1933, The Art of Listening
1st Public Talk. Adyar, India; 29th December, 1933
Mr. Warrington, the acting President of the Theosophical Society, kindly invited me to come to Adyar and to give some talks here. I am very glad to have accepted his invitation and I appreciate his friendliness, which I hope will continue, even though we may differ completely in our ideas and opinions.
I hope that you will all listen to my talks without prejudice, and will not think that I am trying to attack your society. I want to do quite another thing. I want to arouse the desire for true search, and this, I think, is all that a teacher can do. That is all I want to do. If I can awaken that desire in you, I have completed my task, for out of that desire comes intelligence, that intelligence which is free from any system and organized belief. This intelligence is beyond all thought of compromise and false adjustment. So during these talks, those of you who belong to various societies or groups will please bear in mind that I am very grateful to the Theosophical Society and its acting President for having asked me to come here to speak, and that I am not attacking the Theosophical Society. I am not interested in attacking. But I hold that while organizations for the social welfare of man are necessary, societies based on religious hopes and beliefs are pernicious. So though I may appear to speak harshly, please bear in mind that I am not attacking any particular society, but that I am against all these false organizations which, though they profess to help man, are in reality a great hindrance and are the means of constant exploitation.
When mind is filled with beliefs, ideas, and definite conclusions which it calls knowledge and which become sacred, then the infinite movement of thought ceases. That is what is happening to most minds. What we call knowledge is merely accumulation; it prevents the free movement of thought, yet we cling to it and worship this so-called knowledge. So mind becomes enmeshed, entangled in it. It is only when mind is freed from all this accumulation, from beliefs, ideals, principles, memories, that there is creative thinking. You cannot blindly put away accumulation; you can be free from it only when you understand it. Then there is creative thought; then there is an eternal movement. Then mind is no longer separated from action.
Now the beliefs, ideals, virtues, and sanctified ideas which you are pursuing, and which you call knowledge, prevent creative thinking and thereby put an end to the continual ripening of thought. For thought does not mean the following of a particular groove of established ideas, habits, traditions. Thought is critical; it is a thing apart from inherited or acquired knowledge. When you merely accept certain ideas, traditions, you are not thinking. and there is slow stagnation. You say to me, "We have beliefs, we have traditions, we have principles; are they not right? Must we get rid of them?" I am not going to say that you must get rid of them or that you must not. Indeed, your very readiness to accept the idea that you must or must not get rid of these beliefs and traditions prevents you from thinking; you are already in a state of acceptance, and therefore you have not the capacity to be critical.
I am talking to individuals, not to organizations or groups of individuals. I am talking to you as an individual, not to a group of people holding certain beliefs. If my talk is to be of any value to you, try to think for yourself, not with the group consciousness. Don't think along the lines to which you have already committed yourself, for they are merely subtle forms of comfort. You say,"I belong to a certain society, to a certain group. I have given that group certain promises and accepted from it certain benefits. How can I think apart from these conditions and promises? What am I to do?" I say, do not think in terms of commitments, for they prevent you from thinking creatively. Where there is mere acceptance there cannot be free, flowing, creative thought which alone is supreme intelligence, which alone is happiness. The so-called knowledge that we worship, that we strive to attain by reading books, prevents creative thought.
But because I say that such knowledge and such reading prevent creative thinking, don't immediately turn to the opposite. Don't say: "Must we not read at all?" I am talking of these things because I want to show you their inherent significance; I do not want to urge you to the opposite.
Now if your attitude is one of acceptance, you live in fear of criticism, and when doubt arises, as it must arise, you carefully and sedulously destroy it. Yet it is only through doubt, through criticism, that you can fulfil; and the purpose of life is to fulfil, not to accumulate, not to achieve, as I shall explain presently. Life is a process of search, search not for any particular end, but to release the creative energy, the creative intelligence in man; it is a process of eternal movement, untrammelled by beliefs, by sets of ideas, by dogmas, or by so-called knowledge.
