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1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Auckland, New Zealand
3rd Vasanta School Gardens Talk 2nd April, 1934

Friends, this morning I will first try to answer some of the questions, and then I will try to make a resume of what I have been saying, at the close of my answers.

Question: In order to discover lasting values, is meditation necessary, and, if so, what is the correct method of meditation?

Krishnamurti: I wonder what people generally mean by meditation. As far as I can make out, the so-called meditation which is but concentration, is not meditation at all. We are used to this idea that by concentrating, by making tremendous effort to control the mind and fix it on a certain idea or concept, certain picture or image, by focussing the mind on a particular point, we are meditating.

Now, what is happening when you are trying to do that? You are trying to concentrate your mind on a particular idea and banish all other ideas, all other concepts; and trying to fix the mind on that idea, to force the mind to limit itself to that, whether it be a great thought, an image, or a concept which you have picked up in a book. What is happening when you are doing that? Other ideas come creeping in and you try to banish them away, and so this continual conflict is kept up. Ideas creep in which you do not want, in the attempt to fix your mind on a particular idea. You are but creating conflict; making the mind become smaller, contracting the mind, forcing the mind to fix itself on a particular idea; whereas, to me, the joy of meditation consists, not in forcing the mind, but trying to discover the full significance of each thought as it arises. How can you say which is a better idea and which is a worse idea, which is noble, which is ignoble? You can only say that when the mind has discovered their true values. So, to me, the joy of meditation consists in this process of discovering the right value of each thought. You discover by a natural process the significance of each thought, and therefore free the mind from this continual conflict.

Suppose you are trying to concentrate on an idea - you think of what you are going to wear, that idea comes into your mind, or whom you are going to see, or what you are going to have for lunch. Complete each thought, do not try to banish it away; then you will see that mind is no longer a battlefield of competing ideas. So your meditation is not limited to a few hours, or to a few moments during the day, but is a continual alertness of the mind and heart throughout the day; and that, to me, is true meditation. In that there is peace. In that there is a joy. But the so-called meditation you practise for discipline in order to get something in return, is, to me, a pernicious thing, it is really destroying thought. Why are we forced to do that? Why do we force ourselves to think concentratedly for a few moments during the day of things which we think we like? Because we are doing the rest of the day something we do not like, which is not pleasant. Therefore, we say, "To find, to think about something which I like, I must meditate." So you are giving a false answer to a false cause. That is, environment - economic, social, religious - prevents you from doing, fulfilling what you want to do; and as it prevents you, you have to find moments, an hour or two, in which to live. So, disciplining the mind, forcing it to a particular pattern then, is necessary, and hence the whole idea of discipline. Whereas, if you really understood the limitation of environment, and broke through it with action, then this process of disciplining the mind to act in a certain manner would become wholly unnecessary.

Please, you have to think it over rather carefully if you would see the significance of all this; because a disciplined mind - not a mind that is merely disciplined to carry out a technique - is a mind that has been trained along a certain particular pattern, and that pattern is the outcome of a false society, false ideas, false concepts. Whereas, if you are able to penetrate, and see what are the things that are false, then the mind is no longer a battle field of contradictory ideas: and in that you will find there is true contemplation. The joy of thought then is awakened. Question: What is the state of awareness which you speak of? Will you deal with it a little more fully.

Krishnamurti: Sirs, we are used to continual effort to do anything; to think is to make tremendous effort. We are used to this ceaseless effort. Now, I want to put what, to me, is not an effort but a new way of living. When you know something is a hindrance, something is a poison, when your whole being becomes conscious of something which is poisonous, there is no effort to throw it out: you have already moved away from it. When you know something is dangerous, poisonous, and when you become fully conscious of it in your mind and heart, you have already become free of it. It is only when we do not know that it is poison, or when that poison gives pleasure and at the same time pain, then we play with it.

Now, we have created many hindrances, such as nationalism, patriotism, imitative following of authority, bowing down to tradition, the continual search for comfort. All these we have created through fear. But, if we know with our whole being that patriotism is really a false thing, a poisonous thing, then you have not to battle against it. You have not got to get rid of it. The moment you know it is a poisonous thing, it is gone. How are we going to discover it is a poisonous thing? By not identifying yourselves with either patriotism or anti-patriotism. That is, you want to discover if patriotism is a poison; but if you identify yourself with either patriotism or the feeling of antipatriotism, then you cannot discover what is true. Isn't it so? You want to discover if patriotism is a poison. Therefore the first thing is to become aware, become conscious of the fact of non-identification with either. So, when you are not trying to identify yourself with either patriotism, or the feeling against patriotism, then you begin to see the true significance of patriotism. Then you are becoming aware of its true value.

