We Have Become Accustomed to the Idea of Psychological Evolution
From Krishnamurti’s Book YOU ARE THE WORLD
I would, first of all, like to ask what is going to become of all of us, the young and the old, what will we make of our lives? Are we going to allow ourselves to be sucked into this maelstrom of accepted respectability with its social and economic morality, and become part of the so-called cultural society with all its problems, its confusion and contradiction, or are we going to make something entirely different of our life? That is the problem which faces most people. One is educated, not to understand life as a whole, but to play a particular role in this totality of existence. We are so heavily conditioned from childhood to achieve something in this society, to be successful and to become a complete bourgeois; and the more sensitive intellectual generally revolts against such a pattern of existence. In his revolt, he does various things: either he becomes antisocial, anti-political, takes to drugs and pursues some narrow, sectarian, religious belief, following some guru, some teacher or philosopher, or he becomes an activist, a Communist, or he gives himself over entirely to some exotic religion like Buddhism or Hinduism. And by becoming a sociologist, a scientist, an artist, a writer or, if one has the capacity, a philosopher and, thereby, enclosing oneself in a circle, we think we have solved the problem. We then imagine we have understood the whole of life and we dictate to others what life should be according to our own particular tendency, our own particular idiosyncrasy, and from our own specialized knowledge.
When one observes what life is with its enormous complexity and intricacy, not only in the economic and social spheres, but also in the psychological sphere, one must ask oneself, if one is at all serious, what part one is to play in all this. What shall I do as a human being living in this world and not escaping into some fantasy existence or a monastery?
Seeing this whole pattern very clearly, what is one to do, what is one to make of one’s life? This question is always there, whether we are well placed in the establishment or just about to enter into it. So, it seems to me, one must inevitably ask this question: What is the purpose of life and as a fairly healthy human being psychologically, who is not totally neurotic and who is alive and active, what part shall I play in all this? Which role or which part am I attracted to? And, if I am attracted to a particular fragment or section, then I must be aware of the danger in such an attraction, because we are back again in the same old division which breeds effort, contradiction and war. Can I then take part in the whole of life and not in just one particular segment of it? To take part in the whole of life obviously does not mean to have a complete knowledge of science, sociology, philosophy, mathematics, and so on; that would be impossible unless one were a genius.
Can one, therefore, bring about psychologically, inwardly, a totally different way of living? This obviously means that one takes an interest in all the outward things, but that the fundamental, radical revolution is in the psychological realm. What can one do to bring about such a change deeply within oneself? For oneself is the society, is the world, is all the content of the past. So the problem is: How can we, you and I, take part in the totality of life and not merely in one segment of it? That’s one problem; there are also the problems of conduct, behaviour and virtue and the problem of love – what love is, and what death is. Whether we are young or old, we must ask ourselves these questions, because they are part of life, part of our existence; and together, if you are agreeable, we must talk over these problems this evening. We are going into these problems together; you are not outside of all this, merely a spectator, a listener observing with curiosity and taking a casual interest. Whether we like it or not, we are all involved in this inquiry – what to make of our life, what is righteous behaviour, what is love (if there is such a thing), what is the meaning of that extraordinary thing called death, which most people won’t even discuss. So, seeing the whole of this, one must ask what is the purpose of all existence.
The life that we lead at present has actually very little meaning, passing a few examinations, getting a degree, finding a good job and struggling for the rest of our life until we die. And to invent a meaning to this utter disorder is equally disastrous. Now what is possible for us, seeing all this and knowing that there must be a deep, psychological revolution to bring about a different order, a different society, and at the same time not depending on anyone to give us enlightenment or clarity – so what is possible? To find out what is possible, one must, first of all, find out what is impossible. Now what is impossible or appears to be impossible? It appears impossible for a complete change, a complete psychological revolution to take place immediately, that is, tomorrow you wake up and you are completely different, your way of looking, thinking, feeling is so new, so alive, so passionate, so true, that in it there is no longer a shadow of conflict or hypocrisy. You say that is impossible because you have accepted or become accustomed to the idea of psychological evolution, a gradual change which may take fifty years; so time is necessary, not only chronological time but psychological time. That is the accepted, traditional way of thinking; to change, to bring about a radical, psychological revolution, time is necessary. If one suggests, as the speaker does, that it is possible to change completely by tomorrow, you would say that is impossible, wouldn’t you? So, for you, that is the impossible; now from knowing what is impossible, you can find out what is possible. The possibility then is not the same as it was before: it’s entirely different. Are we following each other?