So when I talk of criticism, please do not be partisans. I don't belong to your societies; I don't hold your opinions and ideals. We are here to examine, not to take sides. Therefore please follow open-mindedly what I shall say, and take sides - if you must take sides - after these talks are concluded. Why do you take sides? Belonging to a particular group gives you a feeling of comfort, of security. You think that because many of you hold certain ideas or principles, thereby you shall grow. But for the present, try not to take sides. Try not to be biased by the particular group to which you now belong, and don't try to take my side either. All that you have to do during these talks is to examine, to be critical, to doubt, to find out, to search, to fathom the problems before you.
You are accustomed to opposition. not to criticism. (When I say "you", please do not think that I am talking with an attitude of superiority.) I say that you are not accustomed to criticism, and through this lack of criticism you hope to develop spiritually. You think that through this destruction of doubt, by getting rid of doubt, you will advance, for it has been put before you as one of the necessary qualities for spiritual progress; and you are thereby exploited. But in your careful destruction of doubt, in your putting away of criticism, you have merely developed opposition. You say,"The scriptures are my authority for this", or "The teachers have said that", or "I have read this." In other words, you hold certain beliefs, certain dogmas, certain principles with which you oppose any new and conflicting situation, and you imagine that you are thinking, that you are critical, creative. Your position is like that of a political party which acts merely in opposition. If you are truly critical, creative, you will never merely oppose; then you will be concerned with realities. But if your attitude is merely one of opposition, then your mind will not meet mine; then you will not understand what I am trying to convey.
So when the mind is accustomed to opposition, when it has been carefully trained, through so-called education, through tradition and belief, through religious and philosophical systems, to acquire this attitude of opposition, it naturally does not have the capacity to criticize and to doubt truly. But if you are going to understand me, this is the first thing you should have. Please don't shut your minds against what I am saying. True criticism is the desire to find out. The faculty to criticize exists only when you want to discover the inherent worth of a thing. But you are not accustomed to that. Your minds are cleverly trained to give values, but by that process you will never understand the inherent significance of a thing, of an experience, or of an idea.
To me, then, true criticism consists in trying to find out the intrinsic worth of the thing itself, and not in attributing a quality to that thing. You attribute a quality to an environment, to an experience, only when you want to derive something from it, when you want to gain or to have power or happiness. Now this destroys true criticism. Your desire is perverted through attributing values, and therefore you cannot see clearly. Instead of trying to see the flower in its original and entire beauty, you look at it through coloured glasses, and therefore you can never see it as it is.
If you want to live, to enjoy, to appreciate the immensity of life, if you really want to understand it, not merely to repeat, parrot-like, what has been taught you, what has been dinned into you, then your first task is to remove the perversions that entangle you. And I assure you that this is one of the most difficult tasks, for these perversions are part of your training, part of your upbringing, and it is very difficult to detach yourself from them.
The critical attitude demands freedom from the idea of opposition. For example, you say to me,"We believe in Masters; you do not. What have you to say to this?" Now that is not a critical attitude; it is, but please do not think I am speaking harshly, a childish attitude. We are discussing whether certain ideas are fundamentally true in themselves, not whether you have gained something from these ideas; for what you have gained may be merely perversions, prejudices.
My purpose during this series of talks is to awaken your own true critical capacity, so that teachers will become unnecessary to you, so that you will not feel the necessity for lectures, for sermons, so that you will realize for yourself what is true and live completely. The world will be a happier place when there are no more teachers, when a man no longer feels that he must preach to his neighbour. But that state can come about only when you, as individuals, are really awakened, when you greatly doubt, when you have truly begun to question in the midst of sorrow. Now you have ceased to suffer. You have suffocated your minds with explanations, with knowledge; you have hardened your hearts. You are not concerned with feeling, but with beliefs, ideas, with the sanctity of so-called knowledge, and therefore you are starved; you are no longer human beings, but mere machines.
I see you shake your heads. If you do not agree with me, ask me questions tomorrow. Write down your questions and hand them to me, and I will answer them. But this morning I am going to talk, and I hope you will follow what I have to say.
