EERDE GATHERING 1928
Eerde, Holland, 1928
Since you have been good enough to put to me these questions, I am going to answer them from my point of view, from a point of view which to me is the only way of looking at life, the only way which will solve the problems that confront each one of us. Now as I have said, liberation in its absolute sense is liberation that is the outcome of all experience and not the mere destruction of feelings. And such liberation is necessary for the ultimate, the final, and the absolute happiness. I mean by that happiness which is the accumulation of intelligence, the power of greatness, the creative power of the genius. When you look at liberation and happiness from that point of view, it is not negative, neither is it destructive, but it is a positive assertion of that power which goes to create, which brings about order -not the order of the peasant who creates a vineyard on the mountain side, but the order of an artist who brings about order out of chaos, out of the confusion of the traditional and serried ages of the past, an order that can be interpreted according to individual development. I am going to answer all these questions from that point of view alone. You may say: that is much too simple: and you may say that it does not satisfy the very intellectual people. And here I must add that I am not setting myself up as an authority, which you can quote to others or to yourself, to bolster up your point of view. The other day I was talking to a man in Bombay who after a lengthy discussion, said to me: What you are saying will bring about supermen who will stand on their own feet, who will create order for themselves, who will be the absolute rulers for themselves; but what will happen to the man who is down below, who depends on outside authority, on crutches, who is forced, urged to a particular morality which may or may not suit him? I answered him: Take what is happening in the world at the present time. The strong, the violent, the powerful, the rigid, the men of power and strength are at the top, and the weak, the tender, the struggling are below. Now put that in contrast to the tree whose sustaining power, whose strength lie in its deep roots, which are all hidden away below, and on the top there are the delicate leaves, the tender shoots, the weak branches. In human society as it is at present constituted, the strong and the powerful are supported by the weak, whereas in Nature, the strong and the powerful are below to sustain the weak. So long as you look at every problem with a twisted and a crooked mind -I am using the words crooked and twisted in the right sense, not in a colloquial sense- you will accept the pre-tent conditions: whereas I look at problems from the other point of view.
Because you are not convinced on your own knowledge, you are repeating authority, you are bolstering up by quotations, the authority of the past against something new. Against that argument I have nothing to say, but if you look at life from a point of view that is unbiased, that is not warped by authority, that is not sustained by the knowledge of others, but that is upheld by your own sorrow, by your own thoughts, by your own culture, by your own understanding, by your own affection, then you will understand what I am saying, for the meditation of the heart is understanding. I would much rather have a few people who really understood than ten thousand who merely repeat. Go, as I went, to a Brahmin town where the influence of Brahmanism is very strong. There they look at everything in life from the point of view of: "We have been taught". Now personally -and I hope you will understand what I am saying and not misunderstand it- I have no belief and I have no tradition. That has always been my attitude towards life. As life is different from day to day, and as I want to understand life from day to day, it is no good having a belief and a tradition, which bind me and prevent me from comprehending life.
All men everywhere in the world have a belief, it does not matter what it is, and that belief guides their mind, whereas life should guide and not belief. And the understanding of life only comes when there is not this tradition of belief bound by morality. After all, the end of life is perfection through the attainment of liberation and happiness; and you can only achieve it by gathering experience and not by adding more beliefs, more traditions, more superstitions, more dogmas and more sectarian theories to those you already have. You may have to go through that particular stage of wanting beliefs, but it is not the end. Take a stream; see how small it is at its very beginning, at the very source, how delicate, how tender, how pure, and how unsullied. And as it goes on through many fields, through many countries, feeding many trees, giving nourishment to many peoples, it is getting wider and wider, accumulating more rivers, gathering more waters to itself, till at last it reaches that ocean where there is no limitation. The whole weight of waters behind that river is urging, pushing the stream which it sends out, never allowing it to stop still for a minute in any particular spot, because when it lies in a tranquil condition, there is stagnation. So those who would reach the ocean of freedom must never be still, must never be contented, for that means lying fallow, which is what I call mediocrity.
So with that as an introduction, I shall go on to answer these questions, but please, remember I would much rather have comprehension and understanding, than acceptance of my authority and a blind belief. A blind belief leads to that form of religion, which is the frozen thought of man, and out of those frozen thoughts you build the temple.