When we say this is possible, that is impossible, the possibility is measurable, but when we realize something which is impossible, then we see in relation to the impossible what is possible; and that possibility then is entirely different from what was possible before. Please, listen carefully, don’t compare this with what somebody else has said, just watch it in yourself and you will see an extraordinary thing takes place. The possibility now, as we are, is very small; it is possible to go to the moon, to become a rich man or a professor, whatever it is, but that possibility is very trivial. Now when you are confronted with an issue such as this, that you must change completely by tomorrow and therefore become a totally different human being, then you are faced with the impossible. When you realize the impossibility of that, then in relation to the impossible, you will find out what is possible, which is something entirely different; therefore quite a different possibility takes place in your mind. And it is this possibility that we are talking about, not the trivial possibility, So, bearing all this in mind, the impossible and the possible in relationship to the impossible, and seeing this whole pattern of existence, what can I do? The impossible is to love without a shadow of jealousy and hate.
Most of us, I am afraid, are terribly jealous, envious and possessive. When you love somebody, your girlfriend, your wife or your husband, you are determined to hold them for the rest of your life; at least you try to. And you call that ‘love’ – he or she is ‘mine’. And when ‘the mine’ looks away or looks at another, becomes somewhat independent, then there is fury, jealousy and anxiety, then all the misery of what is called love begins. Now, what is it to love without a shadow of all that?
No doubt, you would consider it impossible, you would consider it inhuman, in fact superhuman – so, to you it is impossible. If you see the impossibility of that, then you will find out what is possible in relationship. I hope I am making myself clear. That is the first point.
Secondly, our life, as it is now, is struggle, pain, pleasure, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, despair, war, hatred – you know what our everyday living actually is, the competition, the destruction, the disorder. This is actually what is taking place, not what ‘should be’ or what ‘ought to be; we are only concerned with what is. So, seeing all this, we say to ourselves: ‘It’s too awful, I must escape from it! I want a wider, deeper, more extensive vision. I want ‘to become more sensitive.’ Therefore we take drugs.
This question of drugs is very old; they have been taking drugs in India for thousands of years. At one time it was called soma, now it is hashish and pan; they haven’t yet reached the highly sophisticated level of LSD, but they probably will very soon now. People take hashish and pan in order to become less sensitive; they get lost in the perfume of it, in the different visions it produces and accentuates. These drugs are generally taken by the labourers, the manual workers (here you do not have ‘untouchables’ as they are called in India). They take drugs because their lives are dreadfully dull; they have not much food, so they haven’t much energy. The only two things they have are sex and drugs.
The truly religious man, the man who really wants to find out what truth is, what life is – not from books, not from religious entertainers, not from philosophers who only stimulate intellectually – such a man will have nothing whatever to do with drugs, because he knows full well that they distort the mind, making it incapable of finding out what truth is.
Here in the Western world many people are resorting to drugs. There are the serious ones who have taken it experimentally for perhaps a couple of years, some of whom have come to see me. They have said: ‘We have had experiences which appear – from what we have read in books – to resemble the ultimate reality, to be a shadow of the real.’ And because they are serious people, as the speaker is, they have discussed this problem deeply; ultimately they have been forced to admit that the experience is very spurious, that it has nothing whatever to do with the ultimate reality, with all the beauty of that immensity. Unless a mind is clear, wholesome and completely healthy, it cannot possibly be in the state of religious meditation which is absolutely essential to discover that thing which is beyond all thought, beyond all desire. Any form of psychological dependence, any kind of escape, through drink, through drugs, in an attempt to make the mind more sensitive merely dulls and distorts it.
When you discard all that – as one must if one is at all serious – you are faced with living inwardly alone. Then you are not depending on anything or anybody, on any drug, on any book, or on any belief. Only then is the mind unafraid, only then can you ask what is the purpose of life. And if you have come to that point, would you ask such a question? The purpose of life is to live – not in the utter chaos and confusion that we call living – but to live in an entirely different way, to live a life that is full, to live a life that is complete, to live that way today. That is the true meaning of life – to live, not heroically, but to live so complete inwardly, without fear, without struggle and without all the rest of the misery.
