We Invent the Symbol then Worship It

From Krishnamurti’s Book QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Question: I derive strength from concentrating on a symbol. I belong to a group that encourages this. Is this an illusion?

Krishnamurti: Do not belong to anything! See the reason of this: we cannot stand alone, we want support, we want the strength of others, we want to be identified with a group, with an organization. The Krishnamurti Foundation is not such an organization, it merely exists to publish books and so on. But there is this idea that we must be part of something, for belonging to something gives one strength.

The questioner says that he derives strength from concentrating on a symbol. We all have symbols. The Christian world is filled with symbols and images, with concepts, beliefs, ideals, dogmas, rituals, and it is the same in India. Now when one belongs to a large group which adores the same symbol, one derives enormous strength from it; it creates a feeling that at last one is understanding something beyond the symbol.

First, we invent the symbol – see how our minds work – the image in the church or in the temple, or the letters in the mosque, and in worshipping that which we have created out of our thought, we derive strength. See what is happening. The symbol is not the actuality. The actuality may never exist, but the symbol satisfies and gives us vitality by looking at it, thinking about it, being with it. Surely that which has been created by thought must be illusion. If you create me as being your guru – I refuse to be a guru, it is too absurd, because I see how the followers destroy the guru and the guru destroys the followers – but if you create an image about me, about the speaker, then the whole business begins; to me it is an abomination.

Thought is the mischief maker in this. All the images it has created in the churches, in the temples, in the mosques, are not truth, are not actual. They have been invented by us and by the priests, out of our fear, out of our anxiety and uncertainty of the future. We have created a symbol and we are caught in it. So first realize that thought will always create the things which give satisfaction, psychologically, which give comfort. The reassuring image is a great comfort; it may be a total illusion – and it is – but it gives comfort and therefore we will never look beyond the illusion.