryside lay green and peaceful, the wells were full, and there was hope in the land.
The corrupting towns were far beyond the hills, but the nearby villages were filthy and the people
were starving. The government only promised, and the villagers seemed to care so little. There
was beauty and gladness all about them, but they had no eyes for it nor for their own inward riches.
Amidst so much loveliness the people were dull and empty.
He was a teacher with little pay and a large family, but he was interested in education. He said he
had a difficult time making ends meet, but he managed somehow, and poverty was not a disturbing
factor. Though food was not in abundance, they had enough to eat, and as his children were being
educated freely in the school where he was teaching, they could scrape along. He was proficient
in his subject and taught other subjects too, which he said any teacher could do who was at all
intelligent. He again stressed his deep interest in education.
”What is the function of a teacher?” he asked.
Is he merely a giver of information, a transmitter of knowledge?
”He has to be at least that. In any given society, boys and girls must be prepared to earn a livelihood,
depending on their capacities, and so on. It is part of the function of a teacher to impart knowledge
to the student so that he may have a job when the time comes, and may also, perhaps, help to bring
about a better social structure. The student must be prepared to face life.”
102CHAPTER 29. 31 ’WHAT IS THE TRUE FUNCTION OF A TEACHER?’
That is so, sir, but aren’t we trying to find out what is the function of a teacher? Is it merely to prepare
the student for a successful career? Has the teacher no greater and wider significance?
”Of course he has. For one thing, he can be an example. By the way of his life, by his conduct,
attitude and outlook, he can influence and inspire the student.”
Is it the function of a teacher to be an example to the student? Are there not already enough
examples, heroes, leaders, without adding another to the long list? Is example the way of education?
Is it not the function of education to help the student to be free, to be creative? And is there freedom
in imitation, in conformity, whether outward or inward? When the student is encouraged to follow an
example, is not fear sustained in a deep and subtle form? If the teacher becomes an example, does
not that very example mould and twist the life of the student, and are you not then encouraging the
everlasting conflict between what he is and what he should be? Is it not the function of a teacher to
help the student to understand what he is?
”But the teacher must guide the student towards a better and nobler life.” To guide, you must know;
but do you? What do you know? You know only what you have learnt through the screen of your
prejudices, which is your conditioning as a Hindu, a Christian, or a Communist; and this form of
guidance only leads to greater misery and bloodshed, as is being shown throughout the world.
Is it not the function of a teacher to help the student to free himself intelligently from all these
conditioning influences so that he will be able to meet life deeply and fully, without fear, without
aggressive discontent? Discontent is part of intelligence, but not the easy pacification of discontent.
Acquisitive discontent is soon pacified, for it pursues the well worn pattern of acquisitive action. Is it
not the function of a teacher to dispel the gratifying illusion of guides, examples and leaders?
”Then at least the teacher can inspire the student to greater things.”
Again, are you not approaching the problem wrongly, sir? If you as a teacher infuse thought and
feeling into the student, are you not making him psychologically dependent on you? When you act
as his inspiration, when he looks up to you as he would to a leader or to an ideal, surely he is
depending on you. Does not dependence breed fear? And does not fear cripple intelligence?
”But if the teacher is not to be either an inspirer, an example, or a guide, then what in heaven’s name
is his true function?”
The moment you are none of those things what are you? What is your relationship with the student?
Did you previously have any relationship with the student at all? Your relationship with him was based
on an idea of what was good for him, that he ought to be this or that. You were the teacher and
he was the pupil; you acted upon him, you influenced him according to your particular conditioning
so, consciously or unconsciously you moulded him in your own image. But if you cease to act upon
him, then he becomes important in himself, which means that you have to understand him and not
demand that he should understand you or your ideals, which are phony anyway. Then you have to
deal with what is and not with what should be.
Surely, when the teacher regards each student as a unique in- dividual and therefore not to be
compared with any other, he is then not concerned with system or method. His sole concern is with
‘helping’ the student to understand the conditioning influences about him and within himself, so that
Commentaries On Living Series 2 103 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 29. 31 ’WHAT IS THE TRUE FUNCTION OF A TEACHER?’
he can face intelligently without fear, the complex process of living and not add more problems to
the already existing mess.
”Are you not asking of the teacher a task that is far beyond him?”
If you are incapable of this, then why be a teacher? Your question has meaning only if teaching is a
mere career to you, a job like any other, for I feel that nothing is impossible for the true educator.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 104 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 30
32 ’YOUR CHILDREN AND THEIR SUCCESS’
IT WAS AN enchanted evening. The hilltops were aglow with the setting sun, and in the sand on the
path that led across the valley, four woodpeckers were taking a bath. With their longish beaks they
would pull the sand under them, their wings would flutter as they pushed their bodies deeper into
it, and then they would begin all over again, the tufts on their heads bobbing up and down. They
were calling to each other and enjoying themselves thoroughly. Not to disturb them we stepped off
the path onto the short, thick grass of recent rains; and there, a few feet away, was a large snake,
yellowish and powerful. Its head was sleek, painted, and cruelly shaped. It was too intent on those
birds to be disturbed, its black eyes watching without movement and its black, forked tongue darting
in and out. Almost imperceptibly it was moving towards the birds, its scales making no noise on the
grass. It was a cobra, and there was death about it. Dangerous but beautiful, it was shiny in the
darkening light, and it must recently have shed its old skin. Suddenly the four birds took to the air
with a cry, and then we saw an extraordinary thing take place: a cobra relax. It had been so eager,
so tense, and now it seemed almost lifeless, part of the earth – but in a second, fatal. It moved with
ease and only lifted its head when we made a slight noise, but with it went a peculiar stillness, the
stillness of fear and death.
She was a small, elderly lady with white hair, but was well preserved. Though gentle of speech,
her figure, her walk, her gestures and the way she held her head, all showed a deep-rooted
aggressiveness which her voice did not conceal. She had a large family, several sons and daughters,
but her husband been dead for some time and she alone had had to bring them up. One of her sons,
she said with evident pride, was a successful doctor with a large practice, and also a good surgeon.
One of her daughters was a clever and successful politician, and without too much difficulty was
getting her own way; she said this with a smile which implied, ”You know what women are”. She
went on explain that this political lady had spiritual aspirations.
What do you mean by spiritual aspirations?
105CHAPTER 30. 32 ’YOUR CHILDREN AND THEIR SUCCESS’
”She wants to be the head of some religious or philosophical group.”
To have power over others through an organization is surely evil, is it not? That is the way of all
politicians whether they are in politics or not. You may hide it under pleasant and deceptive words,
but is not the desire for power always evil?
She listened, but what was being said had no meaning to her. It was written on her face that she
was concerned about something, and what it was would presently emerge. She went on to tell of
the activities of her other children, all of whom were vigorous and doing well except the one she
really loved.
”What is sorrow?” she suddenly asked. ”Somewhere in the background I seem to have had it all
my life. Though all but one of my children are well off and contented, sorrow has been constantly
with me. I can’t put my finger on it, but it has pursued me, and I often lie awake at night wondering
what it is all about. I am also concerned about my youngest son. You see, he is a failure. Whatever
he touches goes to pieces: his marriage, his relationship with his brothers and sisters, and with his
friends. He almost never has a job, and when he does get one something happens and he’s out.
He seems incapable of being helped. I worry about him, and though he adds to my sorrow, I don’t
think he is the root of it. What is sorrow? I have had anxieties, disappointments and physical pain,
but this pervading sorrow is something beyond all that, and I have not been able to find its cause.
Could we talk about it?”
You are very proud of your children and especially of their success, are you not?
”I think any parent would be as they have all made good except the last one. They are prosperous
and happy. But why are you asking that question?”
It may have something to do with your sorrow. Are you sure that your sorrow has nothing to do with
their success?
”Of course; on the contrary, I am very happy about it.”
What do you think is the root of your sorrow? If one may ask, did the death of your husband affect
you very deeply? Are you still affected by it?
”It was a great shock and I was very lonely after his death, but I soon forgot my loneliness and
sorrow as there were the children to be seen to and I had no time to think about myself.”
Do you think that time wipes away loneliness and sorrow? Are they not still there, buried in the
deeper layers of your mind, even though you may have forgotten them? May it not be that these are
the cause of your conscious sorrow?
”As I say, the death of my husband was a shock, but somehow it was to be expected, and with tears
I accepted it. As a girl, before I married I saw my father’s death and some years later that of my
mother also; but I have never been interested in official religion, and all this clamour for explanations
of death and the hereafter has never bothered me. Death is inevitable, and let us accept it with as
little noise as possible.”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 106 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 30. 32 ’YOUR CHILDREN AND THEIR SUCCESS’
That may be the way you regard death, but is loneliness to be so easily reasoned away? Death is
something of tomorrow, to be faced perhaps, when it comes; but is not loneliness ever present? You
may deliberately shut it out, but it is still there behind the door. Should you not invite loneliness and
look at it?
”I don’t know about that. Loneliness is most unpleasant, and I doubt if I can go so far as to invite
that awful feeling. It is really quite frightening.”
Must you not understand it fully, since that may be the cause of your sorrow?
”But how am I to understand it when it is the very thing that gives me pain?”
Loneliness does not give you pain, but the idea of loneliness causes fear. You have never
experienced the state of loneliness. You have always approached it with apprehension dread with
the urge to get away from it or to find a way to overcome it; so you have avoided it, have you not?
You have really never come directly into contact with it. To put loneliness away from you, you have
escaped into the activities of your children and their success. Their success has become yours; but
behind this worship of success, is there not some deep concern?
”How do you know?”
The thing you escape into – the radio, social activity, a particular dogma, so-called love, and so on –
becomes all-important, as necessary to you as drink to the drunkard. One may lose oneself in the
worship of success, or in the worship of an image, or in some ideal; but all ideals are illusory, and
in the very losing of oneself there is anxiety. If one may point out, your children’s success has been
to you a source of pain, for you have a deeper concern about them and about yourself. In spite of
your admiration of their success and of the applause they have received from the public, is there not
behind it a sense of shame, of disgust, or disappointment? please forgive me for asking, but are you
not deeply distressed about their success?
”You know, sir, I have never dared to acknowledge, even to myself the nature of this distress, but it
is as you say.”
Do you want to go into it?
”Now, of course, I do want to go into it. You see, I have always been religious without belonging to
any religion. Here and there I have read about religious matters, but I have never been caught in
any so-called religious organization. Organized religion has seemed too distant and not sufficiently
intimate. Beneath my worldly life, however, there has always been a vague religious groping, and
when I began to have children, this groping took the form of a deep hope that one of my children
would be religiously inclined. And not one of them is; they have all become prosperous and worldly,
except the last one, who is a mixture of everything. All of them are really mediocre, and that is what
hurts. They are engrossed in their worldliness. It all seems so superficial and silly, but I haven’t
discussed it with any of them, and even if I did, they wouldn’t understand what I was talking about.
I thought that at least one of them would be different, and I am horrified at their mediocrity and my
own. It is this, I suppose, that is causing my sorrow. What can one do to break up this stupid state?”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 107 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 30. 32 ’YOUR CHILDREN AND THEIR SUCCESS’
In oneself or in another? One can only break up mediocrity in oneself, and then perhaps a different
relationship with others may arise. To know that one is mediocre is already the beginning of change,
is it not? But a petty mind, becoming aware of itself, frantically tries to change, to improve, and this
very urge is mediocre. Any desire for self-improvement is petty. When the mind knows that it is
mediocre and does not act upon itself, there is the breaking up of mediocrity.
”What do you mean by ‘act upon itself?’”
If a petty mind, realizing it is petty, makes an effort to change itself, is it not still petty? The effort to
change is born of a petty mind, therefore that very effort is petty.
”Yes, I see that, but what can one do?”
Any action of the mind is small, limited. The mind must cease to act, and only then is there the
ending of mediocrity.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 108 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 31
33 ’THE URGE TO SEEK’
TWO GOLDEN-GREEN birds with long tails used to come to that garden every morning and sit
on a particular branch, playing and calling to each other. They were so restless, always on the
move, their bodies quivering, but they were lovely things, and they never seemed to tire in their flight
and play. It was a sheltered garden, and many other birds constantly came and went. Two young
mongooses, sleek and swift their yellowish fur sparkling in the sun, would chase each other along
the top of the low wall, and then, slipping through a hole, would come into the garden; but how
cautious and observant they were even in their play, keeping close to the wall, their red eyes alert
and watchful. Occasionally an old mongoose, comfortably fat, would come slowly into the garden
through the same hole. It must have been their father or mother, for once the three of them were
together. Coming into the garden one after another through the hole, they crossed the whole length
of the lawn in single file and disappeared among the bushes.
”Why do we seek?” asked P. ”What is the purpose of our search? How weary one gets of this
everlasting seeking! Is there no end to it?”
”We search for what we want to find,” answered M., ”and after finding what we seek, we move on to
further discovery. If we did not seek, all living would come to an end, life would stagnate and have
no meaning.”
”Seek and ye shall find’,” quoted R. ”We find what we want, what we consciously or unconsciously
crave for. We have never questioned this urge to seek; we have always sought, and apparently we
shall always go on seeking.”
”The desire to seek is inevitable,” stated I. ”You might just as well ask why we breathe, or why the
hair grows. The urge to seek is as inevitable as day and night.”
109CHAPTER 31. 33 ’THE URGE TO SEEK’
When you assert so definitely that the urge to seek is inevitable, the discovery of the truth of the
matter is blocked, is it not? When you accept anything as final determined, does not all inquiry come
to an end?
”But there are certain fixed laws, like gravity, and it is wiser to accept than to batter one’s head vainly
against them,” replied I.
We accept certain dogmas and beliefs for various psychological reasons, and through the process
of time what is thus accepted becomes ‘inevitable, a so-called necessity for man. ”If I. accepts as
inevitable the urge to seek, then he will go on seeking, and for him it is not a problem,” said M.
The scientist, the cunning politician, the unhappy, the diseased – each is seeking in his own way
and changing the object of his search from time to time. We are all seeking, but we have never,
it seems, asked ourselves why we seek. We are not discussing the object of our search, whether
noble or ignoble, but we are trying to find out, aren’t we, why we seek at all? What is this urge, this
everlasting compulsion? Is it inevitable? Has it an unending continuity? ”If we do not seek,” asked
Y., ”will we not become lazy and just stagnate?”
