Part I, Chapter 7

From Krishnamurti’s Book LIFE AHEAD

You know I have been talking about fear; and it is very important for us to be conscious and aware of fear. Do you know how it comes into being? Throughout the world we can see that people are perverted by fear, twisted in their ideas, in their feelings, in their activities. So we ought to go into the problem of fear from every possible angle, not only from the moral and economic viewpoint of society, but also from the point of view of our inward, psychological struggles.

As I have said, fear for outward and inward security twists the mind and distorts our thinking. I hope you have thought a little about this, because the more clearly you consider this and see the truth of it, the freer you will be from all dependence. The older people have not brought about a marvellous society; the parents, the ministers, the teachers, the rulers, the priests have not created a beautiful world. On the contrary, they have created a frightful, brutal world in which everybody is fighting somebody; in which one group is against another, one class against another, one nation against another, one ideology or set of beliefs against another. The world in which you are growing up is an ugly world, a sorrowful world, where the older people try to smother you with their ideas, their beliefs, their ugliness; and if you are merely going to follow the ugly pattern of the older people who have brought about this monstrous society, what is the point of being educated, what is the point of living at all?

If you look around you will see that throughout the world there is appalling destruction and human misery. You may read about wars in history, but you do not know the actuality of it, how cities are completely destroyed, how the hydrogen bomb, when dropped on an island, causes the whole island to disappear. Ships are bombed and they go up into thin air. There is appalling destruction due to this so-called advancement, and it is in such a world you are growing up. You may have a good time while you are young, a happy time; but when you grow older, unless you are very alert, watchful of your thoughts, of your feelings, you will perpetuate this world of battles, of ruthless ambitions, a world where each one is competing with another, where there is misery, starvation, overpopulation and disease.

So, while you are young, is it not very important for you to be helped by the right kind of teacher to think about all these things, and not just be taught to pass some dull examinations? Life is sorrow, death, love, hate, cruelty, disease, starvation, and you have to begin to consider all these things. That is why I feel it is good that you and I should go into these problems together, so that your intelligence is awakened and you begin to have some real feeling about all these things. Then you will not grow up just to be married off and become a thoughtless clerk or a breeding machine, losing yourself in this ugly pattern of life like waters in the sands.

One of the causes of fear is ambition, is it not? And are you all not ambitious? What is your ambition? To pass some examination? To become a governor? Or, if you are very young, perhaps you just want to become an engine-driver, to drive engines across a bridge. But why are you ambitious? What does it mean? Have you ever thought about it? Have you noticed older people, how ambitious they are? In your own family, have you not heard your father or your uncle talk about getting more salary, or occupying some prominent position? In our society – and I have explained what our society is, everybody is doing that, trying to be on top. They all want to become somebody, do they not? The clerk wants to become the manager, the manager wants to become something bigger, and so on and so on – the continual struggle to become. If I am a teacher, I want to become the principal; if I am the principal, I want to become the manager. If you are ugly, you want to be beautiful. Or you want to have more money, more saris, more clothes, more furniture, houses, property – more and more and more. Not only outwardly, but also inwardly, in the so-called spiritual sense, you want to become somebody, though you cover that ambition by a lot of words. Have you not noticed that? And you think it is perfectly all right, don’t you? You think it is perfectly normal, justifiable, right.

Now, what has ambition done in the world? So few of us have ever thought about it. When you see a man struggling to gain, to achieve, to get ahead of somebody else, have you ever asked yourself what is in his heart? If you will look into your own heart when you are ambitious, when you are struggling to become somebody, spiritually or in the wordily sense, you will find there the worm of fear. The ambitious man is the most frightened of men, because he is afraid to be what he is. He says, “If remain what I am, I shall be nobody, therefore I must be somebody, I must become a magistrate, a judge, a minister”. If you examine this process very closely, if you go behind the screen of words and ideas, beyond the wall of status and success, you will find there is fear; because the ambitious man is afraid to be what he is. He thinks that what he is in himself is insignificant, poor, ugly; he feels lonely, utterly empty, therefore he says, “I must go and achieve something”. So either he goes after what he calls God, which is just another form of ambition, or he tries to become somebody in the world. In this way his loneliness, his sense of inward emptiness – of which he is really frightened – is covered up. He runs away from it, and ambition becomes the means through which he can escape.

