Life Ahead Part Two Chapter 3
When you are young you are curious to know all about everything, why the sun shines, what the stars are, all about the moon and the world around us; but as we grow older, knowledge becomes a mere collection of information without any feeling. We become specialists, we know much about this or that subject, and we take very little interest in the things around us, the beggar in the street, the rich man passing by in his car. If we want to know why there are riches and poverty in the world, we can find an explanation. There is an explanation for everything, and explanation seems to satisfy most of us. The same holds true of religion. We are satisfied with explanations; and explaining everything away we call knowledge. And is this what we mean by education? Are we learning to find out, or are we merely asking for explanations, definitions, conclusions, in order to put our minds at rest so that we need not inquire further?
Our elders may have explained everything to us, but our interest has generally been deadened thereby. As we grow older life becomes more complex and very difficult. There are so many things to know, there is so much misery and suffering; and seeing all this complexity, we think we have resolved it all by explaining it away. Someone dies, and it is explained away; so suffering is deadened through explanation. Perhaps we revolt against the idea of war when we are young, but as we grow older we accept the explanation of war, and our minds become dull.
When we are young what is important is not to be satisfied with explanations, but to find out how to be intelligent and thereby discover the truth of things; and we cannot be intelligent if we are not free. It is said that freedom comes only when we are old and wise, but surely there must be freedom while we are still very young - not freedom to do what we like, but freedom to understand very deeply our own instincts and urges. There must be a freedom in which there is no fear, but one cannot be free from fear through an explanation. We are aware of death and the fear of death. By explaining death, can we know what dying is, or be free from the fear of death?
As we grow older it is important to have the capacity to think very simply. What is simplicity? Who is a simple person? A man who lives a hermit's life, who has very few belongings - is he really simple? Is not simplicity something entirely different? Simplicity is of the mind and heart. Most of us are very complex, we have many wants and desires. For example, you want to pass your examinations, you want to get a good job, you have ideals and want to develop a good character, and so on. The mind has so many demands; and does that make for simplicity? Is it not very important to find out?
A complex mind cannot find out the truth of anything, it cannot find out what is real - and that is our difficulty. From childhood we are trained to conform, and we do not know how to reduce complexity to simplicity. It is only the very simple and direct mind that can find the real, the true. We know more and more, but our minds are never simple; and it is only the simple mind that is creative.
When you paint a picture of a tree, what is it you are painting? Are you just painting a picture of the tree as it looks, with its leaves, its branches, its trunk, complete in every detail, or are you painting from the feeling which the tree has awakened in you? If the tree tells you something and you paint from that inner experience, though your feeling may be very complex, the picture that you paint will be the outcome of a great simplicity. It is necessary when you are young to keep your mind very simple, uncontaminated, although you may have all the information you want.
Questioner: If all of us were educated rightly, would we be free of fear?
Krishnamurti: It is very important to be free of fear, is it not? And you cannot be free of fear except through intelligence. So let us first find out how to be intelligent, not how to get rid of fear. If we can experience what it is to be intelligent, then we shall know how to get rid of fear. Fear is always with regard to something, it does not exist by itself. There is the fear of death, the fear of illness the fear of loss, the fear of one's parents, the fear of what people will say, and so on; and the question is, not how to get rid of fear, but how to awaken the intelligence with which to face and to understand and go beyond fear.
Now, how can education help us to be intelligent? What is intelligence? Is it a matter of passing examinations, or being clever? You may read many books, meet prominent people, have a lot of capacity, but does all that make you intelligent? Or is intelligence something which comes into being only as you become integrated? We are made up of many parts; sometimes we are resentful, jealous, violent, at other times we are humble, thoughtful, calm. At different moments we are deferent beings; we are never whole, never totally integrated, are we? When a human being has many wants, he is inwardly broken up into many beings.
One must approach the problem simply. The question is how to be intelligent so that you can be rid of fear. If from your earliest childhood whatever difficulty you may have had has been talked over with you so that your understanding of it is not just verbal, but enables you to see the whole of life, then such education can awaken intelligence and thereby free the mind of fear. Questioner: You have said that to be ambitious is to be stupid and cruel. Is it then stupid and cruel to have the ambition to get the right kind of education?
Krishnamurti: Are you ambitious? What is ambition? When you want to be better than another, to get higher marks than someone else - surely that is what we call ambition. A little politician is ambitious in wanting to become a big politician; but is it ambitious to want to have the right kind of education? Is it ambition when you do something because you love to do it? When you write or paint - not because you want prestige, but because you love to write or paint - , that is not ambition, surely. Ambition comes in when you compare yourself with other writers or artists, when you want to get ahead.
So, it is not ambition when you do something because you really love to do it.
Questioner: When one wants to find truth or peace, one becomes a sannyasi. So a sannyasi has simplicity.
Krishnamurti: Does one know simplicity when one wants peace? Is it by becoming a sannyasi or a sadhu that one is simple? Surely, peace is something which is not of the mind. If I want peace, and I try to remove from my mind all thoughts of violence, will that bring me peace? Of if I have many desires and I say that I must have no desire, will I be peaceful? The moment you want something you are in conflict struggle, and what brings about simplicity is your own understanding of the whole process of wanting.
