Banaras 1954, Rajghat School
Banaras, India 11th January 1954 6th Talk to Students at Rajghat School
We have been talking about fear and, I think, if we can go more into it, perhaps we shall awaken to initiative. Do you know what that word, initiative, means? To initiate, to begin. I will explain as I go along.
Don't you think that, in old countries like India, because of various things like climate. overpopulation and poverty tradition and authority control thinking? Have you not noticed in yourself how you want to obey your teacher, to obey your parents or your guardians, to follow an ideal, to follow a guru? The spirit of obedience, the following, the being told what to do - that creates an authority, does it not? You know what `authority' is? It implies someone to whom you look up, someone whom you want to obey, to follow. Because you are yourself afraid, because you yourself are uncertain, you create an authority; and by the creation of authority, you not only follow but you want others to follow, you take delight in following and in forcing others to follow.
I do not know if you have noticed it in yourself that behind this desire to obey, to follow, to imitate, to comply with somebody's wishes, is fear - fear not to do the right thing, fear to go wrong. So, authority gradually kills any kind of initiative - which is, to know how to do something easily, spontaneously, freely, out of yourself. Most of us lack that because the sense of creativity is destroyed in most of us. For instance, suppose you initiate some mischief which is your own, you tear, you destroy, you create some mischief; that feeling of doing something for yourself, out of yourself, without being asked, without being told what to do, that spirit of initiative is lost, because you are always surrounded by authority, by the older generation who seem to think they know what they are about although they do not, and who control you. So, gradually, the sense of doing things because you love to do them goes out of yourself and is destroyed. Have you ever walked down the road and picked up the stone that is in the way, picked up a piece of paper or torn rag, or plant, ed a tree which you will care for? When you have not been told to do these, you do them yourself, naturally; that is the beginning of initiative. When you see something to be mended, you mend it; when you see something that has to be done, without being told what to do, you do it, either in the kitchen or in the garden or in the house or on the road. Your mind gradually becomes free from fear, from authority; so you begin to do things yourself. I think it is very important to do that in life; otherwise, you become mere gramophones, playing over and over again the same tune, and so you lose all sense of freedom.
But the older generation, the past generation, because of their nervous desires, their fears, their apprehensions of insecurity, want to protect you, they want to guide you, they want to hold you in fear, and through fear they gradually destroy in you the freedom to do things, to make mistakes to find out, so that you begin to lose this extraordinary thing called initiative. Please ask your teachers about all this. You see how very few of us have that freedom - freedom not merely to do things but freedom out of which you want to do things. When you see somebody carrying a great weight, you want to help him, don't you? When you see the dishes being washed, you want to do it yourself sometimes. You want to wash your clothes, you want to do things out of freedom. Do you know what that means? If one goes into it very deeply, you will find an extraordinary creativity coming into being.
Truth is not something very far away, to be sought after, to be struggled and searched for. If you have freedom from the very beginning, from childhood, you will find as you mature and grow that, in that growth, there is initiative to do things spontaneously easily, naturally, without being told what to do. It is creative to write a poem, to be unafraid, to look at the stars, to let your mind wander, to look at the beauty of the earth and the astonishing things that the earth holds. To feel all this is really an extraordinary activity; and you cannot feel it without that freedom without that sense of initiative in which there is no authority, in which you do not obey merely because you are told what to do but you do things naturally, freely, easily, happily. As you go into it, you will see that you begin to take tremendous interest in everything, in the way you walk, in the way you talk, in the way you look at people, in the feelings you have, because all these things matter very much. If you have cultivated intelligence, this sense of freedom, all the time while at school, then a few months of intense study will be sufficient for you to pass your examinations. But now, what you are doing is to be concerned all the time with studies, with books, and you do not know what is happening all round you.
Have you watched those village women carrying weights on their heads - cow dung cakes, wood, hay, or fodder? How extraordinarily beautiful is their walk! Have you watched the so-called well-to-do people? Do you notice how heavy they grow and how dull, because they do not look at anything? They are concerned only with their little worries and their desires, and with how to control their fears and their appetites; so, they live in fear; and living in fear, they have to follow somebody, to obey, so that they create authority - the authority of the policeman, the authority of the lawyer, of the government at one level; and also spiritual authority, of books, of leaders, of gurus - so that, in themselves, they lose the beauty of living, of suffering, of understanding.
