Passion Is a Flame That Comes With Self-knowing
From Krishnamurti’s Book TALKS WITH AMERICAN STUDENTS
One perceives the whole process of sorrow, how we human beings throughout the world have suffered, through wars, through uncertainties, through lack of relationship with another, through the lack of love; and when there is the lack of love then pleasure becomes all important. Not only is there this sorrow, but also – if you can observe it very closely – there is the sorrow of ignorance. Ignorance exists even though one may have great knowledge, a good education, be sophisticated, have capacity in the exercise of which one achieves fame, notoriety, money. Ignorance is not dispelled by the accumulation of a great many facts and much information – the computer can do all that better than the human mind. Ignorance is the utter lack of self-knowing. Most of us are so superficial, shallow, have so much sorrow and ignorance as part of our lot. Again, this is not an exaggeration, not an assumption, but an actual fact of our daily existence. We are ignorant of ourselves and therein lies great sorrow. That ignorance breeds every form of superstition, it perpetuates fear, engenders hope and despair and all the inventions and theories of a clever mind. So ignorance not only breeds sorrow, but brings about great confusion in ourselves. Observing all this, one is conscious – if one is at all aware of the world and of oneself and of one’s relationship to the world – one is conscious of this unending chain of sorrow; we are everlastingly trying to escape from it – we are born with sorrow and die with sorrow. We think that pleasure brings passion; it may bring sexual lust or passion; but we are talking about a passion that is a flame that comes with self-knowing. The ending of sorrow comes with self-knowledge; out of that self-knowledge there is passion.
One must have passion – but not identified with a particular concept, a particular formula for social revolution, or a theological concept of God, for passion based on concepts and formulas invented by a cunning, clever mind, soon fades away. Without passion, without that urgency and intensity, our lives remain rather shoddy, bourgeois, and meaningless. Our lives have no meaning as they are lived now – if you can observe yourself you will see there is no deep, abiding, rich meaning in the lives that we lead. We invent various forms of work, we invent purposes, ends, goals; if you are very intellectual you devise your own particular meaning within which to live; also if you are intellectual – seeing this whole activity of life, the struggle, the ugliness, the competition, the brutality, the endless torture – you will invent a formula and live according to that, at least you will try. In this there is no passion. Passion is not blind; on the contrary it comes only when there is the widening and deepening of the knowledge of oneself.
I hope you are not merely listening to a series of words; I hope you are actually looking, examining and exploring your own life, the life one has to lead – not someone else’s life, someone else’s concept of life, but the life we lead every day, with its boredom, routine, the endless struggles, the utter lack of love and kindliness, the life in which there is no compassion whatsoever. There is constant killing – not only the animal which we eat but also killing by word, by gesture, by thought. Out of all this there is more suffering – which again is not a supposition but actually ‘what is’. We cannot escape from ‘what is’, we have to understand it, go into it, put our teeth into it, tear through it, and to do that we must have a great deal of energy. This energy is passion, and there is not that energy if we are in constant conflict. Our life is a dualistic business, a war between the opposites. And when there is violence, strife between the opposites – whether ideationally or actually – there is a waste of energy. You have energy – do you not? – when your whole mind is given to understanding; this energy is passion. It is only passion that can create or bring about a different society. We must have a different society, not this corrupt society.
Seeing all this, one wonders what will bring about a radical change in man. What will change you and me so fundamentally that we have a different mind, a different heart? This is not just words. If you begin to enquire into it very sharply, very clearly, you will inevitably ask these fundamental questions. Organizations, at a certain level, are absolutely necessary – the organization that delivers your milk, letters, the government – however rotten it is. But organized thought is much more detrimental; inward existence that is organized by repetition, the following of a particular course of thought and action inwardly, becomes routine. The ending of organized thought does not mean disorder. On the contrary, if one begins to enquire, one will see that organized belief which is called religion, with its dogma, with its ritual, is not religion at all – is it? To go to church every Sunday morning, or whatever you do, and for the rest of the week destroy your neighbour, breed wars, divide man against man in the worship of hierarchy – all that is not religion, it is propaganda organized to make you think and act according to a certain pattern. All that is born out of fear; and how can there be a religious mind when there is fear?
I hope you are not merely listening to the speaker; that has no value at all because the speaker is not teaching you a thing, the speaker is not guiding you to think along a certain line, for that becomes merely propaganda and therefore a lie. But if you could use the speaker to observe yourself, then you will see that without having great energy and therefore great passion and intensity, life must inevitably be, as it is now, a thing of pleasure, entertainment and the accumulation of knowledge or things.