And you can never satisfy a person who judges things with a mind that is prejudiced, narrow, and bound by morality and tradition.
I have talked to a great many people who are violently anti-Theosophical, anti-Star, anti-World-Teacher and anti other things -thinkers, artists, materialists, violent supporters of religion- and in every case they have been my friends. Because I know what I want and I have got it, I have attained my goal, I am certain of my purpose and I am certain of what I mean by liberation. Now there is a danger of too critical an examination of this liberation, because when you say: it is this -it is not that. I know exactly what I mean, but in the majority of those cases in which people try to interpret what I mean, they are not certain for themselves, and so they are swayed by criticism, by what other people say. Some people say: Krishnamurti is not leading a perfect life, he ought to do this or that, other people say that he is telling us what we have always been longing to hear, others that he just repeats banalities of life which we have read in better language hundreds of times. And so you do not know where you are. But you do know where you are if you have the goal fixed in front of you, which is of your own creation, of your own making. Then you can speak with as much authority, the authority of your own experience, as I do. And if I speak of authority, it is in this sense of my own knowledge, not the authority that warps the minds of others.
QUESTION: Is there a connection between the path leading to Liberation and the path of Discipleship leading to Mastership?
KRISHNAJI: If the path of Discipleship leading to Mastership leads to Liberation there is a connection, if it does not, then there is no connection. After all, what does a Master in the accepted Theosophical language mean? It means a person who has attained perfection. What does perfection mean? It means -and I want you to think this out for yourselves- a state, a condition, in which you are no longer able to receive any further experience. I am sorry to give a crude example, but it is like this. Take a sponge -a sponge is useless so long as it is empty, but when you soak it in water and it is saturated, then it is complete. It can no longer receive more water. Likewise a man who is perfect is beyond all experience, beyond the capacity of learning anything further from experience. And that is, after all, liberation.
QUESTION: When one longs for freedom and tries to grasp what it means, an unreasonable fear keeps creeping up. Is there any good way of dealing with this?
KRISHNAJI: Have no fear. Most people in the world -it does not matter who they are- are bound by fear of going wrong, fear of heaven and hell, fear of approval or disapproval, and so all the time they are fearing. When you realise that there is no such thing as good or evil, that there is no such thing as heaven and hell, that there is no such thing as failure, because everything is a matter of experience, then fear disappears. So liberation is the conquering of fear. For it is fear that binds, that warps, that perverts. If somebody told me that I was going to hell, it would not make any difference to me. If somebody told me that I was doing wrong, it would make no difference to me, because I am not afraid. But most people are afraid of conditions, which they have not tested. And you can only test them by the knowledge which you gain from experience. If you feel fear, face it. Fear comes when you have a dark corner in your mind or in your heart in which you keep unsolved problems. It is like this. You never go to a temple with your solved problems. You go to a church or temple to worship or to pray, when there is a problem confronting you to which you cannot find a solution. That is what religion has become -a peg on which to hang all your unsolved problems.
QUESTION: One day we are gay and happy, the next we are sad and depressed for no apparent reason and the brighter we were, the worse we seem to get afterwards. How can we get a more steady flow?
KRISHNAJI: Go to India and you will see day after day, month after month, a cloudless sky, brilliant sunshine and a parched land. Then you go elsewhere and you may see cloudy days, grey fields and many shadows dancing on the land. You must have both. You must have sorrow, depression, misery, and struggle, and you must have the clear open skies and an absolute freedom. You cannot escape; they are necessary as rain to a parched land. When you look at it from the point of view of everything as a matter of experience from which you rather your strength to go forward, there is no such thing as sadness or depression, pain or pleasure. They are like pigments, which a painter uses, colours that go to create, to make up a picture. He does not consider why this or why that; there they are, and he utilizes them. Most people are in the stage of confused thought and feeling, and the miracle of order comes when you, like the artist, are creating order out of this chaos, when you are beginning to fix for yourself the goal.
QUESTION: You say that any and every human being, if he will, can understand and attain liberation while the Teacher is amongst us. You teach that synthesis of body, emotions, and mind is essential for freedom or liberation. But how can a really primitive man -and there are many in the world, in Australia, Africa, South India, for example- who has scarcely begun to develop mind, who lives in a seething cloud of unorganized emotion, be capable of immediate synthesis and liberation? I ask this because I am interested in primitive folk and their needs, and feel that organized religion, such as Brahmanism, Buddhism, or Christianity is essential for their growth.
