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Life Ahead

Part 1

Life Ahead Part One Chapter 15

Perhaps some of you are interested in what I have been saying about envy. I am not using the word `remember' because, as I have explained, merely to remember words or phrases makes the mind dull, lethargic, heavy, uncreative. It is very destructive merely to remember. What is important, especially while you are young, is to understand rather than to cultivate memory; because understanding frees the mind, it awakens the critical faculty of analysis. It enables you to see the significance of the fact and not just rationalize it. When you merely remember certain phrases, sentences or ideas about envy for example, that remembrance prevents you from looking at the fact of envy. But if you see and understand the envy which lurks behind the facade of good works, of philanthropy, of religion, and behind your own desire to be great to be saintly - if you really see and understand this for yourself, then you will discover what an extraordinary freedom there is from envy, from jealousy.

So it is really important to understand, because remembrance is a dead thing; and perhaps that is one of the major causes of human deterioration. We are very inclined to imitate, to copy, to follow ideals, heroes; and what happens? Gradually the flame of creativity is lost and only the picture, the symbol, the word remains, without anything behind it. WE are taught to memorize, and this is obviously not creative. There is no understanding in merely remembering things that you have reed in a books, or that you have been taught; and when throughout life memory alone is cultivated, real understanding is gradually destroyed.

Please listen carefully, because it is very important to understand this. It is understanding that is creative, not memory, not remembrance. Understanding is the liberating factor, not the things you have stored up in your mind. And understanding is not the future. The mere cultivation of memory brings about the idea of the future; but if you understand directly, that is, if you see something very clearly for yourself, then there is no problem. A problem exists only when you do not see clearly.

What is important, then, is not what you know, not the knowledge or the experience you have gathered, but to see things as they are and to understand them immediately, because comprehension is immediate, it is not in the future. When experience and knowledge take the place of understanding, the become deteriorating factors in life. For most of us, knowledge and experience are very important; but if you go behind the words and see the real significance of knowledge and experience, you will find that they become major factors in human deterioration. This does not mean that knowledge is not right about certain levels of our existence. It is right and necessary to know how to plant a tree and what kind of nourishment is should have, or how to feed the chickens, or how to raise a family properly, or how to build a bridge, and so on. THere is an enormous amount of scientific knowledge available, which can be used rightly. It is right, for example, that we should know how to build a dynamo or a motor. But when there no understanding, then knowledge, which is merely memory, becomes very destructive; and you will find that experience also becomes destructive, because experience strengthens the background of memory.

I wonder if you have noticed how many grown-up people think bureaucratically, as officials. If they are teachers, their thinking is limited to that function; they are not human beings pulsating with life. They know the rules of grammar, or mathematics, or a little history; and because their thinking is circumscribed by that memory, that experience, their knowledge is destroying them. Life is not a thing that you learn from somebody. Life is something that you listen to, that you understand from moment to moment without accumulating experience. After all, what have you got when you have accumulated experience? When you say, "I have had an enormous amount of experience", or "I know the meaning of the words", it is memory, is it not? You have had certain experiences, you have learned how to run an office, how to put up a building or a bridge, and according to that background you get further experience. You cultivate experience, which is memory; and with that memory you meet life.

Like the river, life is running, swift, volatile, never still; and when you meet life with the heavy burden of memory, naturally you are never in contact with life. You are meeting life with your own knowledge, experience, which only increases the burden of memory; so knowledge and experience gradually become destructive factors in life.

