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Life Ahead

Part 2

Life Ahead Part Two Chapter 2

We have been talking about fear; and do you not think that what we call religion is really the outcome of fear? You must have noticed how your parents, your grandparents, or your relatives go to the temple, worship an idol, repeat sentences from the Gita or some other sacred book, or perform some ritual. Doing these things and believing in something, is what they call religion. But do you think it is so? Going to the temple, putting flowers at the foot of an idol made by the hand, doing some ritual day after day, year in and year out till you die - is that religion?

And if religion is not the worship of a thing made by the hand, then is it the worship of something made by the mind? When you enter a temple you see there an idol which some sculptor has carved out of stone. People put flowers before this image, they pour water on it, they clothe it; that is what they call religion, and they think it is irreligious not to do these things.

We also have an idea of what God is, and that idea is created by the mind, is it not? The idol is made by the mind through the hand, and the idea of God is made and held in the mind as something marvellous, something to be worshipped like the sacred idol. Both the idea and the idol are made by the mind, are they not? Obviously they are not God, because the mind has invented them. In Europe you will see the sculptured figure of a human being stripped and nailed on a cross, and that figure they worship. Here in India we do the same thing in a different way. Whether in India, in Europe or America, we pray to an image, we worship an idea, and gradually we build up a thing called religion - a religion which is invented by the mind.

You see, we are afraid to be alone, we want somebody to help us. At your age we want to be helped by our mother, by our father, by our grandfather, and as we grow older we still want somebody to help us, because life is very difficult; we want a glorified father to protect us, to tell us what to do. So, out of the fear of being lonely, of not being helped, we believe in a God who is going to help us; but it is still an invention of the mind, is it not? Because we are afraid and want to be guided and told what is right and what is wrong, as we grow up we create a religion which is not religion at all. Religion, I think, is something totally different, and to find the real thing we must obviously be free of the thing which man invents. Do you follow? To find out what God is, to discover something that is real, one must be free of all the pseudo-religious trappings that man has imposed upon himself. You can discover the real thing only if you are completely free of fear, which means that as you grow up and go out into the world you must have the intelligence to find out what you are afraid of - to take it out of the cupboard of your mind, look at it and not run away from it.

Most of us are afraid to be alone. Do we ever go out for a walk alone? Very rarely. We always want somebody to go with us because we want to chatter, we want to tell somebody a story, we are all the time talking, talking, talking; so we are never alone, are we? When one grows older and can go for a walk alone, one discovers a great many things. One discovers one's own ways of thinking, and then one begins to observe all the things about one - the beggar, the stupid man, the clever man, the rich and the poor; one becomes aware of the trees, the birds, the light on a leaf. You will see all this when you go out alone. In being alone you will soon find out that you are afraid. And it is because we are afraid that we have invented this thing called religion.

Volumes have been written about God and what you should do to approach him; but the basis of it all is fear. As long as one is afraid, one cannot find anything real. If you are afraid of the dark, you dare not go out, so you pull up the sheet and go to sleep. To go out and look, to find out what is real, there must be freedom from fear, must there not? But you see, to be free from fear is very difficult. Most grown-up people say that you can be free only when you are older, when you have gathered knowledge and have learned to discipline your mind. They think freedom is something very far away, at the end, not at the beginning. But surely there must be freedom right from childhood up, otherwise you are never free.

You see, being themselves frightened, the older people discipline you, they tell you what is right and what is wrong; they say you must do that and not this, that you must think of what people will say, and so on. There is every form of control to make you fit into the groove, into a frame, a pattern, and this is called discipline. Being very young, and out of your own fear, you fit in; but that does not help you, because when you just fit in you do not understand.

Now, look at it the other way. If you were not disciplined, if you were not controlled, held down, would you do what you like? Would you do as you please if there were nobody to tell you what you should do? You probably would now, because you are used to being forced, held down, put in a framework, and as a reaction you would do something contrary to it. But suppose that from childhood up, right from the beginning as you go through school, the teacher talked things over with you and did not tell you what you should do - how then would you respond? If, right from the beginning as you go through school, the teacher pointed out that to be free is the first thing, not the last thing when you are about to die, then what would happen?