There is no resting place in life. Thought can have no resting place. But you are seeking such a place of rest. In your various beliefs, religions, you have sought such a resting place, and in this seeking you have ceased to be critical, to flow with life, to enjoy, to live richly.
As I have said, true search - which is different from the search for an end, or the search for help, or the pursuit of gain - true search results in understanding the intrinsic worth of experience. True search is as a swift-moving river, and in this movement there is understanding, an eternal becoming. But the search for guidance results merely in temporary relief, which means a multiplication of problems and an increase of their solutions. Now what are you seeking? Which of these do you want? Do you want to search, to discover, or do you want to find help, guidance? Most of you want help, temporary relief from suffering; you want to cure the symptoms rather than to find the cause of suffering. "I am suffering; you say, "give me a method which will free me from it." Or you say, "The world is in a chaotic condition. Give us a system that will solve its problems, that will bring about order."
Thus, most of you are seeking temporary relief, temporary shelter, and yet you call that the search for truth. When you talk of service, of understanding, of wisdom, you are thinking merely in terms of comfort. As long as you merely want to relieve conflict, struggle, misunderstanding, chaos, suffering, you are like a doctor who deals only with the symptoms of a disease. As long as you are merely concerned with finding comfort, you are not really seeking.
Now let us be quite frank. We can go far if we are really frank. Let us admit that all that you are seeking is security, relief; you are seeking security from constant change, relief from pain. Because you are insufficient you say, "Please give me sufficiency." So what you call search for truth is really an attempt to find relief from pain, which has nothing to do with reality. In such things we are like children. In time of danger we run to our mother, that mother being belief, guru, religion, tradition, habit. Here we take refuge, and hence our lives are lives of constant imitation, with never a moment of rich understanding.
Now you may agree with my words, saying, "You are quite right; we are not seeking truth, but relief, and that relief is satisfactory for the moment." If you are satisfied with this, there is nothing more to be said. If you hold that attitude, I may as well say no more. But, thank heaven! not all human beings hold that attitude. Not all have reached the state of being satisfied with their own little experiences which they call knowledge, which is stagnation.
Now when you say, "I am seeking", you imply that you are seeking the unknown. You desire the unknown, and that is the object of your search. Because, the known is to you appalling, unsatisfactory, futile, sorrow-laden, you want to discover the unknown, and hence the inquiry, "What is truth? What is God?" From this arises the question, "Who will help me to attain truth?" In that very attempt to find truth or God you create gurus, teachers, who become your exploiters.
Please don't take offense at my words, don't become prejudiced against what I am saying, and don't think that I am riding my favourite hobby. I am merely showing you the cause of your being exploited, which is your seeking for a goal, an end; and when you understand the falseness of the cause, that understanding shall free you. I am not asking you to follow my teachings, for if you desire to understand truth you cannot follow anyone; if you desire to understand truth you must stand entirely alone.
What is one of the most important things in which you are interested in your search for the unknown? "Tell me what is on the other side", you say, "tell me what happens to a person after death." The answer to such questions you call knowledge. So when you inquire into the unknown, you find a person who offers you a satisfactory explanation of it, and you take shelter in that person or in the idea that he gives you. Therefore that person or that idea becomes your exploiter, and you yourself are responsible for that exploitation, not the man or the idea that exploits you. From such inquiry into the unknown is born the idea of a guru who will lead you to truth. From such inquiry comes the confusion as to what truth is, because, in your search for the unknown, each teacher, each guide, offers you an explanation of what truth is, and that explanation naturally depends on his own prejudices and ideas; but through that teaching you hope to learn what truth is. Your search for the unknown is merely an escape. When you know the real cause, when you understand the known, then you will not inquire into the unknown.
The pursuit of the variety and diversity of ideas about truth will not yield understanding. You say to yourself, "I am going to listen to this teacher, then I shall listen to someone else, then to another; and I shall learn from each the various aspects of truth." But by this process you will never understand. All that you do is to escape; you try to find that which will give you the greatest satisfaction, and he who gives you most you cherish as your guru. your ideal, your goal. So your search for truth has ceased.
