Krishnamurti on Passion
This week’s episode on Passion has four sections.
The first extract (2:07) is from Krishnamurti’s fourth talk in Madras 1964, titled ‘We have killed passion’.
The second extract (29:12) is from the second talk in New Delhi 1970, titled ‘Out of sorrow comes passion’.
The third extract (34:45) is from the third talk in Bombay 1974, titled ‘Compassion means passion for all’.
The final extract this week (45:23) is from the fourth talk in Madras 1967, titled ‘Without passion there is no love’.
We Have Killed Passion
Most of us have petty minds – small, narrow minds fixed in a petty groove – that run along very smoothly unless there is some kind of an accident; and then there is trouble, and afterwards, we get back under another routine. The petty mind cannot face problems. It has innumerable problems: the whole problem of living. And it invariably translates these extraordinarily significant problems of life into its own petty, narrow, limited understanding and tries to twist this enormous stream of existence, the stream of life, into its own petty, little channels. And that is what we are confronted with, now. Probably always, but it is much more so now, as the challenge is much greater and demands a response equally intense, equally strong, equally living.
This sense of passion is not a thing that you cultivate easily by taking some kind of a drug, getting into a hypnotic state about some ideals and so on. This passion comes naturally – it must. I am using the word ‘passion’ purposely. For most of us, passion is employed only with regard to one thing: sex. Or you suffer passionately and try to resolve that suffering. But I am using the word ‘passion’ in the sense of a state of mind, a state of being, a state of your inward core – if there is such a thing – that feels very strongly, that is highly sensitive – sensitive alike to dirt, to squalor, to poverty, and to enormous riches and corruption, to the beauty of a tree, of a bird, to the flow of water, and to a pond that has the evening sky reflected upon it. To feel all this intensely, strongly, is necessary. Because without passion, life becomes empty, shallow, and without much meaning. If you cannot see the beauty of a tree and love that tree, if you cannot care for it intensely, you are not living. I am using the words ‘you are not living’ deliberately, because in this country, probably, religion is utterly divorced from beauty.
Without being sensitive to this extraordinary beauty of life, the beauty of a face, the line of a building, the shape of a tree, a bird on the wing and the morning song – if one is not aware of all that, if one does not feel all that very strongly, obviously life, which is cooperation and relationship, has no meaning at all; then one merely functions mechanically. So, I would like to talk about that this evening.
That passion is not devotion, is not sentimentality; it has nothing to do with sensation. The moment passion has a motive, or is aroused by a motive, or is for something, it becomes pleasure and pain. Please see this; I do not have to go into details because I want to go further into this thing. If passion is aroused sexually or for some purpose, if passion has a cause, if it has an end in view, then in that so-called passion there is frustration, there is pain, there is the demand for the continuity of pleasure and therefore the fear of not having it, and the avoidance of pain. So a passion with a motive, or a passion which is aroused, invariably ends in despair, pain, frustration, anxiety.
We are talking about passion without a motive – which is quite a different thing. Whether it exists or not is for you to find out; but we know that passion aroused ends in despair, anxiety, pain, or in the demand for a particular form of pleasure. And in that there is conflict and contradiction, a constant demand. We are talking of a passion that is without motive. There is such a passion. It has nothing to do with personal gain or loss, or all the petty little demands of a particular pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Without that passion you cannot possibly cooperate; and cooperation is life, which is relationship. Such cooperation is not for an idea; you cooperate not because the state drives you, not for a reward, not for the avoidance of a punishment, not for working for some economic ideal, a utopia; you cooperate not for working together because of some ideal – all those, for us, are not conducive to cooperation. I am talking of the spirit of cooperation.
If we do not cooperate, there cannot be relationship. Life demands that you and I cooperate, do things together, work together, feel together, live together, see things together. And this togetherness must be at the same time, of the same intensity, at the same level, otherwise there is no togetherness. And if one more and more observes this rather sad and destructive world, the mind is becoming mechanical, routine-bound, technologically held in a narrow groove, and therefore, gradually, the sense of intensity, the sense of feeling strongly about anything fades away. And if you cannot feel strongly, obviously the mind is insensitive, dull, fearful and all the rest of it.
So, the passion we are talking about is a state of being. It is really quite extraordinary if you go into it; it is not tinged with suffering, it has no self-pity, it has no sense of fear. And to understand it, we must understand desire. Especially all those people who have been brought up on religious ideas, religious sanctions in a particular society where apparently the so-called religion plays an important part. They think that to realize what they call God, the mind must be without desire; they consider that desirelessness, to be without desire, is one of the primary, important things. Probably you know all the books talking about this, all the shlokas and all the rest of the business. We have killed all passion successfully, except in one direction – sexually. And we have tamed desire. Society, religion, living together – we have made of all that a thing that has no vitality, because we have the idea that a man, a being, a human entity, that has got strong feelings verging on an intense desire, cannot possibly understand that which is so-called God.
