The Real Work

From Krishnamurti’s Book BEGINNINGS OF LEARNING

Krishnamurti: I have just come back from India. I have noticed that things are getting very bad, the world is in a very peculiar, destructive state, it is degenerating people don’t want to work, there are strikes. Apparently, the war is over in Vietnam, but there is really no peace there. The communist world is also very disturbed; there is corruption everywhere, corruption in the sense not only of passing money under the table, but also in the sense that everybody is thinking selfishly, fragmentarily and thinking in circles. Also, our artists can’t go any further, they have come to the end of things. They have tried every kind of expression, and they too have come to a point when they can’t go any further. And poverty, as in India, of which you know absolutely nothing, is spreading, especially where there are severe droughts. With poverty goes degradation, every kind of violence goes on. Terrible things are happening in South America, in Brazil, and so on. I do not know if you are aware of all this: probably you are studying current history, current events, and one wonders what is going to be the outcome of it all. You are going to face all this when you leave this place.

So what is the relationship between the community here and the vast community of the world? What is going to happen to you all? This isn’t a rhetorical, or merely an intellectually stimulating question. When you leave this place, what will be your fate – if I can use that word – what is going to happen? Do you know how to work, both intellectually and physically, and therefore are able to stand on your own against this current that is carrying people away? – the current of commercialism and vast selfishness. Either you are going to be drawn into it unknowingly, or knowingly, and if you know how to work, how to study, how to use your mind, then you may fit into it. Are you going to be sucked into the current, or stand alone?

So when one comes to Brockwood and sees the beauty of the winter, the bare trees, the lovely lines of the branches, the peace and quiet, the beauty of the place, one is rather shocked by the contrast of it all. And one wonders whether Brockwood offers you the opportunity – or it may and you do not utilize it – to really use your brain, your highest capacities, intellectual, physical and psychological. One wants to cry about the things that are happening, and here is a group, a community of fairly serious, fairly thoughtful people, where ideas and freedom and so-called discipline go together. Or is freedom a word that is misused and means doing what one wants to do?

What is it we are doing here together? Brockwood is a community, a so-called educational centre. I wonder if the word ‘education’ is the right word at all. When one uses that word as it is generally understood, it means learning out of books, storing up information and using it either selfishly or for a particular cause or a particular sect, and making oneself important in that sect or organization. Generally that is what is happening. Are we using our minds to their highest capacity, or are we just slowing down? Come on, I want to find out what you say, what you think. I’m afraid one has to be terribly serious, although you can laugh and play and have a good time; at the core one has to be terribly serious in this world – you are up against it.

How will you respond later on? That depends on what you are doing now. Whether you have observed what is happening in the world, how it is fragmented, broken up, each one fighting the other commercially, intellectually and emotionally; the different types of war, economic, social, class warfare, and the ordinary war of butchery, and the worship of success. You must face this. Have you the capacity to see it and not enter into the game at all? I think Brockwood offers an opportunity for you to have this inward strength to stand against all this. Whether you use that opportunity is up to you, and of course up to the grown-up people too. That is why I feel it is very important to know what it means to work; physically with your hands, psychologically with your mind – to work hard. Are you doing that here? Or is it all rather slack? Or do you say, ‘We are free to do what we want?’

Questioner: What work is there to do besides just seeing all the problems? I mean that is the work, isn’t it?

Krishnamurti: But how do you see the problems? Everybody who is at all alive, a little watchful, sees these problems.

Questioner: Well, you have to see how you react, or how you act.

Krishnamurti: How do you react? Do you see all this as though it were ‘out there’, or do you see it in relationship?

Questioner: I see it as an expression. I see it like art. All the problems are expressions.

Krishnamurti: Do you consider all that is part of you? Or don’t you belong to it? Are you an outsider looking in? Or are you looking without being an outsider? You observe it all: the worship of success, the brutality, the intellectual worship of things, the storing of knowledge. Are you all that, or are you different from all that?

Questioner: I don’t feel either way.

Krishnamurti: All that is the result of our greed, our ambition, competitiveness, worship of success, asserting oneself, thoughtlessness – are you free of all that?

Questioner: Maybe we are not free of it, but we are not part of it right now.

Krishnamurti: You may be free of it. But if you are not free of it, are you aware that you are part of it?