Now don't think that my showing you the futility of this search is mere cleverness on my part: I am explaining the reason for the exploitation that is taking place all over the world in the name of religion, in the name of government, in the name of truth.
The unknown is not your concern. Beware of the man who describes to you the unknown, truth, or God. Such a description of the unknown offers you a means of escape - and besides, truth defies all description. In that escape there is no understanding, there is no fulfillment. In escape there is only routine and decay. Truth cannot be explained or described. It is. I say that there is a loveliness which cannot be put into words; if it were, it would be destroyed; it would then no longer be truth. But you cannot know this loveliness, this truth, by asking about it; you can know it only when you have understood the known, when you have grasped the full significance of that which is before you.
So you are constantly seeking escape, and these attempts at escape you dignify with various spiritual names, with grand-sounding words; these escapes satisfy you temporarily, that is, until the next storm of suffering comes and blows away your shelter.
Now let us put away this unknown, and concern ourselves with the known. Put aside for the moment your beliefs, your slavery to traditions, your dependence on your Bhagavad Gita, your scriptures, your Masters. I am not attacking your favourite beliefs, your favourite societies: I am telling you that if you would understand the truth of what I say, you must try to listen without bias.
Through our various systems of education - which may be university training, or the following of a guru, or the dependence on the past in the form of tradition and habit, which creates incom- pleteness of the present - through these systems of education we have been encouraged to acquire, to worship success. Our whole system of thought, as well as our whole social structure, is based on the idea of gain. We look to the past because we cannot understand the present. To understand the present, which is experience, mind must be unburdened of past traditions and habits. As long as the weight of the past overwhelms us, we cannot understand, we cannot gather the perfume of an experience fully. So there must be incompleteness as long as there is the search for gain. That our whole system of thought is based on gain is no mere hypothetical assumption on my part; it is a fact. And the central idea of our social structure is also one of gain, achievement, success.
But because I have said that your pursuit of this idea of gain will not result in complete living, do not therefore think in terms of the opposite. Don't say, "Must we not seek? Must we not gain? Must we not succeed?" This shows very limited thinking. What I want you to do is to question the very idea of gain. As I have said, the whole social, economic, and so-called spiritual structure of our world is based on this central idea of gain: gain from experience, gain from living, gain from teachers. And from this idea of gain you gradually cultivate in yourself the idea of fear, because in your looking for gain you are always in fear of loss. So, having this fear of loss, this fear of losing an opportunity, you create the exploiter, whether it be the man who guides you morally, spiritually, or an idea to which you cling. You are afraid and you want courage; therefore courage becomes your exploiter. An idea becomes your exploiter.
Your attempt at achievement, at gain, is merely a running away, an escape from insecurity. When you talk of gain you are thinking of security; and after establishing the idea of security, you want to find a method of obtaining and keeping that security. Isn't that so? If you consider your life, if you examine it critically, you will find that it is based on fear. You are always looking to gain; and after searching out your securities, after establishing them as your ideals, you turn to someone who offers you a method, a plan, by which to achieve and to guard your ideals. Therefore you say, "In order to achieve that security, I must behave in a certain way, I must pursue virtue, I must serve and obey, I must follow gurus, teachers and systems; I must study and practise in order to obtain what I want." In other words, since your desire is for security, you find exploiters who will help you to obtain that which you want. So you, as individuals, establish religions to serve as securi- ties, to serve as standards for conventional conduct; because of the fear of loss, the fear of missing something that you want, you accept such guides or ideals as religions offer.
