Don’t Be Afraid of Discontent

From Krishnamurti’s Book THINK ON THESE THINGS

Have you ever sat very quietly without any movement? You try it, sit really still, with your back straight, and observe what your mind is doing. Don’t try to control it, don’t say it should not jump from one thought to another, from one interest to another, but just be aware of how your mind is jumping. Don’t do anything about it, but watch it as from the banks of a river you watch the water flow by. In the flowing river there are so many things – fishes, leaves, dead animals – but it is always living, moving, and your mind is like that. It is everlastingly restless, flitting from one thing to another like a butterfly.

When you listen to a song, how do you listen to it? You may like the person who is singing, he may have a nice face, and you may follow the meaning of the words; but behind all that, when you listen to a song, you are listening to the tones and to the silence between the tones, are you not? In the same way, try sitting very quietly without fidgeting, without moving your hands or even your toes, and just watch your mind. It is great fun. If you try it as fun, as an amusing thing, you will find that the mind begins to settle down without any effort on your part to control it. There is then no censor, no judge, no evaluator; and when the mind is thus very quiet of itself, spontaneously still, you will discover what it is to be gay. Do you know what gaiety is? It is just to laugh, to take delight in anything or nothing, to know the joy of living, smiling, looking straight into the face of another without any sense of fear.

Have you ever really looked anybody in the face? Have you ever looked into the face of your teacher, of your parent, of the big official, and seen what happens? Most of us are afraid to look directly into the face of another; and others don’t want us to look at them in that way, because they also are frightened. Nobody wants to reveal himself; we are all on guard, hiding behind various layers of misery, suffering, longing, hope, and there are very few who can look you straight in the face and smile. And it is very important to smile, to be happy; because, you see, without a song in one’s heart life becomes very dull. One may go from temple to temple, from one husband or wife to another, or one may find a new teacher or guru; but if there is not this inward joy, life has very little meaning. And to find this inward joy is not easy, because most of us are only superficially discontented.

Do you know what it means to be discontented? It is very difficult to understand discontent, because most of us canalize discontent in a certain direction and thereby smother it. That is, our only concern is to establish ourselves in a secure position with well-established interests and prestige, so as not to be disturbed. It happens in homes and in schools too. The teachers don’t want to be disturbed, and that is why they follow the old routine; because the moment one is really discontented and begins to inquire, to question, there is bound to be disturbance. But it is only through real discontent that one has initiative.

Do you know what initiative is? You have initiative when you initiate or start something without being prompted. It need not be anything very great or extraordinary – that may come later; but there is the spark of initiative when you plant a tree on your own, when you are spontaneously kind, when you smile at a man who is carrying a heavy load, when you remove a stone from the path, or pat an animal along the way. That is a small beginning of the tremendous initiative you must have if you are to know this extraordinary thing called creativeness. Creativeness has its roots in the initiative which comes into being only when there is deep discontent.

Don’t be afraid of discontent, but give it nourishment until the spark becomes a flame and you are everlastingly discontented with everything – with your jobs, with your families, with the traditional pursuit of money, position, power – so that you really begin to think, to discover. But as you grow older you will find that to maintain this spirit of discontent is very difficult. You have children to provide for and the demands of your job to consider; the opinion of your neighbours, of society closing in upon you, and soon you begin to lose this burning flame of discontent. When you feel discontented you turn on the radio, you go to a guru, do puja, join a club, drink, run after women – anything to smother the flame. But, you see, without this flame of discontent you will never have the initiative which is the beginning of creativeness. To find out what is true you must be in revolt against the established order; but the more money your parents have and the more secure your teachers are in their jobs, the less they want you to revolt.

Creativeness is not merely a matter of painting pictures or writing poems, which is good to do, but which is very little in itself. What is important is to be wholly discontented, for such total discontent is the beginning of the initiative which becomes creative as it matures; and that is the only way to find out what is truth, what is God, because the creative state is God.

So one must have this total discontent – but with joy. Do you understand? One must be wholly discontented, not complainingly, but with joy, with gaiety, with love. Most people who are discontented are terrible bores; they are always complaining that something or other is not right, or wishing they were in a better position, or wanting circumstances to be different, because their discontent is very superficial. And those who are not discontented at all are already dead.

If you can be in revolt while you are young, and as you grow older keep your discontent alive with the vitality of joy and great affection, then that flame of discontent will have an extraordinary significance because it will build, it will create, it will bring new things into being. For this you must have the right kind of education, which is not the kind that merely prepares you to get a job or to climb the ladder of success, but the education that helps you to think and gives you space – space, not in the form of a larger bedroom or a higher roof, but space for your mind to grow so that it is not bound by any belief, by any fear.

Questioner: Discontent prevents clear thinking. How are we to overcome this obstacle?

Krishnamurti: I don’t think you can have listened to what I was saying; probably you were concerned with your question, worrying about how you were going to put it. That is what you are all doing in different ways. Each one has a preoccupation, and if what I say is not what you want to hear you push it aside because your mind is occupied with your own problem. If the questioner had listened to what was being said, if he had really felt the inward nature of discontent, of gaiety, of being creative, then I don’t think he would have put this question.

Now, does discontent prevent clear thinking? And what is clear thinking? is it possible to think very clearly if you want to get something out of your thinking? If your mind is concerned with a result, can you think very clearly? Or can you think very clearly only when you are not seeking an end, a result, not trying to gain something?

And can you think clearly if you have a prejudice, a particular belief – that is, if you think as a Hindu, a communist, or a Christian? Surely, you can think very clearly only when your mind is not tethered to a belief as a monkey might be tethered to a stake; you can think very clearly only when you are not seeking a result; you can think very clearly only when you have no prejudice – all of which means, really, that you can think clearly, simply and directly only when your mind is no longer pursuing any form of security and is therefore free of fear.

So, in one way, discontent does prevent clear thinking. When through discontent you pursue a result, or when you seek to smother discontent because your mind hates to be disturbed and wants at all costs to be quiet, peaceful, then clear thinking is not possible. But if you are discontented with everything – with your prejudice, with your beliefs, with your fears – and are not seeking a result, then that very discontent brings your thought into focus, not upon any particular object or in any particular direction, but your whole thinking process becomes very simple, direct and clear.

Young or old, most of us are discontented merely because we want something – more knowledge, a better job, a finer car, a bigger salary. Our discontent is based upon our desire for ‘the more’. It is only because we want something more that most of us are discontented. But I am not talking about that kind of discontent. It is the desire for ‘the more’ that prevents clear thinking. Whereas if we are discontented, not because we want something, but without knowing what we want; if we are dissatisfied with our jobs, with making money, with seeking position and power, with tradition, with what we have and with what we might have; if we are dissatisfied, not with anything in particular but with everything, then I think we shall find that our discontent brings clarity. When we don’t accept or follow, but question, investigate, penetrate, there is an insight out of which comes creativity, joy.