KRISHNAJI: I will answer this question in this way. Suppose I had a child, how would I bring him up? For the primitive people are but children. The same question has been asked so often: What would you teach the young child? First of all, I do not teach anybody -but I would help people to understand. What I would make the child understand, what I would say to the child as to the barbarian, the primitive man, is: your final goal is freedom; and I would explain what freedom means. But in order to attain it you must have discipline, you must have order, you must have certain rules as in a school. You are helping the primitive man, the child, to grow up. Take a tree for instance, a small plant; while it is young, you protect it from the winds, the rain, and the brilliant sunshine -you nourish it carefully. But you know a stage will come when you can no longer control its growth, when it will be far too big for you to feed, for your small protection. Likewise, if you put before the child or the primitive man or the inexperienced man, from the beginning, the idea that his goal, the end of his life is freedom and happiness, but that while he is growing he must have protection, then he will understand. But it does not mean that protection should corrupt his end, which is what most people think. If I had a school and was the principal or headmaster of the school, I would say to my students: Look here, I want every one of you boys and girls to be as free as I am -not bound by authority, by tradition, by morality laid down through the serried centuries of the past; but freedom does not mean the negation of order, freedom does not mean the setting aside of discipline because I discipline myself. If I say this, do you think they won't see it? Because you are sincere, because you really encourage freedom, you build; you protect them in every possible way to make them grow towards that freedom, not by suppression, or the obeying of authority, the following of blind belief or untested conditions of thought. Quite a different attitude of mind is required. If you will kindly keep the simile of the tree with its hidden strength below, and the weak on top, then you will see what I am talking about.
QUESTION: There are many intellectual, cultured men and women who do not see greatness in an idea, unless it is presented in a complicated form. How would you tackle such people?
KRISHNAJI: First of all, you disturb them mentally and emotionally. The intellectual people, the cultured people, are as much in sorrow, are as much disturbed, as the man who is not cultured, as the man who has few possessions. It is not a question of how I am going to convince such people or tackle them, life will tackle them; and you help life to tackle them by your understanding of life. I have tackled orthodox Brahmins, who are very difficult to convince; but I have done it because, after all, the greatness of simplicity is the proof of attainment.
You are asking all these questions from a point of view which comes from a mind and a heart that do not understand. Because you have not solved for yourselves, and because you think you can put before intellectual people, cultured people, pet ideas of your own, of course they knock them promptly on the head. But if you go to them with one experience of your own, which is of your own knowledge, they cannot refute it. It is the usual game of mediocrity trying to struggle with the main stream of life and getting drowned. You must tackle the main stream of life, you must go out into the middle current, you cannot stand by the bank and throw your pet ideas into the mid-stream, because they will be drowned and will never come up again. But if you grow and struggle in the main stream, even though you may be drowned, your struggle remains.
QUESTION: You have said: we must not imitate others, not mould ourselves after the pattern of another, but it is the desire to come out of our own limitations, out of our own mediocrity which makes us look upon people in whom we see perfection of one kind or another with a desire to imitate that perfection and thereby gain it for ourselves. I feel I cannot do without this imitation. I see no other way of gaining perfection. If I only think things over in myself I do not reach anything better than myself, which is far from perfect. Can you please make me understand this?