That is why it is very important that while you are at this school, you should understand all these things. Go out one day and plant a tree and look after it all the time while you are here. Find out what kind of tree to plant, what kind of manure to give it, and look after it. Then you will see something happening to you that you are close to the earth and not merely close to books. You are not interested in books after you get a job or after you pass your examination, and you will never look at another book. But there are trees, numerous flowers, living animals all around. If you do not have sensitivity to all these, you lose initiative and your minds become very small, petty, trivial, jealous, envious. It is very important while you are at this school to consider all these things, so that your minds become awakened to them.
You know, scientists say that we are only functioning 15 per cent. Our capacity to think is only 15 per cent; probably, if we learn to function 50 per cent we would do much more mischief. But without cultivating sensitivity, understanding, affection, kindliness, even with the 15 per cent capacity, we would do a great deal of damage and mischief; and with 50 per cent capacity we would do monstrous things.
If you understand all this, there comes a feeling of freedom from fear. How can you understand if you just listen to these talks and forget them? Do not listen to them that way. Listen so that you can live without fear, without following somebody; listen to be free, not when you are old but now.
To be free requires a great deal of intelligence. You cannot be free if you are a stupid person. Therefore, it is very important to awaken your intelligence while you are very young; and that intelligence cannot be when you are frightened, when you are following, when you want somebody to obey you or when you yourself obey somebody. All this requires a great deal of thinking over and that is real education. The education that most of us now get is only superficial.
Question: How can we create a happy world when there is suffering?
Krishnamurti: You did not listen to what I said. You were occupied with your question. While I was talking your mind was wondering how you were going to ask a question, how you were going to put it into words; so, your mind was occupied with what you were going to ask, and you did not really listen. There was no pause, no gap, between when I stopped and your question. You immediately jumped into it - which means, really you did not listen, you did not see the importance of what I was saying, you were not paying attention. It is really important to know how to listen to people - to the old man, or to your sister or to your brother or to the man that goes by - which means really your mind is quiet so that a new idea, a new feeling, a new perception can penetrate. What I was saying is really very complex very difficult. You did not let that penetrate, enter your mind, because your mind was occupied with `I must ask a question. How shall I put it?' Or you were looking out of the window. It is nice to look out because the trees are beautiful. But you watch somebody come in and your mind is all the time agitated like those leaves on the trees. So, please, as I suggested, write out your questions, and when I finish talking, wait and read your question. Then your mind will follow what I am talking, so that you begin to listen. I think if we know how to listen, we will learn much more than all the time struggling to listen, struggling to pay attention.
Some one asked `What is a beautiful world, and how can one create it when there is so much suffering?' Let us think it out together why it is that most of us want to do something. We think that activity, doing something, is more important than understanding what the problem is, what it is all about. You see a beggar, and your instinct is to give him something. But what generally happens is that, after giving, you forget all about it. You do not understand, you do not enquire into the whole question of poverty, poverty in the world. You know there are poor people and you also know that there is inward poverty. You may have a great deal of money, you may live in luxurious houses, but inwardly you may be as poor as a beggar. If you realize this you are afraid, you begin to read books, to acquire knowledge. It is like a rich man who covers himself with jewels and lives in a palace and thinks that he is rich.
You learn to read or quote a great many spiritual teachers and the Bhagavad Gita. You may want to do good, but you do not stop there. You want to help the world and to put an end to the misery in the world. So you join groups, you join a society, or you form an institution. You become a secretary, you pay dues, you get gradually lost in some organization. Actually, you do very little help to the world.
To do good really, you must understand yourself as you are doing good. Any action you do should help you to understand yourself, to go into yourself. Then in the transformation of yourself, in the changing of yourself, there is a possibility of bringing about a different world. But merely to do good or to join a society which will do good, seems to be superficial. But if in the very action of doing good, you begin to understand the complications of life, then out of that there can be a change, there can be a world in which suffering will not exist.
