Krishnamurti: Talk to Students 10
Transcript of Talk to Students 10, Rajghat, 21 December 1952
Most of us do not listen, We are distracted by noise or we have so much prejudice, so much bias; we have a twist that prevents us from really listening to what is being said. This is so especially with older people, because they have a series of achievements behind them, they are somebodies or nobodies in the world, and it is very difficult to penetrate through the layers of their formulations, their conceptions. The imagination, the achievements of older people will not allow the thing that is being said to penetrate. But if we knew how to listen without any barrier, just to listen as if to the sound of the bird in the morning or to see the sunlight on the water, or to listen to what is being said without any interpretation, without any barrier, just to listen, then it is an extraordinary thing, specially when something true is being said. You may not like it; you may resist it; you may think it is enclosed; but if you really listen, you see the truth of it.
Really ‘listening’ unburdens, it clears away the dross of many years of failure, of success, of longings. You know what propaganda is, don’t you? It is to propagate, to sow, so that the constant repetition of an idea imprints on your mind what the propagandist, the politician, the religious leader wants you to believe. There is a listening there also, because there is the constant repetition by some people of what you should do, what books you should read, whom you should follow, what kind of ideas are right, which guru is essential, which is not essential. This constant repetition of an idea, of a feeling over and over again, leaves a mark. Even if you do not listen to it, unconsciously it is leaving an imprint; that is the purpose of propaganda, the constant repetition. But you see propaganda does not bring that truth which you immediately understand when you are really listening, when you really pay attention without any effort.
You are now listening to me, you are not making any effort to pay attention, you are just listening; and if there is truth in what you hear, if what is being said is true, then you will find a remarkable change taking place in you, a change that is not wished for, a transformation, a complete revolution, in which the truth alone is the master and not your mind. So, if I may suggest, similarly listen to everything, not only to what I am saying, but to what other people are saying, to the birds, to the whistle of that engine, to the noise of the bus going by; and you will find that the more you listen, the greater is the silence, and that silence is not broken by noise. It is only when you are resisting, when you are putting up a barrier between yourselves, between listening and that to which you do not want to listen, then there is the struggle. So, if I may suggest, listen.
We were talking yesterday and the day before yesterday about what love is; and perhaps, we can approach it from a different point of view, from a different angle. Is it not very important to be refined, not only outwardly but inwardly? You know what refinement is? To have sensitivity to things about you, and also to thoughts, to beliefs, to ideas inside you. The refinement of clothes, of manners, of gestures, of the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you look at people. Now, refinement is essential, is it not? Otherwise, there is deterioration. You know what deterioration is? You know the meaning of the word deterioration? Do you know what it means, to deteriorate? To generate is to create, to build, to have initiative, to bring forward, to develop. To degenerate is the opposite, to destroy to pieces; to degenerate implies a slow decay, a withering away. That is what is happening in the world, in Colleges, in Universities, amongst nations, amongst people, in the individual; there is a slow decay, a slow withering away; the degenerating process is going on all the time. This is because there is no outward or inward refinement. You may have very fine clothes, nice houses, good food, cleanliness; but without the inner refinement, the mere outward perfection of form will have little meaning; the perfection of form without the inner refinement is merely another form of degeneration. To have a beautiful car and inwardly to be gross, to be concerned with oneself, with one’s own achievements, with one’s own grandeur or greatness or ambitions, is the actual process of degeneration because then you are not creating inwardly.
The form, the beauty of form has meaning in poetry or in a person or when you see a beautiful tree, only when there is the inward refinement which is love. If there is love, there will be outward as well as inward refinement. The outward refinement is expressed in consideration, in how you treat not only your daughters, your parents, your servants if you have any, but also your neighbours, the coolie, the gardener. You may have a beautiful garden created by the gardener, but without that love of refinement, the garden has no meaning, it is merely an expression of your own vanity. So, it is essential to have outward and inward refinement. The way you eat matters a great deal; whether you make a noise while you are eating matters very much; the way you behave, your manners, the way you talk to your friends, the way you talk about others, all these matter because they are pointing to what you are inwardly, indicating whether in that inward state of being there is refinement. Where there is no refinement, it obviously expresses itself outwardly in a degeneration of form. But outward refinement or inward refinement has very little meaning if there is no love. We see that love is not a thing that we possess. It comes into being only when the mind has understood the complex problems which it creates. You and I are going to discuss these problems.
Question: Why do we feel a sense of pride when we succeed?