It is possible only when you know what is impossible; you must, therefore, see whether you can change immediately, say, with regard to anger, hate and jealousy, so that you are no longer jealous, which is, of course, envious; envy being a comparison between yourself and another. Now, is it possible to change so completely that envy doesn’t touch you at all? This is only possible when you are aware of the envy without this division of the observer and the observed, so that you are envy, you are that: not you and envy as something separate from you. Therefore, when you see this whole thing completely, there is no possibility of doing anything about it; and when there is this complete state of envy, in which there is no division and no conflict, then it is no longer envy; it is something entirely different. One can then ask: What is love? Is love pleasure? Is love desire? Is love the product of thought, as pleasure is and fear is? Can love be cultivated and will love come about through time? And, if I don’t know what love is, can I come upon it?
Love is obviously not sentimentality or emotionalism, so they can be brushed aside immediately, because sentimentality and emotionalism are romantic, and love is not romanticism. Now pleasure and fear are the movement of thought and for most of us pleasure is the greatest thing in life; sexual pleasure and the memory of it, the thought of having had that pleasure, thinking about it over and over again and wanting it tomorrow – the morality of society is based on pleasure. So, if pleasure is not love, then what is love? Please follow this, because you have to answer these questions; you can’t just wait for the speaker or somebody else to tell you. This is a fundamental, human question that must be answered by each one of us, not by some guru or philosopher who says this is love, that is not love.
Love is not jealousy or envy, is it? You are all very silent! Can you love and at the same time be greedy, ambitious, competitive? Can you love when you kill not only animals but also other human beings? Through the negation of what love is not – it is not jealousy, envy, hate, the self-centred activity of the ‘me’ and the ‘you’, the ugly competition, the brutality and the violence of everyday life – you will know what love is. When you put all these things aside, not intellectually but actually, with your heart, with your mind, with your… I was going to say guts, because obviously all this is not love, then you will come upon love. When you know love, when you have love, then you are free to do what is right; and whatever you do is righteous.
But to come to that state, to have that sense of beauty and compassion which love brings, there must also be the death of yesterday. The death of yesterday means to die to everything inwardly, to all ambition and everything that psychologically one has accumulated. After all, when death comes, that’s what is going to happen anyway; you are going to leave your family, your house, your goods, your valuables, all the things you possess. You are going to leave all the books from which you have derived so much knowledge, as well as the books you wanted to write and have not written, and the pictures you wanted to paint. When you die to all that, then the mind is completely new, fresh and innocent. I suppose you will say it is impossible.
When you say it is impossible, then you begin to invent theories; there must be a life after death; according to the Christians there is resurrection, while the whole of Asia believes in reincarnation. The Hindus maintain that it is impossible to die to everything while one still has life and health and beauty; so fearing death, they give hope by inventing this wonderful thing called reincarnation, which means that the next life will be better. However, the better has a string attached to it; to be better in my next life, I must be good in this one, therefore I must behave myself. I must live righteously; I must not hurt another; there must be no anxiety, no violence. But unfortunately these believers in reincarnation do not live that way; on the contrary, they are aggressive, as full of violence as everyone else, so their belief is as worthless as the dead yesterdays.
The important thing is what you are now, and not whether you believe or don’t believe, whether your experiences are psychedelic or merely ordinary. What matters is to live at the height of virtue (I know you don’t like that word). Those two words ‘virtue’ and ‘righteousness’ have been terribly abused, every priest uses them, every moralist or idealist employs them. But virtue is entirely different from something which is practised as virtue and therein lies its beauty; if you try to practise it, then it is no longer virtue. Virtue is not of time, so it cannot be practised and behaviour is not dependent on environment; environmental behaviour is all right in its way but it has no virtue. Virtue means to love, to have no fear, to live at the highest level of existence, which is to die to everything, inwardly, to die to the past, so that the mind is clear and innocent. And it is only such a mind that can come upon this extraordinary immensity which is not your own invention, nor that of some philosopher or guru.