KRISHNAJI: Surely. Most people have an idea that perfection means a destruction of the self, whereas it is the contrary. Perfection means the purifying of the self, which in its turn means the development of the individual uniqueness. Now you think this out. Suppose I see perfection in another. I want to imitate the idea of that man's perfection, not him. Take a man who makes a mosaic picture: there must be many colours, which go to the making up of that picture, towards the perfection of that picture. So if your colour is green or red or pink, if you are developing that colour, you are bound to fit into that picture, which is, which must be, if it is perfect, harmonious. And hence if you are developing one colour and I am developing another colour, when we meet there is no colour at all, there is unity. So if you merely imitate my idea of perfection, you are doing wrong, you are killing the idea of perfection. When you imitate my idea of perfection, you are suffocated, you are destroying and killing, in other words, you kill your own self. You cannot kill yourself, you can only purify yourself. After all that is perfection. There is no other god except a man purified, nothing greater, nothing more perfect than the human being ennobled. So if perfection is merely the copy of the perfection of another, it is not your perfection. Let me say it in this way: when I want to paint a picture and you are a master, I come to you and I say: I want to learn nature of colour, of proportion, relief and atmosphere. But how to paint, I want you to teach me your technique, the nature of colour, of proportion, relief and atmosphere. But if ever I begin to paint your picture, I shall never learn, never create; but if learning your technique, I go out and paint my own pictures, I am developing my individual uniqueness. I hope I have made that clear, that it is not perfection to imitate the perfection of another; it is on the contrary the destruction of the idea of perfection. But if you worship that individual perfection which is the outcome of experience, observance and the comparison of the perfection of others, then such perfection, when it is developed, is the unity of all perfections. And hence there is only one basis for unity.
QUESTION--a: What is your attitude towards the Theosophical teachings about the Masters and Discipleship?
KRISHNAJI: What is my attitude towards the Masters and Discipleship? They are only stages, on the way towards freedom. If the idea of them helps you towards the attainment of liberation, then that idea is essentially right. Again, there is no such thing as right and wrong. I can only answer this from my point of view. I want to cross the river and if someone came to me with a boat of whatever type, and if I thought that the boat would take me towards my end, I should take it certainly, but my end is freedom. And what is of help, that is for each one to judge. It is not for anyone to say: you must go through this or that particular way. There is no one-way, though there is only one path. Now it is like this. You know, when you go climbing a mountain, you notice how there are hundreds of paths coming to a certain point on the mountainside, but as you go higher and higher nearing the summit, there remains only one path. There is only one path, which leads to the summit, because there cannot be many paths where there are a great many precipices. There is only one path towards the summit and it is of that path I am talking. I am not concerned with the hundreds of paths lower down because when you understand the direct path, the other paths do not matter. The other paths only complicate the mind. Please, this is only my point of view, and if you disagree, so much the better, because it will make you think and if you think sanely, with common sense, without prejudice, you will come to agree.
QUESTION--b: Given the presence of the World Teacher, is there any need of discipleship in the technical sense of the term?
KRISHNAJI: I don't know what it means. You see, you have certain definite ideas and thoughts; in accordance with which you want me to mould myself. I am not going to do that, any more than I want you to mould yourselves to my particular point of view. Please do not think that I deny or assert any of these things or that I disbelieve in them. To me, as I said, there is only one thing of value, of portent, which gives to me the full knowledge of life. It is that I want to be the master singer of life, and I am, because I understand life without the prejudices, the narrowness, the limitations that come when you are going through experiences, and if any one asks me if this or that thing will help towards a particular goal, the goal I am talking of, I would reply that they must judge for themselves, must experience if it is any help. But at the same time I am pointing out that there is a simpler way than all this, that is as the path which lies at the summit, the path that is open to those who are desirous of experience and the fruits thereof, who do not obey blindly, whose life is not bound by morality and tradition, by sets of belief and unbelief, whose life is not suffocated, not warped by fear.
QUESTION--a: Do you not think one can stay too long at a spiritual centre so long that he ceases to grow bigger and slips negatively into a rut?
KRISHNAJI: First of all, I do not know what a spiritual centre is. If you mean it is bad to stay in one place too long, I should say: you are right; it does not matter where it is.
QUESTION--b: I have heard the opinion expressed that centres were like harbours where a ship came to discharge and to receive cargo. It might stop at many such harbours for a time, but always it returned to the high seas. What do you think?
KRISHNAJI: I should say that every house in the world is such a harbour; every house in the world is such a centre if you know how to utilize it. If you have the knowledge, if you have the understanding, if you have the goal fixed in front of you, then you will utilize those harbours for discharging and taking in of experience, but what generally happens at these harbours is that when you arrive there is a strike ¬generally a coal strike. I am using this simile not in its literal sense. If there is a strike in the harbour where your ship is lying anchored, you can never put out to sea again. So you realize the danger of resting in a haven where you are dependent for your fuel on others. If you depend on others for the fuel, which will give power to your desires, strength for your determination, then such a harbour is useless, such a harbour is danger. Most people are in such harbours and hence there is no certainty of their putting out to sea, of their testing their strength in the open waters. But if you are a constant traveller, always on the move, taking each shelter as it comes, taking the fuel for understanding where you find it, then you are not afraid of strikes, of losing yourself; for even in heaven, if there be one, you can lose yourself. But if you walk on the road of life, with your mind fixed and your heart aching to reach your goal, then everything becomes easy, then harbours and centres are unnecessary.
