1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?
2nd Public Talk 27th October, 1935
Friends, everyone desires to be happy, to be complete and to fulfil; to fulfil in order that there may be no emptiness, no void, but a deep richness of continual sufficiency. One calls this the search for truth or God, or gives some other name to it to convey the deep desire for reality. Now this desire, for most people, becomes merely an escape, a flight from the actuality of conflict. There is so much suffering and confusion in and about us that we seek a supposed reality as a means of flight from the present. For most people, what they call reality or God or happiness is merely an escape from suffering, from this continual tension between action and understanding. Each one tries to find an escape from this conflict through some kind of illusion which is offered by religions or by various so-called spiritual societies and sects; or he seeks to lose himself in some kind of activity.
Now if you carefully examine what these societies offer - organized, as they are, around a belief, as are all religions and sects - you will find that they give security, comfort, through a saviour or a Master, through guides, through following certain systems of thought, ideals and modes of conduct. All these modes of conduct, systems, assure a subtle form of egotistic security, self-defence against life, against the confusion created by thoughtlessness. As we cannot understand life with its swift movement, we look to systems to help us out, and these we call modes of conduct or patterns of behaviour. So, being afraid of confusion and sorrow, you create for yourselves an authority that assures you of safety and security against the flow of reality.
Take, for example, the desire to follow an ideal or a mode of conduct. Now why is there the need to follow an ideal, a principle or a pattern of behaviour? You say that you need an ideal because there is so much confusion in and about you; that this ideal will act as a guide, as a directive force to help you across this confusion, uncertainty and turmoil. In order not to be caught in this suffering, you subtly escape through an ideal, which you call living nobly. That is, you do not want to confront and understand the confusion itself, and you do not desire to comprehend the causes of conflict; your only concern is to avoid sorrow. So ideals, modes of conduct, offer a convenient escape from actuality. In the same way, if you examine your search for guides and saviours, there is in it a subtle and hidden desire to run away from suffering. When you talk about seeking truth, reality, you are really seeking complete self-protection, either here or in the hereafter. You are moulding yourself after a pattern that guarantees you against suffering. This pattern, this mould, you call morality, creed, belief.
Now all this indicates that there is a deep, hidden fear of life, which must naturally create authority. So where there is authority in the form of an ideal, a mode of conduct, or a person, there must be egotistic craving for protection and security. In this there is not a spark of reality. Thus your actions, shaped and controlled by ideals, are always made incomplete, for they are based upon defensive reaction against intelligence, life.
In following an ideal or a mode of conduct, or submitting oneself to a particular authority. either of religion, of a sect or of society, there cannot be true fulfilment; and only through fulfilment is there the bliss of truth.
As what we call our morality and ideals is based on self-defensive reactions against life, we are unconscious of them as impediments, as barriers which separate us from the movement of life. Complete fulfilment exists only when these self-protective barriers have been wholly dissipated by our own effort and intelligence.
If you would know the bliss of truth, you must become fully aware of these self-defensive barriers, and dissipate them through your own voluntary decision. This demands steady and continuous effort. Most people are not willing to make that effort. They would rather be told exactly what to do. they would rather be like machines, acting in the grooves of religious superstition and habit. You must examine these defensive barriers of ideals and morality and come directly into conflict with them. Until you as an individual voluntarily free yourself from these illusions, there cannot be the comprehension of truth. In dissolving these illusions of self-protection, the mind awakens to reality and its ecstasy.
Question: Is it possible to know Cod?
Krishnamurti: To speculate and intellectually draw conclusions as to whether God exists or not has to me no deep significance. You can know whether there is God or not, only with your whole being, not with one part of your being, the intellect. You have already a fixed belief either that there is God, or that there is not. If you approach this question either with a belief or with non-belief, you cannot discover reality, for your mind is already prejudiced.
You can discover whether there is or there is not God only by destroying these self-protective barriers and being completely vulnerable to life, wholly naked. This involves suffering, which alone can awaken intelligence from which is born true discernment. So what value has it if I tell you that there is or that there is not God? The various religions and sects throughout the world are filled with dead beliefs; and when you ask me whether I believe in God or not, you only want me to add another dead belief to the museum. To discover. you must come into conflict with the various illusions of which you are now unconscious; and in that conflict, without any escape through an ideal, through authority or the worship of another, there will be born the discernment of reality.
Question: Are you or are you not a member of the Theosophical Society?
Krishnamurti: I do not belong to any society or sect or party. I do not belong to any religion, for organized belief is a great impediment, dividing man against man and destroying his intelligence. These societies and religions are fundamentally based on vested interests and exploitation.
Question: How can I be free of sexual desire, which prevents me from leading the spiritual life?