After all, what is patriotism? I am trying to help you to become aware of this poison now. It does not mean that you must accept or reject what I am saying. Let us consider it together, and see if it is not a poison; and the moment you see it is poison, you need not battle against it. It has gone. If you see a poisonous snake, you have moved away from it. You are not battling against it. Whereas, if you are uncertain that it is a poisonous snake, then you go and play with it. In the same way, let us try to find out without acceptance or opposition if patriotism is a poison or not.

First of all, when are you patriotic? You are not patriotic every day. You do not keep up that patriotic feeling. You are being trained carefully to patriotism at school, through history books saying that your country has beaten some other country, your country is better than some other country. Why has there been this training of the mind to patriotism, which, to me, is an unnatural thing? Not that you do not appreciate the beauty of one country perhaps more than other countries; but that appreciation has nothing to do with patriotism, it is appreciation of beauty. For instance, there are some parts of the world where there is not a single tree, where the sun is blazing hot; but that has its own beauty. Surely a man that likes shade, the dancing of leaves, surely he is not patriotic. Patriotism has been cultivated, trained, as a means of exploitation. It is not an instinctive thing in man. The instinctive thing in man is the appreciation of beauty, not to say "my country." But that has been cultivated by those who desire to seek foreign markets for their goods. That is, if I have the means of production in my hands, and have saturated this country with my products, and then I want to expand, I must go to other countries, I must conquer markets in other countries. Therefore I must have means of conquering. So, I say "our country", and I stimulate this whole thing through press, propaganda, education, history books and so on, this sense of patriotism, so that at a moment of crisis we all jump to fight another country. And upon that feeling of patriotism the exploiters play till you are so bamboozled that you are ready to fight for the country, calling the others barbarians, and all the rest of it.

This is an obvious thing, not my invention. You can study it. It is obvious if you look at it with an unprejudiced mind, with a mind that does not want to identify itself with one or the other, but tries to find out. What happens when you find out that patriotism is really a hindrance to complete, full, real life? You do not have to battle against it. It has gone completely.

Comment: You would be up against the law of the land.

Krishnamurti: The law of the land! Why not? Surely, if you are free of patriotism and the law of the land interferes with you, and takes you to war and you do not feel patriotic, then you may become a conscientious objector, or go to prison, then you have to fight the law. Law is made by human beings, and surely it can be broken by human beings. (Applause) Please don't bother to clap, it is a waste of time.

So what is happening? Patriotism, whether it is of the western kind, or of the eastern kind, is the same, a poison in human beings that is really distorting thought. So patriotism is a disease, and when you begin to realize, become aware that it is a disease, then you will see how your mind is reacting to that disease. When, in time of war, the whole world talks of patriotism, you will know the falseness of it, and therefore you will act as a true human being.

In the same way, for instance, belief is a hindrance. That is, mind cannot think completely, fully, if it is tethered to a belief. It is like an animal that is tied to a post by a string. It does not matter if that string be long or short; it is tied, so that it cannot wander fully, freely, extensively, completely; it can only wander within the length of that string. Surely such wandering is not thinking: it is only moving within the limited circle of a belief. Now, men's minds are tethered to a belief, and therefore they are incapable of thinking. Most minds have identified themselves with a belief, and therefore their thought is always circumscribed, limited by that belief or ideal; hence the incompleteness of thought. Beliefs separate people. So if you see that, if you really recognize with your whole being that belief is conditioning thought, then what happens? You become aware that your thought is conditioned, aware your thought is caught up, tethered to a belief. In the flame of awareness you will recognize the foolishness, and therefore you are beginning to free the mind from the conditioning, and hence you begin to think completely, fully.

Please experiment with this, and you will see that life is not a process of continual battle, battle against standards as opposed to what you want to do. There is then neither what you want to do, nor the standard, but right action, without personal identification.