You will promptly ask me: why do you have Eerde? Shall I tell you? To create discontentment, to create immense agony and a great longing in the mind and in the heart of those who come here, for then out of that will be born the flower which shall give them the scent to encourage them towards their goal.
QUESTION: If a person who longs to create found himself working under conditions where his initiative, his self-expression, his creative efforts, were all suppressed, would it not be impossible for him to gain freedom under such circumstances, would it not be batter for him to seek a place where he would have an opportunity to create something, if only one thing?
KRISHNAJI: I should say certainly if it means this. If a person who is here at Eerde, or in any other place, or at home, finds that his circumstances are killing him, killing his desires, killing his powers to go out, then I should say: leave it, but leave it with understanding, because you might go to another place and find that still you have not found this freedom, but that probably you are more of a prisoner than you were before. You can attain freedom wherever you are, but that means that you must have the strength of a genius. For a genius after all is a person who grows out of his circumstances, who is beyond his circle. So if a person thinks that here or elsewhere he cannot develop his unique perfection, before he leaves this or any other place, before finally deciding, let him understand that wherever he is, if he is not strong enough, his circumstances will drown him; that wherever he is, if he is strong enough, he can grow to perfection, I know it is a question of two negations, but there it is. It is like a person who says: I am going out into the world to seek experience. Probably at the very first step he takes out of the house he misses the experience of his life. There is nothing new under the heavens or under the sun, but everything is new to a man who understands life. I hope I have explained this.
QUESTION: If we have the Truth, the Kingdom of Happiness within us, why the long struggle incarnation after incarnation, through many sorrows, much suffering and fleeting pleasures?
KRISHNAJI: It is necessary to go through all this, in order to find out if it really is within you. How do you know it is within you -because I say so? Or someone else says so? After all, Truth is the understanding of life, there is no other truth except that, and to understand life you must go, as does the river, through every field, and find out what is your own potential power. Suppose I say -as I do say- that it is in the power of everyone to find out himself the Truth, which is the understanding of life, you will reply: I have not the power, I am making all these mistakes, I am influenced, I am sad, I am this or that. But that is just my point. In order to discover the power in yourself, you must go through all experience, but you do not want to do it. You had much rather that I gave you a visa to Nirvana without any customs. But when you got there, you would find that it is not Nirvana at all, but as much a hell as the earth. Don't you see, the individual problem is the problem of the world, and if you do not solve your own problem, if you do not solve your sorrow for yourself, if you do not unearth, uncover for yourself the world where happiness lurks, you will never disclose that world to other people. You will never find Truth, if you do not understand life, if you do not understand what I mean. And to find Truth, and to understand life we must have experience, and hence you must go through life after life, time after time, following the wheel of sorrow. But there is one other way of doing it, and that is by vicarious experience -not vicarious atonement- but experience which you utilize fully, but this way requires great affection. To understand the experience of another and to get at the gist of that experience, you need immense affection. And there are very few possessing such affection. Hence you must go through experience in the ordinary way. If you have that immense affection, then life and the understanding of life become simple.
QUESTION: I would like to hear from the author of The Kingdom of Happiness how he proposes to bring happiness to those millions who live in abject poverty and misery, who never in their life taste a square meal, who have to freeze during six months out of twelve, who have to slave all their life; of whom a young social worker recently said: "Give us first bread, and then come with spiritual food"; to those countless girls and women who have to sell their bodies in order to keep them alive. I would also like to know how he is going to bring peace to blood drenched Europe.
I can't be happy as long as I see all this misery.
