Think on These Things
This Matter of Culture Chapter 16
THE OTHER MORN1NG I saw a dead body being carried away to be burnt. It was wrapped in bright magenta cloth and it swayed with the rhythm of the four mortals who were carrying it. I wonder what kind of impression a dead body makes on one. Don't you wonder why there is deterioration? You buy a brand new motor, and within a few years it is worn out. The body also wears out; but don't you inquire a little further to find out why the mind deteriorates? Sooner or later there is the death of the body, but most of us have minds which are already dead. Deterioration has already taken place; and why does the mind deteriorate? The body deteriorates because we are constantly using it and the physical organism wears out. Disease, accident, old age, bad food, poor heredity - these are the factors which cause the deterioration and death of the body. But why should the mind deteriorate, become old, heavy, dull?
When you see a dead body, have you never wondered about this? Though our bodies must die, why should the mind ever deteriorate? Has this question never occurred to you? For the mind does deteriorate - we see it not only in old people, but also in the young. We see in the young how the mind is already becoming dull, heavy, insensitive; and if we can find out why the mind deteriorates, then perhaps we shall discover something really indestructible. We may understand what is eternal life, the life that is unending, that is not of time, the life that is incorruptible, that does not decay like the body which is carried to the ghats, burnt and the remains thrown into the river.
Now, why does the mind deteriorate? Have you ever thought about it? Being still very young - and if you have not already been made dull by society, by your parents, by circumstances - you have a fresh, eager, curious mind. You want to know why the stars exist, why the birds die, why the leaves fall, how the jet plane flies; you want to know so many things. But that vital urge to inquire, to find out, is soon smothered, is it not? It is smothered by fear, by the weight of tradition, by our own incapacity to face this extraordinary thing called life. Haven't you noticed how quickly your eagerness is destroyed by a sharp word, by a disparaging gesture, by the fear of an examination or the threat of a parent - which means that sensitivity is already being pushed aside and the mind made dull?
Another cause of dullness is imitation. You are made to imitate by tradition. The weight of the past drives you to conform, toe the line, and through conformity the mind feels safe, secure; it establishes itself in a well-oiled groove so that it can run smoothly without disturbance, without a quiver of doubt. Watch the grown-up people about you and you will see that their minds do not want to be disturbed. They want peace, even though it is the peace of death; but real peace is something entirely different.
When the mind establishes itself in a groove, in a pattern, haven't you noticed that it is always prompted by the desire to be secure? That is why it follows an ideal, an example, a guru. It wants to be safe, undisturbed, therefore it imitates. When you read in your history books about great leaders, saints, warriors, don't you find yourself wanting to copy them? Not that there aren't great people in the world; but the instinct is to imitate great people, to try to become like them, and that is one of the factors of deterioration because the mind then sets itself in a mould.
Furthermore, society does not want individuals who are alert, keen, revolutionary, because such individuals will not fit into the established social pattern and they may break it up. That is why society seeks to hold your mind in its pattern, and why your so-called education encourages you to imitate, to follow, to conform.
Now, can the mind stop imitating? That is, can it cease to form habits? And can the mind, which is already caught in habit, be free of habit?
The mind is the result of habit, is it not? It is the result of tradition, the result of time - time being repetition, a continuity of the past. And can the mind, your mind, stop thinking in terms of what has been - and of what will be, which is really a projection of what has been? Can your mind be free from habit and from creating habits? If you go into this problem very deeply you will find that it can; and when the mind renews itself without forming new patterns, habits, without again falling into the groove of imitation, then it remains fresh, young, innocent, and is therefore capable of infinite understanding.
For such a mind there is no death because there is no longer a process of accumulation. It is the process of accumulation that creates habit, imitation, and for the mind that accumulates there is deterioration, death. But a mind that is not accumulating, not gathering, that is dying each day, each minute - for such a mind there is no death. It is in a state of infinite space.