Take another example. You are afraid of what your neighbour might say - a very simple fear. Now, it is no good developing the opposite, which is to say, "I don't care what the neighbour says", and do something in reaction to that opposition. But if you really become aware of why you are afraid of the neighbour, then fear ceases altogether. To discover that "why", the cause of it, you have to be fully aware in that moment of fear, and then you will see what it is: you are afraid of losing a job, you may not marry off your son or your daughter, you want to fit into society, and all the rest of it. So you begin to discover through this process of alertness of mind, this continual awareness; and in that flame the dross of the false standards is burnt away. Then life is not a battle. Then there is nothing to be conquered.

You may not accept this. You may not accept what I am saying, but you can experiment. Experiment with these three instances I have given to you, fear, belief, patriotism, and you will see how your mind is tethered, conditioned, and therefore life becomes a conflict. Where the mind is enslaved, conditioned, there must be conflict, there must be suffering. Because, after all, thought is like the waters of a river. It must be in continual movement. Eternity is that movement. If you condition that free flowing movement of thought, of mind and heart, then you must have conflict, and that conflict then must have a remedy, and then the process begins: the searching for remedies, substitutes, and never trying to find out the cause of this conflict. So through the process of full awareness, you liberate the mind and heart from the hindrances which have been set about them through environment; and as long as environment is conditioning the mind, as long as the mind has not discovered the true significance of the environment, there must be conflict, and hence the false answer which is self-discipline.

Question: When one has discovered for oneself that every method of escape from the present has resulted in futility, what more is there to be done?

Krishnamurti: When you discover that you are escaping from conflict, that your mind is running away through superficial remedies, you want to know what remains. What does remain? Intelligence, understanding. Is that not so? Suppose you have some kind of sorrow, either the sorrow of death, or a momentary sorrow of some kind. You escape, when there is the sorrow of death, through this belief in reincarnation, or that life exists and continues on the other side. I went into that last night, so I will not go into it here. But when you recognize it is an escape, what happens? Then you are looking at the remedy to discover its significance, if it has any value; and in the process of discovering, there is born intelligence, understanding; and that supreme intelligence is life itself. You don't want any more.

Or suppose you have some kind of momentary sorrow, and you want to escape from it, run away and try to amuse yourself, try to forget it. In trying to forget, you never understand the cause of that sorrow. So you increase and multiply the means of forgetfulness, it may be a cinema, a church, or anything. So it is not a question of what remains after you have ceased to escape; but in trying to discover the value of the escapes which you have created for yourself, there is true intelligence, and that intelligence is creative happiness, is fulfillment.

Question: What is the fundamental cause of fear?

Krishnamurti: Is not the fundamental cause self-preservation? Self-preservation, with all its subtleties? For instance, you may have money, and therefore you are not bothering about the competition of getting a job; but you are afraid of something else, afraid that your life may come suddenly to an end and there might be extinction, or afraid of loss of money. So, if you look at it, you will see that fear will exist so long as this idea of self-preservation continues, so long as the mind clings to this idea of self-consciousness, which idea I explained last night. As long as that ego consciousness remains, there must be fear; and that is the fundamental cause of fear. And I tried to explain last night also, how this limited consciousness which we call the "I" is brought about, how it is created through false environment, and the fighting that is brought about by that environment. That is, as the system now exists, you have to fight for yourself to live at all, so that creates fear; and then we try to find remedies to get rid of this fear. Whereas, if you really altered the condition that creates this fear, then there is no need for remedies; then you are really tackling at the very source the very creator of fear. Cannot we conceive of a state when you have not got to fight for your existence? Not that there are not other kinds of fear, which we will go into later; but it is this idea of nationality, this idea of race-consciousness, class-consciousness, the means of production in the hands of the few, and therefore the process of exploitation: it is these that prevent you from living naturally without this continual fight for self-preservation and security, which, I say, in an intelligent state is absurd. We are just like animals really, though we may call ourselves civilized, each one fighting for himself and his family; and that is one of the fundamental causes of fear. If you really understand environment and the battling against it, then you do not care, and fear loses its grip.