Organized inward movement, life organized by thought to live in constant repetition with an occasional break of the repetition, going to the office every day of your life – I do not know if you have observed – is ugly, sorrowful. And we educate the young to follow after us, to occupy these offices. And the organized morality which is the respectability and the morality of acquisitiveness, of greed, competition, violence, brutality – we accept as moral. We may say it is very bad to be that way, but that is our life and that is our morality. Our minds, so organized, must inevitably be very shallow; however much you may accumulate knowledge the mind is still shallow, petty, concerned with itself, with its success, with the family, with its little activities how can such a mind know either sorrow or passion? It is only in the understanding of sorrow that passion comes. So, seeing all this, not merely intellectually or verbally, seeing that this is the actual reality of one’s life, what is one to do? What is your answer? This is your life, the ugliness, the growing old with all the ugliness of old age, the bitterness, the frustrations, the utter hopelessness of petty thought, the greed, the envy – you know, this whole thing in which we live – how do we get out of it? That is really the question; not whether you believe in God, or not.
Beauty comes with order, not when there is disorder in our lives. Beauty is not in the museum, in the painting, in statues, or listening to a concert; beauty is not in a poem or in the lovely sky of an evening, or in the light on the water, or in the face of a beautiful person, nor in the building. There is beauty only when the mind and the heart are completely in harmony; and that beauty cannot be gotten by a shallow mind that is caught in the disorder of this world.
When you are confronted with this enormous and very complex issue – what are you, as a human being, to do? When the house is actually burning you have no time to say, well, let us think about it’, ‘Let us find out who set the house on fire, and with what, and whether he was black or white, or whatever it is’ – when the house is burning you are concerned. So what are you going to do? Change is obviously essential, not only outwardly in society, but also in ourselves. The change in society can only be brought about by change within – mere outward reformation, however revolutionary, is always overcome by the inward attitudes, thoughts and feelings; you have seen that in the Russian and other revolutions. So what is one to do? I wonder, when you are faced with this challenge, what your response as a human being is; is it to retire into some isolated monastery, there to meditate, learn a new technique, become a Zen Buddhist, or take vows of poverty, celibacy, chastity; or is it to join other groups of religious belief or sects, or play with psychoanalysis, or become a social reformer, mending the society which is breaking down? What will you do? Do, please, be terribly serious about it. If you cannot retire or escape – there is no way out that way, if there is no teacher, no guru who is going to help you, no organized religion, no God, for certainly God will not come to your aid, God is your invention – what will you do?
What does the mind do? What does one do when one is confused, as one is with this confusion brought about by so many specialists, by so much knowledge, with the confusion of one’s own uncertainty and the seeking of certainty? What does one do when one does not trust anybody any more? I hope you do not, – no analyst, no priest and all the rest of it. Inwardly, one has given faith to so many people – one’s love, one’s affection, one’s adoration, one’s trust – and they have all failed, and they must. So, when one is confronted with this immense problem and one has to solve it by oneself, without any help from outside, either one becomes bitter – which is the fruit of modern civilisation – or, what does one do? Are you all waiting for me to tell you? (Laughter) Do not, please, laugh it away. Are you waiting for the speaker to point out what to do? If you are waiting for the speaker to tell you, he becomes your authority, therefore you put your trust in the speaker, and if you put your trust in him then you will be substituting this particular authority for another authority and so you will be lost again; you will be destroying yourself.
So you can neither trust the speaker – please listen seriously – nor anyone else, any authority whatsoever; therein lies great beauty – not despair, not bitterness, not a sense of loneliness; you are faced with this problem and you have to solve it completely, yourself; in that there is great freedom and beauty. Then you are rid of authority, rid of the teacher, rid of the teaching, rid of following anybody, you are a human being free to look and to understand; in that there is great joy, there is beauty – you have thrown away all burdens.
The word ‘responsibility’ is an ugly word. We use that word only when there is no love; ‘responsibility’ is the word used by the clever politician, or by a dominating or asserting woman or man. But we are responsible – that is an actual fact – for everything that is happening in the world, the starvation in the East, the war – it is not an American war against the Vietnamese, it is the war for which each one of us, whether we live in the East or in the West, is responsible. I know you do not feel this. You may feel it for your son who is killed – and I hope he is not – then you feel sorrow-laden, somewhat responsible and carry on. It is when you love you feel responsible; not you love because you feel responsible. There is responsibility because you love; and freedom implies responsibility, not responsibility for other people’s actions – how can I be responsible for your action, for your thinking? – but responsibility for the action which comes with freedom. To be free without responsibility has no meaning.