So the mind must die to everything it has gathered - to all the habits, the imitated virtues, to all the things it has relied upon for its sense of security. Then it is no longer caught in the net of its own thinking. In dying to the past from moment to moment the mind is made fresh, therefore it can never deteriorate or set in motion the wave of darkness.
Questioner: How can we put into practice what you are telling us?
Krishnamurti: You hear something which you think is right and you want to carry it out in your everyday life; so there is a gap between what you think and what you do, is there not? You think one thing, and you are doing something else. But you want to put into practice what you think, so there is this gap between action and thought; and then you ask how to bridge the gap, how to link your thinking to your action.
Now, when you want to do something very much, you do it, don't you? When you want to go and play cricket, or do some other thing in which you are really interested, you find ways and means of doing it; you never ask how to put it into practice. You do it because you are eager, because your whole being, your mind and heart are in it.
But in this other matter you have become very cunning, you think one thing and do another. You say,'`That is an excellent idea and intellectually I approve, but I don't know what to do about it, so please tell me how to put it into practice" - which means that you don't want to do it at all. What you really want is to postpone action, because you like to be a little bit envious, or whatever it is. You say, "Everybody else is envious, so why not I?", and you just go on as before. But if you really don't want to be envious and you see the truth of envy as you see the truth of a cobra, then you cease to be envious and that is the end of it; you never ask how to be free of envy.
So what is important is to see the truth of something, and not ask how to carry it out - which really means that you don't see the truth of it. When you meet a cobra on the road you don't ask, "What am I to do?" You understand very well the danger of a cobra and you stay away from it. But you have never really examined all the implications of envy; nobody has ever talked to you about it, gone into it very deeply with you. You have been told that you must not be envious, but you have never looked into the nature of envy; you have never observed how society and all the organized religions are built on it, on the desire to become something. But the moment you go into envy and really see the truth of it, envy drops away.
To ask, "How am I to do it?" is a thoughtless question, because when you are really interested in something which you don't know how to do, you go at it and soon begin to find out. If you sit back and say, "Please tell me a practical way to get rid of greed," you will continue to be greedy. But if you inquire into greed with an alert mind, without any prejudice, and if you put your whole being into it, you will discover for yourself the truth of greed; and it is the truth that frees you, not your looking for a way to be free.
Questioner: Why are our desires never fully realized? Why are there always hindrances that prevent us from doing completely as we wish?
Krishnamurti: If your desire to do something is complete, if your whole being is in it without seeking a result, without wanting to fulfil - which means without fear - then there is no hindrance. There is a hindrance, a contradiction only when your desire is incomplete, broken up: you want to do something and at the same time you are afraid to do it, or you half want to do something else. Besides, can you ever fully realize your desires? Do you understand? I will explain.
Society, which is the collective relationship between man and man, does not want you to have a complete desire, because if you did you would be a nuisance, a danger to society. You are permitted to have respectable desires like ambition, envy - that is perfectly all right. Being made up of human beings who are envious, ambitious, who believe and imitate, society accepts envy, ambition, belief, imitation, even though these are all intimations of fear. As long as your desires fit into the established pattern, you are a respectable citizen. But the moment you have a complete desire, which is not of the pattern, you become a danger; so society is always watching to prevent you from having a complete desire, a desire which would be the expression of your total being and therefore bring about a revolutionary action.
The action of being is entirely different from the action of becoming. The action of being is so revolutionary that society rejects it and concerns itself exclusively with the action of becoming, which is respectable because it fits into the pattern. But any desire that expresses itself in the action of becoming, which is a form of ambition, has no fulfilment. Sooner or later it is thwarted, impeded, frustrated, and we revolt against that frustration in mischievous ways.
This is a very important question to go into, because as you grow older you will find that your desires are never really fulfilled. In fulfilment there is always the shadow of frustration, and in your heart there is not a song but a cry. The desire to become to become a great man, a great saint, a great this or that - has no end and therefore no fulfilment; its demand is ever for the 'more', and such desire always breeds agony, misery, wars. But when one is free of all desire to become there is a state of being whose action is totally different. It is. That which is has no time. it does not think in terms of fulfilment. Its very being is its fulfilment. Questioner: I see that I am dull, but others say I am intelligent. Which should affect me: my seeing or their saying?