So, what is happening in the world? Everybody is fighting somebody. One man feels less than another and struggles to get to the top. There is no love, there is no consideration, there is no deep thought. Or society is a constant battle of man against man. This struggle is born of the ambition to become somebody, and the older people encourage you to be ambitious. They want you to amount to something, to marry a rich man or a rich woman, to have influential friends. Being frightened, ugly in their hearts, they try to make you like themselves; and you in turn want to be like them, because you see the glamour of it all. When the governor comes, everybody bows down to the earth to receive him, they give him garlands, make speeches. He loves it, and you love it too. You feel honoured if you know his uncle or his clerk, and you bask in the sunshine of his ambition, his achievements. So you are easily caught in the ugly web of the older generation, in the pattern of this monstrous society. Only if you are very alert, constantly watchful, only if you are not afraid and do not accept, but question all the time – only then will you not be caught, but go beyond and create a different world.

That is why it is very important for you to find your true vocation. Do you know what ‘vocation’ means? Something which you love to do, which is natural to you. After all, that is the function of education – to help you to grow independently so that you are free of ambition and can find your true vocation. The ambitious man has never found his true vocation; if he had, he would not be ambitious.

So, it is the responsibility of the teachers, of the principal, to help you to be intelligent, unafraid, so that you can find your true vocation, your own way of life, the way you really want to live and earn your livelihood. This implies a revolution in thinking; because, in our present society, the man who can talk, the man who can write, the man who can rule, the man who has a big car, is thought to be in a marvellous position; and the man who digs in the garden, who cooks, who builds a house, is despised.

Are you aware of your own feelings when you look at a mason, at the man who mends the road, or drives a taxi, or pulls a cart? Have you noticed how you regard him with absolute contempt? To you he hardly even exists. You disregard him; but when a man has a title of some kind, or is a banker, a merchant, a guru, or a minister, you immediately respect him. But if you really find your true vocation, you will help to break down this rotten system completely; because then, whether you are a gardener, or a painter, or an engineer, you will be doing something which you love with your whole being; and that is not ambition. To do something marvellously well, to do it completely, truly, according to what you deeply think and feel – that is not ambition and in that there is no fear.

To help you to discover your true vocation is very difficult, because it means that the teacher has to pay a great deal of attention to each student to find out what he is capable of. He has to help him not to be afraid, but to question, to investigate. You may be a potential writer, or a poet, or a painter. Whatever it is, if you really love to do it, you are not ambitious; because in love there is no ambition.

So, is it not very important while you are young that you should be helped to awaken your own intelligence and thereby find your true vocation? Then you will love what you do, right through life, which means there will be no ambition, no competition, no fighting another for position, for prestige; and then perhaps you will be able to create a new world. In that new world all the ugly things of the older generation will cease to exist – their wars, their mischief, their separative gods, their rituals which mean absolutely nothing, their sovereign governments, their violence. That is why the responsibility of the teachers, and of the students, is very great.

Questioner: If somebody has an ambition to be an engineer, does it not mean that he is interested in engineering?

Krishnamurti: Would you say that being interested in something is ambition? We can give to that word ‘ambition’ various meanings. To me, ambition is the outcome of fear. But if as a boy I am interested in being an engineer because I want to build beautiful structures, marvellous irrigation systems, splendid roads, it means I love engineering; and that is not ambition. In love there is no fear.

So, ambition and interest are two different things, are they not? If I am really interested in painting, if I love to paint, then I do not compete to be the best or the most famous painter. I just love painting. You may be better at painting than I, but I do not compare myself with you. When I paint, I love what I am doing, and for me that is sufficient in itself.

Questioner: What is the easiest way of finding God?

Krishnamurti: I am afraid there is no easy way, because to find God is a most difficult, a most arduous thing. Is not what we call God something which the mind creates? You know what the mind is. The mind is the result of time, and it can create anything, any illusion. It has the power of creating ideas, of projecting itself in fancies, in imagination; it is constantly accumulating, discarding, choosing. Being prejudiced, narrow, limited, the mind can picture God, it can imagine what God is according to its own limitations. Because certain teachers, priests and so-called saviours have said there is God and have described him, the mind can imagine God in those terms; but that image is not God. God is something that cannot be found by the mind.

