Think on These Things
This Matter of Culture Chapter 22
A MAN IN sannyasi robes used to come every morning to gather flowers from the trees in a nearby garden. His hands and his eyes were greedy for the flowers, and he picked every flower within reach. He was evidently going to offer them to some dead image, a thing made of stone. The flowers were lovely, tender things just opening to the morning sun, and he did not pick them gently, but tore them off, viciously stripping the garden of whatever it held. His god demanded lots of flowers - lots of living things for a dead stone image.
Another day I watched some young boys picking flowers. They were not going to offer the flowers to any god; they were talking and thoughtlessly tearing off the flowers, and throwing them away. Have you ever observed yourself doing this? I wonder why you do it? As you walk along you will break off a twig, strip away the leaves and drop it. Have you not noticed this thoughtless action on your part? The grown-up people do it too, they have their own way of expressing their inner brutality, this appalling disrespect for living things. They talk about harmlessness, yet everything they do is destructive.
One can understand your picking a flower or two to put in your hair, or to give to somebody with love; but why do you just tear at the flowers? The grown-ups are ugly in their ambition, they butcher each other in their wars and corrupt each other with money. They have their own forms of hideous action; and apparently the young people here as elsewhere are following in their footsteps.
The other day I was out walking with one of the boys and we came upon a stone lying on the road. When I removed it, he asked, "Why did you do that?" What does this indicate. Is it not a lack of consideration, respect? You show respect out of fear, do you not? You promptly jump up when an elder comes into the room, but that is not respect, it is fear; because if you really felt respect you would not destroy the flowers, you would remove a stone from the road, you would tend the trees and help to take care of the garden. But, whether we are old or young, we have no real feeling of consideration. Why? Is it that we don't know what love is?
Do you understand what simple love is? Not the complexity of sexual love nor the love of God, but just love, being tender, really gentle in one's whole approach to all things. At home you don't always get this simple love, your parents are too busy; at home there may be no real affection, no tenderness, so you come here with that background of insensitivity and you behave like everybody else. And how is one to bring about sensitivity? Not that you must have regulations against picking the flowers, for when you are merely restrained by regulations, there is fear. But how is there to come into being this sensitivity which makes you alert not to do any harm to people, to animals, to flowers?
Are you interested in all this? You should be. If you are not interested in being sensitive, you might as well be dead - and most people are. Though they eat three meals a day, have jobs, procreate children, drive cars, wear fine clothes, most people are as good as dead.
Do you know what it means to be sensitive? It means, surely, to have a tender feeling for things: to see an animal suffering and do something about it, to remove a stone from the path because so many bare feet walk there, to pick up a nail on the road because somebody's car might get a puncture. To be sensitive is to feel for people, for birds, for flowers, for trees - not because they are yours, but just because you are awake to the extraordinary beauty of things. And how is this sensitivity to be brought about?
The moment you are deeply sensitive you naturally do not pluck the flowers; there is a spontaneous desire not to destroy things, not to hurt people, which means having real respect,love. To love is the most important thing in life. But what do I mean by love? When you love someone because that person loves you in return, surely that is not love. To love is to have this extraordinary feeling of affection without asking anything in return. You may be very clever, you may pass all your examinations, get a doctorate and achieve a high position, but if you have not this sensitivity, this feeling of simple love, your heart will be empty and you will be miserable for the rest of your life.
So it is very important for the heart to be filled with this sense of affection, for then you won't destroy, you won't be ruthless, and there won't be wars any more. Then you will be happy human beings; and because you are happy you won't pray, you won't seek God, for that happiness itself is God.
Now, how is this love to come into being? Surely, love must begin with the educator, the teacher. If, besides giving you information about mathematics, geography, or history, the teacher has this feeling of love in his heart and talks about it, if he spontaneously removes the stone from the road and does not allow the servant to do all the dirty jobs; if in his conversation, in his work, in his play, when he eats, when he is with you or by himself, he feels this strange thing and points it out to you often, then you also will know what it is to love.
You may have a clear skin, a nice face, you may wear a lovely sari or be a great athlete, but without love in your heart you are an ugly human being, ugly beyond measure; and when you love, whether your face is homely or beautiful, it has a radiance. To love is the greatest thing in life; and it is very important to talk about love, to feel it, to nourish it, to treasure it, otherwise it is soon dissipated, for the world is very brutal. If while you are young you don't feel love, if you don't look with love at people, at animals, at flowers, when you grow up you will find that your life is empty; you will be very lonely, and the dark shadows of fear will follow you always. But the moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed.
Questioner: Why is it that always so many rich and important people are invited to school functions?
