Life in Freedom
The Purpose of Life
As the shadows were awakening and a scent of the morn was carried on the breeze, I saw an eagle descending from the mountain-tops. It came down without a flutter of the wings into the valley, and there disappeared among the shadows of the black mountains. At the end of the day I saw it return again to its abode among the mountain peaks, far away from the strife, the struggle and the jostle of the world.
So is the man who has seen the vision of the Truth, who has, during his strife in the world, established for himself the eternal goal. Though he may wander among the transient things, and lose himself among the shadows, yet all his life will be guided by that goal. As the eagle soars to its abode, so will he soar beyond all sorrows, beyond all fleeting pleasures and passing joys.
The establishment of that eternal goal is of primary importance for one who desires to disentangle himself from all the complications of life -not the goal of another, nor the vision of another, but the goal that is born of his own experience, his own sorrow, suffering, and understanding. Such a goal, when once it is established, will throw light on the confusion of all thought, and thereby make clear the purpose of life.
As a ship that is lost at sea without a compass, so the man without the perception of the goal which is constant and eternal is lost in this world of confusion. As the captain of a ship establishes the destination of his vessel and by the compass is able to guide his course through stormy nights and dark waters, so the man who has knowledge of his goal can guide his life by that compass of understanding.
Because the individual does not know his purpose, he is in a state of uncertainty and chaos. Because the individual has not solved his own problem, the problem of the world has not been solved. The individual problem is the world problem. If an individual is unhappy, discontented, dissatisfied, then the world around him is in sorrow, discontent and ignorance. If the individual has not found his goal, the world will not find its goal. You cannot separate the individual from the world. The world and the individual are one. If the individual problem can be solved by understanding, so can the problem of the world be solved. Before you can give understanding to others you have first to understand for yourself. When you establish the Truth in your heart and mind, there it will abide eternally.
One day in Benares I was going in a boat down the sacred Ganges, watching the people on the river banks worshiping God in search of happiness, in search of their goal and the way of its attainment. I saw one man in deep meditation, forgetting everything around him, holding but the one thought in his mind -to find and to attain the goal. I saw another performing rites required by his system of yoga. I saw another repeating chants, lost to the world and to himself. They were all seeking what you are seeking, what everyone in the world is seeking in moments of deep thought, and of great desire.
As the boat is carried down the stream by the current, so is every one carried away by his desires, by his passions and longings, because not one has found or established his purpose. Because the goal has not been established, because the path that leads to that goal has not been found, there is confusion and chaos, there is questioning and doubt in the mind. As long as there is doubt in the mind there is no peace, nor certainty and ecstasy of purpose.
This condition exists throughout the world, but everywhere there is a heart beating and a mind capable of thought. Man everywhere is unconsciously seeking a way to free himself from his narrowness, his pettiness. The end of this search is freedom and eternal happiness. He experiments along many paths, and every path leads to complications. From life to life he wanders, from shrine to shrine, from one creed to another -gathering experience, accepting, rejecting, and again accepting- thus he goes forward towards that goal which awaits him as it awaits all men.
In the process of accumulation and rejection, he does not know which way to turn for comfort, and when he seeks comfort through any particular channel he is enmeshed and entangled. Because there are many interpreters of the Truth, because there are many conflicting paths, beliefs and religions, man is lost in their complexities. As a butterfly that knocks against the windowpane, struggling to escape into the fresh air and the open sky, so do men struggle when they have not caught a glimpse of the goal -but it is not hard to establish. It is because they are in darkness that the goal seems far away.
As the potter molds the clay to the delight of his imagination, so can man mold his life through the desire of his heart. As the earthen vessels are fashioned into beautiful or ugly forms, so life can be made beautiful or ugly according to the purpose which you have established for yourself.
I would help you to that goal which you are seeking, which you desire to attain -the goal which awaits all the peoples of the world, whatever their experiences, thoughts or feelings. Then you will be able to guide yourself through the darkness of the world as a man guides himself of a dark night by the stars.
If you once establish such a goal -which is happiness and hence freedom- life becomes simple. There is no longer confusion, and time, and the complications of time, disappear. It is because you have not established your goal that the present is as the mountain when the sun has set -the light fails and the darkness of the mountain overshadows the valley. Time is only a binder of life and the moment you are free you are beyond time.
Then you can guide yourself without depending upon any authority. Then you will no longer have fear. Then for you there will be no conflict of good and evil. When you have set life free you will find happiness, which is the only goal, the only absolute Truth.
Life in Freedom
The Purpose of Life
Jiddu Krishnamurti, Life in Freedom. Talks in Benares, Ojai and Ommen, 1928.