Now having established your religious ideals, which are really your securities, you must have particular ways of conduct, practices, ceremonials and beliefs, in order to attain those ideals. In trying to carry them out, there arises division in religious thought, resulting in schisms, sects, creeds. You have your beliefs, and another has his; you hold to your particular form of religion and another to his; you are a Christian, another is a Mahomedan, and yet another a Hindu. You have these religious dissensions and distinctions, but yet you talk of brotherly love, tolerance and unity - not that there must be uniformity of thought and ideas. The tolerance of which you speak is merely a clever invention of the mind; this tolerance merely indicates the desire to cling to your own idiosyncrasies, your own limited ideas and prejudices, and allow another to pursue his own. In this tolerance there is no intelligent diversity, but only a kind of superior indifference. There is utter falsity in this tolerance. You say, "You continue in your own way, and I shall continue in mine; but let us be tolerant, brotherly." When there is true brotherliness, friendliness, when there is love in your heart, then you will not talk of tolerance. Only when you feel superior in your certainty, in your position, in your knowledge, only then do you talk of tolerance. You are tolerant only when there is distinction. With the cessation of distinction, there will be no talk of tolerance. Then you will not talk of brotherhood, for then in your hearts you are brothers.
So you, as individuals, establish various religions which act as your security. No teacher has established these organized, exploiting religions. You yourselves, out of your insecurity, out of your confusion, out of your lack of comprehension, have created religions as your guides. Then, after you have established religions, you seek out gurus, teachers; you seek out Masters to help you.
Don't think that I am trying to attack your favourite belief; I am simply stating facts, not for you to accept, but for you to examine, to criticize, and to verify.
You have your Master, and another has his particular guide; you have your saviour, and another has his. Out of such division of thought and belief grows the contradiction and conflict of the merits of various systems. These disputes set man against man; but since we have intellectualized life, we no longer openly fight: we try to be tolerant. Please think about what I am saying. Don't merely accept or reject my words. To examine impartially, critically, you must put aside your prejudices and idiosyncrasies, and approach the whole question openly.
Throughout the world, religions have kept men apart. Individually each one is seeking his own little security and is concerned about his own progress; individually each one desires to grow, to expand, to succeed, to achieve, and so he accepts any teacher who offers to help him towards his advancement and growth. As a result of this attitude of acceptance, criticism and true inquiry have ceased. Stagnation has set in. Though you move along a narrow groove of thought and of life, there is no longer true thinking, no longer full living, but only a defensive reaction. As long as religion keeps men apart there can be no brotherhood, any more than there can be brotherhood as long as there is nationality, which must ever cause conflict among men.
Religion with its beliefs, its disciplines, its enticements, its hopes, its punishments, forces you towards righteous behaviour, towards brotherliness, towards love. And since you are compelled, you either obey the external authority which it sets up, or - which amounts to the same thing - you begin to develop your own inner authority as a reaction against the outer, and follow that. Where there is belief, where there is a following of an ideal, there cannot be complete living. Belief indicates the incapacity to understand the present.
Now don't look to the opposite and say, "Must we have no beliefs? Must we have no ideals at all?" I am simply showing you the cause and the nature of belief. Because you cannot understand the swift movement of life, because you cannot gather the significance of its swift flow, you think that belief is necessary. In your dependence on tradition, on ideals, on beliefs or on Masters, you are not living in the present, which is the eternal.
Many of you may think that what I am saying is very negative. It is not, for when you really see the false, then you understand the true. All that I am trying to do is to show you the false, that you may find the true. This is not negation. On the contrary, this awakening of creative intelligence is the only positive help that I can give you. But you may not think of this as positive; you would probably call me positive only if I gave you a discipline, a course of action, a new system of thought. But we cannot go further into this today. If you will ask questions about this tomorrow or on the following days, I shall try to answer them. Individuals have created society by grouping themselves together for purposes of gain, but this does not bring about real unity. This society becomes their prison, their mould, yet each individual wants to be free to grow, to succeed. So each becomes an exploiter of society and is, in turn, exploited by society. Society becomes the apex of their desire, and government the instrument for carrying out that desire by conferring honours upon those who have the greatest power to possess, to gain. The same stupid attitude exists in religion: religious authority considers the man who has conformed entirely to its dogmas and beliefs a truly spiritual person. It confers honour on the man who possesses virtue. So in our desire to possess - and again I am not talking in terms of opposites, but rather, I am examining the very thing that causes the desire for possession - in our pursuit of possession, we create a society to which we unconsciously become slaves. We become cogs in that social machine, accepting all its values, its traditions, its hopes and longings, and its established ideas, for we have created society, and it helps us to attain what we want. So the established order either of government or of religion puts an end to inquiry, to search, to doubt. Hence, the more we unite in our various possessions, the more we tend to become nationalistic.