Conflict in one form or another appears to be the way of life, and without it we think that life would
have no meaning. To most of us, the cessation of struggle is death. Search implies struggle, conflict,
and is this process essential to man, or is there a different‘way’ of life in which search and struggle
are not? Why and what do we seek?
”I seek ways and means to assure, not my own survival, but that of my nation,” said I.
Is there such a vast difference between national and individual survival? The individual identifies
himself with the nation, or with a particular form of society, and then wants that nation or society to
survive. The survival of this or that nation is also the survival of the individual. Is not the individual
ever seeking to survive, to have continuity, by being identified with something greater or nobler than
himself?
”Is there not a point or a moment at which we suddenly find ourselves without search, without
struggle?” asked M.
”That moment may be merely the result of weariness,” replied R., ”a brief pause before plunging
again into the vicious circle of search and fear.”
”Or it may be outside of time,” said M.
Is the moment we are talking about outside of time, or is it only a point of rest before starting to seek
again? Why do we seek, and is it possible for this search to come to an end? Unless we discover
for ourselves why we seek and struggle, the state in which search has come to an end will remain
for us an illusion, without significance.
”Is there no difference between the various objects of search?” asked B.
Of course there are differences, but in all seeking the urge is essentially the same, is it not? Whether
we seek to survive individually or as a nation; whether we go to a teacher a guru, a saviour; whether
Commentaries On Living Series 2 110 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 31. 33 ’THE URGE TO SEEK’
we follow a particular discipline, or find some other means of bettering ourselves, is not each one of
us, in his own limited or extensive way, seeking some form of satisfaction, continuity, permanency?
So we are now asking ourselves, not what we seek, but why do we seek at all? And is it possible for
all search to come to an end, not through compulsion or frustration, or because one has found, but
because the urge has wholly ceased?
”We are caught in the habit of search, and I suppose it is the outcome of our dissatisfaction,” said B.
Being discontented, dissatisfied, we seek contentment, satisfaction. As long as there is this urge to
be satisfied, to fulfil, there must be search and struggle. With the urge to fulfil there is always the
shadow of fear, is there not?
”How can we escape from fear?” asked B.
You want to fulfil without the sting of fear; but is there ever an enduring fulfilment? Surely, the very
desire to fulfil is itself the cause of frustration and fear. Only when the significance of fulfilment is
seen is there an ending of desire. Becoming and being are two widely different states, and you
cannot go from one to the other; but with the ending of becoming the other is.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 111 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 32
34 ’LISTENING’
THE FULL MOON was just coming up over the river; there was a haze which made her red, and
smoke was rising from the many villages, for it was cold. There was not a ripple on the river, but
the current was hidden, strong and deep. The swallows were flying low, and one or two wing tips
touched the water, disturbing ever so little the placid surface. Up the river the evening star was just
visible over a minaret in the distant, crowded town. The parrots were coming back to be near human
habitation, and their flight was never straight. They would drop with a screech, pickup a grain, and
fly sideways, but they were always moving forward towards a leafy tree, where they were gathering
by the hundreds; then off they would fly again to a more sheltering tree, and as darkness came
there would be silence. The moon was now well over the tops of the trees, and she made a silvery
pathway on the still waters.
”I see the importance of listening, but I wonder if I ever really listen to what you say,” he remarked.
”Somehow I have to make a great effort to listen.”
When you make an effort to listen, are you listening? Is not that very effort a distraction which
prevents listening? Do you make an effort when you listen to something that gives you delight?
Surely, this effort to listen is a form of compulsion. Compulsion is resistance, is it not? And resistance
breeds problems, so listening becomes one of them. Listening itself is never a problem.
”But to me it is. I want to listen correctly because I feel that what you are saying has deep
significance, but I can’t go beyond its verbal meaning.”
If I may say so, you are not listening now to what is being said. You have made listening into
a problem, and this problem is preventing you from listening. Everything we touch becomes a
problem, one issue breeds many other issues. perceiving this is it possible not to breed problems at
all?
112CHAPTER 32. 34 ’LISTENING’
”That would be marvellous, but how is one to come to that happy state?”
Again, you see, the question of ‘how’, the manner of achieving a certain state, becomes still another
problem. We are talking of not giving birth to problems. If it may be pointed out, you must be aware
of the manner in which the mind is creating the problem. You want to achieve the state of perfect
listening; in other words, you are not listening, but you want to achieve a state, and you need time
and interest to gain that or any other state. The need for time and interest generates problems. You
are not simply aware that you are not listening. When you are aware of it, the very fact that you
are not listening has its own action; the truth of that fact acts, you do not act upon the fact. But you
want to act upon it, to change it, to cultivate its opposite, to bring about a desired state, and so on.
Your effort to act upon the fact breeds problems, whereas seeing the truth of the fact brings its own
liberating action. You are not aware of the truth, nor do you see the false as the false, as long as
your mind is occupied in anyway with effort, with comparison, with justification or condemnation.
”All this may be so, but with all the conflicts and contradictions that go on within oneself, it still seems
to me that it is almost impossible to listen.”
Listening itself is a complete act; the very act of listening brings its own freedom. But are you really
concerned with listening, or with altering the turmoil within? If you would listen, sir, in the sense of
being aware of your conflicts and contradictions without forcing them into any particular pattern of
thought, perhaps they might altogether cease. You see, we are constantly trying to be this or that,
to achieve a particular state, to capture one kind of experience and avoid another, so the mind is
everlastingly occupied with something; it is never still to listen to the noise of its own struggles and
pains. Be simple, sir, and don’t try to become something or to capture some experience.
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35 ’THE FIRE OF DISCONTENT’
IT HAD BEEN raining quite heavily for several days, and the streams were swollen and noisy. Brown
and dirty, they came from every gully and joined a wider stream that ran through the middle of the
valley, and this in turn joined the river that went down to the sea some miles away. The river was
high and fast-flowing, winding through orchards and open country. Even in summer the river was
never dry, though all the streams that fed it showed their barren rocks and dry sands. Now the river
was flowing faster than a man could walk, and on both banks people were watching the muddy
waters. It was not often that the river was so high. The people were excited, their eyes sparkled, for
the fast-moving waters were a delight. The town near the sea might suffer, the river might overflow
its banks inundating the fields and the groves and damaging the houses; but here, under the lonely
bridge, the brown waters were singing. A few people were fishing, but they could not have caught
much, for the current was too strong, carrying with it the debris of all the neighbouring streams. It
began to rain again, yet the people stayed to watch and to take delight in simple things.
”I have always been a seeker,” she said. ”I have read, oh, so many books on many subjects. I
was a Catholic, but left that church to join another; leaving that too, I joined a religious society. I
have recently been reading oriental philosophy, the teachings of the Buddha, and added to all this,
I have had myself psychoanalysed; but even that hasn’t stopped me from seeking, and now here I
am talking to you. I nearly went to India in search of a Master, but circumstances prevented me from
going.”
She went on to say that she was married and had a couple of children, bright and intelligent, who
were in college; she wasn’t worried about them, they could look after themselves. Social interests
meant nothing any more. She had been seriously trying to meditate but got nowhere, and her mind
was as silly and vagrant as before.
114CHAPTER 33. 35 ’THE FIRE OF DISCONTENT’
”What you say about meditation and prayer is so different from what I have read and thought, that it
has greatly puzzled me” she added. ”But through all this wearisome confusion, I really want to find
truth and understand its mystery.”
Do you think that by seeking truth you will find it? May it not be that the so-called seeker can never
find truth? You have never fathomed this urge to seek, have you? Yet you keep on seeking going
from one thing to another in the hope of finding what you want, which you call truth and make a
mystery of. ”But what’s wrong with going after what I want? I have always gone after what I wanted,
and more often than not I have got it.”
That may be; but do you think that you can collect truth as you would money or paintings? Do you
think it is another ornament for one’s vanity? Or must the mind that is acquisitive wholly cease for
the other to be?
”I suppose I am too eager to find it.”
Not at all. You will find what you seek in your eagerness, but it will not be the real.
”Then what am I supposed to do, just lie down and vegetate?”
You are jumping to conclusions, are you not? Is it not important to find out why you are seeking?
”Oh, I know why I am seeking. I am thoroughly discontented with everything, even with the things
I have found. The pain of discontent returns again and again; I think I have got hold of something,
but it soon fades away and once again the pain of discontent overwhelms me. I have tried in every
way I can think of to overcome it, but somehow it is too strong within me, and I must find something
– truth, or whatever it is – that will give me peace and contentment.”
Should you not be thankful that you have not succeeded in smothering this fire of discontent?
To overcome discontent has been your problem, has it not? You have sought contentment, and
fortunately you have not found it; to find it is to stagnate, vegetate.
”I suppose that is really what I am seeking: an escape from this gnawing discontent.”
Most people are discontented, are they not? But they find satisfaction in the easy things of life
whether it is mountain climbing or the fulfilment of some ambition. The restlessness of discontent
is superficially turned into achievements that gratify. If we are shaken in our contentment, we soon
find ways to overcome the pain of discontent, so we live on the surface and never fathom the depths
of discontent.
”How is one to go below the surface of discontent?”
Your question indicates that you still desire to escape from discontent, does it not? To live with that
pain, without trying to escape from it or to alter it, is to penetrate the depths of discontent. As long as
we are trying to get somewhere, or to be something, there must be the pain of conflict, and having
caused the pain, we then want to escape from it; and we do escape into every kind of activity. To
be integrated with discontent, to remain with and be part of discontent, without the observer forcing
Commentaries On Living Series 2 115 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 33. 35 ’THE FIRE OF DISCONTENT’
it into grooves of satisfaction or accepting it as inevitable, is to allow that which has no opposite, no
second, to come into being.
”I follow what you are saying, but I have fought discontent for so many years that it is now very
difficult for me to be part of it.”
The more you fight a habit, the more life you give to it. Habit is a dead thing, do not fight it, do not
resist it; but with the perception of the truth of discontent, the past will have lost its significance.
Though painful, it is a marvellous thing to be discontented without smothering that flame with
knowledge, with tradition, with hope, with achievement. We get lost in the mystery of man’s
achievement in the mystery of the church, or of the jet plane. Again, this is superficial, empty,
leading to destruction and misery. There is a mystery that is beyond the capacities and powers of
the mind. You cannot seek it out or invite it; it must come without your asking, and with it comes a
benediction for man.
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36 ’AN EXPERIENCE OF BLISS’
IT WAS A VERY hot and humid day. In the park many people were stretched out on the grass or
sitting on benches in the shade of the heavy trees; they were taking cool drinks and gasping for
clean, fresh air. The sky was grey, there was not the slightest breeze, and the fumes of this vast
mechanized city filled the air. In the country it must have been lovely, for spring was just turning into
summer. Some trees would just be putting forth their leaves, and along the road which ran beside
the wide, sparkling river, every kind of flower would be out. Deep in the woods there would be that
peculiar silence in which you can almost hear things being born, and the mountains, with their deep
valleys, would be blue and fragrant. But here in the city…!
Imagination perverts the perception of what is; and yet how proud we are of our imagination
and speculation. The speculative mind, with its intricate thoughts, is not capable of fundamental
transformation; it is not a revolutionary mind. It has clothed itself with what should be and follows
the pattern of its own limited and enclosing projections. The good is not in what should be, it lies in
the understanding of what is. Imagination prevents the perception of what is, as does comparison.
The mind must put aside all imagination and speculation for the real to be.
He was quite young, but he had a family and was a businessman of some repute. He looked very
worried and miserable, and was eager to say something.
”Some time ago I had a most remarkable experience, and as I have never before talked about it to
anyone I wonder if I am capable of explaining it to you; I hope so, for I cannot go to anybody else.
It was an experience which completely ravished my heart; but it has gone, and now I have only the
empty memory of it. perhaps you can help me to get it back. I will tell you, as fully as I can, what that
blessing was. I have read of these things, but they were always empty words and appealed only to
my senses; but what happened to me was beyond all thought, beyond imagination and desire, and
now I have lost it. Please do help me to get it back.” He paused for a moment, and then continued.
117CHAPTER 34. 36 ’AN EXPERIENCE OF BLISS’
”I woke up one morning very early; the city was still asleep, and its murmur had not yet begun. I felt
I had to get out, so I dressed quickly and went down to the street. Even the milk truck was not yet
on its rounds. It was early spring, and the sky was pale blue. I had a strong feeling that I should go
to the park, a mile or so away. From the moment I came out of my front door I had a strange feeling
of lightness, as though I were walking on air. The building opposite, a drab block of flats, had lost
all its ugliness; the very bricks were alive and clear. Every little object which ordinarily I would never
have noticed seemed to have an extraordinary quality of its own, and strangely, everything seemed
to be a part of me. Nothing was separate from me; in fact, the‘me’ as the observer, the perceiver,
was absent, if you know what I mean. There was no ‘me’ separate from that tree, or from that paper
in the gutter, or from the birds that were calling to each other. It was a state of consciousness that
I had never known. ”On the way to the park,” he went on, ”there is a flower shop. I have passed it
hundreds of times, and I used to glance at the flowers as I went by. But on this particular morning
I stopped in front of it. The plate glass window was slightly frosted with the heat and damp from
inside, but this did not prevent me from seeing the many varieties of flowers. As I stood looking at
them, I found myself smiling and laughing with a joy I had never before experienced. Those flowers
were speaking to me, and I was speaking to them; I was among them, and they were part of me. In
saying this, I may give you the impression that I was hysterical, slightly off my head; but it was not
so. I had dressed very carefully, and had been aware of putting on clean things, looking at my watch,
seeing the names of the shops, including that of my tailor, and reading the titles of the books in a
book shop window. Everything was alive, and I loved everything. I was the scent of those flowers,
but there was no ‘me’ to smell the flowers, if you know what I mean. There was no separation
between them and me. That flower shop was fantastically alive with colours, and the beauty of it all
must have been stunning, for time and its measurement had ceased. I must have stood there for
over twenty minutes, but I assure you there was no sense of time. I could hardly tear myself away
from those flowers. The world of struggle, pain and sorrow was there, and yet it was not. You see,
in that state, words have no meaning.