Question: Why is stealing considered to be bad?
Krishnamurti: Why do you think stealing is bad? You have a watch and I take it away from you. Do you think it is right? I take away something from you, which belongs to you, which your father has given to you or which you have got by some other means. I take it away from you without telling you, without your knowing it. Is it a good action? It may be that you have got it because of your greed. But I am equally greedy, equally acquisitive. So, I take it away from you. This is called stealing. Obviously it is not right. Is it? You see there are some boys and girls who steal as a habit, and older people do that too. Though they have money, though they have things which they need, the desire to steal overcomes them. That is a disease. It is a kind of mental perversion, an aberration a mental twist. Without understanding that twist, the older people generally punish or hurt and say that you must not steal, that it is very bad, and that you should be put in prison. They frighten you and so, the twist becomes more twisted, hidden, darker. But if there was an explanation, if the parent or the teacher took the trouble to explain and not condemn, not threaten, then perhaps the twist might disappear. One of the difficulties is that the teachers and the parents have no time, they have no patience; they have so many other children; they want a result, a quick result; and so, they threaten and hope that the boy will stop stealing. But it does not generally happen that way. The boy goes on quietly stealing.
I think, in a school of this kind, the teachers who live with you much more here, should explain all these things to you. You spend an hour in a class reading mathematics or geography. Why not spend ten minutes out of that time, in discussing these problems. As you begin to talk it over, the teachers as well as you, the students, become intelligent. I am not saying that the teachers are not intelligent, but they become more intelligent.
Question: What is a soul?
Krishnamurti: What is a soul? You are not talking about the shoe, I hope. There is also a fish called sole.
You think you have a soul, don't you? How do you know? You see, that is one of your difficulties. You accept things from your parents and you repeat them again and again and you say `Yes, I have got a soul'. What is a soul? Let us go into it slowly, step by step, and you will see something. In Benaras which is a city of the dead, so many people die. You also have seen a dead bird. The leaf in a tree, which is green, lovely, dancing, tender, withers and is blown away. Seeing all this, man says `Everything goes, everything disappears, nothing is permanent'. Black hair becomes grey; early in life you can walk ten miles or more but, later on, you can walk only two or three miles. Everything disappears. A tree which has lived for two or three hundred years is struck by lightning and disappears. There are trees in California which are three to five thousand years old; yet, they too will die. Very few things are permanent.
Seeing this extraordinary sense of impermanence, man says `There must be something permanent, something which does not die, which is not corrupted by time'. He begins to invent things that have permanency, creating out of his mind, God, soul, Atman, Paramatman and so on. He himself sees that he is impermanent; so he longs for something which is permanent, which will never die, which no thief can take away. So, his mind speculates and, in his fear, he invents. he imagines. He says there is a soul which cannot be destroyed. He says `My body may go I may die, I may be eaten away by worms; but there is something in me which is imperishable'. He states that and then he worships that; then he builds theories round it, he writes books and quarrels about it; but he never finds out for himself if there is really anything permanent. He never says `I know everything is impermanent. I too will die. I too will grow old, and disease and decay will take place. But I want to find out if there is something beyond. So let me not invent, let me not say there is a soul or there is an Atman or there is this and that. But let me find out, let me enquire'. If only I make up my mind to find out, to enquire, then, through that enquiry, through calming my fears through getting rid of my greed, through knowing myself, I go deeper and deeper and I may find out something which is not mere words.
You say there is character and character may be the soul. But what are you? You have certain tendencies, have you not?, certain idiosyncracies, certain ways, certain desires; all that is in you. You say `I am all that: and if I die, what happens to me? There must be something which must go on and on.' We went into all this, and it is a complex business. But do not accept anything unless you have searched out, unless you have gone into it yourself. Unfortunately your mind is engaged, and you are not awakening the mind so that it might go into this problem. When you accept, when you believe, you have stopped enquiring. So, to really enquire requires a mind which is very wide awake. Such a mind is not possible if you are following an authority or if there is fear. If you merely accept, you will never find out.
