Krishnamurti on Fulfilment

Episode Notes

‘We have always thought of desire in terms of fulfilment, achieving, gaining, and getting rich inwardly or outwardly.’

This week’s episode on Fulfilment has five sections.

The first extract (2:22) is from Krishnamurti’s fourth talk in Saanen 1966, titled ‘Is there such thing as fulfilment?’

The second extract (9:22) is from the seventh talk in London 1961, titled ‘The search for fulfilment.

The third extract (32:14) is from Krishnamurti’s fourth talk in Madras 1964, titled ‘In fulfilment there is contradiction’.

The fourth extract (38:24) is from the fifth talk in Ojai 1982, titled ‘Is love fulfilment in relationship?’

The final extract (53:47) this in this episode is from the third question and answer meeting in Saanen 1980, titled ‘Does creativity need fulfilling?’

Part 1

Is There Such Thing as Fulfilment?

Questioner: I want pleasure, of different kinds. I resist pleasure because I know that it is going to bring pain, and I am afraid of pain. Yet my mind wants constant pleasure. How am I to be free, free of resisting pleasure, being afraid of pain, and yet wanting pleasure?

Krishnamurti: It is like a man who wants to fulfil himself through books, through literature, through painting, through music. He wants to be someone, but he knows that in that very desire to fulfil there is pain, agony, distress and fear. Yet he wants to fulfil.

What am I to do? I must inquire, not how to be free of fear, of pain, but whether there is such a thing as fulfilment, whether there is such a thing as constant pleasure. The problem is not how to be free of pain, demanding pleasure, but whether in pleasure itself there is not pain. I want to fulfil because it is a tremendous pleasure. I want to be known, to be famous, as a musician, as a writer, as what you will, because in that fulfilment there is great pleasure. I shall be known, my name will be in the papers, and all that silly rot. It gives me tremendous pleasure, and I don’t call it silly rot. I try to fulfil, but there is always someone better than I am, someone better known, a greater writer, a better musician. In that there is competition, there is pain; I have to play up to people, I have to be a hypocrite, I have to do all kinds of ugly things. All that brings pain. I want to fulfil, and in that fulfilment there is pleasure. At the same time, I want to avoid pain. What I have to inquire into is what I am fulfilling, what I am doing.

The whole world worships success. If I have money, position, prestige, fame, if I am someone and am known to a lot of newspaper readers, it is very pleasurable; it gives me a nice feeling. But what is it all about? Is there such a thing as fulfilment, what am I fulfilling, and why do I want to fulfil? I want to fulfil, become famous, because inwardly I am nothing, I am empty, I am lonely. I am a miserable creature, and I put on all the feathers of fame because I have some technique, with a violin or a piano or a pen. I am escaping in fulfilment from that emptiness, from that loneliness, from that everlasting self-activity and boredom because I have a little technique. That fulfilment is an escape from the fact of what I am.

Can I resolve what I am, this ugliness, this emptiness, this self-centred activity, with all its neurotic disease and demands? When I can resolve that, I do not care whether I am famous or not, fulfilling or not fulfilling. I am beyond all that stupid stuff. Then pleasure, thought and pain have a totally different meaning – I am beyond them.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1966, Talk 4

Part 2

The Search for Fulfilment

One can see that every form of disciplining, controlling, suppressing, substituting or sublimating, perverts the beauty of desire and therefore makes the mind and heart incapable of being young and swift. I think that must be very clearly perceived. And is it possible to really see this, trained, as one has been, in a society whose values are acquisitive, whose religious dogmas and beliefs entail every form of twisting, suppressing desire? Desire obviously means comparison, and comparison, if one goes into it more deeply, leads to the urge for power.

We talk a great deal about peace and love and all that kind of thing. Politicians throughout the world are everlastingly talking about God, peace, love. And can a mind that has not understood the whole significance of desire know what love is? Religious people consider desire evil – except the one desire for God, or Jesus or somebody – and the monasteries are filled with such people. Can such minds see the immensity of that thing which we cover by the word ‘love’?