Words are descriptive, separative, comparative, but in that state there were no words; ‘I’ was not
experiencing, there was only that state, that experience. Time had stopped; there was no past,
present or future. There was only – oh, I don’t know how to put it into words, but it doesn’t matter.
There was a presence – no, not that word. It was as though the earth, with everything in it and on it,
were in a state of benediction, and I, walking towards the park, were part of it. As I drew near the
park I was absolutely spellbound by the beauty of those familiar trees. From the pale yellow to the
almost black-green, the leaves were dancing with life; every leaf stood out separate, and the whole
richness of the earth was in a single leaf. I was conscious that my heart was beating fast; I have a
very good heart, but I could hardly breathe as I entered the park and I thought I was going to faint. I
sat down on a bench, and tears were rolling down my cheeks. There was a silence that was utterly
unbearable, but that silence was cleansing all things of pain and sorrow. As I went deeper into the
park, there was music in the air. I was surprised, as there was no house nearby, and no one would
have a radio in the park at that hour of the morning. The music was part of the whole thing. All the
goodness, all the compassion of the world was in that park, and God was there.
”I am not a theologian, nor much of a religious person,” he continued. ”I have been a dozen times
or so inside a church, but it has never meant anything to me. I cannot stomach all that nonsense
that goes on in churches. But in that park there was Being, if one may use such a word, in whom
all things lived and had their being. My legs were shaking and I was forced to sit down again, with
my back against a tree. The trunk was a living thing, as I was, and I was part of that tree, part of
Commentaries On Living Series 2 118 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 34. 36 ’AN EXPERIENCE OF BLISS’
that Being, part of the world. I must have fainted. It had all been too much for me: the vivid, living
colours, the leaves, the rocks, the flowers, the incredible beauty of everything. And over all was the
benediction of…
”When I came to, the sun was up. It generally takes me about twenty minutes to walk to the park,
but it was nearly two hours since I had left my house. physically I seemed to have no strength to
walk back; so I sat there, gathering strength and not daring to think. As I slowly walked back home,
the whole of that experience was with me; it lasted two days, and faded away as suddenly as it
had come. Then my torture began. I didn’t go near my office for a week. I wanted that strange
living experience back again, I wanted to live once again and forever in that beatific world. All this
happened two years ago. I have seriously thought of giving up everything and going away into some
lonely corner of the world, but I know in my heart that I cannot get it back that way. No monastery can
offer me that experience, nor can any candle lit church, which only deals with death and darkness.
I considered making my way to India, but that too I put aside. Then I tried a certain drug; it made
things more vivid, and soon, but an opiate is not what I want. That is a cheap way of experiencing,
it is a trick but not the real thing.
”So here I am,” he concluded. ”I would give everything, my life and all my possessions, to live again
in that world. What am I to do?”
It came to you, sir, uninvited. You never sought it. As long as you are seeking it, you will never have
it. The very desire to live again in that ecstatic state is preventing the new, the fresh experience of
bliss. You see what has happened: you have had that experience, and now you are living with the
dead memory of yesterday. What has been is preventing the new.
”Do you mean to say that I must put away and forget all that has been, and carry on with my petty
life, inwardly starving from day to day?”
If you do not look back and ask for more, which is quite a task, then perhaps that very thing over
which you have no control may act as it will. Greed, even for the sublime, breeds sorrow; the urge
for the more opens the door to time. That bliss cannot be bought through any sacrifice, through any
virtue, through any drug. It is not a reward, a result. It comes when it will; do not seek it.
”But was that experience real, was it of the highest?”
We want another to confirm, to make us certain of what has been, and so we find shelter in it. To be
made certain or secure in that which has been, even if it were the real, is to strengthen the unreal
and breed illusion. To bring over to the present what is past, pleasurable or painful is to prevent the
real. Reality has no continuity. It is from moment to moment, timeless and measureless.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 119 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 35
37 ’A POLITICIAN WHO WANTED TO DO GOOD’
IT HAD RAINED during the night, and the perfumed earth was still damp. The path led away from
the river among ancient trees and mango groves. It was a path of pilgrimage trodden by thousands,
for it had been the tradition for over twenty centuries that all good pilgrims must tread that path. But
it was not the right time of the year for pilgrims, and on this particular morning only the villagers
were walking there. In their gaily-coloured clothes, with the sun behind them and with loads of
hay, vegetables and firewood on their heads, they were a beautiful sight; they walked with grace
and dignity, laughing and talking over village affairs. On both sides of the path, stretching as far
as the eye could see, there were green, cultivated fields of winter wheat, with wide patches of
peas and other vegetables for the market. It was a lovely morning, with clear blue skies, and there
was a blessing on the land. The earth was a living thing, bountiful rich and sacred. It was not the
sacredness of man-made things, of temples, priests and books; it was the beauty of complete peace
and complete silence. One was bathed in it; the trees, the grass, and the big bull, were part of it; the
children playing in the dust were aware of it, though they knew it not. It was not a passing thing; it
was there without a beginning without an ending.
He was a politician and he wanted to do good. He felt himself to be unlike other politicians, he said,
for he really was concerned with the welfare of the people, with their needs, their health, and their
growth. Of course he was ambitious, but who was not? Ambition helped him to be more active,
and without it he would be lazy, incapable of doing much good to others. He wanted to become a
member of the cabinet, and was well on his way to it, and when he got there he would see that his
ideas were carried out. He had travelled the world over, visiting various countries and studying the
schemes of different governments, and after careful thought he had been able to work out a plan
that would really benefit his country.
”But now I don’t know if I can put it through,” he said with evident pain. ”You see, I have not been
120CHAPTER 35. 37 ’A POLITICIAN WHO WANTED TO DO GOOD’
at all well lately. The doctors say that I must take it easy, and I may have to undergo a very serious
operation; but I cannot bring myself to accept this situation.”
If one may ask, what is preventing you from taking it easy?
”I refuse to accept the prospect of being an invalid for the rest of my life and not being able to do what
I want to do. I know, verbally at least, that I cannot keep up indefinitely the pace I have been used
to, but if I am laid up my plan may never go through. Naturally there are other ambitious people, and
it is a matter of dog eat dog. I was at several of your meetings, so I thought I would come and talk
things over with you.”
Is your problem, sir, that of frustration? There is a possibility of long illness, with a decline of
usefulness and popularity, and you find that you cannot accept this, because life would be utterly
barren without the fulfillment of your schemes; is that it?
”As I said, I am as ambitious as the next man, but I also want to do good. On the other hand, I am
really quite ill, and I simply can’t accept this illness, so there is a bitter conflict going on within me,
which I am quite aware is making me still more ill. There is another fear too, not for my family, who
are all well provided for, but the fear of something that I have never been able to put into words, even
to myself.”
You mean the fear of death?
”Yes, I think that is it; or rather, of coming to an end without fulfilling what I have set out to do.
probably this is my greatest fear, and I do not know how to assuage it.”
Will this illness totally prevent your political activities?
”You know what it is like. Unless I am in the centre of things, I shall be forgotten and my schemes
will have no chance. It will virtually mean a withdrawal from politics, and I am loath to do that.”
So, you can either voluntarily and easily accept the fact that you must withdraw, or equally happily
go on doing your political work, knowing the serious nature of your illness. Either way, disease may
thwart your ambitions. Life is very strange is it not? If I may suggest, why not accept the inevitable
without bitterness? If there is cynicism or bitterness, your mind will make the illness worse.
”I am fully aware of all this, and yet I cannot accept – least of all happily, as you suggest – my physical
condition. I could perhaps carry on with a bit of my political work, but that is not enough.”
Do you think that the fulfilment of your ambition to do good is the only way of life for you, and that only
through you and your schemes will your country be saved? You are the centre of all this supposedly
good work, are you not? You are really not deeply concerned with the good of the people, but with
good as manifested through you. You are important, and not the good of the people. You have
so identified yourself with your schemes and with the so-called good of the people, that you take
your own fulfilment to be their happiness. Your schemes may be excellent, and they may, by some
happy chance, bring good to the people; but you want your name to be identified with that good.
Life is strange; disease has come upon you, and you are thwarted in furthering your name and
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your importance. This is what is causing conflict in you, and not anxiety lest the people should
not be helped. If you loved the people and did not indulge in mere lip service, it would have its
own spontaneous effect which would be of significant help; but you do not love the people they are
merely the tools of your ambition and your vanity. Doing good is on the way to your own glory. I
hope you don’t mind my saying all this?
”I am really happy that you have expressed so openly the things that are deeply concealed in my
heart, and it has done me good. I have somehow felt all this, but have never allowed my self to face
it directly. It is a great relief to hear it so plainly stated, and I hope I shall now understand and calm
my conflict. I shall see how things turn out, but already I feel a little more detached from my anxieties
and hopes. But sir, what of death?”
This problem is more complex and it demands deep insight, does it not? You can rationalize death
away, saying that all things die, that the fresh green leaf of spring is blown away in the autumn, and
so on. You can reason and find explanations for death, or try to conquer by will the fear of death, or
find a belief as a substitute for that fear; but all this is still the action of the mind. And the so-called
intuition concerning the truth of reincarnation, or life after death, may be merely a wish for survival.
All these reasonings, intuitions, explanations, are within the field of the mind, are they not? They
are all activities of thought to overcome the fear of death; but the fear of death is not to be so tamely
conquered. The individual’s desire to survive through the nation, through the family, through name
and idea, or through beliefs, is still the craving for his own continuity is it not? It is this craving, with its
complex resistances and hopes, that must voluntarily, effortlessly and happily come to an end. One
must die each day to all one’s memories, experiences, knowledge and hopes; the accumulations of
pleasure and repentance the gathering of virtue, must cease from moment to moment. These are
not just words, but the statement of an actuality. What continues can never know the bliss of the
unknown. Not to gather, but to die each day, each minute, is timeless being. As long as there is the
urge to fulfil, with its conflicts, there will always be the fear of death.
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38 ’THE COMPETITIVE WAY OF LIFE’
THE MONKEYS WERE on the road, and in the middle of the road a baby monkey was playing with
its tail, but the mother was keeping an eye on it. They were all well aware that someone was there,
at a safe distance. The adult males were large, heavy and rather vicious, and most of the other
monkeys avoided them. They were all eating some kind of berries that had fallen on the road from
a large, shady tree with thick leaves. The recent rains had filled the river, and the stream under the
narrow bridge was gurgling. The monkeys avoided the water and the puddles on the road, and when
a car appeared splattering mud as it came, they were off the road in a second, the mother taking
the baby with her. Some climbed the tree and others went down the bank on each side of the road,
but they were back on it as soon as the car had sped by. They had now got quite used to the human
presence. They were as restless as the human mind, and up to all kinds of tricks.
The rice fields on either side of the road were a luscious, sparkling green in the warm sun, and
against the blue hills beyond the fields the ricebirds were white and slow-winged. A long, brownish
snake had crawled out of the water and was resting in the sun. A brilliantly blue kingfisher had
alighted on the bridge and was readying itself for another dive. It was a lovely morning, not too
hot, and the solitary palms scattered over the fields told of many things. Between the green fields
and the blue hills there was communion, a song. Time seemed to pass so quickly. In the blue sky
the kites were wheeling; occasionally they would alight on a branch to preen themselves, and then
off they would go again, calling and circling. There were also several eagles, with white necks and
golden-brown wings and bodies. Among the newly-sprouted grass there were large red ants; they
would race jerkily forward, suddenly stop, and then go off in the opposite direction. Life was so rich,
so abundant – and unnoticed, which was perhaps what all these living things, big and little, wanted.
A young ox with bells around its neck was drawing a light cart which was delicately made, its two
large wheels connected by a thin steel bar on which a wooden platform was mounted. On this
123CHAPTER 36. 38 ’THE COMPETITIVE WAY OF LIFE’
platform a man was sitting, proud of the fast-trotting ox and the turnout. The ox, sturdy and yet
slender, gave him importance; everyone would look at him now, as the passing villagers did. They
stopped, looked with admiring eyes, made comments, and passed on. How proud and erect the man
sat, looking straight ahead! Pride, whether in little things or in great achievements, is essentially the
same. What one does and what one has gives one importance and prestige; but man in himself as
a total being seems to have hardly any significance at all. He came with two of his friends. Each of
them had a good college degree, and they were doing well, they said, in their various professions.
They were all married and had children, and they seemed pleased with life, yet they were disturbed
too.
”If I may,” he said, ”I would like to ask a question to set the ball rolling. It is not an idle question, and
it has somewhat disturbed me since hearing you a few evenings ago. Among other things you said
that competition and ambition were destructive urges which man must understand and so be free
of, if he is to live in a peaceful society. But are not struggle and conflict part of the very nature of
existence?”
Society as at present constituted is based on ambition and conflict, and almost everyone accepts
this fact as inevitable. The individual is conditioned to its inevitability; through education, through
various forms of outward and inward compulsion, he is made to be competitive. If he is to fit into this
society at all, he must accept the conditions it lays down, otherwise he has a pretty bad time. We
seem to think that we have to fit into this society; but why should one?
”If we don’t, we will just go under.”
I wonder if that would happen if we saw the whole significance of the problem? We might not live
according to the usual pattern, but we would live creatively and happily, with a wholly different out
look. Such a state cannot be brought about if we accept the present social pattern as inevitable.
But to get back to your point: do ambition, competition and conflict constitute a predestined and
inevitable way of life? You evidently assume that they do. Now let us begin from there. Why do you
take this competitive way of life to be the only process of existence?
”I am competitive, ambitious, like all those around me. It is a fact which often gives me pleasure, and
sometimes pain, but I just accept it without struggle, because I don’t know any other way of living;
and even if I did, I suppose I would be afraid to try it.I have many responsibilities, and I would be
gravely concerned about the future of my children if I broke away from the usual thoughts and habits
of life.”
You may be responsible for others, sir, but have you not also the responsibility to bring about
a peaceful world? There can be no peace, no enduring happiness for man as long as we
– the individual, the group and the nation – accept this competitive existence as inevitable.