Question: What is joy?
Krishnamurti: A little boy asks `What is joy'? I wonder why he asks! Either he does not know what joy is - which would be really very sad - or he knows what joy is and wants to find out more about it. The boy is not going to understand what I am going to say, because unfortunately I cannot speak Hindi; but those who are responsible for that boy will please explain carefully and help him to understand his question. Will they please do it?
The boy wants to know what joy is. When you see a flower, you have a feeling, have you not? When you see a sunset, when you see a nice person, when you see a beautiful painting, when you walk freely up a mountain and look from the top of the mountain into the valley and see the various shades, the sunshine, the houses when you see somebody smile, have you not a feeling which you call joy? But the moment you say `I am joyous, I feel joy', the thing is gone. Do you follow? The moment you say `I am happy' you are no longer happy.
You see, we live in the past; we are already dying all the time; death is always with us. Duration is always our shadow, because we are always living in the past moment. That is why we say `I have known joy and it has gone, and I want to get it back'. So, the problem is to be conscious without the experiencing which is becoming the past. I am pursuing much too difficult a question. Sorry!
When you enjoy something, when you write a poem or read a book, when you dance or do something else, just leave it; do not say `I must have more of it'. Because, that will become greed and therefore is no longer a joy. Just be happy in the moment. If it is sunshine, enjoy it, do not say `I must have more'. If there are clouds, let them be; they also have their beauty. Do not say `I wish I had a more beautiful day'. What makes you miserable is the demand for the more. You listen to all this and wisely shake your head, but it does not penetrate, does not go down deep. When you really stop demanding for the more, when you are no longer acquisitive, you will have joy without your knowing.
Question: What is pathos?
Krishnamurti: Why have you now thought of pathos? Did you read the book, `The Three Musketeers'? One of the three musketeers is called Pathos.
The boy wants to know what is pathos. I wonder why he is asking such a question. Probably somebody else has put it, through him. I wish the older people would not do that; they are really corrupting the young mind. Boys are not interested in all this, the feeling of sorrow, the feeling of being pathetic, hopeless. I am sure the boy does not feel these things. The boy has his own problems. He wants to know why a bird flies, why there is light on the water, why his teachers or his parents are cruel to him, why he is not liked, why he must study, why he should obey some stupid old man. Those are his problems, not pathos. He wants to know what God is because it is so much talked of. Do encourage them to find out, to ask questions.
If you only want to know the meaning of pathos, look it up in a dictionary and you will find the meaning. You do not want any explanation or definition from me. Our minds are so easily satisfied with definitions and we think we have understood. Such a mind is very shallow,
Question: How can one listen to somebody?
Krishnamurti: You listen to some body if you are interested. You have asked that question. If you really want to know how to listen to somebody, you will find out, You are listening, aren't you? I want to know how to listen. I ask you and I listen to you because you may tell me something and from that I will learn, I will know how to listen. There is in that very action, in that very question, an indication of how to listen You ask me how to listen. Now, are you listening to what I am saying? Have you ever listened to a bird? Can you listen - not with a great strain, not with great effort, but just listen - easily, happily, with interest, so that your whole attention is there?
We do not listen that way, we are only eager to get something out of somebody. When you read, when you talk, you want to get something out of it. So, you never listen easily, happily. And when you do listen, you translate it into what is suitable to you, or you translate it according to what you have already read, thus getting more and more complicated, never listening peacefully easily quietly. Have you ever watched the moon for any length of time? Just watched it, or seen the waters go by, watched them without all the paraphernalia of sitting down and struggling to watch. If you do listen that way, you will hear much more, you will understand much more, of what is being said. Even if you have to listen to your mathematics or geography or history, just listen; you will learn much more. And you will also find out if your teacher is teaching you properly, or if he is merely becoming a gramophone record, repeating the same thing over and over again. Listening is a great art which very few of us know.
January 11, 1954
Banaras 1954, Rajghat School
Banaras, India 11th January 1954 6th Talk to Students at Rajghat School
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