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1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Ojai, California
3rd Public Talk 18th June, 1934

This morning I am only going to answer questions.

Question: What is the difference between self-discipline and suppression?

Krishnamurti: I don't think there is much difference between the two because both deny intelligence. Suppression is the gross form of the subtler self-discipline, which is also repression; that is, both suppression as well as self-discipline are mere adjustments to environment. One is the gross form of adjustment, which is suppression, and the other, self-discipline, is the subtle form. Both are based on fear: suppression, on an obvious fear; the other, self-discipline, on fear born of loss, or on fear which expresses itself through gain.

Self-discipline - what you call self-discipline - is merely an adjustment to an environment which we have not completely understood; therefore in that adjustment there must be the denial of intelligence. Why has one ever to discipline one's self? Why does one discipline, force one's self to mould after a particular pattern? Why do so many people belong to the various schools of disciplines, supposed to lead to spirituality, to greater understanding, greater unfoldment of thought? You will see that the more you discipline the mind, train the mind, the greater its limitations. Please, one has to think this over carefully and with delicate perception and not get confused by introducing other issues. Here I am using the word self-discipline as in the question, that is, disciplining one's self after a certain pattern, preconceived or pre-established, and therefore with the desire to attain, to gain. Whereas to me the very process of discipline, this continual twisting of mind to a particular pre-established pattern, must eventually cripple the mind. The mind which is really intelligent is free of self-discipline, for intelligence is born out of the questioning of environment, and the discovery of the true significance of environment. In that discovery is true adjustment, not the adjustment to a particular pattern or condition, but the adjustment through understanding, which is therefore free of the particular condition.

Take a primitive; what does he do? In him there is no discipline, no control, no suppression. He does what he desires to do, this primitive. The intelligent man also does what he desires, but with intelligence. Intelligence is not born out of self-discipline or suppression. In the one instance it is wholly the pursuit of desire, the primitive man pursuing the object he desires. In the other instance, the intelligent man sees the significance of desire and sees the conflict; the primitive man does not, he pursues anything he desires and creates suffering and pain. So to me self-discipline and suppression are both alike - they both deny intelligence.

Please experiment with what I have said about discipline, self-discipline. Don't reject it, don't say you must have self-discipline, because there will be chaos in the world - as if there were not already chaos; and again, don't merely accept what I say, agreeing that it is true. I am telling you something with which I have experimented and which I have found to be true. Psychologically I think it is true, because self-discipline implies a mind that is tethered to a particular thought or belief or ideal, a mind that is held by a condition; and as an animal that is tethered to a post can only wander within the distance of its rope, so does the mind which is tethered to a belief, which is perverted through self-discipline, wander only within the limitation of that condition. Therefore such a mind is not mind at all, it is incapable of thought. It may be capable of adjustment between the limitations of the post and the farthest point of its reach; but such a mind, such a heart cannot really think and feel. The mind and the heart are disciplined, crippled, perverted, through denying thought, denying affection. So you must observe, become aware how your own thought, how your own feelings are functioning, without wanting to guide them in any particular direction. First of all, before you guide them, find out how they are functioning. Before you try to change and alter thought and feeling, find out the manner of their working, and you will see that they are continually adjusting themselves within the limitations established by that point fixed by desire and the fulfillment of that desire. In awareness there is no discipline.

Let me take an example. Suppose that you are class-minded, class-conscious, snobbish. You don't know that you are snobbish, but you want to find out if you are; how will you find out? By becoming conscious of your thought and your emotions. Then what happens? Suppose that you discover that you are snobbish, then that very discovery creates a disturbance, a conflict, and that very conflict dissolves snobbishness. Whereas if you merely discipline the mind not to be snobbish, you are developing a different characteristic which is the opposite of being a snob, and being deliberate, therefore false, is equally pernicious.

So, because we have established various patterns, various goals, aids, which we are continually, consciously or unconsciously, pursuing, we discipline our minds and hearts towards them, and therefore there must be control, perversion. Whereas if you begin to inquire into the conditions that create conflict, and thereby awaken intelligence, then that intelligence itself is so supreme that it is continually in movement and therefore there is never a static point which can create conflict.