Questioner: Every day you might say, ‘I am not a part of this smoking, this drinking’ – but it can happen to you any day. Even when you are in your room and you are quiet inside, you still can be selfish…

Krishnamurti: What I mean is: do you look at all this as something different from you, or are you part of it? There may be moments when you are not – you may not be when you are thinking quietly – but as long as one is selfish, ambitious, greedy, possessive, one is that.

Questioner: At Brockwood we may feel we are not part of it, or we somehow fool ourselves that we are not part of it.

Krishnamurti: I don’t know, I am asking you. You may be fooling yourself thinking, ‘We are different, we are young, therefore it is not yet our job to be concerned with it.’ If you don’t lay the foundation now, when you are young, I don’t see how you are going to lay it later. In about ten years’ time you will all be married and have children.

Questioner: There is some tendency to discriminate between what is nasty and what is necessary. To get down to practical things we have to associate ourselves, or be involved with everything that is here. A simple example is work in the garden – it is nice to work out there when it is sunny and warm…

Krishnamurti: Yes, but it is awful on a day like this. Look, what are you all going to do? What is your future? What do you want to do? Or haven’t you thought about it? If you haven’t thought about it, just leave it alone, maybe you are too young to think about it. But if you do think about it, what is going to happen to you?

Questioner: I don’t quite understand what you mean. Is it what you can do, or what you think you want to do?

Krishnamurti: Both. Can you separate what you can do from what you want to do? What is it you want to do?

Questioner: I could tell you what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to be part of what I see.

Krishnamurti: I may not want to be part of all this mess, but I have to do something. I can’t just say, ‘I don’t want to be that,’ and stay in my room. I have to eat, I have to clothe myself, I have to have shelter.

Questioner: You can work. You can leave here and just get a job.

Krishnamurti: What is it the mind wants to do in this world?

Questioner: You can get a job.

Krishnamurti: A job isn’t the point. You can get a job if you are lucky enough, or you can live on somebody else. I met a man who had hitch-hiked from New York and worked his way across the sea and hitchhiked from Paris to Delhi. You understand what that means? He was a Brahmin and a strict vegetarian, therefore all through the voyage he lived on cucumbers, a few fruits, an occasional orange for the three weeks. He said, ‘I want to go to India, and when I get there I am going to spend my life as a really religious man’ – whatever that may mean. Now what is going to happen to you? – I am really interested.

Questioner: It seems as though the more I look at things the less I want to do.

Krishnamurti: The less you want to do anything.

Questioner: In a sense, yes. Not anything to do with business; most things are involved in this.

Krishnamurti: I know, but nonetheless what will you do? You can’t just sit back and say, ‘I won’t do anything.’ You have got to eat; you have got to dress yourself and have got to pay to sleep somewhere.

Questioner: There are so few things you can do.

Krishnamurti: Are there so few things? Do you want to hitchhike to India? No, don’t do it! Are there so few things to do in life without getting involved in all this mess?

Questioner: I would rather look at everything you can do, but everything seems to be contaminated by this mess.

Krishnamurti: So that means that everything you do will be contaminated – is that it?

Questioner: Well, you have to deal with it.

Krishnamurti: So how will you deal with it? You have to pay taxes and so on. Will you join a monastery – many people are doing that – but will you like that kind of living? Or is that question rather irrelevant to people who are still very young? But you are old enough to know that unless you lay a foundation now, and see how you observe – not analytically – what your reactions are, and why those reactions exist, unless you do that, it will be very difficult to face this.

Questioner: I wonder whether one can survive when one is put in a place where everybody is fighting with another.

Krishnamurti: Yes, put yourself in that position. Have you thought about violence? What is involved in violence, how does it arise, what is the structure of violence? There is physical violence and there is the violence of obedience – are you obeying and therefore being violent? Do you understand what I mean? When I obey you and suppress what I think, that suppression will burst out one day. So there is physical violence, and violence brought about through obedience, the violence of competitiveness, of conformity. When I conform to a pattern I am violent – you see the connection? When I live a life of fragmentation – that is, when I think one thing and say another, do another – that is fragmentation and that also breeds violence. I may be very quiet, gentle, do all the work I am asked to do, but I flare up: which indicates there has been suppression in me. So violence is not just physical violence, it is a very complex question. And if you haven’t thought about it, when you are faced with violence you will react most unintelligently.

Questioner: Can one live in this world without any violence at all?

Krishnamurti: Find out, work. Find out how to live a life in which there is no violence.