Krishnamurti: Is there a sense of pride with success, and what is pride and what is success?
You understand those two words, success and pride? What is success? Have you ever considered what it is to be successful as a writer, as a poet, as a painter, as a businessman, as a politician? Inwardly to feel that you have achieved a certain control over yourself, inwardly to feel successful in achieving a certain thing, to feel that you have succeeded outwardly, what does all this indicate? To feel that you have achieved something, you are better than somebody else, you have achieved what you want, you have become a successful man, you are respected, you are looked upon as an example by others – what does all this indicate? Naturally, with that feeling comes pride – I have done something, I am very important. The feeling of ‘I’ is in its very nature a sense of being proud. So, with success, there always grows pride, the pride being that one is very important comparatively. This comparison with another, with your example, with your ideal, with your hope, gives you the strength, the purpose, the drive which only gives importance to the ‘I’, to the feeling that you are much more important than anybody else; and that sense of feeling, of pleasure, is the beginning of pride. Pride is a thing that brings a great deal of egotistic vanity, an inflation. You watch the older people and you watch yourself. You pass an examination. When you are a little cleverer than another, a sense of pleasure comes in. It is the same when you outdo somebody in argument, or physically you are much stronger or more beautiful. Immediately, there is a sense of your importance. So, when there is that feeling of importance of the ‘me’, then you have conflict, the struggle, the pain to maintain that state all the time.
Question: How can we remove it, how can we be free from pride?
Krishnamurti: I told you just now how to listen. If you had really listened to the answer to the last question, you would have understood how to be free from pride, and you would be free from pride; but you are concerned with the next question, you are concerned to find out how to put that question; you were not listening to the first question and to the answer. If you listen to what I say, you will find out the truth of it.
I am proud because I have achieved; I have been the Principal; I have been to England, to America; I have done great things; I have appeared in the papers and so on and on. I am very proud and I say to myself, ‘How am I to be free from pride?’ Why do I want to be free? That is an important question, not how to be free. But why, what is the motive, what is the incentive? Does the incentive come into being because I find pride harmful to me, painful, spiritually not good? If that is the motive, then to try to free myself from pride is another form of pride, is it not? I am still concerned with achievement. If I find that pride is very painful, is spiritually ugly, I say I must be free of it.’I must be free’ still contains the same motive as ‘I must be successful’. I am still important. I must be free, I must be successful now. My struggle is to be free and I am still the centre. So, what is important is not how to be free from pride but to understand the ‘me’. The ‘I’ is so subtle, wanting this one year and wanting that another year; and when that is painful, then wanting something else. So, as long as this centre of the ‘me’ exists, whether I have pride or whether I am humble is of very little importance. It is only a different coat to put on. When a coat appeals to me, I put it on; I put on another next year, depending on my fancies, on my desires.
What I have to understand is how this ‘I’ comes into being. The ‘I’ comes into being through various forms of achievements. This does not mean that you must not act; but the feeling that you are acting, the feeling that you are achieving, the feeling that you must be without pride, has to be understood. You have to understand the structure of the ‘me’. You have to sit, to watch, to be aware, to be conscious of your thinking, of the way you treat your servant, of the way you treat your mother, your father, the teacher, the coolie, those who are above you and those who are below you, those whom you respect and those whom you despise – all that indicates the ways of the ‘I’. Then, when you know the ways, there is understanding and then there is freedom from the ‘I’. That is what is important, not how to be free from pride.
Question: How can a thing of beauty be a joy for ever?
Krishnamurti: Are you a student of the classics? Is that your original thought, or are you quoting from somebody? So, you want to find out if joy, if beauty is perishable, and also how there can be everlasting joy.
Question: Beauty comes in certain forms.
Krishnamurti: Is beauty perishable? The tree, the leaf, the river, the woman, the man, those villagers carrying a weight on their head and walking beautifully.
Question: They walk, but they leave an impression.
Krishnamurti: They walk and the memory of it remains. The memory remains of the tree, the leaf; the beauty and the memory of it remains. Now, is memory a living joy? When you see a beautiful thing, there is immediate joy; you see a sunset and there is an immediate reaction of joy. That joy, a few moments later, becomes a memory. That memory of the joy, is it a living thing? Is the memory of the sunset a living thing? No, it is a dead thing. So, with that dead imprint of a sunset, through that, you want to find joy. Memory has no joy; it is only the remembrance of something which created the joy. Memory in itself has no joy. There is joy, the immediate reaction to the beauty of a tree; and then memory comes in and destroys that joy. So, if there is constant perception of beauty without the accumulation of memories, then there is the possibility of joy everlasting. But it is not so easy to be free from memory. The moment you see something very pleasurable, you make it immediately into something to which you hold on. You see a beautiful thing, a beautiful child, a beautiful tree; and when you see it, there is immediate pleasure; then you want more of it. The more of it is the reaction of memory. So, when you want more, you have already started the process of disintegration. In that there is no joy. Memory can never produce everlasting joy. There is everlasting joy only when there is the constant response to beauty, to ugliness, to everything – which means, great inward and outward sensitivity, which means, having real love.