Krishnamurti: For most people. life is not fulfilment but continued frustration. Our occupation is merely a means of earning a livelihood. In it there is no love, but only compulsion and frustration. So your work, which should be your true expression, is merely an adjustment to a pattern, and in this there is incompleteness. Your thoughts and emotions are limited and thwarted by fear, and so action brings about its own frustration. If you really observe your own life, you will see that society on the one hand, and the whole religious structure on the other, is forcing, compelling you to shape your thoughts and actions after a pattern based on self-protection and fear. So where there is continual frustration, naturally the problem of sex becomes overwhelming. Until the mind and heart are no longer slaves to environment, that is, until they have discerned the false in it through action, sex will be an increasing and overpowering problem. To treat it as unspiritual is absurd.
Most people are caught up in this problem, and to solve it truly, you must disentangle your creative thought and emotion from the impositions of religion and the stupid morality of society. (Applause) Through its own effort the mind must disentangle itself from the net of false values which society and religion have imposed upon it. Then there is true fulfilment, in which there are no problems.
Question: Will you tell us how to communicate with the spirits of the dead? How can we be sure that we are not deceived?
Krishnamurti: You know, it is becoming throughout the world a craze to communicate with the dead. It is a new kind of sensation, a new toy. Why do you want to communicate with the dead? Is it not because you want to be guided? Again you want to defend yourself against life, and you think a person being dead has become more wise and so able to guide you. To you the dead are more important than the living. What matters is, not whether you can communicate with the dead, but that you shall fulfil, without fear, completely and intelligently.
To understand life deeply and fully, there must be no fear either of the present or of the hereafter. If you do not penetrate the present environment through your own capacity and intelligence, you will naturally escape into the hereafter or seek guidance and so avoid the beauty of life. Because this environment is restrictive, exploiting, cruel, you find a release in the hereafter, in the search for guides, Masters and saviours. Until you act completely with regard to all the human problems, you will have various fears and subtle escapes. Where there is fear there must be illusion and ignorance. Fear can be eradicated only through your own effort and intelligence. Question: I gather that you are preaching the exaltation of the individual and that you are against the mass. How can individualism be conducive to co-operation and brotherhood? Krishnamurti: I am not doing anything of the kind. I am not preaching individualism at all. I am saying that there can be true cooperation only when there is intelligence; but to awaken that intelligence, every individual must be responsible for his effort and action. There cannot be a true mass movement if each one of you is still held in the prison of selfish defences. How can there be collective action for the welfare of the whole if each one of you is secretly acquisitive, defending himself and so fearing his neighbour, classifying himself as belonging to a particular religion or belief, or smitten with the disease of nationalism? How can there be intelligent co-operation when you have these secret prejudices and desires? To bring about intelligent action, it must begin with you, individually. Merely to create a mass movement involves exploitation and cruelty. When you, the individual, realize the stupidity and the cruelty of the interrelated social and religious environment, then through your intelligence will it be possible to create collective action without exploitation. So the important thing is not the exaltation of the individual or the mass, but the awakening of that intelligence which alone can bring about the true welfare of man.
Question: Will I reincarnate on earth in a future life?
Krishnamurti: I will explain briefly what is generally meant by reincarnation. The idea is that there is a gap, a division between man and reality, and this division is one of time and of understanding. To arrive at perfection, God or truth, you must go through various experiences till you have accumulated sufficient knowledge, equivalent to reality. This division between ignorance and wisdom is to be bridged only through constant accumulation, learning, which goes on life after life till you arrive at perfection. You who are imperfect now, shall become perfect; for that you must have time and opportunity, which necessitates rebirth. This, briefly, is the theory of reincarnation.
When you talk about the "I", what do you mean by it? You mean the name, the form, certain virtues, idiosyncrasies, prejudices, memories. In other words, the "I" is nothing but many layers of memories, the result of frustration, the limitation of action by environment, which cause incompleteness and sorrow. These many layers of memories, frustrations, become the limited consciousness which you call the "I". So you think that the "I" is to go on through time, becoming more and more perfect. But since that "I" is merely the result of frustration, how can it become perfect? The "I", being a limitation, cannot become perfect. It must ever remain a limitation. The mind must free itself from the cause of frustration now, for wisdom lies ever in the present. Understanding is not to be gained in a future.
Please, this needs careful thought. You want me to give you an assurance that you will live another life, but in that there is no happiness or wisdom. The search for immortality through reincarnation is essentially egotistic, and therefore not true. Your search for immortality is only another form of the desire for the continuance of self-defensive reactions against life and intelligence. Such a craving can only lead to illusion. So what matters is, not whether there is reincarnation, but to realize complete fulfilment in the present. And you can do that only when your mind and heart are no longer protecting themselves against life. The mind is cunning and subtle in its self-defence, and it must discern for itself the illusory nature of self-protection. This means that you must think and act completely anew. You must liberate yourself from the net of false values which environment has imposed upon you. There must be utter nakedness. Then there is immortality, reality.
1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?
2nd Public Talk 27th October, 1935
Jiddu Krishnamurti. What Is Right Action? The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1934..1935.