Krishnamurti: What do you think? Don't you want your father to be an important man? Are you not proud if he becomes a member of parliament and is mentioned in the newspaper. If he takes you to live in a big house or if he goes to Europe and comes back puffing a cigar, are you not pleased?
You see, the wealthy and those in power are very useful to institutions. The institution flatters them and they do something for the institution, so it works both ways. But the question is not just why the school invites the important people to its functions; it is why you also want to be an important person or why you want to marry the richest, the best known, or the most handsome man. Don't you all want to be a big something or other? And when you have those desires, you have in you already the seed of corruption. Do you understand what I am saying?
Put aside for the moment the question of why the school invites the wealthy because there are also poor people at these functions. But do any of you sit near the poor people, near the villagers? Do you? And have you noticed another extrao1dinary thing: how the sannyasis want to be seated prominently, how they push their way to the front? We all want to have prominence, recognition. The true Brahmin is one who does not ask anything from anyone, not because he is proud, but because he is a light unto himself; but we have lost all that.
You know, there is a marvellous story about Alexander when he came to India. Having conquered the country, he wanted to meet the prime minister who had created such order in the land and had brought about such honesty, such incorruptibility among the people. When the king explained that the prime minister a Brahmin who had returned to his village, Alexander asked that he come to see him. The king sent for the prime minister, but he would not come because he did not care to show himself off to anyone. Unfortunately we have lost that spirit. Being in ourselves empty, dull, sorrowful, we are psychological beggars, seeking someone or something to nourish us, to give us hope, to sustain us, and that is why we make normal things ugly.
It is all right for some prominent official to come to lay the corner stone of a building; what harm is there in that? But what is corrupting is the whole spirit behind it. You never go to visit the villagers, do you? You never talk to them, feel with them, see for yourself how little they have to eat, how endlessly they work day after day without rest; but because I happen to have pointed out to you certain things, you are ready to criticize others. Don't sit around and criticize, that is empty, but go and find out for yourself what the conditions are in the villages and do something there: plant a tree, talk to the villagers, invite them here, play with their children. Then you will find that a different kind of society comes into being, because there will be love in the land. A society without love is like a land without rivers, it is as a desert; but where there are rivers the land is rich, it has abundance, it has beauty. Most of us grow up without love, and that is why we have created a society as hideous as the people who live in it.
Questioner: You say that God is not in the graven image, but others say that he is indeed there, and that if we have faith in our hearts his power will manifest itself. What is the truth of worship?
Krishnamurti: The world is as full of opinions as it is of people. And you know what an opinion is. You say this, and somebody else says that. Each one has an opinion, but opinion is not truth; therefore do not listen to mere opinion, it does not matter whose it is, but find out for yourself what is true. Opinion can be changed overnight, but truth cannot be changed.
Now, you want to find out for yourself whether God or truth is in the graven image, do you not? What is a graven image? It is a thing conceived by the mind and fashioned of wood or of stone by the hand. The mind projects the image; and do you think an image projected by the mind is God, though a million people assert that it is?
You say that if the mind has faith in the image, then the image will give power to the mind. Obviously; the mind creates the image and then derives power from its own creation. That is what the mind is everlastingly doing: producing images and drawing strength, happiness, benefit from those images, thereby remaining empty, inwardly poverty-stricken. So what is important is not the image, or what the millions say about it, but to understand the operation of your own mind.
The mind makes and unmakes gods, it can be cruel or kind. The mind has the power to do the most extraordinary things. It can hold opinions, it can create illusions, it can invent jet planes that travel at tremendous speed; it can build beautiful bridges, lay vast railways, devise machines that calculate beyond the capacity of man. But the mind cannot create truth. What it creates is not truth, it is merely an opinion, a judgment. So it is important to find out for yourself what is true.
To find out what is true, the mind must be without any movement, completely still. That stillness is the act of worship, not your going to the temple to offer flowers and pushing aside the beggar on the way. You propitiate the gods because you are afraid of them, but that is not worship. When you understand the mind and the mind is completely still, not made still, then that stillness is the act of worship; and in that stillness there comes into being that which is true, that which is beautiful, that which is God.
Questioner: You said one day that we should sit quietly and watch the activity of our own mind, but our thoughts disappear as soon as we begin consciously to observe them. How can we perceive our own mind when the mind is the perceiver as well as that which it perceives?
Krishnamurti: This is a very complex question, and many things are involved in it.