The difficulty is that to be free demands a great deal of intelligence; and as you don't yet know what it is to be free - free to do something which you really love to do - , it is the function of the teacher to help you to discover the ways of intelligence. It is intelligence which brings about freedom from fear. As long as there is fear, you are constantly imposing upon yourself a kind of discipline: I must do this and not that, I must believe, I must conform, I must do puja, and so on. This self-discipline is all born of fear, and where there is fear there is no intelligence.

So education, rightly speaking, is not just a matter of reading books, passing examinations and getting a job. Education is quite a different process; it extends from the moment you are born to the moment you die. You may read innumerable books and be very clever, but I do not think mere cleverness is a mark of education. If you are merely clever you miss a great deal in life. The important thing is first to find out what you are afraid of, to understand it and not run away from it. When your mind is really free from demands of every kind, when it is no longer envious, acquisitive, only then can you find out what God is. God is not what people say God is. God is something entirely different - something that comes into being when you under. stand, when you have no fear.

So, religion is really a process of education, is it not? Religion is not a matter of what to believe and what not to believe, of doing rituals or clinging to some superstitions; it is a process of educating ourselves in the ways of understanding so that our life becomes extraordinarily rich and we are no longer frightened, mediocre human beings. Only then can we create a new world.

Politicians and religious leaders say that the creation of a new world is in the hands of the young people. Haven't you heard that? Hundreds of times, probably. But they don't educate you to be free; and there must be freedom to create a new world. The grown-ups educate you in the pattern of their own ideas - and they have made an awful mess of things. They say it is you, the younger generation, who must create a new world; but at the same time they put you into a cage, do they not? They tell you that you must be an Indian, a Parsi, this or that - and if you follow their ideas, you are obviously going to create a world exactly like the present one. A new world can be created only when you create out of freedom, not out of fear, not out of superstition, nor on the basis of what certain people have said the new world should be.

You who are young, the coming generation, can bring about a totally different world only if you are educated to be free, and are not forced to do something which you do not love or understand. That is why it is very important, while you are young, to be real revolutionaries - which means not accepting anything, but inquiring into all these things to find out what is true. Only then can you create a new world. Otherwise, though you may call it by a deferent name, you will perpetuate the same old world of misery and destruction which has always existed until now.

But generally what happens to us when we are young? The girls get married, have children, and gradually wither away. The boys, when they grow up, have to earn a livelihood, so they get jobs and are required to conform, forced to follow a profession whether they like it or not; being married and having children, they are dragged along by their responsibilities and must therefore do what they are told. So the spirit of revolt, the spirit of inquiry, the spirit of inward search comes to an end; all their revolutionary ideas of creating a new world are crushed out, because life is too much for them. They have to go to the office, they have a boss there for whom they must do this or that, and gradually the sense of inquiry, the feeling of revolt, the eagerness to create an altogether different way of life, is completely destroyed. That is why it is very important to have this spirit of revolt right from the beginning, from childhood up.

You see, religion, the real thing, means a revolt in order to find God, which is to discover for oneself what is true. It is not a mere acceptance of the so-called sacred books, however ancient and venerated they may be.

Questioner: In your book on education you suggest that modern education is a complete failure. I would like you to explain this.

Krishnamurti: Is it not a failure, sir? When you go out on the street you see the poor man and the rich man; and when you look around you, you see all the so-called educated people throughout the world wrangling, fighting, killing each other in wars. There is now scientific knowledge enough to enable us to provide food, clothing and shelter for all human beings, yet it is not done. The politicians and other leaders throughout the world are educated people, they have titles, degrees, caps and gowns, they are doctors and scientists; and yet they have not created a world in which man can live happily. So modern education has failed, has it not? And if you are satisfied to be educated in the same old way, you will make another howling mess of life.

Questioner: May I know why we should not fit into our parents' plans, since they want us to be good?

Krishnamurti: Why should you fit into your parents' plans, however worthy, however noble they may be? You are not just putty, you are not jelly to be fitted into a mould. And if you do fit in, what happens to you? You become a so-called good girl, or good boy and then what? Do you know what it means to be good? Goodness is not just doing what society says, or what your parents say. Goodness is something entirely different, is it not? Goodness comes into being only when you have intelligence, when you have love, when you have no fear. You cannot be good if you are afraid. You can become respectable by doing what society demands - and then society gives you a garland, it says what a good person you are; but merely being respectable is not being good.