Questioner: If we are educated in the right way we are free of fear, and if we are educated wrongly we are fearful. Is that true?
Krishnamurti: It is obviously true, is it not? And are we not all afraid of something or other? Everyone is frightened of something - of public opinion, death, disease. That is an obvious fact. Questioner: If, as you say, everyone is afraid, then no one is a saint or a hero. Are there no great men then in this world?
Krishnamurti: That is mere logical reasoning, is it not? Why should we bother about great men, saints, heroes? What matters is what you are. If you are afraid, you are going to create an ugly world. That is the question, not whether there are great men.
Questioner: You said explanation is a bad thing. We have come here for explanation. Is that bad?
Krishnamurti: I did not say explanation is bad; I said don't be satisfied with explanations.
Questioner: What is your idea about the future of India?
Krishnamurti: I have no idea, no idea at all. I don't think India as India matters very much. What matters is the world. Whether we live in China or Japan, in England, India or America, we all say, "My country matters very much", and nobody thinks of the world as a whole; history books are full of the constant repetition of wars. If we can begin to understand ourselves as human beings, then perhaps we shall stop killing each other and put an end to wars; but as long as we are nationalistic and think only of our own country, we shall go on creating a terrible world. If once we see that this is our earth where we can all live happily and at peace, then together we shall build anew; but if we go on thinking of ourselves as Indians, Germans, or Russians, and regard everybody else as foreigners, then there will be no peace and no new world can be created.
Questioner: You say there are very few people in this world who are great. Then what are you?
Krishnamurti: It does not matter what I am. What matters is to find out the truth or the falseness of what is being said. If you think such-and-such a thing is important because so-and-so is saying it, then you are not really listening, you are not trying to find out for yourself what is true and what is false.
But you see most of us are afraid to find out for ourselves what is true and what is false, and that is why we merely accept what somebody else says. The important thing is to question, to observe, never to accept. Unfortunately, most of us only listen to those whom we regard as great people, to an established authority, to the Upanishads, the Gita, or whatever it is. We never listen to the birds, to the sound of the sea, or to the beggar. So we miss what the beggar is saying - and there may be truth in what the beggar is saying, and none at all in what is said by the rich man or the man in authority.
Questioner: We read books out of inquisitiveness. When you were young were you not inquisitive?
Krishnamurti: Do you think that merely by reading books you find out for yourself what is true? Do you discover anything by repeating what others have said? Or do you discover only by searching, doubting, never accepting? Many of us read lots of books about philosophy, and this reading shapes our minds - which makes it very difficult to find out for ourselves what is true and what is false. When the mind is already moulded, shaped, it can discover the truth only with the greatest difficulty.
Questioner: Should we not be concerned about the future?
Krishnamurti: What do you mean by the future? Twenty or fifty years hence - is that what you mean by the future? The future that is many years away is very uncertain, is it not? You do not know what is going to happen, so what is the good of being troubled or disturbed about it? There may be a war, an epidemic; anything may happen, so the future is uncertain, it is unknown. What matters is how you are living now, what you are thinking, feeling now. The present, which is today matters very much, not tomorrow or what is going to happen twenty years hence; and to understand the present requires a great deal of intelligence.
Questioner: When we are young we are very playful, and do not always know what is good for us. If a father advises his son for the good of the son, should not the son follow his father's advice?
Krishnamurti: What do you think? If I am a parent, I must first find out what my son really wants to do in life, must I not? Does the parent know enough about the child to advise him? Has the parent studied the child? How can a parent who has very little time to observe his child offer him advice? It sounds nice to say that the father should guide his son; but if the father does not know his son, then what is to be done? A child has his own propensities and capacities which have to be studied, not just for a certain time or at a particular place, but throughout the period of his childhood.
Questioner: You said last time that the idealist is a hypocrite. If we want to construct a building, we must first have an idea of it. Similarly, must we not first have an ideal if we are to bring about a new world?
Krishnamurti: To have an idea of a building which you want to construct is not the same as being idealistic about something. Surely they are two different things.
Questioner: By aiming at the well-being of our own country, do we not also aim at the well-being of humanity? Is it within the reach of the common man to aim directly at the well-being of humanity?
Krishnamurti: When we seek the well-being of one country at the expense of other countries, it leads to exploitation and imperialism. As long as we think exclusively of our own country, it is bound to create conflict and war.
When you ask whether it is within the reach of the common man to aim directly at the well-being of humanity, what do you mean by the common man? Are not you and I the common man? Are we different from the common man? What is there so uncommon about us? We are all ordinary human beings, are we not? Just because we possess clean clothes, wear shoes, or have a car, do you think we are different from others who have not these things? We are all ordinary - and if we really understand this, we can bring about a revolution. It is one of the faults of our present education that it makes us feel so exclusive, so much on a pedestal above the so-called man in the street.
Life Ahead Part Two Chapter 3
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