So, if one sees the significance of suppression, and therefore there is no longer the urge to suppress, transmute and all the rest of it, then what is one to do with desire? It is there, burning, urging us to fulfil, to get ahead, to get a car, a bigger house, and so on. It is there, so what is one to do? I wonder if we have ever asked ourselves that question. We are so used to controlling it, shaping it, curbing it, adding ballast to it, or approximating it to something else, which is comparison. And can we ever stop that process? You see, it is only when that process has stopped completely that one can ask what one is to do with desire. I do not know if you have got to that point.

It means, really, can one live in this world without ambition? Can you go to the office and work without ambition? And if you did, would not your competitor wipe you out? And is there not the fear that if there was no ambition, one would just fade away? If I may suggest, do put this question to yourself. When do you ask what to do with desire. Must you first go through all the forms of fulfilment, with their frustrations, miseries, fears, guilt and anxiety? Or perhaps you never put that question at all, but only suppress all the time. Perhaps if you have not found happiness, position, prestige in one direction, you turn in another direction. These are the outward and inward expressions of it. When one is a nobody in this disintegrating world, one turns inward for fulfilment. You never put that question when you are right in the wake of it, do you?

For a mind that is really inquiring, that really wants to find out if there is God, truth, something beyond all words, it is surely very important to understand this thing called desire. Is it right to be desireless? And if you kill desire, do you not also kill all feeling, with all its qualities of sensitivity? Feeling is a part of desire, is it not?

So if one has gone into all the implications of suppression, then is one no longer suppressing, no longer substituting? It is not merely a matter of verbally mesmerising yourself; it is quite an arduous thing, if you have gone that far. Because a part of this desire is discontent, discontent with what we are, and at the back of this discontent is the urge for power, to be something, to fulfil in some way. Most of us are caught in this wheel of fulfilment and frustration. And with the everlasting battle of self-pity, one ultimately goes through the door of despair.

Now, can one actually see all this, and not take days, months, years over it? Can one see this everlasting search for fulfilment – how we know it is going to bring misery and yet we keep on with it? Can we see it all as the whole content of our life, and cut at the very root of it? And then, if one has gone that far – or rather, that near – what is one to do with desire? Is there any need, then, to do anything about desire?

So far, we have always done something about desire, given it the right channel, the right slant, the right aim, the right end. And if the mind, which is conditioned, which is always thinking in terms of achievement, through training, through education and so on, is no longer trying to shape desire as something apart from itself, if the mind is no longer interfering with desire, if I may use that word, then what is wrong with desire? Then is it the thing we have always known as desire?

You see, we have always thought of desire in terms of fulfilment, achieving, gaining, getting rich, inwardly or outwardly, in terms of avoidance, in terms of ‘the more’. And when you see all that, and put it away, then the feeling, which we have so far called desire, has a totally different meaning, has it not? Then you can see a beautiful car, a lovely house, a lovely dress without any reaction of wanting, identifying.

The whole social approach to existence in which you have been brought up, educated since childhood, all the ideation, the search for fulfilment, that you must be better than the next man and so on, when you see the whole content of this conflict, and when it has fallen away from you from within, dropped from your hand, then is desire that which it previously was?

After all, to feel is to think, is it not? The two are inseparable. When I see a child in misery, starving, then I want to cut out society, the politician and all the rest of them, and do something about it. The feeling always goes with the thought. And feeling is perception, sensation, touch, and all the rest of it. To feel is to be sensitive, and the more sensitive you are, the more you get hurt. So you begin to build a defence, a shield. All this is a form of desire. To cease to be sensitive is obviously to become inwardly paralysed, to die. Perhaps most of us are paralysed; that is what happens to us through education, through social relationships, contacts, knowledge – everything makes us dull, stupid, insensitive. And living in a tomb, we try to feel.

Realising all this, then is there a limit to desire? I do not know what other word to use for that thing which we have called desire. Do you see what has happened, if you have gone into it? It is no longer feeling or thought; it is something entirely different, in which feeling and thought are included. Most of our lives are so terribly dull, full of routine, boredom – you know very well the horrors of your existence, the mediocrity of it – and we have not understood even a day or a minute of our lives, if we have not understood some of all this. And that is probably why we are all so terribly ‘spiritual’, mediocre!