You see, when we are young we do not want to fit in, and at the same time we want to be good. We want to be nice, to be sweet, we want to be considerate and do kind things; but we do not know what it all means, and we are `good' because we are afraid. Our parents say, "Be good", and most of us are good, but such `goodness' is merely living according to their plans for us.

Questioner: You say that modern education is a failure. But if the politicians had not been educated, do you think they could have created a better world?

Krishnamurti: I am not at all sure that they couldn't have created a better world if they had never received this kind of education. What does it mean to govern the people? After all, that is what politicians are supposed to do - to govern the people. But they are ambitious, they want power, position, they want to be restricted, they want to be the leaders, to have the first place; they are not thinking of the people, they are thinking of themselves or their parties, which are an extension of themselves. Human beings are human beings, whether they live in India, in Germany, in Russia, in America, or in China; but you see, by dividing human beings according to countries, more politicians can have big jobs, so they are not interested in thinking of the world as a whole. They are `educated', they know how to read, how to argue, and they talk everlastingly about being good citizens - but they must have the first place. To divide up the world and create wars - is that what we call education? The politicians are not alone in doing this; we all do it. Some people want war because it gives them profit. So it is not only the politicians who must have the right kind of education. Questioner: Then what is your idea of the right kind of education?

Krishnamurti: I have just told you. Look, I will show you again. After all, the religious person is not one who worships a god, an image made by the hand or by the mind, but one who is really inquiring into what truth is, what God is; and such a person is really educated. He may not go to a school, he may have no books, he may not even know how to read; but he is freeing himself from fear, from his egotism, from his selfishness, ambition. So education is not merely a process of learning how to read, how to calculate, how to build bridges, how to do scientific research in order to find new ways of utilizing atomic power, and all the rest of it. The function of education is primarily to help man to free himself from his own pettiness and from his stupid ambitions. All ambition is stupid, petty - there is no great ambition. And education also implies helping the student to grow in freedom without fear, does it not?

Questioner: How can every man be educated like that?

Krishnamurti: Don't you want to be educated like that?

Questioner: But how?

Krishnamurti: First, do you want to be educated like that? Don't ask how, but have the feeling that you want to be educated in that way. If you have this intense reeling, as you grow up you will help to create it in others, will you not? Sir, look: if you are very keen on playing a certain game, you soon find other people to play it with you. Similarly, if you are really keen to be educated in the way we have been discussing, then you will help to create a school with the right kind of teachers who will provide that kind of education. But most of us don't really want that kind of education, and so we ask, "How can it be brought about?" We look to somebody else for the answer. But if all of you - every student who is listening, and I hope the teachers too - want that kind of education, then you will demand it and bring it into being.

Take a simple example. You know what chewing gum is, don't you? If you all want chewing gum, the manufacturer produces it, but if you don't want it the manufacturer goes broke. Similarly on quite a different level, if you all say, "We want the right kind of education, not this phoney education which only leads to organized murder" - if you say that and really mean it you will bring into being the right kind of education. But you see, you are still too young, too frightened, and that is why it is important to help you to create this thing.

Questioner: If I want the right kind of education, do I need teachers?

Krishnamurti: Of course you do. You need teachers to help you, do you not? But what is help? You are not living in the world alone, are you? There are your fellow students, your parents, your teachers, the postman, the man who brings the milk - everybody is needed, we all help each other to live in this world. But if you say, "The teacher is sacred, he is at one level and I am at another", then that kind of help is no help at all. The teacher is helpful only if he is not using teaching to feed his vanity or as a means of his own security. If he is teaching, not because he is unable to do anything else, but because he really loves to teach, then he will help the student to grow without fear. This means no examinations, no grading, no marks. If you are to create the right kind of education, you need such teachers to help you to create it; so it is very important for the teachers themselves to be rightly educated.

Questioner: If all ambitions are stupid, then how can man progress?