Question: Granted that the "I" is made up of reactions from environment, by what method can one escape its limitations; or how does one go about the process of re-orientation, in order to avoid conflict between the two false things?

Krishnamurti: First of all, you want to know the method of escape from the limitations. Why? Why do you ask? Please, why do you always ask for a method, for a system? What does it indicate, this desire for a method? Every demand for a method indicates the desire to escape. You want me to lay down a system so that you may imitate that system. In other words, you want a system invented for you to superimpose on those conditions which are creating conflict, so that you can escape from all conflict. In other words you merely seek to adjust yourselves to a pattern, in order to escape from conflict or from your environment. That is the desire behind the demand for a method, for a system. You know life is not Pelmanism. The desire for a method indicates essentially the desire to escape.

"How does one go about the process of re-orientation in order to avoid constant conflict between the two false things?" First of all, are you aware that you are in conflict, before you want to know how to get away from it? Or, being aware of conflict, are you merely seeking a refuge, a shelter which will not create further conflict? So let us decide whether you want a shelter, a safety zone, which will no longer yield conflict, whether you want to escape from the present conflict to enter a condition in which there shall be no conflict; or whether you are unaware, unconscious of this conflict in which you exist. If you are unconscious of the conflict, that is, the battle that is taking place between that self and the environment, if you are unconscious of that battle, then why do you seek further remedies? Remain unconscious. Let the conditions themselves produce the necessary conflict, without your rushing after, invoking artificially, falsely, a conflict which does not exist in your mind and heart. And you create artificially a conflict because you are afraid you are missing something. Life will not miss you. If you think it does, something is wrong with you. Perhaps you are neurotic, not normal.

If you are in conflict, you will not ask me for a method. Were I to give you a method you would merely be disciplining yourself according to that method, trying to imitate an ideal, a pattern which I have laid down, and therefore destroying your own intelligence. Whereas if you are really conscious of that conflict, in that consciousness suffering will become acute and in that acuteness, in that intensity, you will dissolve the cause of suffering, which is the lack of understanding of the environment.

You know we have lost all sense of living normally, simply, directly. To get back to that normality, that simplicity, that directness, you cannot follow methods, you cannot merely become automatic machines; and I am afraid most of us are seeking methods because we think that through them we shall realize fullness, stability and permanency. To me methods lead to slow stagnation and decay and they have nothing to do with real spirituality, which is, after all, the summation of intelligence.

Question: You speak of the necessity of a drastic revolution in the life of the individual. If he does not want to revolutionize his outward personal environment because of the suffering it would cause to his family and friends, will inward revolution lead him to the freedom from all conflict?

Krishnamurti: First of all, sirs, don't you also feel that a drastic revolution in the life of the individual is necessary? Or are you merely satisfied with things as they are, with your ideas of progress, evolution and your desire for attainment, with your longings and fluctuating pleasures? You know, the moment you begin to think, really begin to feel, you must have this burning desire for a drastic change, drastic revolution, complete re-orientation of thinking. Now, if you feel that that is necessary, then neither family nor friends will stand in the way. Then there is neither an outward revolution nor an inward revolution; there is only revolution, change. But the moment you begin to limit it by saying, "I must not hurt my family, my friends, my priest, my capitalistic exploiter or state exploiter", then you really don't see the necessity for radical change, you merely seek a change of environment. In that there is merely lethargy which creates further false environment and continues the conflict.

I think we give the rather false excuse that we must not hurt our families and our friends. You know when you want to do something vital, you do it, irrespective of your family and friends, don't you? Then you don't consider that you are going to hurt them. It is beyond your control; you feel so intensely, you think so completely that it carries you beyond the limitation of family circles, classified bondages. But you begin to consider family, friends, ideals, beliefs, traditions, the established order of things, only when you are still clinging to a particular safety, when there is not that inward richness, but merely the dependence on external stimulation for that inward richness. So if there is that full consciousness of suffering, brought about by conflict, then you are not held in the bondage of any particular orthodoxy, friends or family. You want to find out the cause of that suffering, you want to find out the significance of the environment which creates that conflict; then in that there is no personality, no limited thought of the "I". But it is only when you cling to that limited thought of the "I" that you have to consider how far you shall wander and how far you shall not wander.

