Krishnamurti with Alain Naudé 2
Alain Naude was Krishnamurti’s private secretary in the 1960s. He met Krishnamurti in 1963 whilst a music lecturer at Pretoria University and a professional concert pianist. He gave up his teaching and performing in 1964 to work with Krishnamurti. Fluent in several languages, he was very helpful at international gatherings and in attracting younger audiences to Krishnamurti’s talks at a time of cultural change in the West.
This second conversation between Naude and Krishnamurti opens with the question: Do good and evil really exist or are they simply conditioned points of view? The inquiry looks at goodness as total order, not only outwardly but inwardly especially. Is virtue the outcome of planning? You cannot will to do good. Either you are good or not good. Will is the concentration of thought as resistance. Are poisonous snakes, sharks and the cruel things in nature evil? The moment we assert that there is absolute evil, that assertion is the denial of the good. Goodness implies total abnegation of the self, because ‘the me’ is always separative. Order means behaviour in freedom. Freedom means love. When one sees all this very clearly there is a marvellous sense of absolute order.
Alain Naudé: Sir, do good and evil really exist or are they simply conditioned points of view? Is there such a thing as evil, and if so what is it? And is there such a thing as sin? And is there really such a thing as goodness, and what is it to be really and deeply good?
Krishnamurti: You know, I was thinking this morning about the same thing as your questions imply: whether there is an absolute good and absolute evil. The Christian sin, and the whole Asiatic outlook of karma as action which breeds more misery and more sorrow, and out of that conflict of sorrow and pain a goodness is born. I was thinking about it the other day when I saw, unfortunately, on the television, some men killing baby seals. It was a terrible thing; I turned my head away very quickly. Killing has always been wrong – not only animals but human beings – and really deeply religious people – not the people who believe in religion but the really religious mind – has always shunned every form of killing. Of course, I mean, when you eat a vegetable you are killing the vegetable, but that kind of killing is the very, very lowest form, and the simplest form of survival. But I wouldn’t call that killing. So one has watched in India, in Europe and in America the acceptance of killing in war, in organised murder, which is war, killing people with words, with gesture, with a look, with such contempt. And this form of killing has been also decried by all the religious people. But in spite of all that, killing has been going on – killing, violence, brutality, arrogance, aggressiveness – all ultimately leading to some form, verbally and non-verbally, in action or in thought, in hurting, in brutalising others. And also one has seen in those ancient caves in North Africa and in France, south of France, where man has been fighting the bull – which is a form of fighting evil.
AN: Is that what it is, sir?
K: I should think that is what is understood. Or fighting as a form of amusement to kill something, overcome evil.
K: Now, so when you look at all this, one asks if there is such thing as evil in itself, totally devoid of the good. And what is the distance between evil and the good? Is goodness the diminution, slowly ending in evil, or evil gradually becoming good? That is, through the interval of time, moving from goodness to evil and from evil to goodness.
AN: You mean, are they two ends of the same stick, sir?
K: That’s it. Two ends of the same stick, or are they two wholly separate things?
So what is evil and what is good? I mean, the whole Christian world used to burn people for their heresy – inquisition and all the rest of it – considering that was good.
AN: Yes. The communists do the same.
K: The communists do it in their own way, for the good of the community, for the good of the society, for the good of an economic wellbeing for the whole of man, and so on and on and on and on. In Asia too they have done all this kind of thing, in various forms. But there has always been a group, till recently, where killing in any form by a group of people was considered evil. Now all that is slowly disappearing, for economic, social and cultural reasons.
AN: You mean the group that avoids killing is disappearing.
K: Is gradually disappearing. So there it is. Now we have described, more or less, the phenomenon that’s going on in the world, not only in the present time but in the past.
AN: Tyranny, killing.
K: Yes. So what is… is there such a thing as absolute good and absolute evil? Or is it a gradation: relative goodness and relative evil?
AN: And do they exist as facts outside of conditioned points of view? For instance, for the Frenchman during the war, the invading German was, in a way, evil. And, similarly, for the German, the German soldier was good, because he represented protection. So is there a good and an evil absolutely, or is it always simply the result of a conditioned point of view?
K: Is goodness dependent on the environment, on the culture, on economic conditions? And if it is, is it good? Can goodness flower in an environmental, cultural conditioning? And is evil also the result of environment, culture? And does it function within that frame or does it function outside it? So all these questions are implied when we ask: Is there an absolute goodness and absolute evil?