Question: Why are the poor happy and the rich unhappy?
Krishnamurti: Do you know that the poor are happy? Have you noticed the poor happy? Have you noticed the rich unhappy? Are the poor particularly happy? They may sing, they may have Bhajans, they may dance, but are they happy? They have no food, they have no clothes, they are not clean, they have to work from morning till night year after year. They may have occasional happiness; but they are not happy, are they? Are the rich unhappy? They have food, they have clothes, they have great position, they travel. They are unhappy when they are frustrated, when they are hindered and cannot get what they want.
What do you mean by happiness? Some will say happiness consists in getting what you want. You want a car, and you get it and you are happy. I want a sari or clothes; I want to go to Europe and, if I can, I am happy. I want to be the biggest professor or the greatest politician and, if I get it, I am happy; if I cannot get it, I am unhappy. So, what you call happiness is getting what you want, achievement or success, becoming noble, getting anything that you want. As long as you want something and you can get it, you feel perfectly happy; you are not frustrated; but if you cannot get what you want, then unhappiness begins. All of us are concerned with this, not only the rich and the poor. The rich and the poor all want to get something for themselves, for their family, for society; and if they are prevented, stopped, they will be unhappy. We are not discussing, we are not saying that the poor should not have what they want. That is not the problem. We are trying to find out what is happiness and whether happiness is something of which you are conscious. The moment you are conscious that you are happy, that you have much, is that happiness? The moment you are conscious that you are happy, it is not happiness, is it? So you cannot go after happiness. The moment you are conscious that you are humble, you are not humble. So happiness is not a thing to be pursued; it comes. But if you seek it, it will evade you.
Question: Though there is progress in different directions, though people are making progress in different directions, why is there no brotherhood?
Krishnamurti: What do you mean by ‘progress’?
Question: Scientific progress.
Krishnamurti: As from the bullock cart to the jet plane? That is progress, is it not? Centuries ago, there was only the bullock cart; but gradually, through time, we have developed the jet plane; this is called scientific progress. Now, through sanitation, through great medical care, there has been progress. The means of transport in ancient times was very slow and now it is very rapid; within twenty-four hours, you can be in London. All these things we call progress; and yet, you see that although in one direction we are making progress, we are not developing or progressing, equally, in brotherhood.
Now, is brotherhood a matter of progress? We know what we mean by ‘progress’. Through time, achieving something; evolution. You understand? The scientists say that we have evolved from the monkey; they say that, through centuries, through millions of years, we have progressed from the lowest animal to the highest, which is man. But is brotherhood a matter of progress? Is it something which can be evolved through time? There is the unity of the family, of the society, of the nation; from the nation to the international and then to the one-world. The one-world state is what we call brotherhood. Is brotherly feeling a matter of time? Is the feeling of brotherhood to be cultivated through time, through the stages of family, community, nation, society, international, one world? Is the feeling of brotherliness which is love, to be cultivated step by step? Is love a matter of time? You understand what I am talking about? If I say that, in ten years, in thirty years, in a hundred years, there will be brotherhood, what does that indicate? It indicates that I do not love, I do not feel brotherhood. I wonder if you understand what I am talking. If I say ‘I will be brotherly I will love’, the actual fact is that I do not love, I do not have brotherliness. When I think ‘I will be’, I am not. So, if I can remove this conception of ‘I will be’ – I will be brotherly in a hundred years’ – then I can begin to find out what I am – that I am not brotherly – and I can then begin to work.
Which is important, what I am or what I will be? Surely what is important is what I am; because, then I can deal with it. But, what I will be is something in the future and that is unpredictable. The fact is I have no brotherly feeling, I do not love; that is a fact; with that fact I begin and immediately do something about it. But if I say, ‘I will be something’, then it is too vague, then that is idealism. The ideal man is an individual who is escaping from what is. All idealists are people who escape, who run away from the fact which can be altered.