So we come to this issue, which is really very interesting if you have gone into it. The thing that we have called desire, with all its corruptions, its travail, its miseries, its suffering, impotence, enthusiasm, interests and so on – one has seen the full depth of it all. At one glance one can see it. You know how you do not have to get drunk to know what sobriety is – in the same way, if one sees the process of fulfilment completely, it is finished; every form of fulfilment, every form of being or becoming something has ended.

Krishnamurti in London 1961, Talk 7

Part 3

In Fulfilment There Is Contradiction

Desire, which is the response of a sensation, which has been given continuity by thought, seeks fulfilment, and in the various forms of fulfilment, there is contradiction. And out of that contradiction, there is conflict. And where there is conflict there is effort. So desire breeds effort if we do not understand the whole process of desire.

What is desire and how does that desire continue? We see how desire arises – perception, seeing, contact, sensation. Now, what gives continuity to desire? That is the problem. Surely, thought gives continuity to desire. That is, I like something; it gives me great pleasure to look at the sunset, or to look at a beautiful face, or to see a man in position, status, power, money, and all the rest of it. It gives me pleasure to be in that man’s position, and I think about that pleasure, whether that pleasure be a sensual pleasure or a subjective pleasure, or a pleasure caused by outward objects. I think about it. I like your face; you have a nice smile, and your face is attractive. I like it, I think about it. The more I think about it, the more I give strength to the desire which seeks fulfilment with that person, or through that idea, or through that object.

So thought gives continuity to desire. If there was no continuity to desire, there would be no fulfilment. It would arise and go away. It would come as a reaction. And you must have reaction, otherwise you are a dead human being. It would come as a reaction, and there would be no continuity to that reaction if there was no continuity of thought. Observe it in your own life.

You have pleasure, sexual or ordinary pleasure, you think about it; you create, in your mind, images, symbols, words. And the more you think about it, the greater the intensity of that pleasure. And that intensity demands fulfilment. And in that fulfilment there is a contradiction because you also want to fulfil in other directions. So where there is fulfilment of desire, there is contradiction. Hence to escape from contradiction, from the pain of conflict, you say that you must suppress desire. But what is important is not to suppress desire, nor to shape it, nor to sublimate it, but to understand it, to understand what gives it substance, what gives it the intensity, what gives it the urgency. If that can be understood, then desire has quite a different significance.

You observe yourself: when you have a pleasure, you think about it. When you have pain, you also think about it. The thinking about it gives it vitality, gives it strength, gives it continuity. So, one has to go into the question of thinking, if one would understand desire.

Krishnamurti in Madras 1964, Talk 4

Part 4

Is Love Fulfilment in Relationship?

We are going to talk about together the nature of what we consider love. This has been a question that has existed among the ancient Egyptians, the ancient Hindus, and recently the Christian world and the Islamic concept. They have all preached, talked about loving your neighbour and so on. This has been asserted religiously in all countries, but apparently we have never come to realise what it is. We talk a great deal about it; books are written. We have created a god or gods, and we love that god or gods. We don’t know exactly the nature of that beauty. Is it mere sensory response, sexual pleasure? So we ought to go into this question very deeply. Please, as we said, this is not a talk, this is not the speaker asserting any point of view, but we are together examining. Please, I’ll repeat over again: together we are inquiring into the nature of what one calls love.

So one must ask oneself whether it is mere sensory, sexual response, which more and more in the Western world, and now which is creeping into the Eastern world, has been turned into pleasure. Is love pleasure, a form of entertainment, a thing which demands some kind of sensory fulfilment? Is it desire? We went into the question of what desire is very carefully, how desire arises and the demand of its fulfilment. When there is no fulfilment, there is frustration and all the neurotic activities of unfulfilled desire. We went into that.

So is love desire? If it is, then it is all the complications, frustrations, the demand for its fulfilment, with all the conflicts that arise. So is love conflict?

Please, one must repeat this again: you are asking these questions, not the speaker. The speaker is merely pointing out, which you yourself are examining, not merely verbally, intellectually, as a thing passing by, but actually in daily life.