AN: Right, sir.
K: First of all, what is goodness?
(Pause in recording)
K: Isn’t the word goodness related to the word God? God being the highest form of the good, truth, excellence, and the capacity to express in relationship that quality of godliness, which is goodness. And anything opposite that is considered evil.
(Now switch it off) (Pause in recording)
K: If goodness is related to God then evil is related to the devil.
AN: Yes, sir.
K: The devil being the ugly, the dark, the…
AN: …the twisted…
K: …the distorted, the purposefully, directively harmful, the desire to hurt. All that is contrary to the good, which is the idea of God being good and the devil being the evil. Right.
AN: Yes, sir.
K: Now I think we have more or less described what is good and what is evil.
AN: Yes, sir.
K: So we are asking if there is such thing as absolute good and absolute, irrevocable evil.
AN: Evil as a fact, as a thing.
K: Therefore let us first examine if there is absolute good. Not in the sense of goodness being related to God, because the idea that it be related to God, or approximate itself to the idea of God, then that goodness becomes merely speculative. Because God to most people is really a pretence of belief in something extraordinarily excellent, noble, felicititious…
K: No – felicity, and so on.
Now, what is good? I feel goodness is total order, not only outwardly but inwardly, specially. I think that order can be absolute, as mathematically. In mathematics I believe there is complete order. And it is the disorder that leads to chaos, to destruction, to anarchy, to the so-called evil.
AN: Yes, sir, that’s very interesting.
K: Whereas total order in one’s being – order in the mind, order in one’s heart, order in one’s physical action, physical activity – the harmony between the three is total order.
AN: Yes. This is very interesting, sir, because the Greeks used to say that perfected man had attuned in total harmony his mind, his heart and his body.
AN: And the question arises also, sir, is there something beyond that which people have called the soul?
K: We’ll come to that presently.
K: So we will say for the moment that goodness is absolute order.
AN: Yes, sir.
K: That’s right – marvellous.
AN: Yes, sir.
K: And as most human beings live in disorder, they contribute to every form of mischief, which ultimately leads to destruction, to brutality, to violence, to various forms of injuries, both psychic and physical. All that may be used, one word, evil. Though I don’t like that word evil because it is loaded with Christian meaning…
AN: It’s loaded with….
AN: …circumstantial prejudice, yes.
K: Condemnation and prejudice.
AN: Conditioning, yes.
K: So – that’s right – both in India and in Asia the word evil, sin is always loaded, as goodness is always loaded. So if we could remove, brush away all the accumulations around these words then we can look at it as though anew. That is, is there absolute order in oneself? Can this absolute order be brought about in oneself – therefore, in the outer world? Because the world is me and me is the world. My consciousness is the consciousness of the world and the consciousness of the world is me. So when there is order within the human being, then there is order in the world. Now, can this order, right through, be absolute? Yes. Which is, order in the mind, in the heart and in the bodily activities – which is complete harmony. Right. Now, how can this be brought about? That’s one point. Then the other point is: Is order something to be copied, according to a design; is order pre-established by thought, by the intellect and copied in action by the heart or in relationship? So is order a blueprint? That’s one point. And how is this order to be brought about? Right? We are proceeding all right.
AN: Absolutely, sir. This is most interesting, sir.
K: Order is virtue, and disorder is not virtue, is – I don’t like to use the word evil – is harmful, is destructive, is – if we are going to use the word – impure.
AN: Yes. One thinks of the Sanskrit word adharmic.
K: Adharma, yes.
AN: Yes, un-virtue.
K: Yes. So, first, is order something brought or put together according to a design, drawn by knowledge, thought, or is order outside the field of thought and knowledge? Right.
One feels there is absolute goodness. Not an emotional concept, but one knows, if one has gone into oneself pretty deeply, one knows there is such thing as complete, absolute, irrevocable goodness, order. And this order is not a thing put together by thought. If it is, then it is according to a blueprint, and if it is imitated then that imitation leads to disorder or conformity. So, conformity, imitation and the denial of what is is the beginning of disorder, leading ultimately to what may be called evil.
So we are asking: Is goodness, which is, as we said, order and virtue, is it the product of thought? Which means, can it be cultivated by thought? Is virtue… can virtue ever be cultivated? That is, to cultivate implies to bring slowly into being, which means time.
