Is There Everlasting Joy?

From Krishnamurti’s Book LIFE AHEAD

Questioner: How can a thing of beauty be a joy forever?

Krishnamurti: Is that your original thought, or are you quoting somebody? Do you want to find out if beauty is perishable, and whether there can be everlasting joy?

Questioner: Beauty comes in certain forms.

Krishnamurti: The tree, the leaf, the river, the woman, the man, those villagers carrying a burden on their heads and walking beautifully. Is beauty perishable?

Questioner: The villagers walk by, but they leave an impression of beauty.

Krishnamurti: They walk by, and the memory of it remains. You see a tree, a leaf, and the memory of that beauty remains.

Now, is the memory of beauty a living thing? When you see something beautiful, there is immediate joy; you see a sunset and there is an immediate response of joy. That joy, a few moments later, has become a memory. Is the memory of that joy a living thing? Is your memory of the sunset a living thing? It is a dead imprint, is it not? And through that dead imprint of the sunset, you want to recapture the joy. But memory has no joy; it is only the image of something which has gone and which once created joy. There is joy as the immediate response to beauty, but memory comes in and destroys it. If there is constant perception of beauty without the accumulations of memory – only then is there a possibility of joy everlasting.

But it is not easy to be free from the accumulations of memory, because the moment you see something very pleasurable, you make it into a memory which you hold on to. When you see a beautiful object, a beautiful child, a beautiful tree, there is immediate joy; but then you want more of it. Wanting more of it is the accumulation of memory. In wanting more you have already started the process of disintegration, and in that there is no joy. Memory can never produce everlasting joy. There is everlasting joy only when there is a constant and spontaneous response to beauty, to ugliness, to everything, without the activating impulse of memory – which implies great inward and outward sensitivity, having real love.

Questioner: Why are the poor happy and the rich unhappy?

Krishnamurti: Are the poor particularly happy? They may sing, they may dance; but are they happy? They have insufficient food, they have little or no clothing, they cannot be clean, they have to work from morning till night year after year. They may have occasional moments of happiness; but they are not really happy, are they?

And are the rich unhappy? They have an abundance if everything, they have high positions, they travel. They are unhappy when they are frustrated in some way, when they are hindered and cannot get what they want.

What do you mean by happiness? Some will say that happiness consists in getting what you want. If you want a car and you get it, you are happy, at least for the time being. It is the same whether you want a sari, or a trip to Europe: if you can get what you want, you are happy. If you want to be the best-known professor, or the greatest politician, you are happy if you can get there, and unhappy if you cannot.

So, what you call happiness is the outcome of getting what you want, of achieving success, or becoming noble. You want something, and as long as 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 problem, not only the rich and the poor. The rich and the poor alike want to get something for themselves, and if they are prevented, they are unhappy. I am not saying that the poor should not have what they want or need. That is not the question we are considering. We are trying to find out what happiness is, and whether happiness is something of which you are conscious.

When you are conscious that you are happy, is that happiness? It is not happiness, is it? It is like humility: the moment you are conscious that you are humble, you are not humble. So you cannot go after happiness; it is not a thing to be pursued. It comes; but if you seek it, it will elude you.