Questioner: A minute ago you spoke about suppression. Maybe here, if we discuss things, it can come out and not be suppressed. I don’t know if that is a form of suppression.

Krishnamurti: Let us take it one by one. You know what physical violence is, getting angry, hitting each other, or somebody is bullying you verbally. That is one kind of violence.

Obedience is violence, isn’t it? Or would you say that is not violence? I obey when I keep to the left side of the road – is that violence?

Questioner: No. That is intelligence, if you didn’t you would get run over.

Krishnamurti: Yes, which means what?

Questioner: It is a fact.

Krishnamurti: So there are facts, and what else? Go on.

Questioner: And things that we produce in our head that don’t really exist.

Krishnamurti: I obey the law which says keep to the right in Europe and to the left in England. Is that violence? Obviously not. If you obey somebody who you think is superior in knowledge, is that violence? I teach you mathematics and you will discuss it with me, but in that there is some sort of imitation, conformity and obedience, isn’t there? Is that violence? Society says you must go and kill the Muslims or the communists – is that violence?

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: Why? There is not only physical violence involved in it, but also so-called love of country, nationalism, a division of yourself as an Englishman, a German, a Russian, or a Muslim – which is a form of violence. So how will you have the insight to see where obedience is not violence and where it is? Do you see the difference? I conform, I imitate when I drive on the left. I put on trousers in this country, but when I go to India I put on Indian dress – is that a kind of conformity? And inwardly I conform to being a Hindu, to my tradition, to my beliefs – isn’t that violence? So where is the line between violence and seeing for oneself where freedom is order? All violence is disorder. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying and afterwards say, ‘I won’t conform,’ and go and do something silly. The whole world is involved in violence, in disorder of different categories. In the business world there is tremendous disorder, although there are marvellous companies run most efficiently; but they fight each other – there is disorder.

So I see disorder, and that freedom from disorder is order – right? There has to be the intelligence or insight to see that any movement towards disorder is violence. If I put on trousers in this country, is that conformity? To me it is not. But it is conformity to say, ‘I am a Hindu, it is my tradition, my belief, my custom.’ So I won’t conform, because conformity there leads to disorder. So I wipe out Hinduism from my blood. That is real freedom. What does it mean to obey? ‘You should do this,’ ‘Keep to the left,’ ‘Go to church,’ or ‘You are an Englishman.’ When you are aware of the factors of disorder, then you are free because there is order in your life.

This is real education: to live a life of tremendous order in which obedience is understood, in which it is seen where conformity is necessary and where it is totally unnecessary, and to see when you are imitating.

Questioner: Would you say that when you are imitating inwardly then you have conflict? For instance, when you learn a language, and you do it because you feel you have to do it.

Krishnamurti: There is nothing you have to do. If you are forced by circumstances, that is violence. To belong to a sect, to a group, to a country, that is really violence because it separates people. I see this happening – am I doing this? To find out if I am doing it, that is real work, that is what I mean by work, not merely gardening, cooking and studying; that is part of it, but the real work is to see, to understand whether you live in disorder. You may have tremendous order outwardly, put on clean clothes, wash and be punctual at all meals, but the real order is inside. And because you are in order you will do things in an orderly way. If you say, ‘I will garden,’ you will garden whether it is foul or fair weather. Oh, you don’t work – I have done all these things!

Questioner: We learn it in doing it. We are not suggesting that we retire to our rooms and find out.

Krishnamurti: Good God, no! You learn while you are doing. The doing is the learning.

Questioner: To find out whether we are cooperating or conforming: if we are cooperating, then it really doesn’t lead to contradictions.

Krishnamurti: Either you have to cooperate because you are compelled, or violent circumstances compel you. Or you want to cooperate, you love to cooperate, you want to do things together. That is order; I can’t live by myself in my room.

Questioner: And there is no contradiction there at all?

Krishnamurti: Obviously not. But if you compel me, or circumstances compel me, or I feel that if I don’t I will be looked down upon, that is violence. But not if I see we must work together, that life is working together, that I can’t live by myself. After all, I find out whether I am violent in doing things with you – how I play, how I talk, how I listen to you. In relationship I find out. Otherwise I can’t find out, I can’t sit in my room and try to find out whether I am violent. I can imagine I’m not violent, but the real test, the real action comes in relationship, to see if I am like that. That’s real work. And if you do that you have tremendous energy because your life is in order.