AN: Mental synthesis.
K: Yes, mental synthesis and all the rest of it. Now, is virtue the result of time? And therefore, is order a matter of evolution? And so, is absolute order, absolute goodness, a matter of slow growth, cultivation, all involving time? As we said the other day, thought is the response of memory, knowledge and experience, which is the past, which is stored up in the brain. In the brain cells themselves, the past is. So does virtue lie in the past and therefore cultivable, push forward, or is virtue, order, only in the now? And the now is not related to the past. Right. So…
(Pause in recording)
K: …question, sir, simply – put the question.
AN: Sir, you are saying that goodness is order, and you are saying that order is not the product of thought. But order must, if it exists at all, it must exist in behaviour, behaviour in the world and in relationship. And people always think that proper behaviour in relationship in the world must be planned. In fact, people think that order is always the result of planning. And quite often people get the idea, sir, when they have listened to you, they get the idea that the awareness, the state of being you speak about in which there is no room for the action of thought, they get the feeling that this is a sort of disincarnate energy which can have no action and no relationship to the world of men and events and behaviour. They think that it therefore has no real value and not what you might call a temporal and an historical significance at all.
K: Right, sir.
AN: And so you are saying that goodness is order and order is not planned.
K: Yes. When we talk about order, don’t we mean order in behaviour, in relationship? Not an abstract order, not goodness in heaven, but order, goodness, in relationship and action in the now. When we talk about planning, obviously there must be planning at a certain level.
K: Architecture, building a railway, and so on, going to the moon, and all the rest of it – there must be a design, a planning, a very, very co-ordinated, intelligence operation taking place. We are not, surely, mixing the two – there, there must be order – planning, order, co-operation and the carrying out together a certain plan. A well laid out city, community and all that demands planning, order. Right? We are talking of something entirely different. Which is, we are asking if there is absolute order in human behaviour, if there is absolute goodness as order in oneself and therefore in the world. And we said order is not planned; it can never be planned. If it is planned then the mind, seeking security – because the brain demands security – seeking security, will suppress or destroy or pervert what is and try to conform, imitate. This very imitation and conformity is disorder. From which all the mischief begins – the neurosis and the various forms of distortions of the mind and the heart. (Pause) Planning implies knowledge.
K: Knowledge, thinking, and ordering the thought as idea, and putting that down on a piece of paper. So we are asking: Is virtue the outcome of planning? Obviously it is not. The moment your life is planned according to a pattern, then you are not living. You are merely conforming to a certain standard and therefore that conformity leads to contradiction in oneself – the what is and the what should be. That breeds contradiction and therefore conflict. That very conflict is the source of disorder. Then what is virtue that is not of thought, that is not planned and has a blueprint? Then what is such virtue, such order, such goodness?
We said just now, time cannot bring about order – time being thought, because thought is the result of time. That is, time is the past. Though it may project itself through the now to the future, but it is still the past. So order, virtue, goodness, is in the moment of the now, and therefore it is freedom of the past. That freedom can be relative.
AN: How do you mean, sir?
K: One may be conditioned by the culture in which one lives, the environment, and so on. Either one frees oneself totally from all the conditioning and therefore is absolutely free, or there may be partial unconditioning.
AN: Yes, get rid of one set of conditionings.
K: And drop, fall into another.
AN: Or just discard one set, like Christianity and its taboos.
K: Yes. So that may appear… this slow discarding may appear orderly, but it is not, because the slow peeling off of conditioning may temporarily give the appearance of freedom, but it’s not absolute freedom.
AN: Yes, sir. Are you saying, sir, that freedom is not the result of a particular operation with regard to one conditioning or another?
K: That’s right, sir.
AN: You have said sometimes, sir, freedom is at the beginning and not at the end. Is this what you mean, sir?
K: Yes, that’s right. So, freedom is now, not in the future.
AN: Yes, sir.
K: So freedom, order, goodness, is now – which expresses itself in behaviour.
AN: Yes, sir, else it has no meaning.
K: Otherwise it has no meaning at all. Behaviour in relationship, not only with a particular individual who is close to you, but behaviour with everybody.
AN: Sir, in the absence of all those elements of the past, which make most people behave, in the absence of those elements what will make us behave? This freedom seems, to so many people, such a disincarnate thing, such a bleak sky, such an immaterial thing. What is it in that freedom which will make us behave in the world of people and events with order?