KRISHNAJI: It is like this. If you see an accident it the street, a man crushed by a motor, you do not promptly throw yourself under the next coming motor. You see misery, killing, blotting out of life, and you say: I am going to help create laws for the protection of life against motors! ..is not that a normal attitude? Let us take another example. Suppose somebody is ill in your house, you do not promptly become ill in order to help him, you utilize the help of a doctor. Your first thought is that you must make him as healthy as you are, not become as unhealthy as he is. When yon look at life from that point of view, it becomes quite different. If I were able to feed thousands of people tomorrow by some miracle, they would only be starving again the day after tomorrow; they would be in the same conditions which made them hungry. What we are concerned with is the changing of conditions. How do you change them? By tackling the principal thing that creates bad conditions, and that is selfishness, lack of affection, brutality, and so on. You will say that this is a very long process -but it is the only way. Please think it out, because I have no time to expand it. This is a question which comes up at every meeting. People say: what is the good of your being a World-Teacher if you cannot give me my happiness, if you cannot give me my bread for tomorrow? I say that by altering the attitude of mind and heart, you will create conditions, which will be lasting. All social workers now are feeding people, helping them to be different and so on and on and on. But they will never solve the question of selfishness, brutality, envy, jealousy, and the gnawing of the heart and the disturbance of the mind. And with that I am concerned, because if you solve that, you will solve everything else. Again I would like to remind you, to bear in mind this simile of the tree -the tree with all its strength, its glory, its power hidden and supporting the weak. You are solving the problem the other way. They are always bound to be the weak, the poor of mind and heart, the inexperienced; and it is the people who have experience, who have strength, who are full, who must support them. You are looking at the problem from the usual traditional point of view. Newspaper reporters ask me everywhere: why don't you go and work and do this and that? If I were to go and do all that, I should not be tackling things the right way. I should only be touching one branch of the tree, whereas I am concerned with the life of the tree. You may think that is an easy way of looking at things, but it is not. Yours is the most complicated view. When you go to a doctor what does he do if he's a good doctor? He is not going to cure one symptom from which you are suffering. He says: Don't not bother about the symptoms, I am going to help you to have strength to destroy all symptoms which give pain, by purifying your blood, giving you the proper nourishment that will help your blood to destroy impurity. That is the only way to tackle it. If you want to make a tree grow, it is no good decorating the branches. What you have to do is to feed and strengthen them. What you are all the time doing, is this. You all want to progress, and none of you know towards what. I say that progress towards freedom is the only thing that matters. For the tiger that is kept in a cage, to him progress is walking up and down without an end, and without letting him out of the cage you say that, in order to help him, you are going to decorate the bars of that cage. But glorifying the bars with beautiful decoration will never help the tiger to get out. Progress only comes when you have a fixed purpose, everything else is but the decorating of the cage, which binds humanity.
QUESTION--a: Please give us at least the broad outline of what the spiritual aristocrat, the genius unfettered by authority, should do to help the unhappy, suffering masses of humanity.
KRISHNAJI: I have been trying to do that the whole morning.
QUESTION--b: How can one talk of liberation and happiness to people who are the exploited slaves of the cruellest industrial system the world has ever seen? How can they help being mediocre who have no time, no strength left, after their day's work, for self-culture?
KRISHNAJI: Do not say that the working people workers comfortable, to give them leisure; they would with dogmas, with beliefs, with sects, who have put aside suffering and equally joy -such people are mediocre, not the working man, not the man who does not know where he will get his next meal. He is not mediocre. The man who knows where to get all his meals is generally mediocre.
QUESTION--c: How can one talk to them of revolt when revolt would only mean further suffering. How can we help those people who need help most?
KRISHNAJI: By showing them how to revolt intelligently towards a purpose, towards the attainment of that freedom which is essential for all. It is not enough to make of industry a wonderful thing, to make the workers comfortable, to give them leisure; they would still be bound by that same limitation. Ford is giving them leisure, making conditions ideal, and many, many industrialists are doing the same things, and yet they are only decorating the cage, they are supplying things which will but encourage useless desires. And as long as those desires exist, there are sure to be poisonous systems throughout the world. My concern is to utilize the desire in order to make men free, and not merely to decorate to gilded cage of civilization.
EERDE GATHERING 1928
Eerde, Holland, 1928
Jiddu Krishnamurti Eearly Writings teachings writings gathering Eerde works hapiness