You are confronted with this problem, and you are alone with it. Have you ever been alone? – alone in the woods, alone by yourself in your room – or are you always crowded by a horde of others, by your companions, wife or husband, by crowding thoughts, by professional problems? – all that indicates that you are never alone; and then when you are alone you are frightened. But now you are alone with this immense problem. There is nobody that is going to give you the answer. You are confronted with this immense problem, and therefore alone; out of this aloneness comes understanding and whatever you do will be right because that aloneness is love. That state of mind, that is confronting this immense problem without any escape, facing all the daily facts of life, the daily ugliness, the daily brutality, the daily words of annoyance, of irritation, is alone; you begin to see the actual fact, to see actually ‘what is’. Then, only, is it possible to go beyond it; then you are a light to yourself. That mind is the religious mind – not the mind that goes to church, believes in gods, that is superstitious, frightened; such a mind is not a religious mind. The religious mind is that state in which there is freedom and great abiding love. And then you can go beyond, then the mind can go to a different dimension and there is truth.
Can we ask the ‘right’ question? Most of us ask questions very easily. We must ask questions. To question indicates a doubting mind, a mind that is enquiring, a mind that is not accepting, a mind that is never saying ‘yes’, never obeying, but always seeking, learning. To ask the ‘right’ question is one of the most difficult things to do – which does not mean we are trying to prevent you from asking questions. But to ask the ‘right’ question implies a mind that is aware of the interlocking problems of life and is concerned with the problems but not committed to the problems; it can ask because it has thought deeply, enquired widely; when it asks the ‘right’ question there is the ‘right’ answer, because in the very questioning is the answer.
Questioner: Do you believe in evolution? You have often said that understanding is immediate, the act of learning is on the moment; where does evolution play a part in this? Are you denying evolution?
Krishnamurti: It would be foolish – would it not? – to deny evolution. There is the bullock cart and the jet plane, that is evolution. There is an evolution of the primate to the so-called man. There is evolution from not-knowing to knowing, Evolution implies time; but psychologically, inwardly, is there evolution? Are you following the question? Outwardly one can see how architecture has advanced from the primitive hut to the modern building, mechanics from the two wheel cart to the motor, the jet plane, going to the moon and all the rest of it – it is there, obviously there is no question whether these things have evolved or not. But is there evolution inwardly, at all? You believe so, you think so, do you? But is there? Do not say ‘there is’ or ‘there is not’. Merely to assert is the most foolish thing, but to find out is the beginning of wisdom. Now, psychologically, is there evolution? That is, I say ‘I shall become something” or ‘I shall not be something; the becoming or the not being, involves time – does it not? ‘I shall be less angry the day after tomorrow’, ‘I shall be more kind and less aggressive, more helpful, not be so self-centred, selfish’, all that implies time – ‘I am this’ and ‘I shall be that’. I say I shall evolve psychologically – but is there such evolution? Shall I be different in a year’s time? Being violent today, my whole nature is violent, my whole upbringing, education, the social influences and the cultural pressures have bred in me violence; also I have inherited violence from the animal, the territorial rights and sexual rights and so on – will this violence evolve into non-violence? Will you please tell me? Can violence ever become non-violence? Can violence ever become love?
If we admit the possibility of psychological progress and evolution, then we must admit time. But time is the product of thought. When you say, ‘Well, I am this today, a product of thought – but I will be something different next week’, or at some future date, or tomorrow, that is a conception brought about by thought, obviously. And thought, as we have been saying, is always old. Thought can be changed, can be modified, can be added to, subtracted from, but it always remains thought; thought being the response of memory, which is of the past. And thought, the past, has generated psychological time. If there is no psychological time – and there is none – then you are dealing with ‘what is’, not with ‘what should be’, as thought. Again, ‘what should be’ is an invention, is an escape from the fact of ‘what is’. Because we do not know how to come to grips with ‘what is’ we invent the future. If I knew what to do with my violence now, today, I should not think about the future. If I knew what it meant to die today completely, I should not be afraid of tomorrow, of death and old age, which are the products of thought, the conception of tomorrow.
