Why Do We Have Ideals?

From Krishnamurti’s Book THINK ON THESE THINGS

Questioner: Why do I hate myself when I don’t study?

Krishnamurti: Listen to the question. Why do I hate myself when I don’t study as I am supposed to? Why do I hate myself when I am not nice, as I should be? In other words, why don’t I live up to my ideals?

Now, would it not be much simpler not to have ideals at all? If you had no ideals, would you then have any reason to hate yourself? So why do you say, “I must be kind, I must be generous, I must pay attention, I must study”? If you can find out why, and be free of ideals, then perhaps you will act quite differently – which I shall presently go into.

So, why do you have ideals? First of all, because people have always told you that if you don’t have ideals you are a worthless boy. Society, whether it is according to the communist pattern or the capitalist pattern, says, “This is the ideal”, and you accept it, you try to live up to it, do you not? Now, before you try to live up to any ideal, should you not find out whether it is necessary to have ideals at all? Surely, that would make far more sense. You have the ideal of Rama and Sita, and so many other ideals which society has given you or which you have invented for yourself. Do you know why you have them? Because you are afraid to be what you are.

Let us keep it simple, don’t let us complicate it. You are afraid to be what you are – which means that you have no confidence in yourself. That is why you try to be what society, what your parents and your religion tell you that you should be.

Now, why are you afraid to be what you are? Why don’t you start with what you are and not with what you should be? Without understanding what you are, merely to try to change it into what you think you should be has no meaning. Therefore scrap all ideals. I know the older people won’t like this, but it doesn’t matter. Scrap all ideals, drown them in the river, throw them into the wastepaper basket, and start with what you are – which is what?

You are lazy, you don’t want to study, you want to play games, you want to have a good time, like all young people. Start with, that. Use your mind to examine what you mean when you talk about having a good time – find out what is actually involved in it, don’t go by what your parents or your ideals say. Use your mind to discover why you don’t want to study. Use your mind to find out what you want to do in life – what you want to do, not what society or some ideal tells you to do. If you give your whole being to this inquiry, then you are a revolutionary; then you have the confidence to create, to be what you are, and in that there is an ever renewing vitality. But the other way you are dissipating your energy in trying to be like somebody else.

Don’t you see, it is really an extraordinary thing that you are so afraid to be what you are; because beauty lies in being what you are. If you see that you are lazy, that you are stupid, and if you understand laziness and come face to face with stupidity without trying to change it into something else, then in that state you will find there is an enormous release, there is great beauty, great intelligence.