Competitiveness, ambition, implies conflict within and without, does it not? An ambitious man is not
a peaceful man, though he may talk of peace and brotherhood. The politician can never bring peace
to the world, nor can those who belong to any organized belief, for they all have been conditioned
to a world of leaders, saviours, guides and examples; and when you follow another you are seeking
the fulfilment of your own ambition, whether in this world or in the world of ideation, the so-called
spiritual world. Competitiveness, ambition implies conflict, does it not?
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”I see that, but what is one to do? Being caught in this net of competition, how is one to get out of
it? And even if one does get out of it, what assurance is there that there will be peace between man
and man? Unless all of us see the truth of the matter at the same time, the perception of that truth
by one or two will have no value whatever.”
You want to know how to get out of this net of conflict, fulfilment, frustration. The very question
‘how?’ implies that you want to be assured that your endeavour will not be in vain. You still want
to succeed, only at a different level. You do not see that all ambition, all desire for success in any
direction, creates conflict both within and without. The ‘how?’ is the way of ambition and conflict,
and that very question prevents you from seeing the truth of the problem. The ‘how?’ is the ladder
to further success. But we are not now thinking in terms of success or failure, rather in terms of the
elimination of conflict; and does it follow that without conflict, stagnation is inevitable? Surely, peace
comes into being, not through safeguards, sanctions and guarantees, but it is there when you are
not – you who are the agent of conflict with your ambitions and frustrations.
Your other point, sir, that all must see the truth of this problem at the same time, is an obvious
impossibility. But it is possible for you to see it; and when you do, that truth which you have seen
and which brings freedom, will affect others. It must begin with you, for you are the world, as the
other is.
Ambition breeds mediocrity of mind and heart; ambition is superficial, for it is everlastingly seeking a
result. The man who wants to be a saint, or a successful politician, or a big executive, is concerned
with personal achievement. Whether identified with an idea, a nation, or a system, religious or
economic, the urge to be successful strengthens the ego, the self, whose very structure is brittle,
superficial and limited. All this is fairly obvious if one looks into it, is it not?
”It may be obvious to you, sir, but to most of us conflict gives a sense of existence, the feeling that
we are alive. Without ambition and competition, our lives would be drab and useless.”
Since you are maintaining this competitive way of life, your children and your children’s children
will bread further antagonism, envy and war; neither you nor they will have peace. Having been
conditioned to this traditional pattern of existence, you are in turn educating your children to accept
it; so the world goes on in this sorrowful way.
”We want to change, but…” He was aware of his own futility and stopped talking.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 125 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 37
39 ’MEDITATION–EFFORT–CONSCIOUSNESS’
THE SEA WAS beyond the mountains to the east of the valley, and through the centre of the valley
a river made its way leisurely to the sea. The river flowed full all the year round, and it was beautiful
even where it passed by the town, which was quite large. The townspeople used the river for
everything – for fishing for bathing, for drinking water, for sewage disposal, and the wastes of a
factory went into it. But the river threw off all the filth of man, and its waters were once again clear
and blue soon after it had passed his habitations.
A wide road went along the river to the west, leading up to tea plantations in the mountains; it
curved in and out, some- times losing the river, but most of the time in sight of it. As the road
climbed, following the river, the plantations became bigger, and here and there were factories to
dry and process the tea. Soon the estates became vast, and the river was noisy with water falls.In
the morning one would see brightly-dressed women, their bodies bent, their skin turned dark by the
blazing sun, picking the delicate leaves of the tea bushes. It all had to be picked before a certain
time in the morning and carried to the nearest factory before the sun became too hot. At that altitude
the sun was strong and painfully penetrating, and though they were used to it, some of the women
had their heads covered with part of the cloth they wore. They were gay, fast and skilful in their work,
and soon that particular task would be over for the day; but most of them were wives and mothers,
and they would still have to cook and look after the children. They had a union, and the planters
treated them decently, for it would be disastrous to have a strike and allow the tender leaves to grow
to their normal size.
The road continued up and up, and the air became quite cold. At eight thousand feet there were no
more tea plantations, but men were working the soil and cultivating many things to be sent down to
the towns along the sea. From that altitude the view over the forests and plains was magnificent,
with the river, silver now, dominating everything. Going back another way, the road wound through
126CHAPTER 37. 39 ’MEDITATION–EFFORT–CONSCIOUSNESS’
green, sparkling rice fields and deep woods. There were many palms and mangoes, and flowers
were everywhere. The people were cheerful, and along the roadside they were setting out many
things, from trinkets to luscious fruit. They were lazy and easygoing, and seemed to have enough
to eat, unlike those in the lowland, where life was hard, meagre and crowded.
He was a sannyasi, a monk, but not of any particular order, and he spoke of himself as of a third
person. While still young he had renounced the world and its ways and had wandered all over the
country, staying with some of the well known religious teachers, talking with them and following their
peculiar disciplines and rituals. He had fasted for many a day, lived in solitude among the mountains,
and done most of the things that sannyasis are supposed to do. He had damaged himself physically
through excessive ascetic practices, and although that was long ago, his body still suffered from
it. Then one day he had decided to abandon all these practices, rituals and disciplines as being
vain and without much significance, and had gone off into some faraway mountain village, where he
had spent many years in deep contemplation. The usual thing had happened, he said with a smile,
and he in his turn had become well known and had had a large following of disciples to whom he
taught simple things. He had read the ancient Sanskrit literature, and now that too he had put away.
Although it was necessary to describe briefly what his life had been, he added, that was not the
thing for which he had come.
”Above all virtue, sacrifice, and the action of dispassionate help, is meditation,” he stated. ”Without
meditation, knowledge and action become a wearisome burden with very little meaning; but few
know what meditation is. If you are willing, we must talk this over. In meditation it has been the
experience of the speaker to reach different states of consciousness; he has had the experiences
that all aspiring human beings sooner or later go through, the visions embodying Krishna, Christ,
Buddha. They are the outcome of one’s own thought and education, and of what maybe called
one’s culture. There are visions, experiences and powers of many different varieties. Unfortunately,
most seekers are caught in the net of their own thought and desire, even some of the greatest
exponents of truth. Having the power of healing and the gift of words, they become prisoners to their
own capacities and experiences. The speaker himself has passed through these experiences and
dangers, and to the best of his ability has understood and gone beyond them – at least, let us hope
so. What then is meditation?”
Surely, in considering meditation, effort and the maker of effort must be understood. Good effort
leads to one thing, and bad to another, but both are binding, are they not?
”It is said that you have not read the Upanishads or any of the sacred literature, but you sound like
one who has read and knows.”
It is true that I have read none of those things, but that is not important. Good effort and wrong
effort are both binding, and it is this bondage that must be understood and broken. Meditation is the
breaking of all bondage; it is a state of freedom, but not from anything. Freedom from something is
only the cultivation of resistance. To be conscious of being free is not freedom. Consciousness is
the experiencing of freedom or of bondage, and that consciousness is the experiencer, the maker
of effort. Meditation is the breaking down of the experiencer, which cannot be done consciously. If
the experiencer is broken down consciously, then there is a strengthening of the will, which is also a
part of consciousness. Our problem, then, is concerned with the whole process of consciousness,
and not with one part of it, small or great, dominant or subservient.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 127 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 37. 39 ’MEDITATION–EFFORT–CONSCIOUSNESS’
”What you say seems to be true. The ways of consciousness are profound, deceptive and
contradictory. It is only through dispassionate observation and careful study that this tangle can
be unravelled and order can prevail.”
But, sir, the unraveller is still there; one may call him the higher self, the atman, and so on, but
he is still part of consciousness, the maker of effort who is everlastingly trying to get somewhere.
Effort is desire. One desire can be overcome by a greater desire, and that desire by still another,
and so on endlessly. Desire breeds deception, illusion, contradiction, and the visions of hope. The
all-conquering desire for the ultimate, or the will to reach that which is nameless, is still the way
of consciousness, of the experiencer of good and bad, the experiencer who is waiting, watching,
hoping. Consciousness is not of one particular level, it is the totality of our being.
”What has been heard so far is excellent and true; but if one may inquire, what is it that will bring
peace, stillness to this consciousness?”
Nothing. Surely, the mind is ever seeking a result, a way to some achievement. Mind is an instrument
that has been put to- gather, it is the fabric of time, and it can only think in terms of result, of
achievement, of something to be gained or avoided.
”That is so. It is being stated that as long as the mind is active, choosing, seeking, experiencing,
there must be the maker of effort who creates his own image, calling it by different names, and this
is the net in which thought is caught.”
Thought itself is the maker of the net; thought is the net. Thought is binding; thought can only lead
to the vast expanse of time, the field in which knowledge action virtue, have importance. However
refined or simplified, thinking cannot breakdown all thought. Consciousness as the experiencer, the
observer, the chooser, the censor, the will, must come to an end, voluntarily and happily, without any
hope of reward. The seeker ceases. This is meditation. Silence of the mind cannot be brought about
through the action of will. There is silence when will ceases. This is meditation. Reality cannot be
sought; it is when the seeker is not. Mind is time, and thought cannot uncover the measureless.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 128 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 38
40 ’PSYCHOANALYSIS AND THE HUMAN PROBLEM’
THE BIRDS AND the goats were all somewhere else, and it was strangely quiet and far away under
the wide-spreading tree which stood alone in an expanse of fields, well-cultivated and richly green.
The hills were at some distance, harsh and uninviting in the midday sun, but under the tree it was
dark, cool and pleasant. This tree, huge and impressive, had gathered great strength and symmetry
in its solitude. It was a vital thing, alone, and yet it seemed to dominate all its surroundings, even the
distant hills. The villagers worshipped it; against its vast trunk there was a carved stone on which
someone had placed bright yellow flowers. In the evening no one came to the tree; its solitude was
too overpowering, and it was better to worship it during the day when there were rich shadows,
chattering birds, and the sound of human voices.
But at this hour all the villagers were around their huts, and under the tree it was very peaceful. The
sun never penetrated to the base of the tree, and the flowers would last till the next day, when new
offerings would be made. A narrow path led to the tree, and then continued on through the green
fields. The goats were carefully herded along this path until they were near the hills, and then they
ran wild, eating everything within reach. The full glory of the tree was towards evening. As the sun
set behind the hills, the fields became more intensely green, and only the top of the tree caught the
last rays, golden and transparent. With the coming of darkness the tree appeared to withdraw from
all its surroundings and close upon itself for the night; its mystery seemed to grow, entering into the
mystery of all things.
A psychologist and an analyst, he had been in practice for a number of years and had many cures
to his credit. He worked in a hospital as well as in his private office. His many prosperous patients
had made him prosperous too, with expensive cars, a country house, and all the rest of it. He took
his work seriously, it was not just a money making affair, and he used different methods of analysis
depending upon the patient. He had studied mesmerism, and tentatively practiced hypnosis on
some of his patients.
129CHAPTER 38. 40 ’PSYCHOANALYSIS AND THE HUMAN PROBLEM’
”It is a very curious thing,” he said, ”how, during the hypnotic state, people will freely and easily speak
of their hidden compulsions and responses, and every time a patient is put under hypnosis I feel the
strangeness of it. I have myself been scrupulously honest, but I am fully aware of the grave dangers
of hypnotism, especially in the hands of unscrupulous people, medical or otherwise. Hypnosis may
or may not be a short cut, and I don’t feel it is justified except in certain stubborn cases. It takes a
long period to cure a patient, generally several months, and it is a pretty tiring business.
”Some time ago,” he went on, ”a patient whom I had been treating for a number of months came
to see me. By no means a stupid woman, she was well read and had wide interests; and with
considerable excitement and a smile which I had not seen for a long time, she told me that she had
been persuaded by a friend to attend some of your talks. It appeared that during the talks she felt
herself being released from her depressions, which were rather serious. She said that the first talk
had quite bewildered her. The thoughts and the words were new to her and seemed contradictory,
and she did not want to attend the second talk; but her friend explained that this often happened,
and that she should listen to several talks before making up her mind. She finally went to all of
them, and as I say, she felt a sense of release. What you said seemed to touch certain points in
her consciousness, and without making any effort to be free from her frustrations and depressions,
she found that they were gone; they had simply ceased to exist. This was some months ago. I saw
her again the other day, and those depressions have certainly cleared up; she is normal and happy,
especially in her relationship with her family, and things seem to be all right.
”This is all just preliminary,” he continued. ”You see, thanks to this patient, I have read some of your
teachings, and what I really want to talk over with you is this: is there a way or a method by which we
can quickly get at the root of all this human misery? Our present techniques take time and require a
considerable amount of patient investigation.”
Sir, if one may ask, what is it that you are trying to do with your patients?
”Stated simply, without psychanalytical jargon, we try to help them to overcome their difficulties,
depressions, and so on, in order that they may fit into society.”
Do you think it is very important to help people to fit into this corrupt society?
”It may be corrupt, but the reformation of society is not our business. Our business is to help the
patient to adjust himself to his surroundings and be a more happy and useful citizen. We are dealing
with abnormal cases and are not trying to create super-normal people. I don’t think that is our
function.”
Do you think you can separate yourself from your function? If I may ask, is it not also your function
to bring about a totally new order, a world in which there will be no wars, no antagonism, no urge
to compete, and so on? Do not all these urges and compulsions bring about a social environment
which develops abnormal people? If one is only concerned with helping the individual to conform to
the existing social pattern, here or elsewhere, is one not maintaining the very causes that make for
frustration misery and destruction?
”There is certainly something in what you say but as analysts I don’t think we are prepared to go so
deeply into the whole causation of human misery.”
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Then it seems, sir, that you are concerned, not with the total development of man, but only with
one particular part of his total consciousness. Healing a certain part may be necessary, but without
understanding the total process of man, we may cause other forms of disease. Surely, this is not a
matter for argumentation or speculation; it is an obvious fact that must be taken into consideration,
not merely by specialists, but by each one of us.
”You are leading into very deep issues to which I am not accustomed, and I find myself beyond my
depth. I have thought only vaguely about these things, and about what we are actually trying to
accomplish with our patients apart from the usual procedure. You see, most of us have neither the
inclination nor the necessary time to study all this; but I suppose we really ought to if we want to
free ourselves and help our patients to be free from the confusion and misery of the present western
civilization.”