So, there is only one thing “what is”. Can I understand that? – can the mind completely understand it and go beyond it? That means, not admitting time at all, because time is an invention of thought. So, to understand ‘what is’ I must give my whole mind and heart to it. I must understand violence; violence is not something separate from me, I am violence; violence is not over there and I am here; I am the very nature and structure of violence; that is to say, the ‘observer’ is the ‘observed’. The ‘observer’ who says, ‘I am violent’, he has separated himself from violence; but if you observe very closely, the ‘observer’ is violence. When this is a fact, not an idea, then the dualism and division, between the ‘observer’ and the ‘observed’, comes to an end; then I am violence; everything that I do is born of this violence, therefore, effort comes to an end. When there is no division between the fact of violence and the ‘observer’ who thinks he is different, then you will see that the ‘observer’ is the ‘observed’, they are not separate states. And when it is seen that the ‘observer’ is the ‘observed’, as violence, then what is the mind to do? Any act on the part of the mind to do something about violence is still violence. So, the mind realizing that whatever it thinks about violence is part of violence, its thinking comes to an end – and therefore violence ceases. The perception of that is immediate, not something to be cultivated through time, to be attained at some future date. So there is, in that perception, the seeing of something immediately; in that there is no time or progress or evolution; it is an instantaneous perception and action. And surely love is like that, is it not? Love is not the product of thought; love, like humility, is not something to be cultivated. You cannot cultivate humility, it is only the vain man who cultivates humility; and when he is ‘cultivating’, that is, progressing towards humility, he is being vain – like a man who practices non-violence, in the meantime he is being violent.
So, surely love is that state of mind when time, when the ‘observer’ and the ‘observed’ are not. You know, when we say we love another – and I hope you do – then there is an intensity, a communication, a communion, at the same time, at the same level, and that communion, that state of love, is not the product of thought or of time. Questioner: For most of us the ‘what is’ is an escape from a boring job, the society in which we live, from food reforming to clothing and so on. Krishnamurti: How do we transcend that? Is that it, Sir? How do we go beyond it? You have to earn a livelihood, haven’t you? In the social structure, as it is, you have to go to the office or to the factory, either you conform to the pattern or you are free to conform or not. Sir, it is like this; war is the result of nationalism, the division of the superior and the inferior, war is the result of ideologies – obviously – and the economic ambitions of a nation and so on and so on – wars. Shall I, to prevent war, not by a stamp, not travel on trains? Because everything I do helps towards war; the food I buy I pay tax on, also the clothes I buy, the books I read, everything leads ultimately, in the modern structure of the world, to some kind of violence. So what shall I do? – not pay tax? – become a pacifist? What shall I do? It would be foolish on my part not to buy a stamp, not to pay taxes and so on; but I can cry, shout, against nationalism, the flag, the divisions of people into religions, the Christian, the Hindu, the Muslim, the black against the white.
There is only one problem, politically, which is the unity of mankind. The unity of mankind is not brought about by politicians, they want to keep things as they are – separate – to achieve their own particular shoddy little ambitions. The unity of mankind will, probably, come about with a change of each human being’s heart – the government of the world will then be conducted by the computers. Don’t laugh, that is the only way out.
So, shall I not go to the office, not wear clothes and so on? So you see, Sirs, we want to reduce the immense problem by doing little things because we do not see the whole structure and nature of the problem.
Questioner: You say that if the observer is aware, that is the supreme?
Krishnamurti: I did not say – please – that if the observer is aware, that that is the supreme; I did not say any of those things. If you are going to quote the speaker – and I hope you won’t – you must quote him correctly. We use such a word as the ‘supreme’, the ‘almighty’, the ‘immensity’, the immeasurable” not knowing what it means. Do not use it. You can only use it with great seriousness and intention and beauty when you live rightly in this world, when you have laid the foundation of behaviour; then you will know what it means when you use that word ‘the supreme’.
Questioner: What is one to do if one is incurably ill and suffers pain constantly?
Krishnamurti: How am I to bear the pain, the fear of pain, the fear of death? If I have physical pain – great or little; when there is an awareness of that pain – please follow this. not the sublime something or other – just an awareness of that pain without choice, to be aware that I have a toothache, great pain, and not say ‘I am suffering’ and the rest of it, but being choicelessly aware of that fact, I will have pain, but I am dealing with that pain quite differently. There is not fear involved in it.
There is the fear of death from a disease which is incurable. Why am I afraid? Am I afraid of leaving my wife, my husband, my house, my memories, my character, my work and the books I want to read, the books I have written or am going to write – is that it? I am going to leave all that behind; and being frightened I create heaven, a hope – which again breeds further fear. So, can I be free of fear? I know I have to bear pain, a few drugs perhaps can help it, but there is the fear which is deep rooted, it is in the animal, it is in every human being, the fear of dying; and the fear of dying is the fear of living – isn’t it? Fear of living: what is this life we lead with its ugliness, brutality? That is the only life we know and we are afraid even to lose that; we are afraid of the known and we are afraid of the unknown. We would rather cling to the known; and so we divide life into dying and living. We do not know how to live, we do not know how to die. When we know how to live, without conflict, with great beauty, with joy, and with clarity and passion – and that can only come about when you know how to die every day to everything that you possess – then fear no longer is.