K: Sir, look, we said, in this conversation, that I am the world and the world is me. We said the consciousness of the world is my consciousness – my consciousness is the world’s consciousness. When you make a statement of that kind, either it is purely verbal, and therefore no meaning at all, or something actual, living, vital. When one realises that it is vital, serious, in that realisation is compassion – real compassion, not passion for one or two, compassion for everybody, for everything.
AN: Yes, sir.
K: Now… So freedom is this compassion – which is not disincarnated as an idea.
AN: As a state of withdrawal.
K: On the contrary, as my relationship is only in the now, not in the past – because if my relationship is rooted in the past, I am not related now.
AN: Yes, sir.
K: If my behaviour has its motives and its nuances in the past, I am not behaving now.
AN: Yes, sir.
K: So freedom is compassion.
AN: Yes, sir.
K: And that comes when there is the real, deep realisation: I am the world and the world is me.
AN: Oh yes, sir.
K: So, freedom, compassion, order, virtue, goodness, are one. And that is absolute. And is non-goodness – which has been called evil, of the devil, sin, the original sin – what relationship has that to this marvellous sense of order?
AN: Which is not the product of thinking.
K: Which is not the product of civilisation, culture, thought.
AN: Yes. Yes, sir.
K: What is the relationship between the two?
AN: Between evil and this freedom you speak of, which is love, which is good, which is order.
K: What is the relationship between the two? There is none. So… but yet, when we move away from this order – move away in the sense misbehave – does it enter into the field of evil, if we can use that word, or is evil something apart totally, away from the good?
AN: Are you asking, sir, whether deviation from the order of goodness is already an entry into the field of evil, or can these two not even touch at all?
K: That’s right.
AN: Are you asking whether goodness is simply the neighbour of evil, or is evil in a totally different domain?
K: That’s right. That’s what I was saying, sir. I may misbehave, I may tell a lie, I may consciously or unconsciously hurt another, but I can clear it.
AN: Yes, sir.
K: I can wipe it away by talking about it, by apologising, by saying, ‘Forgive me’ – it can be done immediately.
AN: It can be ended.
K: And end it. So I am finding something, which is, the non-ending of it, carrying it over in one’s mind, day after day, as hate, as a grudge…
AN: …guilt, fear.
K: …does that nourish the evil? You follow?
AN: Yes, sir.
K: If I continue, keep in my mind the grudge which I bear against you, carry it day after day, day after day – grudge involves hate, envy, jealousy, antagonism, all that – violence. So, what is the relationship of violence to goodness and to evil? We are using the word evil very, very…
K: Cautiously – because I don’t like that word at all. So what is the relationship between violence and goodness? Obviously none at all. But the violence which I have cultivated – whether it is the product of society, the product of the culture, the environment or the product… or inherited from the animal – that, by becoming aware of it, can be wiped away. Can we wipe away so that it is not gradual wiping away; wipe it away, as you wipe out a clean…
AN: Yes, take a mark off the wall.
K: Then you are always in that goodness.
AN: Are you saying, sir, that goodness is a wholly negative affair then?
K: Must be.
AN: And in that way, the negative is not related at all to the positive because it is not the result of a gradual decline or accumulation of the positive.
K: That’s right.
AN: The negative exists when the positive is wholly absent.
K: Yes. That is, sir, put it round the other way: the negation of the grudge, the negation of violence, and the continuity of that violence – the negation of it, is the good.
AN: Is the emptying.
K: The emptying of violence is the richness of the good.
AN: Yes, sir. Therefore the good is always intact.
K: Yes. It is never broken up, not fragmented. Sir, wait a minute. So is evil… what is the relationship… is there such thing as absolute evil?
You know, sir, I don’t know if you have ever considered this. I have seen in India, little statues made out of clay in which needles have been put, thorns have been put. I have seen it very, very often. The image is supposed to represent a person whom you want to hurt, and the thorns – in India there are very, very long thorns, you have seen them, from bushes – and they are put into these…
AN: Really, sir?
K: Oh, yes – put into these mud statues.
AN: I didn’t know they did that in India, sir.
K: Oh, I have seen it in India.
AN: Sometimes people make jokes about that in the West.
K: No, no, I have seen it in India. Now there is a determined action to produce evil in another, to hurt another.
AN: An intent.