The confusion and misery are not only in the West, for human beings the world over are in the
same plight. The problem of the individual is also the world’s problem, they are not two separate
and distinct processes. We are concerned, surely, with the human problem, whether the human
being is in the Orient or in the Occident, which is an arbitrary geographical division. The whole
consciousness of man is concerned with God, with death, with right and happy livelihood with
children and their education, with war and peace. Without understanding all this, there can be
no healing of man.
”You are right, sir, but I think very few of us are capable of such wide and deep investigation. Most of
us are educated wrongly. We become specialists, technicians, which has its uses, but unfortunately
that is the end of us. Whether his specialty is the heart or the complex, each specialist builds his
own little heaven, as the priest does, and though he may occasionally read something on the side,
there he remains till he dies. You are right, but there it is.
”Now, sir, I would like to return to my question: is there a method or technique by which we can
go directly to the root of our miseries, especially those of the patient and thereby eradicate them
quickly?”
Again, if one may ask, why are you always thinking in terms of methods and techniques? Can a
method or technique set man free, or will it merely shape him to a desired end? And the desired
end, being the opposite of man’s anxieties, fears, frustrations, pressures, is itself the outcome of
these. The reaction of the opposite is not true action, either in the economic or the psychological
world. Apart from technique or method, there may be a factor which will really help man. ”What is
that?”
Perhaps it is love.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 131 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 39
41 ’CLEANSED OF THE PAST’
A WELL-KEPT ROAD led up to the foot of the hill, and a path continued from there. On top of
the hill were the ruins of a very ancient stronghold. Thousands of years ago it was a formidable
place, a fortress of gigantic rocks, of proud pillared halls with mosaic floors, of marble baths and
chambers. The closer one approached this citadel, the higher and thicker its walls became, and the
more vigorously it must have been defended; yet it was conquered, destroyed, and built again. The
outer walls were made of enormous blocks of rock placed one on top of the other without any mortar
to bind them. Within the walls there was an ancient well, many feet deep, with steps leading down
to it. The steps were smooth and slippery, and the sides of the well were glistening with moisture.
It was all in ruins now, but the marvellous view from the top of the hill remained. Away to the left
was the sparkling sea, bordering wide open plains with hills behind them. In the near distance there
were two smaller hills which in those far off days had also been fortresses, but nothing comparable
to this lofty citadel that looked down on these neighbouring hills and on the plains. It was a lovely
morning, with the breeze from the sea stirring the bright flowers among the ruins. These flowers
were very beautiful, their colours rich and deep and they grew in extraordinary places, on rocks, in
the crevices of broken walls, and in the courtyards. They had grown there, wild and free, for untold
centuries, and it seemed a sacrilege to tread on them, for they crowded the path; it was their world,
and we were strangers, but they did not make one feel that way.
The view from this hilltop was not breath taking, like those which are seen occasionally, and which
obliterate consciousness with grandeur and silence. Here it was not like that. Here there was
peaceful enchantment, gentle and expansive; here you could live timelessly, without a past and a
future, for you were one with this whole rapturous world. You were not a human being, a stranger
from a different land, but you were those hills, those goats, and the goatherd. You were the sky and
the blossoming earth; you were not apart from it, you were of it. But you were not conscious that
you were of it, any more than those flowers were. You were those smiling fields, the blue sea, and
132CHAPTER 39. 41 ’CLEANSED OF THE PAST’
the distant train with its passengers. You didn’t exist, you who choose, compare, act and seek; you
were with everything.
Someone said that it was late and we must be going, so we went down the path on the other side of
the hill, and then along the road leading to the sea.
We were sitting under a tree, and he was telling how, as a young and middle aged man, he had
worked in different parts of Europe throughout the two world wars. During the last one he had no
home, often went hungry, and was nearly shot for something or other by this or that conquering
army. He had spent sleepless and tortured nights in prison, for in his wanderings he had lost his
passport, and none would believe his simple statement as to where he was born and to what country
he belonged. He spoke several languages, had been an engineer, then in some sort of business,
and was now painting. He now had a passport, he said with a smile, and a place to live.
”There are many like me, people who were destroyed and have come back to life again,” he went
on. ”I don’t regret it, but somehow I have lost the intimate contact with life at least with what one
calls life. I am fed up with armies and kings, flags and politics. They have caused as much mischief
and sorrow as our official religion, which has shed more blood than any other; not even the Moslem
world can compete with us in violence and horror, and now we are all at it again. I used to be very
cynical, but that too has passed. I live alone, for my wife and child died during the war, and any
country, as long as it is warm, is good enough for me. I don’t care much one way or the other, but
I sell my paintings now and then, which keeps me going. At times it is rather difficult to make ends
meet, but something always turns up, and as my wants are very simple I am not greatly bothered
about money. I am a monk at heart, but outside the prison of a monastery. I am telling you all this,
not just to ramble on about myself, but to give you a sketch of my background, for in talking things
over with you I may get to understand something which has become very vital to me. Nothing else
interests me, not even my painting.
”One day I set out for those hills with my painting things, for I had seen something over there which
I wanted to paint. It was fairly early in the morning when I got to the place, and there were a few
clouds in the sky. From where I was I could see across the valley to the bright sea. I was enchanted
to be alone, and began to paint. I must have been painting for some time, and it was coming along
beautifully, without any strain or effort when I became aware that something was taking place inside
my head, if I can put it that way. I was so absorbed in my painting that for a while I did not notice what
was happening to me, and then suddenly I was aware of it. I could not go on with my painting, but I
sat very still.” After a moment’s pause, he continued. ”Don’t think me crazy, for I am not, but sitting
there I was aware of an extraordinarily creative energy. It wasn’t I that was creative, but something in
me, something that was also in those ants and in that restless squirrel. I don’t think I am explaining
this very well, but surely you understand what I mean. It was not the creativeness of some Tom, Dick
or Harry writing a poem, or of myself painting a silly picture; it was just creation, pure and simple,
and the things produced by the mind or by the hand were on the outer fringes of this creation, with
little significance. I seemed to be bathed in it; there was a sacredness about it, a benediction. If I
were to put it in religious words, I would say… But I won’t. Those religious words stick in my mouth,
they no longer have any meaning. It was the centre of Creation, God himself…. Again these words!
But I tell you, it was holy, not the man-made holiness of churches, incense and hymns, which is
all immature nonsense. This was something uncontaminated, unthought of, and tears were rolling
down my cheeks; I was being washed clean of all my past. The squirrel had stopped fretting about
Commentaries On Living Series 2 133 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 39. 41 ’CLEANSED OF THE PAST’
its next meal, and there was an astonishing silence – not the silence of the night when all things
sleep, but a silence in which everything was awake.
”I must have sat there, motionless, for a very long time, for the sun was in the west; I was a little stiff,
one leg had gone to sleep, and I could stand up only with difficulty. I am not exaggerating, sir, but
time seemed to have stopped – or rather, there was no time. I had no watch, but several hours must
have passed from the moment I put my brush down to the moment I got up. I was not hysterical,
nor had I been unconscious, as some might conclude; on the contrary, I was fully alert, aware of
everything that was happening around me. Picking up all my things and carefully putting them in my
knapsack, I left, and in that extraordinary state I walked back to my house. All the noises of a small
town did not in any way disturb that state, and it lasted for several hours after I got home. When I
awoke the next morning, it was completely gone. I looked at my painting; it was good, but nothing
outstanding. ”Sorry to have talked so long,” he concluded, ”but it has been bottled up in me, and I
could not have talked to anyone else. If I did, they would call in a priest, or suggest one of those
analysts. Now I am not asking for an explanation, but how does this thing come into being? What
are the circumstances necessary for it to be?”
You are asking this question because you want to experience it again, are you not?
”I suppose that is the motive behind my question, but…”
Please, let us go on from there. What is important is not that it happened, but that you should
not go after it. Greed breeds arrogance, and what is necessary is humility. You cannot cultivate
humility; if you do, it is no longer humility but another acquisition. It is important, not that you should
have another such experience, but that there should be innocence, freedom from the memory of
experience, good or bad, pleasant or painful.
”Good Lord, you are telling me to forget something which has become of total importance to me.
You are asking the impossible. I cannot forget it, nor do I want to.”
Yes, sir, that is the difficulty. please listen with patience and insight. What have you now? A dead
memory. While it was happening it was a living thing and there was no ‘me’ to experience that living
thing, no memory clinging to what had been. Your mind was then in a state of innocency, without
seeking, asking, or holding; it was free. But now you are seeking and clinging to the dead past.
Oh, yes, it is dead; your remembrance has destroyed it and is creating the conflict of duality, the
conflict between what has been and what you hope for. Conflict is death, and you are living with
darkness. This thing does happen when the self is absent; but the memory of it, the craving for
more, strengthens the self and prevents the living reality.
”Then how am I to wipe away this exciting memory?”
Again, your very question indicates the desire to recapture that state, does it not? You want to wipe
away the memory of that state in order to experience it further, so craving still remains, though you
are willing to forget what has been. Your craving for that extraordinary state is similar to that of a
man who is addicted to drink or to a drug. What is all-important is not the further experiencing of that
reality, but that this craving should be understood and should voluntarily dissolve without resistance,
without the action of will.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 134 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 39. 41 ’CLEANSED OF THE PAST’
”Do you mean that the very remembering of that state, and my intense urge to experience it again,
are preventing something of a similar or perhaps a different nature from happening? Must I do
nothing, consciously or unconsciously, to bring it about?”
If you really understand that is so.
”You are asking an almost impossible thing, but one never knows.”
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42 ’AUTHORITY AND CO-OPERATION’
SHE HAD BEEN secretary to a big business executive, she explained, and had worked with him for
many years. She must have been very efficient, for it showed in her bearing and in her words. Having
put away some money, she had given up that job a couple of years ago because she desired to help
the world. Still quite young and vigorous, she wanted to devote the rest of her years to something
worth while, so she considered the various spiritual organizations. Before going to college she
had been educated in a convent, but the things they had taught her there now seemed limited,
dogmatic and authoritarian, and naturally she could not belong to such a religious institution. After
studying several others, she had at last landed in one which seemed to be broader and have greater
significance than most, and now she was active at the very centre of that organization, helping one
of its chief workers.
”At last I have found something that gives a satisfactory explanation of the whole business of
existence,” she went on. ”Of course they have their authority in the Masters, but one doesn’t have
to believe in them. I happen to, but that is neither here nor there. I belong to the inner group, and
as you know, we practise certain forms of meditation. Very few are now told of their initiation by the
Masters, not as many as before. They are more cautious these days.”
If one may ask why are you explaining all this?
”I was present at your discussion the other afternoon when it was stated that all following is evil. I
have since attended several more of these discussions, and naturally I am disturbed by all that was
said. You see, working for the Masters does not necessarily mean following them. There is authority,
but it is we who need authority. They do not ask obedience of us, but we give it to them or to their
representatives.”
136CHAPTER 40. 42 ’AUTHORITY AND CO-OPERATION’
If, as you say, you took part in the discussions, don’t you think that what you are saying now is rather
immature? Taking shelter in the Masters or in their representatives whose authority must be based
on their own self-chosen duty and pleasure, is essentially the same as taking shelter in the authority
of the church, is it not? One may be considered narrow and the other wide, but both are obviously
binding. When one is confused one seeks guidance, but that which one finds will invariably be the
outcome of one’s own confusion. The leader is as confused as the follower who, out of his conflict
and misery, has chosen the leader. Following another, whether it be a leader, a saviour, or a Master,
does not bring about clarity and happiness. Only with the understanding of confusion and the maker
of it, is there freedom from conflict and misery. This seems fairly obvious, does it not?
”It may be to you, sir, but I still don’t understand. We need to work along the right lines, and those
who know can and do lay down certain plans for our guidance. This does not imply blind following.”
There is no enlightened following; all following is evil. Authority corrupts, whether in high places
or among the thoughtless. The thoughtless are not made thoughtful by following another, however
great and noble he may be.
”I like cooperating with my friends in working for something which has worldwide significance. To
work together, we need some kind of authority over us.”
Is it cooperation when there is the compelling influence, pleasant or unpleasant, of authority? Is it
co-operation when you are working for a plan laid down by another? Are you not then consciously
or unconsciously conforming through fear, through hope of reward, and so on? And is conformity
cooperation? When there is authority over you, benevolent or tyrannical, can there be cooperation?
Surely, cooperation comes into being only when there is the love of the thing for itself without the
fear of punishment or failure, and without the hunger for success or recognition. Cooperation is
possible only when there is freedom from envy, acquisitiveness, and from the craving for personal
or collective dominance, power.
”Aren’t you much too drastic in these matters? Nothing would ever be achieved if we were to wait
until we had freed our selves from all those inward causes which are obviously evil.”
But what are you achieving now? There must be deep earnestness and inward revolution if there
is to be a different world; there must be at least some who are not consciously or unconsciously
perpetuating conflict and misery. Personal ambition, and ambition for the collective, must drop away,
for ambition in any form prevents love.
”I am too disturbed by all that you have said, and I hope I may come back another day when I am a
little more calm.”
She came back many days later.
”After I had seen you I went away by myself to think all this over objectively and clearly and I spent
several sleepless nights. My friends warned me not to be too disturbed by what you said, but I was
disturbed, and I had to settle certain things for myself. I have been reading some of your talks more
thoughtfully, without putting up resistance, and things are becoming clear. There is no going back,
and I am not dramatizing. I have resigned from the organization, with all that it means. My friends
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are naturally upset, and they think I will come back; but I am afraid not. I have done this because I
see the truth of what has been said. We shall see what happens now.”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 138 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 41
43 ’MEDIOCRITY’
THE STORM HAD lasted for several days, with high winds and torrential rains. The earth was
soaking up the water, and the dust of many summers was being washed from the trees. In this
part of the country it hadn’t really rained for several years, but now it was making up for it, at least
everyone hoped so, and there was gladness in the noise of the rain and the running waters. It was
still raining when we all went to bed, and the patter of rain was very strong on the roof. It had a
rhythm, a dance, and there was the murmur of many streams. Then what a lovely morning it was!