What is wrong with desire? You all have it, either very strongly or in a weak, dull manner. Everybody has desire of some kind or another. What is wrong with it? Why do we so easily agree to subjugate, to destroy, to pervert, to suppress desire? Because apparently desire brings conflict – the desire to have wealth, to have a position, to have fame, all the rest of it. And to achieve fame, to have possessions, to feel very strongly, implies conflict, disturbance; and we do not want to be disturbed. That is all we are seeking essentially, deeply: not to be disturbed. But when we are disturbed, we try to find a way out of it, and settle back in a comforting state where nothing will disturb us.
So for us, desire is a disturbance. Please follow this. These are all psychological facts – it is not a matter of whether you accept it or do not accept it, whether you agree or disagree. These are facts, not my facts. Desire then becomes a thing that must be controlled, that must be suppressed; and so all our effort goes into this: that, at any price, we are not to be disturbed, and that anything that disturbs must be suppressed, sublimated or put aside.
Please, as we said the other day, as we keep repeating at every talk, what is important is not to hear the words, but actually to listen. There is a great beauty in listening.
This evening, there was a bird outside the window, a kingfisher. It had a large beak, brilliant feathers, intensely blue in colour. It was calling. Another bird of a similar kind, a kingfisher, far away, was answering. Just to listen to it; not to say, ‘That is a kingfisher,’ ‘How beautiful!’ or ‘How ugly! I wish that crow would stop cawing!’ I do not know if you have listened with that state of mind: just listening, where there is no profit, where there is no utilitarian purpose, when you are not getting something, when you are not avoiding something. Or seeing the sunset, that brilliant glow of an evening, that Venus clear and the slip of a young moon – just to look at it and to feel it very strongly.
And if you do listen in that happy manner, with an ease, without any strain, then that very act of listening is a miracle. It is a miracle because in that action, in that moment, you comprehend the act of listening, understanding, seeing; and you have broken down the walls, and there is space between you and the world and the thing you are listening to. And you must have this space, to observe, to see, to listen; the wider, the deeper that space, the more beauty the more depth, there is. A different quality comes into being when there is this space between you and the thing that you are listening to. I am not being poetical, sentimental or romantic. But we do not know how to listen. Just to listen – to the wife or husband, who is nagging, quarrelling or angry, who is bullying. If you just listen, you understand a great deal; then the heavens are wide open. Do it sometimes; do not try it, but do it, and you will find out for yourself.
In the same way, I hope you are listening. Because what we are talking about is something beyond the mere word. The word is not the thing. The word ‘passion’ is not passion. To feel that and to be caught in it without any volition or directive or purpose, to listen to this thing called desire, to listen to your own desires which you have, plenty of them, weak or strong – when you do that, you will see what tremendous damage you do when you suppress desire, when you distort it, when you want to fulfil it, when you want to do something about it, when you have an opinion about it. Most people have lost this passion. Probably one has had it once in one’s youth, to become a rich man, to have fame and to live a bourgeois or a respectable life; perhaps a vague muttering of that. And society – which is what you are – suppresses that. And so one has to adjust oneself to you who are dead, who are respectable, who have not even a spark of passion; and then one becomes a part of you, and thereby loses this passion.
To understand this whole problem of desire, we must understand effort. Because from the moment we go to school till we die, we are making effort; our mind, our psyche, is a battleground. There is never a moment of quietness, ease, freedom; we are always battling, striving, pushing, gathering, avoiding, accumulating – this is our life! I am not describing something which is not. Our life is a constant effort. I do not know if you have not noticed that when you do not make an effort – which does not mean you stagnate, which does not mean you go to sleep – when your whole being is without effort, then you see things very clearly, very sharply, with a vitality, with an energy, with a passion.
Krishnamurti in Madras 1964, Talk 4
Out of Sorrow Comes Passion
Now, when you remain with sorrow without running away, without escaping, without verbalising, completely remain with it, without any outward or inward movement, what happens? Have you ever done it? No, I am afraid not. Have you ever done this – to remain with that sorrow, not resisting it, not trying to run away from it, not identifying yourself with it but seeing what has happened? If you remain with it completely, what takes place? When you remain completely with it without any movement at all, any movement of thought – you are following all this? – the movement is of thought that says, ‘I don’t like it, I must run away, I want pleasure, I must avoid this.’ So thought moves away. When thought doesn’t move away at all, recognises the whole structure of what sorrow is, then what takes place? Out of that sorrow comes passion.
The word ‘passion’ has its root in suffering. The word, the meaning of that word ‘passion’ has its root in suffering. You see the connection? If you remain with the fact of anything, especially with the fact of sorrow and not let thought wander away or explain it away or identify itself with it, but completely remain with it, then there is tremendous energy. And out of that energy, there is the flame of passion. So sorrow brings passion, not lust, and the passion you need to find out. You are following all this? You are doing it? Are you?