I hope you are understanding this very deeply, because what I am saying is very true; and if you understand it, you will use knowledge at its proper level. But if you do not understand and merely accumulate knowledge and experience as a means to get on in life, as a means to strengthen your position in the world, then knowledge and experience will become most destructive, they will destroy your initiative, your creativeness. Most of us are so burdened with authority, with what other people have said, with the Bhagavad Gita, with ideas, that our lives have become very dull. These are all memories, remembrances; they are not things that we have understood, they are not living. There is no new thing as long as we are burdened with memories; and life being everlastingly new, we cannot understand it. Therefore our living is very tedious; we become lethargic, we grow mentally and physically fat and ugly. It is very important to understand this. Simplicity is freedom of the mind from experience, from the burden of memory. We think that simplicity is a matter of having but few clothes and a begging bowl; we think that a simple life consists in possessing very little externally. That may be all right. But real simplicity is freedom from knowledge, freedom from remembering or accumulating experience. Have you not noticed the people who make a point of having very little and who think they are very simple? Have you not listened to them? Though they may have only a loincloth and a staff, they are full of ideals. Inwardly they are very complex, battling against themselves, struggling to follow their own projections, their own beliefs. Inwardly they are not simple; they are full of what they have gathered from books, full of ideals, dogmas, fears. Outwardly they may have only a staff and a few clothes. But real simplicity of life is to be inwardly empty, innocent, without the accumulation of knowledge, without beliefs, dogmas without the fear of authority; and that state of inward simplicity can come into being only when you really understand every experience from moment to moment. If you have understood an experience, then that experience is over, it leaves no residue. It is because we do not understand experience, because we remember the pleasure or the pain of it, that we are never inwardly simple. Those who are religiously inclined pursue the things that make for outward simplicity; but inwardly they are chaotic, confused, burdened with innumerable longings, desires, knowledge; they are frightened of living, of experiencing.

If you look at envy, you will see that it is a deep-rooted form of remembering which is a very destructive, a very deteriorating factor in our lives; and so likewise is experience. This does not mean that you must forget everyday facts, or avoid experience. You can't. But the man who is full of experience is not necessarily a wise man. The man who has an experience and just clings to that experience is not a wise man; he is like any schoolboy who reads and accumulates information from books. A wise man is innocent, free of experience; he is inwardly simple, though outwardly he may have all the things of the earth - or very little. Questioner: Does intelligence build character?

Krishnamurti: What do we mean by `character'? And what do we mean by `intelligence'? Every politician - whether the Delhi variety, or your own local tub-thumper - continually uses such words as `character', `ideal', `intelligence', `religion', `God'. We listen to these words with rapt attention, because they seem very important. Most of us live on words; and the more elaborate, the more exquisite the words, the more satisfied we feel. So, let us find out what we mean by `intelligence' and what we mean by `character'. Don't say I am not answering you definitely. To seek definitions, conclusions, is one of the tricks of the mind, and it means that you don't want to investigate and understand, you just want to follow words.

What is intelligence? If a man is frightened, anxious, envious, greedy, if his mind is copying, imitating, filled with other people's experiences and knowledge; if his thinking is limited, shaped by society, by environment - is such a man intelligent. He is not, is he? And can a man who is frightened, unintelligent, have character - character being something original, not the mere repeating of traditional do's and don'ts? Is character respectability?

Do you understand what that word `respectability' means? You are respectable when you are looked up to, respected by a majority of the people around you. And what do the majority of people respect - the people of the family, the people of the mass? They respect the things which they themselves want and which they have projected as a goal or an ideal; they respect that which they see to be in contrast with their own more lowly state. If you are rich and powerful, or have a big name politically, or have written successful books, you are respected by the majority. What you say may be utter nonsense, but when you talk, people listen because they regard you as a great man. And when you have thus won the respect of the many, the following of the multitude, it gives you a sense of respectability a feeling of having arrived. But the so-called sinner is nearer to God than the respectable man, because the respectable man is clothed in hypocrisy. Is character the outcome of imitation, of being controlled by the fear of what people will say or won't say? Is character the mere strengthening of one's own tendencies, prejudices? Is it an upholding of the tradition, whether of India, of Europe or America? That is generally called having character - being a strong person who supports the local tradition and so is respected by the many. But when you are prejudiced, imitative, bound by tradition, or when you are frightened, is there intelligence, is there character? Imitating, following, worshipping, having ideas - that way leads to respectability, but not to understanding. A man of ideals is respectable; but he will never be near God, he will never know what it is to love, because his ideals are a means of covering up his fear, his imitation, his loneliness.