To understand God, you must first understand your own mind – which is very difficult. The mind is very complex, and to understand it is not easy. But it is easy enough to sit down and go into some kind of dream, have various visions, illusions, and then think that you are very near to God. The mind can deceive itself enormously. So, to really experience that which may be called God, you must be completely quiet; and have you not found out how extremely difficult that is? Have you not noticed how even the older people never sit quietly, how they fidget, how they wiggle their toes and move their hands? It is difficult physically to sit still; and how much more difficult it is for the mind to be still ! You may follow some guru and force your mind to be quiet; but your mind is not really quiet. It is still restless, like a child that is made to stand in the corner. It is a great art for the mind to be completely silent without coercion; and only then is there a possibility of experiencing that which may be called God.

Questioner: Is God everywhere?

Krishnamurti: Are you really interested to find out? You ask questions, and then subside; you do not listen. Have you noticed how the older people almost never listen to you? They rarely listen to you because they are so enclosed in their own thoughts, in their own emotions, in their own satisfactions and sorrows. I hope you have noticed this. If you know how to observe and how to listen, really listen, you will find out a lot of things, not only about people but about the world.

Here is this boy asking if God is everywhere. He is rather young to be asking that question. He does not know what it really means. He probably has a vague inkling of something – the feeling of beauty, an awareness of the birds in the sky, of running waters, of a nice, smiling face, of a leaf dancing in the wind, of a woman carrying a burden. And there is anger, noise, sorrow – all that is in the air. So he is naturally interested and anxious to find out what life is all about. He hears the older people talking about God, and he is puzzled. It is very important for him to ask such a question, is it not? And it is equally important for you all to seek the answer; because, as I said the other day, you will begin to catch the meaning of all this inwardly, unconsciously, deep down; and then, as you grow up, you will have hints of other things besides this ugly world of struggle. The world is beautiful, the earth is bountiful; but we are the spoilers of it.

Questioner: What is the real goal of life?

Krishnamurti: It is, first of all, what you make of it. It is what you make of life.

Questioner: As far as reality is concerned, it must be something else. I am not particularly interested in having a personal goal, but I want to know what is the goal for everybody.

Krishnamurti: How will you find out? Who will show you? Can you discover that by reading? If you read, one author may give you a particular method, while another author may offer quite a different method. If you go to a man who is suffering, he will say that the goal of life is to be happy. If you go to a man who is starving, who has not had sufficient food for years, his goal will be to have a full tummy. If you go to a politician, his goal will be to become one of the directors, one of the rulers of the world. If you ask a young woman, she will say, “My goal is to have a baby”. If you go to a sannyasi, his goal is to find God. The goal, the underlying desire of people is generally to find something gratifying, comforting; they want some form of security, safety, so that they will have no doubts, no questions, no anxiety, no fear. Most of us want something permanent to which we can cling, do we not.

So, the general goal of life for man is some kind of hope, some kind of safety, some kind of permanency. Don’t say, “Is that all?” That is the immediate fact, and you must first be fully acquainted with that. You must question all that – which means, you must question yourself. The general goal of life for man is embedded in you, because you are part of the whole. You yourself want safety, permanency, happiness; you want something to which to cling.

Now, to find out if there is something else beyond, some truth which is not of the mind, all the illusions of the mind must be finished with; that is, you must understand them and put them aside. Only then can you discover the real thing, whether there is a goal or not. To stipulate that there must be a goal, or to believe that there is a goal, is merely another illusion. But if you can question all your conflicts, struggles, pains, vanities, ambitions, hopes, fears, and go through them, go beyond and above them, then you will find out.

Questioner: If I develop higher influences will I eventually see the ultimate?

Krishnamurti: How can you see the ultimate as long as there are many barriers between you and that? First you must remove the barriers. You cannot sit in a closed room and know what fresh air is like. To have fresh air you must open the windows. Similarly, you must see all the barriers all the limitations and conditionings within yourself; you must understand them and put them aside. Then you will find out. But to sit on this side and try to find out what is on the other, has no meaning.