Krishnamurti: Now listen to the question very carefully, very quietly, don't try to find an answer. If you say that I am an intelligent man, and I know very well that I am dull, will what you say affect me? It will if I am trying to be intelligent, will it not? Then I shall be flattered, influenced by your remark. But if I see that a dull person can never cease to be dull by trying to be intelligent, then what happens?
Surely, if I am stupid and I try to be intelligent, I shall go on being stupid because trying to be or to become something is part of stupidity. A stupid person may acquire the trimmings of cleverness, he may pass a few examinations, get a job, but he does not thereby cease to be stupid. (Please follow this, it is not a cynical statement.) But the moment a person is aware that he is dull, stupid, and instead of trying to be intelligent he begins to examine and understand his stupidity - in that moment there is the awakening of intelligence.
Take greed. Do you know what greed is? It is eating more food than you need, wanting to outshine others at games, wanting to have more property, a bigger car than someone else. Then you say that you must not be greedy, so you practise non-greed which is really silly, because greed can never cease by trying to become non-greed. But if you begin to understand all the implications of greed, if you give your mind and heart to finding the truth of it, then you are free from greed as well as from its opposite. Then you are a really intelligent human being, because you are tackling what is and not imitating what should be.
So, if you are dull, don't try to be intelligent or clever, but understand what it is that is making you dull. Imitation, fear, copying somebody, following an example or an ideal - all this makes the mind dull. When you stop following, when you have no fear, when you are capable of thinking clearly for yourself - are you not then the brightest of human beings? But if you are dull and try to be clever you will join the ranks of those who are pretty dull in their cleverness. Questioner: Why are we naughty?
Krishnamurti: If you ask yourself this question when you are naughty, then it has significance, it has meaning. But when you are angry, for example, you never ask why you are angry, do you? It is only afterwards that you ask this question. Having been angry, you say, "How stupid, I should not have been angry". Whereas, if you are aware, thoughtful at the moment of anger without condemning it, if you are `all there' when the turmoil comes up in your mind, then you will see how quickly it fades away.
Children are naughty at a certain age, and they should be, because they are full of beans, life, ginger, and it has to break out in some form or other. But you see, this is really a complex question, because naughtiness may be due to wrong food, a lack of sleep, or a feeling of insecurity, and so on. If all the factors involved are not properly understood, then naughtiness on the part of children becomes a revolt within society, in which there is no release for them.
Do you know what `delinquent' children are? They are children who do all kinds of terrible things; they are in revolt within the prison of society because they have never been helped to understand the whole problem of existence. They are so vital, and some of them are extraordinarily intelligent, and their revolt is a way of saying, "Help us to understand, to break through this compulsion, this terrible conformity". That is why this question is very important for the educator, who needs educating more than the children.
Questioner: I am used to drinking tea. One teacher says it is a bad habit, and another says it is all right.
Krishnamurti: What do you think? Put aside for the moment what other people say, it may be their prejudice, and listen to the question. What do you think of a young boy being `used' to something already - drinking tea, smoking, competitive eating, or whatever it is? It may be all right to have fallen into a habit of doing something when you are seventy or eighty, with one foot in the grave; but you are just beginning your life, and already to be used to something is a terrible thing, is it not? That is the important question, not whether you should drink tea.
You see, when you have become used to something, your mind is already on its way to the graveyard. If you think as a Hindu, a communist, a Catholic, a Protestant, then your mind is already going down, deteriorating. But if your mind is alert, inquiring to find out why you are caught in a certain habit, why you think in a particular way, then the secondary question of whether you should smoke or drink tea can be dealt with.
Think on These Things
This Matter of Culture Chapter 16
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