Krishnamurti: Do you know what progress is? Now, have patience and let us go into it slowly. What is progress? Have you ever thought about it? Is it progress when you can get to Europe in a few hours by airplane instead of taking a fortnight to get there by boat? The invention of faster means of transportation and communication, the development of bigger guns, bigger and better ways of destroying each other, wiping out thousands of people with a single atomic bomb instead of shooting them down one by one with arrows - this we call progress, do we not? So there has been progress in the technological sense; but have we progressed in any other direction? Have we stopped wars? Are people more kind, more loving, more generous, more thoughtful, less cruel? You don't have to say yes or no, but just look at the facts. Scientifically and physically we have made tremendous progress; but inwardly we are at a standstill, are we not? For most of us education has been like lengthening only one leg of a tripod so we have no balance; and yet we talk about progress, all the newspapers are full of it!

Questioner: I have a friend who hates her parents because they have separated her from a person she loves. How can I help her?

Krishnamurti: This is a very complicated question, is it not? You know, life is not very easy, some parts of it are very cruel. There are thoughtless parents who are not concerned with their children at all; or if they are concerned, they want the children to obey, to imitate, to do everything exactly as the parents wish. So resistance is gradually built up in the children, is it not? If the father happens to be intelligent, and the mother stupidly insistent when the father is not there, or vice versa, the children have resistance, antagonism to one parent or the other. Perhaps you can help your friend by being more understanding, more affectionate, and explaining in a kindly manner some of the things which you and I have talked about and which you understand for yourself.

You see, the moment you have a grudge, the moment you hate somebody, it harms you far more than the person you dislike, because that feeling is like a wound inside you that is festering, but it is very difficult for children, for young people to understand all this. After all, children are full of mischief, full of happy play - as they should be; and if parents force their child into a particular pattern or mould, it creates in the child a tremendous resistance, a blind antagonism which he is going to take out on somebody as he grows up. If you have begun to understand this, you can talk it over with your friend and perhaps help her not to build up this hatred, this antagonism within herself. Questioner: What is the definition of a student?

Krishnamurti: It is very easy to find a definition, is it not? All you have to do is to open a dictionary at the right place and it will give you the answer. But that is not the kind of definition you want, is it? You want to talk about it, you want to find out what a true student is. Is he a true student who passes examinations, gets a job, and then closes all books? Being a student implies studying life, not just reading the few books required by your curriculum; it implies the capacity to observe everything throughout life, not just a few things at a particular period. A student, surely, is not only one who reads, but one who is capable of observing all the movements of life, outward and inward, without saying, "This is right, that is wrong". If you condemn something, you don't observe it, do you? To observe you have to study without condemning, without comparing. If I compare you with somebody else I am not studying you, am I? If I compare you with your younger brother or your elder sister, it is the sister or the brother who is important; therefore I am not studying you.

But our whole education is to compare. You are everlastingly comparing yourself or another with somebody - with your guru, with your ideal, with your father who is so clever, a great politician, and so on. This process of comparison and condemnation prevents you from observing, studying. So a real student is one who observes everything in life, outwardly as well as inwardly, without comparing, approving or condemning. He is not only capable of research into scientific matters, but is also able to observe the workings of his own mind, his own feelings - which is much more difficult than observing a scientific fact. To understand the whole operation of one's own mind requires a great deal of insight, a great deal of inquiry without condemnation.

Questioner: You say that all idealists are hypocrites. Whom do you call an idealist?

Krishnamurti: Don't you know what an idealist is? If I am violent, I may say that my ideal is to be non-violent; but the fact remains that I am violent. The ideal is what I hope to be eventually. It will take years for me to become non-violent, and meanwhile I am violent - that is the real thing. Being violent, I am trying all the time to be non-violent, which is unreal; and is that not hypocrisy? Instead of understanding and dissolving my violence, I am trying to be something else. The man who is trying to be something other than he is, is obviously a hypocrite. It is like my putting on a mask and saying I am different, but behind the mask I am just the same old man. Whereas, if I can go into the whole process of violence and understand it, then there is a possibility of being free from violence.

Life Ahead

Part 2

Life Ahead Part Two Chapter 2

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