Is love a movement which has continuity in pleasure and desire? You are asking the question. And why is it that pleasure has become so extraordinarily important in the world? The whole entertainment industry, so-called sports, and, if you will forgive also, religious entertainment, which is considered sacred, these are the various forms of pleasure. So one asks, is love a movement, an endless movement of pleasure? Is love attachment, attachment to a belief, to a concept, to knowledge, to a person, or to a symbol? In attachment, there is fear, with all the agony of being alone. So if one sees the consequences of attachment – one is attached to the country, to the flag, as everyone in the world is doing, the separative, symbolic flag; the Asiatics have their own flags to which they are terribly attached, as in this country, for which you are willing to kill each other, which is what is happening now – and we say that is a principle, a principle that a country which has become aggressive must be pushed back, and so we are willing to kill others. This has been the old repetition from the most ancient of days. And every religion, the most ancient ones and the recent ones of 2000 years, have always said: love, do not kill. But our pleasure overcomes this edict.

So one must, if one is at all serious in our relationship with each other, man and woman, relationship with the rest of humanity, whether they are black, white, purple or whatever colour they are, in that relationship, why is there so much conflict? Is it that in that relationship we seek security, safety? And this search for security in relationship, and naturally, fulfilment in that relationship, is that love? So please inquire; let us inquire together into this question very deeply. If all that is not love – the attachments, the desire to fulfil, the urge and the fear of being alone, lonely, all that – if all that is not love, like jealousy, hate, arrogance, pride, is not love, can it be ended? This is really quite a serious problem because we never end anything, come to an end. But we want, where there is ending, a replacement. If I give up this, what will I have?

The question of ending a particular problem is really quite important: the ending. Because after all, the ending of life is called death. There you cannot argue, you cannot carry over anything; there is total ending of your memories, attachments and so on. So one should inquire most seriously if there is an ending – not finding a substitution, not demanding a guarantee that if there is an ending of this, will there be that. So we ought to inquire very deeply: can all the things which are false, like pride, arrogance, attachment, and the desires, pleasures, and so on, which obviously are not love – can all that end? Because without love in life, the perfume, the passion, the depth of life is lost. Life becomes very, very superficial, very mundane, worldly, which is what most of the world is becoming more and more because we have never found out for ourselves what it is to love another.

Krishnamurti in Ojai 1982, Talk 5

Part 5

Does Creativity Need Fulfilling?

Our life is in a turmoil. Our life is a constant struggle; nothing original, nothing creative. I am using that word very carefully. The painter, the architect, the wood carver may say it is creative. The one who bakes bread in the kitchen, kneading it, they say this is creative also. And sex is also creative, they say. So what is creation, what is it to be creative? The painters, the musicians, Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, and the Indian singers with their devotion, they say that is the act of creation. Is it? We have accepted it – we have accepted Picasso as a great painter, a great creator, putting one nose on three faces, or whatever it is. Please, I am not denying it or being derogatory or anything like that; I am just pointing out, this is what is called creation. But if you inquire, doubt, question, is that creativeness? Or creativeness is something totally different. That is, you are seeing the expression of creativeness – in the painting, in a poem, in prose, in a statue, in music, that is expressed, expressed according to talent and capacity. It may be a great capacity or a very small capacity. It may be modern rock music or Bach. Sorry to compare the two! They are really quite incomparable, but it doesn’t matter.

So we human beings accept that as creative because it brings name, money, position. Ah, you are in the same room as the great artist! So I am asking, is that creativity? Can there be creation in the most profound sense of that word, as long as there is egotism, as long as there is the demand for success and money, and the recognition of that? Then it is supplying the market. Don’t agree with me, please, I am just pointing it out. I am not saying I know creativity and you don’t. I am not saying that. I say we never question these things. There is a state of creativity. You can doubt it, but it doesn’t mean a thing if you doubt it, it doesn’t matter to me. I say there is a state where there is creation, where there is no shadow of selfishness. That is real creation which does not need expression, doesn’t need fulfilment, which is myself fulfilling, or that fulfilling – it is creation.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1980, Question and Answer Meeting 3

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