So, without understanding yourself, without being aware of all that is operating in your own mind - how you think, whether you are copying, imitating, whether you are frightened, whether you are seeking power - , there cannot be intelligence. And it is intelligence that creates character, not hero worship or the pursuit of an ideal. The understanding of oneself, of one's own extraordinarily complicated self, is the beginning of intelligence, which reveals character.

Questioner: Why does a man feel disturbed when another person looks at him intently.

Krishnamurti: Do you feel nervous when someone looks at you? When a servant, a villager - someone whom you consider inferior - looks at you, you do not even know he is there, you just pass him by; you have no regard for him. But when your father, your mother, or your teacher looks at you, you feel somewhat anxious because they know more than you do, and they may find out things about you. Going a little higher, if a government official or some other prominent visitor takes notice of you, you are pleased, because you hope to get something from him, a job or some kind of reward. And if a man looks at you from whom you do not want anything, you are quite indifferent, are you not? So it is important to find out what is operating in your own mind when people look at you, because how you inwardly respond to a look or a smile means a great deal.

Unfortunately, most of us are utterly unaware of all these things. We never notice the beggar, or the villager carrying his heavy burden, or the flying parrot. We are so occupied with our own sorrows, longings, fears, with our pleasures and rituals that we are unaware of many significant things in life.

Questioner: Can we not cultivate understanding? When we constantly try to understand, does it not mean that we are practicing understanding?

Krishnamurti: Is understanding cultivable? Is it something to be practised as you practice tennis, or the piano, or singing, or dancing? You can read a book over and over again till you are thoroughly familiar with it. Is understanding like that, something to be learned through constant repetition, which is really the cultivation of memory? Is not understanding from moment to moment, and therefore something that cannot be practised?

When do you understand? What is the state of your mind and heart when there is understanding? When you hear me say something very true about jealousy - that jealousy is destructive, that envy is a major factor in the deterioration of human relationship - , how do you respond to it? Do you see the truth of it immediately? Or do you begin to think about jealousy, to talk about it, rationalize it, analyze it? Is understanding a process of either rationalization or slow analysis? Can understanding be cultivated as you cultivate your garden to produce fruits or flowers? Surely, to understand is to see the truth of something directly, without any barrier of words, prejudices or motives.

Questioner: Is the power of understanding the same in all persons?

Krishnamurti: Suppose something true is presented to you and you see the truth of it very quickly; your understanding is immediate because you have no barriers. You are not full of your own importance, you are eager to find out, so you perceive immediately. But I have many barriers, many prejudices. I am jealous torn by conflicts based upon envy, full of my own importance. I have accumulated many things in life, and I really do not want to see; therefore I do not see, I do not understand.

Questioner: Can't one remove the barriers slowly by constantly trying to understand?

Krishnamurti: No. I can remove the barriers, not by trying to understand, but only when I really feel the importance of not having barriers - which means that I must be willing to see the barriers. Suppose you and I hear someone say that envy is destructive. You listen and understand the significance, the truth of it, and you are free of that feeling of envy, of jealousy. But I do not want to see the truth of it, because if I did it would destroy my whole structure of life.

Questioner: I feel the necessity of removing the barriers.

Krishnamurti: Why do you feel that? Do you want to remove the barriers because of circumstances? Do you want to remove them because somebody has told you that you should? Surely, the barriers are removed only when you see for yourself that to have barriers of any kind creates a mind which is in a state of slow decay. And when do you see this? When you suffer? But does suffering necessarily awaken you to the importance of removing all barriers? Or does it, on the contrary, lead you to create more barriers?

You will find that all barriers drop away when you yourself are beginning to listen, to observe, to find out. There is no reason for removing the barriers; and the moment you bring in a reason, you are not removing them. The miracle, the greatest blessing is to give your own inward perception an opportunity to remove the barriers. But when you say that the barriers must be removed and then practice removing them, that is the work of the mind; and the mind cannot remove the barriers. You must see that no attempt on your part can remove them. Then the mind becomes very quiet, very still; and in this stillness you discover that which is true.

Life Ahead

Part 1

Life Ahead Part One Chapter 15

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