But there is a fear of another kind, the fear of inward poverty. There is the fear of external poverty, and then there is the fear of being shallow, of being empty, of being lonely. So, being afraid, we resort to the various remedies in the hope of enriching ourselves. Whereas, what is really happening? You are merely covering up that hollowness, that shallowness, by innumerable remedies. It may be the remedy of literature, by reading a great deal - not that I am against reading. It may be this exaggeration of sport, this continual rush, of keeping together at all costs, being in the run, belonging to certain groups, certain classes, certain societies, being in the clique, among the smart set. You know, we all go through it. All these but indicate the fear of that loneliness which you must inevitably face one day or the other. And as long as that emptiness exists, that shallowness, that hollowness, that void, there must be fear.

To be really free of that fear, which is to be free of that emptiness, that shallowness, is not to cover it up by remedies; but rather to recognize that shallowness, become aware of it, which gives you then the alertness of mind to find out the values and the significance of each experience, of each standard, of each environment. Through that you will discover true intelligence; and intelligence is deep, profound, limitless, and therefore shallowness disappears. It is when you are trying to cover it up, trying to gain something to fill that emptiness, that the emptiness grows more and more. But, if you know that you are empty, not try to run away, in that awareness your mind becomes very acute, because you are suffering. The moment you are conscious that you are empty, hollow, there is tremendous conflict taking place. In that moment of conflict you are discovering, as you move along, the significance of experience - the standards, the values of society, of religion, of the conditions placed upon you. Instead of covering up emptiness, there is a depth of intelligence. Then you are never lonely even if you are by yourself or with a huge crowd, then there is no such thing as emptiness, shallowness.

Question: Will people act by instinct, or will someone have to point out the way always?

Krishnamurti: Now, instinct is not a thing to be trusted. Is it? Because instinct has been so perverted, so bound by tradition, by authority, by environment, that you can no longer trust it. That is, the instinct of possessiveness is a false thing, an unnatural thing. I will explain to you why. It has been created by a society which is based on individual security; and therefore the instinct of possessiveness has been carefully cultivated throughout the generations. We say, "Instinctively I am possessive. It is human nature to be possessive", but if you really look at it, you will see it has been cultivated by false conditions, and therefore the instinct of possessiveness is not true instinct. So we have many instincts which have been falsely fostered, and if you depend on another to lead you out of these false instinctive standards, then you will go into another cage; you will create another set of standards which will again pervert you. Whereas, if you really look into each instinct and not try to identify yourself with that instinct, but try to discover its significance, then out of that comes a natural spontaneous action, the true intuition.

You know, you have been here at my talks, fortunately or unfortunately, for the last four or five days, and merely listening to my talks is not going to do anything, is not going to give you wisdom. What gives wisdom is action. Wisdom is not a thing to be bought, or got from encyclopaedias, or from reading philosophies. I have never read any philosophies. It is only in the process of action that you begin to discern what is false and what is true; and very few people are alert, eager for action. They would rather sit down and discuss, or attend churches, create mysteries out of nothing, because their minds are slothful, lazy, and behind that there is the fear of going against society, against the established order. So listening to my talks, or reading what I have said, is not going to awaken intelligence or lead you to truth, to that ecstasy of life which is in continual movement. What brings wisdom is to become aware of one of these hindrances, and to act. Take, as I said, the hindrance of patriotism or of belief, and begin to act, and you will see to what depth, to what profundity of thought it will lead you. You go far beyond any theoretical theologian, any philosopher; and in that action you will find out that there comes a time when you are not seeking for a result from your action, a fruit from your action, but the very action itself has meaning. As a scientist experiments, and in the process of experimenting there are results, but he continues experimenting; so, in the same way, in the process of experimenting, in the process of liberating the mind and heart from hindrances there will take place action, result. But the essential thing is that there is this continual movement of mind and heart. If all action is really the expression of that movement, then action becomes the new society, the new environment and therefore society is not being approximated to some ideal, but in that action, society is also moving, never static, never still, and morality is then a voluntary perception, not forced through fear, or imposed externally by society or by religion.

So, gradually, in this process of liberating the mind from the false, there is not the replacement of the false by the true, but only the true. Then you are no longer seeking a substitution, but in the processes of discovering the false, you liberate the mind to move, to live eternally, and then action becomes a spontaneous, natural thing, and therefore life becomes, not a school in which to learn to compete, to fight, life becomes a thing to be lived intelligently, supremely, happily. And such a life is the life of a consummate human being.

1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Auckland, New Zealand
3rd Vasanta School Gardens Talk 2nd April, 1934

Jiddu Krishnamurti. What Is Right Action? The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1934..1935.

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