Now, is there a perceiver, or only perception? Please follow this closely. Is there a thinker, or only thinking? Surely, the thinker does not exist first. First there is thinking, and then thinking creates the thinker - which means that a separation in thinking has taken place. It is when this separation takes place that there comes into being the watcher and the watched, the perceiver and the object of perception. As the questioner says, if you watch your mind, if you observe a thought, that thought disappears, it fades away; but there is actually only perception, not a perceiver. When you look at a flower, when you just see it, at the moment is there an entity who sees? Or is there only seeing? Seeing the flower makes you say, "How nice it is, I want it; so the 'I' comes into being through desire, fear, greed, ambition, which follow in the wake of seeing. It is these that create the `I', and the `I' is non-existent without them.
If you go deeper into this whole question you will discover that when the mind is very quiet, completely still, when there is not a movement of thought and therefore no experiencer, no observer, then that very stillness has its own creative understanding. In that stillness the mind is transformed into something else. But the mind cannot find that stillness through any means, through any discipline, through any practice; it does not come about through sitting in a corner and trying to concentrate. That stillness comes when you understand the ways of the mind. It is the mind that has created the stone image which people worship; it is the mind that has created the Gita, the organized religions, the innumerable beliefs; and, to find out what is real, you must go beyond the creations of the mind.
Questioner: Is man only mind and brain, or something more than this?
Krishnamurti: How are you going to find out? If you merely believe, speculate, or accept what Shankara, Buddha, or somebody else has said, you are not investigating, you are not trying to find out what is true.
You have only one instrument, which is the mind; and the mind is the brain also. Therefore, to find out the truth of this matter, you must understand the ways of the mind, must you not? If the mind is crooked you will never see straight; if the mind is very limited you cannot perceive the illimitable. The mind is the instrument of perception and, to perceive truly, the mind must be made straight, it must be cleansed of all conditioning, of all fear. The mind must also be free of knowledge, because knowledge diverts the mind and makes things twisted. The enormous capacity of the mind to invent, to imagine, to speculate, to think - must not this capacity be put aside so that the mind is very clear and very simple? Because it is only the innocent mind, the mind that has experienced vastly and yet is free of knowledge and experience - it is only such a mind that can discover that which is more than brain and mind. Otherwise what you discover will be coloured by what you have already experienced, and your experience is the result of your conditioning.
Questioner: What is the difference between need and greed?
Krishnamurti: Don't you know? Don't you know when you have what you need? And does not something tell you when you are greedy? Begin at the lowest level, and you will see it is so. You know that when you have enough clothes, jewels, or whatever it is, you don't have to philosophize about it. But the moment need moves into the field of greed, it is then that you begin to philosophize to rationalize, to explain away your greed. A good hospital, for example, requires so many beds, a certain standard of cleanliness, certain antiseptics, this and that. A travelling man must perhaps have a car, an overcoat, and so on. That is need. You need a certain knowledge and skill to carry on your craft. If you are an engineer you must know certain things - but that knowledge can become an instrument of greed. Through greed the mind uses the objects of need as a means of self-advancement. It is a very simple process if you observe it. If, being aware of your actual needs, you also see how greed comes in, how the mind uses the objects of need for its own aggrandizement, then it is not very difficult to distinguish between need and greed.
Questioner: If the mind and the brain are one, then why is it that when a thought or an urge arises which the brain tells us is ugly the mind so often goes on with it?
Krishnamurti: Actually what takes place? If a pin pricks your arm, the nerves carry the sensation to your brain, the brain translates it as pain, then the mind rebels against the pain, and you take away the pin or otherwise do something about it. But there are some things which the mind goes on with, even though it knows them to be ugly or stupid. It knows how essentially stupid it is to smoke, and yet one goes on smoking. Why? Because it likes the sensations of smoking, and that is all. If the mind were as keenly aware of the stupidity of smoking as it is of the pain of a pinprick, it would stop smoking immediately. But it doesn't want to see it that clearly because smoking has become a pleasurable habit. It is the same with greed or violence. If greed were as painful to you as the pinprick in your arm, you would instantly stop being greedy, you wouldn't philosophize about it; and if you were really awake to the full significance of violence, you wouldn't write volumes about non-violence - which is all nonsense, because you don't feel it, you just talk about it. If you eat something which gives you a violent tummyache, you don't go on eating it, do you? You put it aside immediately. Similarly, if you once realized that envy and ambition are poisonous, vicious, cruel, as deadly as the sting of a cobra, you would awaken to them. But, you see, the mind does not want to look at these things too closely; in this area it has vested interests, and it refuses to admit that ambition, envy, greed, lust are poisonous. Therefore it says, "Let us discuss non-greed, non-violence, let us have ideals" - and in the meantime it carries on with its poisons. So find out for yourself how corrupting, how destructive and poisonous these things are, and you will soon drop them; but if you merely say, "I must not" and go on as before, you are playing the hypocrite. Be one thing or the other, hot or cold.
Think on These Things
This Matter of Culture Chapter 22
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