After all, what is a nation? It is a group of individuals living together for the purpose of economic convenience and self-protection, and exploiting similar units. I am not an economist, but this is an obvious fact. From this spirit of acquisitiveness arises the idea of "my family", "my house", "my country". So long as this possessiveness exists there cannot be true brotherhood or true internationalism. Your boundaries, your customs, your tariff walls, your traditions, your beliefs, your religions are separating man from man. What has been created by this mentality of gain, of separativeness, safety, security? Nationalities; and where there is nationalism there must be war. It is the function of nations to prepare for wars, otherwise they cannot be true nations.
That is what is happening all over the world, and we are finding ourselves on the verge of another war. Every newspaper upholds nationalism and the spirit of separativeness. What is being said in almost every country, in America, England, Germany, Italy? "First ourselves and our individual security, and then we will consider the world." We do not seem to realize that we are all in the same boat. Peoples can no longer be separated as they were some centuries ago. We ought not to think in terms of separation, but we insist on thinking nationalistically or class-consciously be- cause we still cling to our possessions, to our beliefs. Nationalism is a disease; it cannot bring about world unity or human unity. We cannot attain health through disease; we must first free ourselves from disease. Education, society, religion, help to keep nations apart, because individually each is seeking to grow, to gain, to exploit.
Now out of this desire to grow, to gain, to exploit, we create innumerable beliefs - beliefs concerning life after death, reincarnation, immortality - and we find people to exploit us through our beliefs. Please understand that in saying this I am referring to no particular leader or teacher; I am not attacking any of your leaders. Attacking anyone is a sheer waste of time. I am not interested in attacking any particular leader, I have something more important to do in life. I want to act as a mirror, to make clear to you the perversions and deceptions that exist in society, in religion.
Our whole social and intellectual structure is based on the idea of gain, of achievement; and when mind and heart are held by the idea of gain, there cannot be true living, there cannot be the free flow of life. Isn't that so? If you are constantly looking to the future, to an achievement, to a gain, to a hope, how can you live completely in the present? How can you act intelligently as a human being? How can you think or feel in the fullness of the present when you are always keeping your eye on the distant future? Through our religion, through our education, we are made as nothing, and being conscious of that nothingness, we want to gain, to succeed. So we constantly pursue teachers, gurus, systems.
If you really understand this, you will act; you will not merely discuss it intellectually.
In the pursuit of gain you lose sight of the present. In your pursuit of gain, in your reliance on the past, you don't fully understand the immediate experience. That experience leaves a scar, a memory which is the incompleteness of that experience, and out of that increasing incompleteness grows the consciousness of the "I", the ego. Your divisions of the ego are but the superficial refinement of selfishness in its search for gain. Intrinsically, in that incompleteness of experience, in that memory, the ego has its roots. However much it may grow, expand, it will always retain the centre of selfishness. Thus, when you are looking for gain, for success, each experience increases self-consciousness. But we shall discuss this at another time. In this talk I want to present as much of my thought as I can, so that during the following talks I shall have time to answer the questions that you may ask.
When mind is caught up in the past or in the future, it cannot understand the significance of the present experience. This is obvious. When you are looking to gain, you cannot understand the present. And since you do not understand the present, which is experience, it leaves its scar, its incompleteness in the mind. You are not free from that experience. This lack of freedom, of completeness, creates memory, and the increase of that memory is but self-consciousness, the ego. So when you say, "Let me look to experience to give me freedom", what you are really doing is increasing, intensifying, expanding that self-consciousness, that ego; for you are looking to gain, to accumulation, as the means of getting happiness, as the means of realizing truth.