So there is an ending of sorrow, which doesn’t mean that you become indifferent or callous. There is an ending of sorrow when there is no escape from it, and that very sorrow becomes the flame of passion. And passion is compassion. You understand? Compassion means passion for all. Which you can only find out through this flame of sorrow. Come on, do you understand all this? So then, with that intensity, with that passion, one can find out the quality of the mind that sees truth, that any function of thought, apart from when it is necessary, does not bring about harmony of living. You understand now? Because you have passion, you have an intensity, you have energy.
Krishnamurti in New Delhi 1970, Talk 2
Compassion Means Passion for All
You have given such immense importance to sex, haven’t you? You are very silent! Your idea of a religious man is a human being that has no sexual relationship. So your gods are non-sexual. And you make such an ado about it. And there are those who say you must have sex to realize god, you must go through that. And there are others who say that is the only thing that matters in life. Why have you given such extraordinary importance to it? You understand? It is your misery, not mine. I am asking you.
The sannyasi who gives up his sexual life, takes a vow of celibacy, is the most unchaste human being because he is tortured by it. Right? Yes. Look at it. He takes a vow and for the rest of his life he is fighting it, he is burning with desire. And he has never understood the whole meaning of pleasure and desire. And such a tortured human being thinks he can come to reality. So look what you have made of it.
So from that question arises, what is celibacy? They are all based on pleasure, reward and punishment. What is celibacy? What is a chaste mind? A mind that is driven by desire, tortured by passion, lust, control, not daring to look at a woman or a man, a tortured mind, can such a mind come to reality? So, what is a mind that is chaste? The word ‘chaste’ means pure, unadulterated, a mind that has no conflict. That is the real chaste, clean, pure mind that has never known conflict. It is only such a mind that can understand love, that can see the purity of eternity. So it is very important, if life has to be something totally different, something that has love and beauty, that we understand this thing called pleasure, fear, pain and punishment.
So, is love pleasure? Is love desire? Is love the pursuit of what has been, which has given you great delight? Please, not as an idea but observe it, look at your own life. Do you know what love means? Do you know what compassion means? Or do you say compassion, love, should be that? So we are asking if love is pleasure. Don’t say no – you don’t know anything about it because you have never gone into it, you have never questioned it. You have accepted traditional meaning of it.
Look, if you loved your son and daughter, would you educate them as you are educating them now? To conform to the society, that’s what your education is. Do observe it. To get a job, marry, settle down and rot, or get killed in a war. That is what you call education. And you say, ‘I love my son, daughter’ – is that love? Is there love when you are ambitious? How can an ambitious man love or have compassion? The word ‘compassion’ means – that is a beautiful word – compassion means passion for all, and passion means… passion comes when there is suffering. Out of suffering comes passion. So you must understand suffering. And all human beings suffer in one way or another, but we try to escape from that suffering, run away from it, give thousand explanations for it – rational, irrational, factual, non-factual. But we never stay with that suffering. Not morbidly, but be with it, as you would be with something that gives you great pleasure – you don’t want it to go away. You don’t run away from pleasure. So be completely, totally with that thing called suffering, without a single movement away from it. Then out of that comes the tremendous energy which is compassion, which is passion, not lust.
And a man who is competitive, self-centred, lives in ideas, who is jealous, how can he know love? And yet all of you are that, aren’t you? You are ambitious, aren’t you? Do look at it. You are competitive, and competition means conformity. And when the mind is conforming to a pattern it is not a free mind to inquire.
Krishnamurti in Bombay 1974, Talk 3
Without Passion There Is No Love
It seems to me there are certain absolute things that are necessary – but not something to be gained, something you practise, something you do day after day. That is, there must be passion without motive. Passion which is not the result of some commitment or attachment or motive. Because without passion you cannot see beauty. Not the beauty of a sunset, not the beauty of a structure, beauty of a poem, beauty of a bird on the wing, but a beauty that is not an intellectual, comparative, social thing. And to come upon that beauty there must be passion. And to have that passion there must be love. Just listen: you cannot do a thing about all this; you cannot practise love – then it becomes mere kindliness, generosity, gentleness, a state of non-violence, peace; but it has nothing whatsoever to do with love. And without passion and beauty, there is no love. Just listen to it – don’t argue, don’t discuss ‘how?’
It is like leaving a door open. If you leave the door open, the breeze of an evening comes in. You cannot invite it; you cannot prepare for it; you cannot say ‘I must,’ ‘I must not’ – you cannot go to rituals and so on, but just leave the door open. This means a very simple act, an act which is not of the will, which is not of pleasure, which is not projected by a cunning mind. Just to leave the door open – that is all you can do. You cannot do anything else. You cannot sit down to meditate, to make the mind silent by force, by compulsion, by discipline. Such a silence is noise and endless misery. All that you can do is to leave the door of your mind open. And you cannot leave that door open if you are not free.
Krishnamurti in Madras 1967, Talk 4