The clouds were gone, and the hills all around were sparkling in the early morning sun; they had
all been washed clean, and there was a benediction in the air. Nothing was yet stirring, and only
the high hilltops were aglow. In a few minutes the noises of the day would begin; but now there
was a deep peace in the valley, though the streams were gurgling and the cock had begun to crow.
All the colours had come to life; everything was so vivid, the new grass and that enormous tree
which seemed to dominate the valley. There was new life with abundance, and now the gods would
receive their offering, gladly and freely given; now the fields would be made rich for the coming rice,
and there would be no lack of fodder for the cows and the goats, now the wells would be full and
marriages could be performed with gladness. The earth was red, and there would be rejoicing.
”I am well aware of the state of my mind,” he explained. ”I have been to college and received a
so-called education, and I have read fairly extensively. Politically I have been of the extreme left, and
I am quite familiar with their literature. The party has become like any organized religion; it is what
Catholicism was and continues to be, with the excommunications, the threats and deprivations. For
a time I worked ambitiously in politics, hoping for a better world; but I have seen through that game,
though I could have gone ahead in it. Long ago I saw that real reformation doesn’t come through
politics; politics and religion don’t mix. I know it is the thing to say that we must bring religion into
politics; but the moment we do, it is no longer religion, it becomes just nonsense. God doesn’t talk
to us in political terms but we make our own god in terms of our politics or economic conditioning.
139CHAPTER 41. 43 ’MEDIOCRITY’
”But I haven’t come to talk politics with you, and you are quite right to refuse to discuss it. I have
come to talk over something that is really eating me up. The other evening you said something about
mediocrity. I listened but couldn’t take it in, for I was too disturbed; but as you were talking, that word
‘mediocrity’ struck me very forcibly. I had never thought of myself as being mediocre. I am not using
that word in the social sense, and as you pointed out, it has nothing to do with class and economic
differences, or with birth.”
Of course. Mediocrity is entirely outside the field of arbitrary social divisions.
”I see it is. You also said, if I remember rightly, that the truly religious person is the only revolutionary,
and such a person is not mediocre. I am talking of the mediocrity of the mind, not of job or position.
Those who are in the highest and most powerful positions, and those who have marvellously
interesting occupations, may still be mediocre. I have neither an exalted position nor a particularly
interesting occupation, and I am aware of the state of my own mind. It is just mediocre. I am a
student of both western and eastern philosophy, and am interested in many other things, but in spite
of this my mind is quite ordinary; it has some capacity for coordinated thinking, but it is still mediocre
and uncreative.”
Then what is the problem sir?
”First, I am really quite ashamed of the state I am in, of my own utter stupidity, and I am saying this
without any self pity. Deep down in myself, in spite of all my learning, I find that I am not creative in
the most profound sense of that word. It must be possible to have that creativeness of which you
spoke the other day; but how is one to set about it? Is this too blunt a question?”
Can we think of this problem very simply? What is it that makes the mind-heart mediocre? One
may have encyclopedic knowledge, great capacity, and so on; but beyond all these superficial
acquisitions and gifts, what makes the mind deeply stupid? Can the mind be, at any time, other
than what it has always been?
”I am beginning to see that the mind, however clever, however capable, can also be stupid. It cannot
be made into something else, for it will always be what it is. It may be infinitely capable of reasoning,
speculation, design calculation; but however expansible, it will always remain in the same field.
I have just caught the significance of your question. You are asking whether the mind, which is
capable of such astonishing feats, can transcend itself by its own will and effort.”
That is one of the questions that arise. If, however clever and capable, the mind is still mediocre,
can it through its own volition ever go beyond itself? Mere condemnation of mediocrity, with its wide
scope of eccentricities, will in no way alter the fact. And when condemnation, with all its implications,
has ceased, is it possible to find out what it is that brings about the state of mediocrity? We now
understand the significance of that word, so let us stick to it. Is not one of the factors of mediocrity
the urge to achieve, to have a result to succeed? And when we want to become creative, we are
still dealing with the matter superficially, are we not? I am this, which I want to change into that, so
I ask how; but when creativeness is something to be striven after, a result to be achieved, the mind
has reduced it to its own condition. This is the process that we have to understand, and not attempt
to change mediocrity into something else.
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”Do you mean that any effort on the part of the mind to change what it is, merely leads to the
continuation of itself in another form, and so there is no change at all?”
That is so, is it not? The mind has brought about its present state through its own effort, through
its desires and fears, through its hopes, joys and pains; and any attempt on its part to change that
state is still in the same direction. A petty mind trying not to be, is still petty. Surely the problem is
the cessation of all effort on the part of the mind to be something, in what ever direction.
”Of course. But this does not imply negation, a state of vacuity, does it?”
If one merely hears the words without catching their significance, without experimenting and
experiencing, then conclusions have no validity.
”So creativeness is not to be striven after, It is not to be learnt, practiced, or brought about through
any action, through any form of compulsion. I see the truth of that. If I may, I shall think aloud and
slowly work this out with you. My mind, which has been ashamed of its mediocrity, is now aware
of the significance of condemnation. This condemnatory attitude is brought about by the desire to
change; but this very desire to change is the outcome of pettiness, so the mind is still what it was
and there has been no change at all. So far I have understood.”
What is the state of the mind when it is not attempting to change itself, to become something?
”It accepts what it is.”
Acceptance implies that there is an entity who accepts, does it not? And is not this acceptance also
a form of effort in order to gain, to experience further? So a conflict of duality is set going, which is
again the same problem, for it is conflict that breeds mediocrity of mind and heart. Freedom from
mediocrity is that state which comes into being when all conflict has ceased. but acceptance is
merely resignation. Or has that word ‘acceptance’ a different meaning to you?
”I can see the implications of acceptance, since you have given me an insight into its significance.
But what is the state of the mind which no longer accepts or condemns?”
Why do you ask, sir? It is a thing to be discovered, not merely to be explained.
”I am not seeking an explanation or being speculative, but is it possible for the mind to be still, without
any movement, and yet be unaware of its own stillness?”
To be aware of it breeds the conflict of duality, does it not?
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44 ’POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE TEACHING’
THE PATH WAS rough and dusty, and it led down to a small town below. A few trees remained
scattered on the hillside, but most of them had been cut down for firewood, and one had to climb to
a good height to find rich shade. Up there the trees were no longer scrubby and mauled by man;
they grew to full height, with thick branches and normal foliage. The people would cut down a branch
to allow their goats to eat the leaves, and when it was bare they would reduce it to firewood. There
was a scarcity of wood at the lower levels, and now they were going higher, climbing and destroying.
Rains were not as plentiful as they used to be; the population was increasing, and the people had to
live. There was hunger and one lived as indifferently as one died. There were no wild animals about
here, and they must have gone higher up. There were a few birds scratching among the bushes,
but even they looked worn out, with some feathers broken. A jay, white and black, was scolding
raucously, flying from limb to limb of a solitary tree.
It was getting warm, and it would be very hot by midday. There had not been enough rain for many
years. The earth was parched and cracked, the few trees were covered with brown dust, and there
was not even the morning dew. The sun was relentless, day after day, month in and month out,
and the doubtful rainy season was still far away. Some goats went up the hill, with a boy looking
after them. He was surprised to see anyone there, but he wouldn’t smile, and with a grave look he
followed the goats. It was a lonely place, and there was the silence of the coming heat.
Two women came down the path carrying firewood on their heads. One was old and the other quite
young, and the burdens they carried looked rather heavy. Each had balanced on her head, protected
by a roll of cloth, a long bundle of dried branches tied together with a green vine, and she held it
in place with one hand. Their bodies swung freely as they came down the hill with a light, running
gait. They had nothing on their feet, though the path was rough. The feet seemed to find their own
way, for the women never looked down; they held their heads very straight, their eyes bloodshot
142CHAPTER 42. 44 ’POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE TEACHING’
and distant. They were very thin, their ribs showing, and the older woman’s hair was matted and
un washed. The girl’s hair must have been combed and oiled at one time, for there were still some
clean, sparkling strands; but she too was exhausted, and there was a weariness about her. Not
long ago she must have sung and played with other children but that was all over. Now, collecting
wood among these hills was her life, and would be till she died, with a respite now and then with the
coming of a child.
Down the path we all went. The small country town was several miles away, and there they would
sell their burden for a pittance, only to begin again tomorrow. They were chatting, with long intervals
of silence. Suddenly the younger one told her mother she was hungry, and the mother replied that
they were born with hunger, lived with hunger, and died with hunger; that was their lot. It was the
statement of a fact; in her voice there was no reproach, no anger, no hope. We continued down
that stony path. There was no observer listening, pitying, and walking behind them. He was not
part of them out of love and pity; he was them; he had ceased and they were. They were not the
strangers he had met up the hill, they were of him; his were the hands that held the bundles; and
the sweat, the exhaustion the smell, the hunger, were not theirs, to be shared and sorrowed over.
Time and space had ceased. There were no thoughts in our heads, too tired to think; and if we did
think, it was to sell the wood, eat, rest, and begin again. The feet on the stony path never hurt, nor
the sun overhead. There were only two of us going down that accustomed hill, past that well where
we drank as usual, and on across the dry bed of a remembered stream.
”I have read and listened to some of your talks,” he said, ”and to me, what you say appears very
negative; there is in it no directive no positive way of life. This oriental outlook is most destructive,
and look where it has landed the Orient. Your nega- tive attitude, and especially your insistence that
there must be freedom from all thought, is very misleading to us westerners, who are active and
industrious by temperament and necessity. What you are teaching is altogether contrary to our way
of life.”
If one may point out, this division of people as of the West or of the East is geographic and arbitrary,
is it not? It has no fundamental significance. Whether we live east or west of a certain line, whether
we are brown, black, white, or yellow, we are all human beings, suffering and hoping, fearful and
believing; joy and pain exist here as they exist there. Thought is not of the West or of the East, but
man divides it according to his conditioning. Love is not geographic held as sacred on one continent
and denied on another. The division of human beings is for economic and exploiting purposes. This
does not mean that individuals are not different in temperament, and so on; there is similarity, and
yet there is difference. All this is fairly obvious and psychologically factual, is it not?
”It may be to you, but our culture, our way of life, is entirely different from that of the East. Our
scientific knowledge, slowly developing since the days of ancient Greece, is now immense. East
and West are developing along two different lines.”
Seeing the difference, we must yet be aware of the similarity. The outward expressions may and do
vary, but behind these outward forms and manifestations the urges, compulsions, longings and fears
are similar. Do not let us be deceived by words. Both here and there, man wants to have peace
and plenty, and to find something more than material happiness. Civilizations may vary according to
climate, environment, food and so on, but culture throughout the world is fundamentally the same:
to be compassionate, to shun evil, to be generous not to be envious, to forgive, and so on. Without
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this fundamental culture, any civilization, whether here or there, will disintegrate or be destroyed.
Knowledge may be acquired by the so-called backward peoples, they can very soon learn the
‘knowhow’ of the West; they too can be warmongers, generals, lawyers, policemen, tyrants, with
concentration camps and all the rest of it. But culture is an entirely different matter. The love of God
and the freedom of man are not so easily come by and without these, material welfare doesn’t mean
much.
”You are right in that, sir, but I wish you would consider what I said about your teachings being
negative. I really would like to understand them, and don’t think me rude if I appear somewhat direct
in my statements.”
What is negative and what is positive? Most of us are used to being told what to do. The giving
and following of directions is considered to be positive teaching. To be led appears to be positive,
constructive, and to those who are conditioned to follow, the truth that following is evil seems
negative, destructive. Truth is the negation of the false, not the opposite of the false. Truth is entirely
different from the positive and the negative, and a mind which thinks in terms of the opposites can
never be aware of it.
”I am afraid I do not fully understand all this. Would you please explain a little more?”
You see, sir, we are used to authority and guidance. The urge to be guided springs from the desire
to be secure, to be protected, and also from the desire to be successful. This is one of our deeper
urges, is it not?
”I think it is, but without protection and security, man would…”
Please let us go into the matter and not jump to conclusions. In our urge to be secure, not only
as individuals, but as groups, nations and races, have we not built a world in which war, within and
outside of a particular society, has become the major concern?
”I know; my son was killed in a war across the seas.”
Peace is a state of mind; it is the freedom from all desire to be secure. The mind-heart that seeks
security must always be in the shadow of fear. Our desire is not only for material security, but much
more for inner, psychological security, and it is this desire to be inwardly secure through virtue,
through belief, through a nation, that creates limiting and so conflicting groups and ideas. This
desire to be secure, to reach a coveted end, breeds the acceptance of direction, the following of
example, the worship of success the authority of leaders saviours, Masters, gurus, all of which is
called positive teaching; but it is really thoughtlessness and imitation.
”I see that; but is it not possible to direct or be directed without making oneself or another into an
authority, a saviour?”
We are trying to understand the urge to be directed, are we not?
What is this urge? Is it not the outcome of fear? Being insecure, seeing impermanency about one,
there is the urge to find something secure, permanent; but this urge is the impulse of fear. Instead
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of understanding what fear is, we run away from it, and the very running away is fear. One takes
flight into the known, the known being beliefs, rituals, patriotism, the comforting formulas of religious
teachers the reassurances of priests, and so on. These in turn bring conflict between man and man,
so the problem is kept going from one generation to another. If one would solve the problem, one
must explore and understand the root of it. This so-called positive teaching, the what-to-think of
religions, including Communism, gives continuity to fear; so positive teaching is destructive.
”I think I am beginning to see what your approach is, and I hope my perception is correct.”
It is not a personal, opinionated approach; there is no personal approach to truth, any more than
there is to the discovery of scientific facts. The idea that there are separate paths to truth, that truth
has different aspects, is unreal; it is the speculative thought of the intolerant trying to be tolerant.
”One has to be very careful, I see, in the use of words. But I would like, if I may, to go back to a point
which I raised earlier. Since most of us have been educated to think – or have been taught what to
think, as you put it – , will it not bring us only more confusion when you keep on saying in different
ways that all thought is conditioned and that one must go beyond all thought?”