After establishing in your mind the consciousness of"I", your mind feeds that consciousness, and from that arises the question of whether or not you shall live after death, whether you may hope for reincarnation. You want to know categorically whether reincarnation is a fact. In other words, you utilize the idea of reincarnation as a means of postponement, taking comfort therein. You say, "Through progress I shall gain understanding; what I have not understood today I shall understand tomorrow. Therefore let me have the assurance that reincarnation is true."
So you hold to this idea of progress, this idea of gaining more and more until you arrive at perfection. That is what you call progress, acquiring more and more, accumulating more and more. But to me, perfection is fulfillment, not this progressive accumulation. You use the word progress to mean accumulation, gain, achievement; that is your fundamental idea of progress. But perfection does not lie through progress; it is fulfillment. Perfection is not realized through the multiplication of experiences, but it is fulfillment in experience, fulfillment in action itself. Progress apart from fulfillment, leads to utter superficiality.
Such a system of escape is prevalent in the world today. Your theory of reincarnation makes man more and more superficial, in that he says, "As I cannot fulfil today, I shall do so in the future." If you cannot fulfil in this life, you take comfort in the idea that here is always a next life. From this comes the inquiry into the hereafter, and the idea that the man who has acquired the most in knowledge, which is not wisdom, will attain perfection. But wis- dom is not the result of accumulation; wisdom is not possession: wisdom is spontaneous, immediate.
While the mind is escaping from emptiness through gain, that emptiness increases, and you have not a day, not a moment, when you can say, "I have lived." Your actions are always incomplete, unfulfilled, and hence your search to continue. With this desire, what has happened? You have become more and more empty, more and more superficial, thoughtless, uncritical. You accept the man who offers you comfort, assurance, and you, as an individual, have created him as your exploiter. You have become his slave, the slave to his system, to his ideals. From this attitude of acceptance there is no fulfillment, but postponement. Hence the necessity for the idea of your continuity, the belief in reincarnation, and from that arises the idea of progress, accumulation. In whatever you do, there is no harmony, there is no significance, because you are constantly thinking in terms of gain. You think of perfection as an end, not as fulfillment.
Now, as I have said, perfection lies in comprehension, in understanding the significance of an experience completely; and that understanding is fulfillment, which is immortality. So you have to become fully aware of your action in the present. The increase of self-consciousness comes through superficiality of action and through ceaseless exploitation, beginning with families, husbands, wives, children, and extending to society, ideals, religion; for they are all based on this idea of gain. What you are really pursuing is acquisitiveness, even though you may be unconscious of it, and of your exploitation. I want to make it clear that your religions, your beliefs, your traditions, your self-discipline are based on the idea of gain. They are but enticements for righteous behaviour, and from them spring the exploiter and the exploited. If you are pursuing acquisitiveness, pursue it consciously - not hypocritically. Do not say that you are seeking truth, for truth is not come at in this way.
Now this idea of growing more and more is to me false, for that which grows is not eternal. Has it ever been shown that the more you have, the more you understand? In theory it may be so, but in actuality it is not so. One man increases his property and encloses it; another increases his knowledge and is bound by it. What is the difference? This process of accumulative growth is shallow, false from the very beginning, because that which is capable of growth is not eternal. It is an illusion, a falsity that has in it nothing of reality. But if you are pursuing this idea of accumulative growth, pursue it with all your mind and heart. Then you will discover how superficial, how vain, how artificial it is. And when you perceive that it is false, then you will know the truth. Nothing need substitute it. Then you no longer seek truth to substitute for the false; for in your direct perception there is no longer the false. And in that understanding there is the eternal. Then there is happiness, creative intelligence. Then you will live naturally, completely, as the flower; and in that there is immortality.
1933, The Art of Listening
1st Public Talk. Adyar, India; 29th December, 1933
Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Art of Listening. The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1933.