Surely truth, or that Godhead of understanding, is not to be found by clinging either to family or tradition or habit. It is to be found only when you are completely naked, stripped of your longings, hopes, securities; and in that direct simplicity there is the richness of life.

Question: Can you explain why environment started being false instead of true? What is the origin of all this mess and trouble? Krishnamurti: Who do you think created environment? Some mysterious God? Please, just a minute; who created environment, the social structure, the economic, the religious structure? We. Each one has contributed individually, until it has become collective, and the individual who has helped to create the collective, now is lost in the collective, for it has become his mould, his environment. Through the desire for security, financial, moral and spiritual, you have created a capitalistic environment in which there is nationality, class distinction and exploitation. We have created it, you and I. This thing hasn't miraculously come into being. You will again create another capitalistic, acquisitive system of a different kind, with a different nuance, with a different colour, so long as you are seeking security. You may abolish this present pattern, but so long as there is possessiveness, you will create another capitalistic state, with a new phraseology, a new jargon.

And the same thing applies to religions, with all their absurd ceremonies, exploitations, fears. Who has created them? You and I. Throughout the centuries we have created these things and yielded to them through fear. It is the individual who has created false environment everywhere. And he has become a slave, and that false condition has resulted in a false search for the security of that self-consciousness which you call the "I", and hence the constant battle between the "I" and the false environment.

You want to know who has created this environment and all this appalling mess and trouble, because you want a redeemer to lift you out of that trouble and set you in a new heaven. Clinging to all your particular prejudices, hopes, fears and preferences, you have individually created this environment, so individually you must break it down and not wait for a system to come and sweep it away. A system will probably come and sweep it away and then you will merely become slaves to that system. The communistic system may come in, and then probably you will be using new words, but having the same reactions, only in a different manner, with a different tempo.

That is why I said the other day that if environment is driving you to a certain action, it is no longer righteous. It is only when there is action born out of the understanding of that environment that there is righteousness.

So individually we must become conscious. I assure you, you will then individually create something immense, not a society which is merely holding to an ideal and therefore decaying, but a society that is constantly in movement, not coming to a culmination and dying. Individuals establish a goal, strive after its attainment, and after attaining, collapse. They try all the time to reach some goal and stay at that stage which they have attained. As the individual so the state - the state is trying all the time to reach an ideal, a goal. Whereas to me the individual must be in constant movement, must ever be becoming, not seeking a culmination, not pursuing a goal. Then self-expression, which is society, will be ever in constant movement.

Question: Do you consider that karma is the interaction between the false environment and the false "I"?

Krishnamurti: You know karma is a Sanskrit word which means to act, to do, to work, and also it implies cause and effect. Now karma is the bondage, the reaction born out of the environment which the mind has not understood. As I tried to explain yesterday, if we do not understand a particular condition, naturally the mind is burdened with that condition, with that lack of understanding; and with that lack of understanding we function and act, and therefore create further burdens, greater limitations.

So one has to find out what creates this lack of understanding, what prevents the individual from gathering the full significance of the environment, whether it be the past environment or the present. And to discover that significance, mind must really be free of prejudice. It is one of the most difficult things to be really free of a bias, of a temperament, of a twist; and to approach environment with a fresh openness, a directness, demands a great deal of perception. Most minds are biased through vanity, through the desire to impress others by being somebody, or through the desire to attain truth, or to escape from their environment, or expand their own consciousness - only they call this by a special spiritual name - or through their national prejudices. All these desires prevent the mind from perceiving directly the full worth of the environment; and as most minds are prejudiced, the first thing that one has to become conscious of is one's own limitations. And when you begin to be conscious, there is conflict in that consciousness. When you know that you are really brutally proud or conceited, in the very consciousness of conceit it begins to dissipate, because you perceive the absurdity of it; but if you begin merely to cover it up, it creates further diseases, further false reactions.

So to live each moment now without the burden of the past or of the present, without that crippling memory created by the lack of understanding, mind must ever meet things anew. It is fatal to meet life with the burden of certainty, with the conceit of knowledge, because, after all, knowledge is merely a thing of the past. So when you come to that life with a freshness, then you will know what it is to live without conflict, without this continual straining effort. Then you wander far on the floods of life.

1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Ojai, California
3rd Public Talk 18th June, 1934

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

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