To most of us, thinking is extraordinarily important; but is it? It has a certain importance, but thought
cannot find that which is not the product of thought. Thought is the result of the known, therefore it
cannot fathom the unknown, the unknowable. Is not thought desire, desire for material necessities,
or for the highest spiritual goal? We are talking, not about the thought of a scientist at work in the
laboratory, or the thought of an absorbed mathematician, and so on, but about thought as it operates
in our daily life, in our everyday contacts and responses. To survive, we are forced to think. Thinking
is a process of survival, whether of the individual or of a nation. Thinking, which is desire in both
its lowest and its highest form, must ever be self-enclosing, conditioning. Whether we think of the
universe, of our neighbour, of ourselves, or of God, all our thinking is limited, conditioned, it not?
”In the sense you are using that word ‘thinking’, I suppose it is. But does not knowledge help to
break down this conditioning.”
Does it? We have accumulated knowledge about so many aspects of life – medicine, war, law,
science – and there is at least some knowledge of ourselves, of our own consciousness. With all this
vast store of information, are we free from sorrow, war, hate? Will more knowledge free us? One may
know that war is inevitable as long as the individual, the group, or the nation is ambitious, seeking
power, yet one continues in the ways that lead to war. Can the centre which breeds antagonism,
hate, be radically transformed through knowledge? Love is not the opposite of hate; if through
knowledge hate is changed to love, then it is not love. This change brought about by thought, by
will, is not love, but merely another self-protective convenience.
”I don’t follow this at all, if I may say so.”
Thought is the response of what has been, the response of memory, is it not? Memory is tradition,
experience, and its reaction to any new experience is the outcome of the past; so experience is
always strengthening the past. The mind is the result of the past, of time; thought is the product
of many yesterdays. When thought seeks to change itself, trying to be or not to be this or that, it
merely perpetuates itself under a different name. Being the product of the known, thought can never
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experience the unknown; being the result of time, it can never understand the timeless, the eternal.
Thought must cease for the real to be. You see, sir, we are so afraid to lose what we think we
have, that we never go into these things very deeply. We look at the surface of ourselves and repeat
words and phrases that have very little significance; so we remain petty, and breed antagonism as
thoughtlessly as we breed children.
”As you said, we are thoughtless in our seeming thoughtfulness. I shall come again if I may.”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 146 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 43
45 ’HELP’
THE STREETS WERE crowded and the shops were full of things. It was the wealthy part of the
town, but in the streets were people of every kind, rich and poor, labourers and office workers. There
were men and women from all parts of the world, a few in their native costumes, but most of them
dressed in western clothes. There were many cars, new and old, and on that spring morning the
expensive ones sparkled with chrome and polish, and the people’s faces were bright and smiling.
The shops too were full of people, and very few seemed to be aware of the blue sky. The shop
windows attracted them, the dresses, the shoes, the new cars, and the displays of food. Pigeons
were everywhere, moving in and out among the many feet and between the endless cars. There
was a book shop with all the latest books by innumerable authors. The people seemed to have
never a care in the world; the war was far away, on another part of the globe. Money, food and work
were plentiful, and there was a vast getting and spending. The streets were like canyons between
the tall buildings, and there were no trees. It was noisy; there was the strange restlessness of a
people who had everything and yet nothing.
A huge church stood amidst fashionable shops, and opposite it was an equally big bank; both were
imposing and apparently necessary. In the vast church a priest in surplice and stole was preaching
about the One who suffered for the sake of man. The people knelt in prayer; there were candles,
idols and incense. The priest intoned and the congregation responded; at last they rose and went
out into the sunlit streets and into the shops with their array of things. Now it was silent in the church;
only a few remained, lost in their own thoughts. The decorations, the richly coloured windows, the
pulpit, the altar and the candles – everything was there to quiet man’s mind.
Is God to be found in churches, or in our hearts? The urge to be comforted breeds illusion; it is this
urge which creates churches, temples and mosques. We get lost in them, or in the illusion of an
omnipotent State, and the real thing goes by. The unimportant becomes all-consuming. Truth, or
147CHAPTER 43. 45 ’HELP’
what you will, cannot be found by the mind; thought cannot go after it; there is no path to it; it cannot
be bought through worship, prayer or sacrifice. If we want comfort, consolation, we shall have it in
one way or another; but with it come further pain and misery. The desire for comfort, for security, has
the power to create every form of illusion. It is only when the mind is still that there is a possibility of
the coming into being of the real.
There were several of us, and B. began by asking whether it is not necessary to have help if we are
to understand this whole messy problem of life. Should there not be a guide, an illumined being who
can show us the true path?
”Have we not sufficiently gone into all that during these many years?” asked S. ”I for one am not
seeking a guru or a teacher.”
”If you are really not seeking help, then why are you here?” insisted B. ”Do you mean to say that you
have put away all desire for guidance?”
”No, I don’t think I have, and I would like to explore this urge to seek guidance or help. I do not now
go window-shopping, as it were, running to the various teachers, ancient and modem, as I once did;
but I do need help, and I would like to know why. And will there ever be a time when I shall no longer
need help?”
”Personally I would not be here if there were no help available from anyone,” said M. ”I have been
helped on previous occasions and that is why I am here now. Even though you have pointed out
the evils of following, sir, I have been helped by you, and I shall continue to come to your talks and
discussions often as I can.” Are we seeking evidence of whether we are being helped or not? A
doctor, the smile of a child or of a passer-by, a relationship, a leaf blown by the wind, a change of
climate, even a teacher, a guru – all these things can help. There is help everywhere for a man who
is alert; but many of us are asleep to everything about us except to a particular teacher or book,
and that is our problem. You pay attention when I say something, do you not? But when someone
else says the same thing, perhaps in different words, you become deaf. You listen to one whom you
consider to be the authority, and are not alert when others speak.
”But I have found that what you say generally has significance,” replied M. ”So I listen to you
attentively. When another says something it is often a mere platitude, a dull response – or perhaps I
myself am dull. The point is, it helps me to listen to you, so why shouldn’t I? Even if everyone insists
that I am merely following you, I shall still come as often as I can manage it.”
Why are we open to help from one particular direction, and closed to every other direction?
Consciously or unconsciously you may give me your love, your compassion, you may help me to
understand my problems; but why do I insist that you are the only source of help, the only saviour?
Why do I build you up as my authority? I listen to you, I am attentive to everything you say, but I am
indifferent or deaf to the statement of another. Why? Is this not the issue?
”You are not saying that we should not seek help,” said I. ”But you are asking us why we give
importance to the one who helps, making of him our authority. Isn’t that it?”
I am also asking why you seek help. When one seeks help, what is the urge behind it? When
one consciously, deliberately sets about seeking help, that one wants, or an escape, a consolation?
What is it that we are seeking?
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”There are many kinds of help,” said B. ”From the domestic servant to the most eminent surgeon,
from the high school teacher to the greatest scientist, they all give some kind of help. In any
civilization help is necessary, not only the ordinary kind, but also the guidance of a spiritual teacher
who has attained enlightenment and helps to bring order and peace to man.”
Please let us put aside generalities and consider what guidance or help means to each one of us.
Does it not mean the resolving of individual difficulties, pains, sorrows? If you are a spiritual teacher,
or a doctor, I come to you in order to be shown a happy way of life, or to be cured of some disease.
We seek a way of life from the enlightened man, and knowledge or information from the learned.
We want to achieve, we want to be successful, we want to be happy so we look for a pattern of life
which will help us to attain what we desire, sacred or profane. After trying many other things, we
think of truth as the supreme goal, the ultimate peace and happiness, and we want to attain it; so
we are on the lookout to find what we desire. But can desire ever make its way to reality? Does
not desire for something, however noble, breed illusion? And as desire acts, does it not set up the
structure of authority, imitation and fear? This is the actual psychological process, is it not? And is
this help, or self-deception?
”I am having the greatest difficulty not to be persuaded by what you say!” exclaimed B. ”I see the
reason, the significance of it. But I know you have helped me, and am I to deny that?”
If someone has helped you and you make of him your authority, then are you not preventing all further
help, not only from him, but from everything about you? Does not help lie about you everywhere?
Why look in only one direction? And when you are so enclosed so bound, can any help reach you?
But when you are open, there is unending help in all things, from the song of a bird to the call of a
human being, from the blade of grass to the immensity of the heavens. The poison and corruption
begin when you look to one person as your authority, your guide, your saviour. This is so, is it not?
”I think I understand what you are saying,” said I. ”But my difficulty is this. I have been a follower,
a seeker of guidance for many years. When you point out the deeper significance of following,
intellectually I agree with you, but there is a part of me that rebels. Now, how can I integrate this
inward contradiction so that I shall no longer follow?” Two opposing desires or impulses cannot
be integrated and when you introduce a third element which is the desire for integration, you only
complicate the problem, you do not resolve it. But when you see the whole significance of asking
help, of following authority, whether it be the authority of another, or of your own self-imposed pattern,
then that very perception puts an end to all following.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 149 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 44
46 ’SILENCE OF THE MIND’
BEYOND THE DISTANT haze were the white sands and the cool sea, but here it was insufferably
hot, even under the trees and in the house. The sky was no longer blue, and the sun seemed to
have absorbed every particle of moisture. The breeze from the sea had stopped, and the mountains
behind, clear and close, were reflecting the burning rays of the sun. The restless dog lay panting
as though its heart would burst with this intolerable heat. There would be clear, sunny days, week
after week, for many months and the hills, no longer green and soft with the spring rains, were burnt
brown, the earth dry and hard. But there was beauty even now in these hills, shimmering beyond
the green oak trees and the golden hay, with the barren rocks of the mountains above them.
The path leading up through the hills to the high mountains was dusty, stony and rough. There were
no streams, no sound of running waters. The heat was intense in these hills, but in the shade of
some trees along the dry river bed it was bearable for here there was a slight breeze coming up the
canyon from the valley. From this height the blue of the sea was visible many miles away. It was very
quiet, even the birds were still, and a blue jay which had been noisy and quarrelsome was resting
now. A brown deer was coming down the path, alert and watchful, making its way to a little pool
of water in the otherwise dry bed of the stream; it moved so silently over the rocks, its large ears
twitching and its great eyes watching every movement among the bushes. It drank its fill and would
have lain down in the shade near the pool, but it must have been aware of the human presence it
could not see, for it went uneasily down the path and disappeared. And how difficult it was to watch
a coyote, a kind of wild dog among the hills! It was the same colour as the rocks, and it was doing
its best not to be seen. You had to keep your eyes steadily upon it, and even then it disappeared
and you could not pick it out again; you looked and looked for any movement, but there was none,
perhaps it might come to the pool. Not too long ago there had been a brutal fire among these hills,
and the wild things had gone away; but now some had returned. Across the path a mother quail was
leading her newborn chicks, more than a dozen of them; she was softly encouraging, leading them
150CHAPTER 44. 46 ’SILENCE OF THE MIND’
to a thick bush. They were round, yellowish-grey balls of delicate feathers, so new to this dangerous
world, but alive and enchanted. There under the bush several had climbed on top of the mother, but
most of them were under her comforting wings, resting from the struggles of birth.
What is it that binds us together? It is not our needs. Neither is it commerce and great industries,
nor the banks and the churches; these are just ideas and the result of ideas. Ideas do not bind us
together. We may come together out of convenience, or through necessity, danger, hate, or worship,
but none of these things holds us together. They must all fall away from us, so that we are alone. In
this aloneness there is love, and it is love that holds us together.
A preoccupied mind is never a free mind, whether it is preoccupied with the sublime or with the
trivial.
He had come from a far distant land. Though he had had polio, the paralysing disease, he was now
able to walk and drive car.
”Like so many others, especially those in my condition, I have belonged to different churches and
religious organizations,” he said, ”and none of them has given me any satisfaction; but one never
stops seeking. I think I am serious, but one of my diffi- culties is that I am envious. Most of us are
driven by ambition, greed or envy; they are relentless enemies of man, and yet one cannot seem to
be without them. I have tried building various types of resistance against envy, but in spite of all my
efforts I get caught up in it again and again; it is like water seeping through the roof, and before I
know where I am, I find myself being more intensely envious than ever. You have probably answered
this same question dozens of times, but if you have the patience I would like to ask how is one to
extricate oneself from this turmoil of envy?”
You must have found that with the desire not to be envious there comes the conflict of the opposites.
The desire or the will not to be this, but to be that, makes for conflict. We generally consider this
conflict to be the natural process of life; but is it? This everlasting struggle between what is and
what should be is considered noble, idealistic; but the desire and the attempt to be non-envious is
the same as being envious, is it not? If one really understands this, then there is no battle between
the opposites; the conflict of duality ceases. This is not a matter to be thought over when you get
home; it is a fact to be seen immediately, and this perception is the important thing, not how to be
free from envy. Freedom from envy comes, not through the conflict of it the opposite, but with the
understanding of what is; but this understanding is not possible as long as the mind is concerned
with changing what is.
”Isn’t change necessary?”
Can there be change through an act of will? Is not will concentrated desire? Having bred envy,
desire now seeks a state in which there is no envy; both states are the product of desire. Desire
cannot bring about fundamental change.
”Then what will?”
Perceiving the truth of what is. As long as the mind, or desire, seeks to change itself from this to that,
all change is superficial and trivial. The full significance of this fact must be felt and understood, and
Commentaries On Living Series 2 151 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 44. 46 ’SILENCE OF THE MIND’
only then is it possible for a radical transformation to take place. As long as the mind is comparing,
judging, seeking a result there is no possibility of change, but only a series of unending struggles
which it calls living.
”What you say seems so true, but even as I listen to you I find myself caught in the struggle to
change, to reach an end, to achieve a result.”
The more one struggles against a habit, however deep its roots, the more force one gives to it. To
be aware of one habit with out choosing and cultivating another, is the ending of habit.
”Then I must remain silently with what is, neither accepting nor rejecting it. This is an enormous
task, but I see that it is the only way if there is to be freedom.