K: The intent, the ugly, deep hatred.
AN: This must be evil, sir.
K: What is that, what is its relationship to good? Good being all that we have said. This is a real intent to hurt people.
AN: Organised disorder, one might say.
K: Organised disorder. Which is the organised disorder of a society which rejects the good. Because the society is me; me is the society. If I don’t change, society cannot change. And the deliberate intention to hurt another, whether it is organised murder as war or organised intention to hurt another.
AN: An individual. That’s really interesting, sir. In fact, organised war is the group manifestation of the phenomenon you were speaking about in India, putting the thorns through the little statues.
K: Sir, this is well known, this is old as the hills.
AN: So we see actually that the so-called organisation of society is no different from the organisation of evil.
K: Yes. Wait. So I am saying, this desire to hurt, consciously or unconsciously, and yielding to it, and giving it sustenance – would you call that evil?
AN: Of course, sir.
K: Then we’ll have to say that will is evil.
AN: Aggression is evil. Violence is evil.
K: Wait a minute. See, see. Will is evil, because I will… I want to hurt you.
AN: Someone may say though, sir, ‘I will to do you good,’ and then they will ask is that will also evil?
K: You cannot will to do good. Either you are good or not good. You can’t will goodness – will being the concentration of thought as resistance.
AN: Yes, sir. And you showed us that goodness is the absence of blueprints.
K: So I am asking, is evil related to the good, or the two things totally apart? And is there such thing as absolute evil? There is absolute good, which we’ve seen, and absolute evil cannot possibly exist. Right.
AN: Yes, sir, because…
K: Absolute darkness…
AN: …because evil is always cumulative, it is always to some degree or another.
K: Yes. So, a man with deep intention to hurt another, by some incident, accident, by some affection, care, might change that whole thing.
AN: Yes, sir. Yes.
K: But to say that there is an absolute sin, absolute evil, is the most terrible thing to say, the most… That is evil.
AN: To say that there is absolute evil. This is interesting, sir, because the Christians have absolutely personified evil in Satan and as an almost immutable force, almost equal to the good, almost equal to God. The Christians have enthroned evil almost eternally.
K: Look, sir, you have seen those bushes in India who have got long thorns – they are nearly two inches long.
AN: Yes, sir.
K: There are snakes which are poisonous, deadly poisonous. There are other things which are appallingly, frighteningly cruel, in nature, like the white shark – that appalling thing, you saw it the other day.
K: Is that evil?
AN: No. No, sir.
K: But it is protecting itself, the thorn. It is protecting itself against the animal so that the leaves are not eaten.
AN: Yes, and so is the snake.
K: So is the snake.
AN: And the shark is following its nature.
K: Its nature. So see what it means. That is, anything that is self-protective, in the physical sense, is not evil. But protecting oneself psychologically, resisting oneself against any movement, breeds to disorder.
AN: Sir, if I may interrupt here, this is the argument which many people use about warfare. They say that building up an army and using it, for instance in South East Asia, is the kind of physical protection which the shark…
K: Sir, that’s too absurd an argument. I mean, the whole world is divided up because of… for psychological reasons – as my country and your country, my God and – that is the cause of wars, major cause, economic and all the rest of it, but not – right. So I am trying to get at, sir: Nature is terrible, in a certain way.
K: We human beings looking at it, we say, ‘That’s evil, how terrible.’
K: Earthquake which destroys a thousand people within one second. So the moment when we assert that there is absolute evil, that very assertion is the denial of the good.
AN: That’s very interesting, sir.
K: And, sir, this implies, doesn’t it, goodness implies total abnegation of the self. Because the me is always separative. The me, my family, we and they, you and I, and all the rest of it, the self, the me, the person, the ego, is the centre of disorder, because it is a divisive factor. The me, of course, obviously is the mind, is thought. And we have never been able to move away from this egocentric activity. And to move completely away from it is complete order, freedom, goodness. And to remain in the circle of self-centred movement breeds disorder and there is always conflict there. And we attribute this conflict to evil, to the devil, to bad karma, to environment, to society. But the society is me and I have built the society. So unless this me is totally transformed I am always contributing, to a major extent or to a little extent, to disorder.
So, order means behaviour in freedom. And freedom means love, and not pleasure. Now, when one observes all this, one sees very clearly that there is a marvellous sense of absolute order.
Krishnamurti in Malibu, 28 March 1971