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Quotes by Krishnamurti

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Ambition

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Ambition darkens the mind

Ambition produces certain industrial benefits, but in its wake there is the darkening of the mind.
—KRISHNAMURTI

Krishnamurti in Bombay 1953, Talk 10

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Can we find a way of life which is not based on ambition, which is not of choice, which is a flowering in which the result is not sought? All that we know of life is a series of struggles ending in result; and those results are being discarded for greater results. That is all we know. In the case of the man who sits alone in a cave, in the very process of making himself perfect, there is choice, and that choice is ambition. The man who is violent tries to become non-violent; that very becoming is ambition. We are not trying to find out whether ambition is right or wrong whether it is essential to life, but whether it is conducive to a life of simplicity. I do not mean the simplicity of a few clothes, that is not a simple life. The putting on of a loin cloth does not indicate a man that is simple; on the contrary, it may be that, by the renunciation of the outer things, the mind becomes more ambitious; for it tries to hold on to its own ideal which it has projected and which it has created. So if we observe our own ways of thinking, should we not enquire into this question of ambition? What do we mean by it, and is it possible to live without ambition? We see that ambition breeds competition, whether in children, in school, or among the big politicians, all the way up, the trying to beat a record. This ambition produces certain industrial benefits: but in its wake, obviously there is the darkening of the mind, the technological conditioning, so that the mind loses its pliability, its simplicity and therefore is incapable of directly experiencing. Should we not enquire, not as a group but as individuals – you and I – should we not find out what this ambition means, whether we are at all aware of this ambition in our life?
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Ambition is a form of power

Ambition is a form of power, the desire for power over oneself and others, the power to do something better than anybody else. In ambition is a sense of comparison, and so the ambitious man is not a creative man, is never a happy man; in himself he is discontented.
—KRISHNAMURTI

Krishnamurti at Rajghat 1954, Talk 8

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All our so-called progress is based on ambition. If you draw, you must draw much better than anybody else; there is this constant struggle. What happens in this process is that you become very cruel. Because you want to achieve an end, you become ruthless, thoughtless, in your group, in your class, in your nation. Ambition is really a form of power, the desire for power over myself and over others, the power to do something better than anybody else. In ambition, there is a sense of comparison; and therefore, the ambitious man is never really a creative man, is never a happy man; in himself he is discontented. And yet we think that without ambition we should be nothing, we should have no progress.

Is there a different way of doing things without ambition, a different way of living, acting, building, inventing, without this struggle of competition in which there is cruelty and which ultimately ends in war? I think there is a different way but that way requires doing something contrary to all the established customs of thought. When we are seeking a result, to us the important thing is the result, not the thing we do, in itself. Can we understand and love the thing which we are doing, without caring for what it will produce, what it will get us, or what name or what reputation we will have?

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The ambitious are afraid

The ambitious man is afraid to be what he is.
—KRISHNAMURTI

From the book Life Ahead – Purchase / Read online
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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 I 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.
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A mind free of ambition flowers in goodness

A mind that is not concerned with itself, that is free of ambition, a mind that not caught up in its own desires or driven by its own pursuit of success – such a mind is not shallow and it flowers in goodness.
—KRISHNAMURTI

From the book Think on These Things – Purchase / Read online
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Can a shallow mind appreciate beauty? It may talk about beauty; but can it experience this welling up of immense joy upon looking at something that is really lovely? When the mind is merely concerned with itself and its own activities, it is not beautiful; whatever it does, it remains ugly, limited, therefore it is incapable of knowing what beauty is. Whereas, a mind that is not concerned with itself, that is free of ambition, a mind that not caught up in its own desires or driven by its own pursuit of success – such a mind is not shallow, and it flowers in goodness. Do you understand? It is this inward goodness that gives beauty even to a so-called ugly face. When there is inward goodness the ugly face is transformed, for inward goodness is really a deeply religious feeling.
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Society is based on ambition

Society is based on ambition and conflict, and almost everyone accepts this fact as inevitable
—KRISHNAMURTI

From the book Commentaries on Living Series 2 – Purchase / Read online
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Society as at present constituted is based on ambition and conflict, and almost everyone accepts this fact as inevitable. The individual is conditioned to its inevitability; through education, through various forms of outward and inward compulsion, he is made to be competitive. If he is to fit into this society at all, he must accept the conditions it lays down, otherwise he has a pretty bad time. We seem to think that we have to fit into this society; but why should one?

I wonder if that would happen if we saw the whole significance of the problem? We might not live according to the usual pattern, but we would live creatively and happily, with a wholly different out look. Such a state cannot be brought about if we accept the present social pattern as inevitable. But do ambition, competition and conflict constitute a predestined and inevitable way of life? You evidently assume that they do. Now let us begin from there. Why do you take this competitive way of life to be the only process of existence?

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