”Now may I go on to another question? Does not the body affect the mind, and the mind in turn affect
the body? I have especially noticed this in my own case. My thoughts are occupied with the memory
of what I was – healthy, strong, quick of movement – and with what I hope to be, as compared with
what I am now. I seem unable to accept my present state. What am I to do?”
This constant comparison of the present with the past and the future brings about pain and the
deterioration of the mind, does it not? It prevents you from considering the fact of your present state.
The past can never be again, and the future is unpredictable, so you have only the present. You can
adequately deal with the present only when the mind is free from the burden of the past memory
and the future hope. When the mind is attentive to the present, without comparison then there is a
possibility of other things happening.
”What do you mean by ‘other things’?”
When the mind is preoccupied with its own pains, hopes and fears, there is no space for freedom
from them. The self-enclosing process of thought only cripples the mind further, so the vicious
circle is set going. Preoccupation makes the mind trivial, petty, shallow. A preoccupied mind is not
a free mind, and preoccupation with freedom still breeds pettiness. The mind is petty when it is
preoccupied with God, with the State, with virtue, or with its own body. This preoccupation with the
body prevents adapta- bility to the present, the gaining of vitality and movement, however limited.
The self, with its preoccupations, brings about its own pains and problems, which affect the body;
and concern over bodily ills only further hinders the body. This does not mean that health should be
neglected; but preoccupation with health, like preoccupation with truth with ideas, only entrenches
the mind in its own pettiness. There is a vast difference between a preoccupied mind and an active
mind. An active mind is silent, aware, choiceless.
”Consciously it is rather difficult to take all this in, but probably the unconscious is absorbing what
you are saying; at least I hope so.
”I would like to ask one more question. You see, sir, there are moments when my mind is silent, but
these moments are very rare. I have pondered over the problem of meditation, and have read some
of the things you have said about it, but for a longtime my body was too much for me. Now that I
have become more or less inured to my physical state, I feel it is important to cultivate this silence.
How is one to set about it?”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 152 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 44. 46 ’SILENCE OF THE MIND’
Is silence to be cultivated, carefully nurtured and strengthened? And who is the cultivator? Is he
different from the totality of your being? Is there silence, a still mind, when one desire dominates all
others, or when it sets up resistance against them? Is there silence when the mind is disciplined,
shaped, controlled? Does not all this imply a censor, a so-called higher self who controls judges,
chooses? And is there such an entity? If there is, is he not the product of thought? Thought dividing
itself as the high and the low, the permanent and the impermanent, is still the outcome of the past, of
tradition, of time. In this division lies its own security. Thought or desire now seeks safety in silence,
and so it asks for a method or a system which offers what it wants. In place of worldly things it now
craves the pleasure of silence, so it breeds conflict between what is and what should be. There is
no silence where there is conflict, repression, resistance.
”Should one not seek silence?”
There can be no silence as long as there is a seeker. There is the silence of a still mind only when
there is no seeker, when there is no desire. Without replying, put this question to yourself: Can the
whole of your being be silent? Can the totality of the mind, the conscious as well as the unconscious,
be still?
Commentaries On Living Series 2 153 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 45
47 ’CONTENTMENT’
THE PLANE WAS crowded. It was flying at twenty-odd thousand feet over the Atlantic and there
was a thick carpet of clouds below. The sky above was intensely blue, the sun was behind us, and
we were flying due west. The children had been playing, running up and down the aisle and now
tired out, they were sleeping. After the long night everyone else was awake, smoking and drinking. A
man in front was telling another about his business, and a woman in the seat behind was describing
in a pleased voice the things she had bought and speculating on the amount of duty she would have
to pay. At that altitude the flight was smooth, there wasn’t a bump, though there were rough winds
below us. The wings of the plane were bright in the clear sunlight and the propellers were turning
over smoothly, biting into the air at fantastic speed; the wind was behind us and we were doing over
three hundred miles an hour.
Two men just across the narrow aisle were talking rather loudly, and it was difficult not to overhear
what they were saying. They were big men, and one had a red, weather-beaten face. He was
explaining the business of killing whales, how risky it was, what profits there were in it, and how
frightfully rough the seas were. Some whales weighed hundreds of tons. The mothers with calves
were not supposed to be killed, nor were they permitted to kill more than a certain number of
whales within a specified time. Killing these great monsters had apparently been worked out most
scientifically, each group having a special job to do for which it was technically trained. The smell of
the factory ship was almost unbearable, but one got used to it, as one can to almost anything. But
there was lots of money in it if all went well. He began to explain the strange fascination of killing,
but at that moment drinks were brought and the subject of conversation changed.
Human beings like to kill, whether it be each other, or a harmless, bright-eyed deer in the deep
forest, or a tiger that has preyed upon cattle. A snake is deliberately run over on the road; a trap
is set and a wolf or a coyote is caught. Well dressed, laughing people go out with their precious
154CHAPTER 45. 47 ’CONTENTMENT’
guns and kill birds that were lately calling to each other. A boy kills a chattering blue jay with his
air gun, and the elders around him say never a word of pity, or scold him; on the contrary, they say
what a good shot he is. Killing for so-called sport, for food, for one’s country, for peace – there is
not much difference in all this. Justification is not the answer. There is only: do not kill. In the West
we think that animals exist for the sake of our stomachs, or for the pleasure of killing, or for their
fur. In the East it has been taught for centuries and repeated by every parent: do not kill be pitiful,
be compassionate. Here animals have no souls, so they can be killed with impunity; there animals
have souls, so consider and let your heart know love. To eat animals, birds, is regarded here as a
normal natural thing, sanctioned by church and advertisements; there it is not, and the thoughtful,
the religious, by tradition and culture, never do. But this too is rapidly breaking down. Here we have
always killed in the name of God and country, and now it is everywhere. Killing is spreading; almost
overnight the ancient cultures are being swept aside, and efficiency, ruthlessness and the means of
destruction are being carefully nurtured and strengthened.
Peace is not with the politician or the priest, neither is it with the lawyer or the policeman. Peace is
a state of mind when there is love.
He was a man of small business, struggling but able to make ends meet.
”I haven’t come to talk about my work,” he said. ”It gives me what I need, and as my needs are
few, I get along. Not being over ambitious, I am not in the game of dog eat dog. One day, as I was
passing by, I saw a crowd under the trees, and I stopped to listen to you. That was a couple of years
ago and what you said set something stirring in me. I am not too well educated, but I now read your
talks, and here I am. I used to be content with my life, with my thoughts, and with the few scattered
beliefs which lay lightly on my mind. But ever since that Sunday morning when I wandered into this
valley in my car and came by chance to hear you, I have been discontented. It is not so much with
my work that I am discontented, but discontent has taken hold of my whole being. I used to pity the
people who were discontented. They were so miserable, nothing satisfied them – and now I have
joined their ranks. I was once satisfied with my life, with my friends, and with the things I was doing,
but now I am discontented and unhappy.”
If one may ask, what do you mean by that word ‘discontent’?
”Before that Sunday morning when I heard you, I was a contented person, and I suppose rather a
bore to others; now I see how stupid I was, and I am trying to be intelligent and alert to everything
about me. I want to amount to something, get somewhere, and this urge naturally makes for
discontent. I used to be asleep if I may put it that way, but now I am waking up.”
Are you waking up, or are you trying to put yourself to sleep again through the desire to become
something? You say you were asleep, and that now you are awake; but this awakened state makes
you discontented, which displeases you, gives you pain, and to escape from this pain you are
attempting to become something, to follow an ideal, and so on. This imitation is putting you back to
sleep again, is it not?
”But I don’t want to go back to my old state, and I do want to be awake.”
Isn’t it very strange how the mind deceives itself? The mind doesn’t like to be disturbed, it doesn’t
like to be shaken out of its old patterns, its comfortable habits of thought and action; being disturbed,
Commentaries On Living Series 2 155 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 45. 47 ’CONTENTMENT’
it seeks ways and means to establish new bound- aries and pastures in which it can live safely. It is
this zone of safety that most of us are seeking, and it is the desire to be safe, to be secure, that puts
us to sleep. Circumstances, a word, a gesture, an experience, may awaken us, disturb us, but we
want to be put to sleep again. This is happening to most of us all the time, and it is not an awakened
state. What we have to understand are the ways in which the mind puts itself to sleep. This is so, is
it not?
”But there must be a great many ways in which the mind puts itself to sleep. Is it possible to know
and avoid them all?”
Several could be pointed out; but this would not solve the problem, would it?
”Why not?”
Merely to learn the ways in which the mind puts itself to sleep is again to find a means, perhaps
different, of being undisturbed, secure. The important thing is to keep awake, and not ask how to
keep awake; the pursuit of the ‘how’ is the urge to be safe.
”Then what is one to do?”
Stay with discontent without desiring to pacify it. It is the desire to be undisturbed that must be
understood. This desire, which takes many forms, is the urge to escape from what is. When this
urge drops away – but not through any form of compulsion, either conscious or unconscious – only
then does the pain of discontent cease. Comparison of what is with what should be brings pain.
The cessation of comparison is not a state of contentment; it is a state of wakefulness without the
activities of the self.
”All this is rather new to me. It seems to me that you give to words quite a different significance but
communication is possible only when both of us give the same meaning to the same word at the
same time.”
Communication is relationship, is it not?
”You jump to wider significance than I am now capable of grasping. I must go more deeply into all
this, and then perhaps I shall understand.”
Commentaries On Living Series 2 156 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 46
48 ’THE ACTOR’
THE ROAD CURVED in and out through the low hills, mile after endless mile. The burning rays of
the afternoon sun lay on the golden hills, and there were deep shadows under the scattered trees,
which spoke of their solitary existence. For miles around there was no habitation of any kind; here
and there were a few lonely cattle, and only occasionally another car would appear on the smooth,
well-kept road. The sky was very blue to the north and glare to the west. The country was strangely
alive, though barren and isolated, and far away from human joy and pain. There were no birds, and
you saw no wild animals apart from the few ground squirrels that scurried across the road. No water
was visible except in one or two places where the cattle were. With the rains the hills would turn
green, soft and welcoming, but now they were harsh, austere, with the beauty of great stillness.
It was a strange evening, full and intense, but as the road wove in and out among the rolling hills,
time had come to an end. The sign said it was eighteen miles to the main road leading north. It
would take half an hour or so to get there: time and distance. Yet at that moment, looking at that
sign on the roadside, time and distance had ceased. It was not a measurable moment, it had no
beginning and no end. The blue sky and the rolling, golden hills were there, vast and everlasting,
but they were part of this timelessness. The eyes and the mind were watchful of the road; the dark
and lonely trees were vivid and intense, and each separate blade of hay on the curving hills stood
out, simple and clear. The light of that late afternoon was very still around the trees and among the
hills, and the only moving thing was the car, going so fast. The silence between words was of that
measureless stillness. This road would come to an end joining another, and that too would peter
out somewhere; those still, dark trees would fall and their dust would be scattered and lost; tender
green grass would come up with the rains, and it too would wither away.
Life and death are inseparable, and in their separation lies everlasting fear. Separation is the
beginning of time; the fear of an end gives birth to the pain of a beginning. In this wheel the mind
157CHAPTER 46. 48 ’THE ACTOR’
is caught and spins out the web of time. Thought is the process and the result of time, and thought
cannot cultivate love.
He was an actor of some repute who was making a name for himself, but he was still young enough
to inquire and suffer.
”Why does one act?” he asked. ”To some the stage is merely a means of livelihood, to others it offers
a means for the expression of their own vanity, and to still others, playing various roles is a great
stimulations. The stage also offers a marvellous escape from the realities of life. I act for all these
reasons, and perhaps also because – I say this with hesitancy – I hope to do some good through the
stage.”
Does not acting give strength to the self, to the ego? We pose, we put on masks, and gradually
the pose, the mask becomes the daily habit, covering the many selves of contradiction, greed, hate,
and so on. The ideal is a pose, a mask covering the fact, the actual. Can one do good through the
stage?
”Do you mean that one cannot?”
No, it is a question, not a judgment. In writing a play the author has certain ideas and intentions
which he wants to put across; the actor is the medium, the mask, and the public is entertained or
educated. Is this education doing good? Or is it merely conditioning the mind to a pattern, good or
bad, intelligent or stupid, devised by the author?
”Good Lord, I never thought about all this. You see, I can become a fairly successful actor, and
before I get lost in it completely, I am asking myself if acting is to be my way of life. It has a curious
fascination of its own, sometimes very destructive, and at other times very pleasant. You can take
acting seriously, but in itself it is not very serious. As I am inclined to be rather serious, I have
wondered if I should make the stage my career. There is something in me that rebels against the
absurd superficiality of it all, and yet I am greatly attracted to it; so I am disturbed, to put it mildly.
Through all this runs the thread of seriousness.
Can another decide what should be one’s way of life?
”No, but in talking the matter over with another, things sometimes become clear.”
If one may point out, any activity that gives emphasis to the self, to the ego, is destructive; it brings
sorrow. This is the principal issue, is it not? You said earlier that you wanted to do good; but
surely the good is not possible when, consciously or unconsciously, the self is being nourished and
sustained through any career or activity.
”Is not all action based on the survival of the self?”
Perhaps not always. Outwardly it may appear that an action is self-protective, but inwardly it may
not be at all. What others say or think in this regard is not of great importance, but one should not
deceive oneself. And self-deception is very easy in psychological matters.
Commentaries On Living Series 2 158 Jiddu KrishnamurtiCHAPTER 46. 48 ’THE ACTOR’
”It seems to me that if I am really concerned with the abnegation of the self, I shall have to withdraw
into a monastery or lead a hermit’s life.”
Is it necessary to lead a hermit’s life in order to abnegate the self? You see, we have a concept of
the selfless life, and it is this concept which prevents the understanding of a life in which the self is
not. The concept is another form of the self. Without escaping to monasteries and so on, is it not
possible to be passively alert to the activities of the self? This awareness may bring about a totally
different activity which does not breed sorrow and misery. ”Then there are certain professions that
are obviously detrimental to a sane life, and I include mine among them. I am still quite young. I
can give up the stage, and after going into all this, I am pretty sure I will; but then what am I to do? I
have certain talents which may ripen and be useful.”
Talent may become a curse. The self may use and entrench itself in capacities, and then talent
b