Krishnamurti on Happiness
This week’s episode on Happiness has six sections.
The first extract (2:07) is from Krishnamurti’s fourteenth talk in Ojai 1949, titled ‘Why are we seeking happiness?’
The second extract (8:32) is from the second talk in Bombay 1974, titled ‘What is the meaning of life?’
The third extract (31:06) is from the fourth talk in Ojai 1978, titled ‘The moment you say you are happy, you are not happy’.
The fourth extract (35:58) is from the sixth talk in Saanen 1972, titled ‘When there is enjoyment, the brain relaxes’.
The fifth extract (42:18) this week is from the third talk in Ojai 1975, titled ‘Is happiness in the past or future?’
The final extract this week (50:42) is from the first talk in San Juan 1968, titled ‘To come upon happiness one must understand oneself’.
Why Are We Seeking Happiness?
Why are we seeking happiness? Why this incessant pursuit to be happy, to be joyous, to be something? Why is there this search, this immense effort made to find? If we can understand that and go into it fully, which I will do presently, perhaps we shall know what happiness is, without seeking it. Because, after all, happiness is a by-product, of secondary importance. It is not an end in itself; it has no meaning if it is an end in itself.
What does it mean to be happy? The man who takes a drink is happy. The man who drops a bomb on a great number of people feels elated and says he is happy, or that God is with him. Momentary sensations, which disappear, give that sense of being happy. Surely, there is some other quality that is essential for happiness. For happiness is not an end, any more than virtue. Virtue is not an end in itself; it gives freedom, and in that freedom there is discovery. Therefore, virtue is essential. Whereas, an unvirtuous person is slavish, is disorderly, is all over the place, lost, confused. But to treat virtue as an end in itself, or happiness as an end in itself, has very little meaning. So, happiness is not an end, it is a secondary issue, a by-product which will come into being if we understand something else. It is this understanding of something else, and not merely the search for happiness, that is important.
Now, why do we seek? What does it mean to make effort? We are making effort. Why are we making effort? What is the significance of effort? We say we are making an effort in order to find, in order to change, in order to be something. If we did not make effort, we should disintegrate, or retard, go back. Is that so? Please, this is very important to go into fully, and I will try as much as I can to go into it. If we did not make effort, what would happen? Would we stagnate? But we are making effort – why? Effort to change, effort to be different in ourselves, to be more happy, to be more beautiful, to be more virtuous – this constant strife and constant effort. If we can understand that, then perhaps we will understand other issues more deeply.
Why do you seek? Is the search prompted by disease, by ill health, by moods? Do you make an effort because you are unhappy and you want to be happy? Do you seek because you are going to die, and therefore you want to find? Do you seek because you have not fulfilled yourself in the world, therefore you want to fulfil here? Do you seek because you are unhappy, and hoping for happiness, you seek, you search, you try to find out? So, one must understand the motive for one’s search. What is the motive for your eternal search? – if you are really searching, which I question. What you want is substitution: as this is not profitable, perhaps that will be; as this hasn’t given me happiness, perhaps that will. So one is really seeking not truth, not happiness, but a substitution that will give one happiness, a thing that will be profitable, that will be safe, that will give one gratification. Surely that is what we are seeking, if we are very honest and clear in ourselves. But we clothe our gratification with words like ‘God’, ‘love’, and so on.
Krishnamurti in Ojai 1949, Talk 14
What Is the Meaning of Life?
In our life, we are seeking happiness outside, in things, in houses and so on – in things. And we are also seeking happiness inwardly, not being able to find it outside. Or finding it outside and not looking inward. When you look inward, you are trying to find happiness – in ideas, in conclusions, in beliefs, in gods, which are all the fabrication of thought as images. In our life there is no complete security, neither in relationship nor in jobs – in anything; there is no complete security. And the mind, the brain demands security, otherwise it cannot function properly. As a child demands security, your brain demands complete, total security. It seeks that security in the images it has built, in your gods, in your gurus, in your books, in your ideas, in your ideologies, and so on. Those gurus, ideas, gods, sacred books, and what others say, are the fabrications of a mind that is living in compartments. So a fragmented mind is not only corrupt but also it is living in images.
Now what I want to get at is this: what is the meaning of life? Not what the purpose of life is. One can invent a thousand purposes. Depending on one’s own intellectual capacities, tendencies and idiocies, one can have a thousand purposes. We are not talking about the purpose of existence – that is a silly question. But if you say, ‘What is the meaning of it?’ then that question has significance.
You know, it is one of the most arduous things to find out for oneself what the significance is. Life is constantly changing, it is in a flux. Everything around you is uncertain. There is death, there is change, there is corruption – everything is going down the hill. One of the signs of degeneration in this country is the following of another, which means you have never thought for yourself rationally, inquired seriously. You are depending on another, and that is the very essence of degeneration. And you have done it for thousands of years. And what is the meaning of life? Is there in life, in living, an eternity, or is all life transient? What is the purity of life? Because what is pure is the essence.
Now, to find that out, one must go into the question of not only pleasure, fear, punishment and reward, upon which we depend – whether that is the whole content of life, whether it is pleasure, fear, punishment or reward. This is what we are concerned with. The motive for our action is based on that. And when the mind is living in that, in that ground, in that field, then all its activity, all its inquiry becomes meaningless, because your motive is pleasure or fear or pain. So one must understand that first, in relationship.
When you observe your life, pleasure plays an extraordinarily important part – not only sexual pleasure but the pleasure of being somebody, the pleasure of achievement, the pleasure of success, the pleasure of knowledge, the pleasure receiving a gift, and so on. Now, can the mind observe that pleasure? Pleasure being the continuance of what has been, what has been sustained by thought. Now, can there be observation of something that is pleasurable, enjoyable, and not carry it over the next day or the next minute? All right, let us look at it.
You have given such immense importance to sex. 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, that 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? Do you understand? It is your misery, not mine; I am asking you. The sannyasi who gives up his sexual life and takes a vow of celibacy is the most unchaste human being because he is tortured by it. 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 in that, the question arises: what is celibacy? They are all based on pleasure, reward and punishment. What is celibacy? What is a chaste mind? Is 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: a 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 – 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 the traditional meaning of it.
If you loved your son or daughter, would you educate them as you are educating them now? To conform to 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,’ or daughter. Is that love? Is there love when you are ambitious? How can an ambitious man love or have compassion? The word ‘compassion’ – that is a beautiful word – means passion for all. And 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 a 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.
So, look what we have made of life. It is a very sad affair. And that is all we know. We may talk about heaven, we may talk about reincarnation, we may talk about gods and the beauty of life and all that idiotic nonsense, but the actual fact is our lives are such a terrible affair, such a mess. Now, can we face this? Look at it? Not transform it, not try to make something of it. Because as I said, in existence there is eternity, in living.
And therefore it means also to find out what it means to die. Living, existing, love and death. That is the one thing that awaits all of us, the old, the young, the unhappy and the happy; that is the one factor in our life that is common. And we have never gone into it. We are frightened of it. Fear is time. Fear is the product of thought. And being afraid of death, we have put it far away, something to be avoided. And if you are afraid of death, then you seek comfort in the afterlife, in reincarnation.
Krishnamurti in Bombay 1974, Talk 3
The Moment You Say You Are Happy, You Are Not Happy
At the moment of pleasure, there is no registration. I wonder if you have noticed it. The moment you say, ‘I am happy,’ you are not happy. Happiness – we will use that word just for convenience – at the moment of being happy, you are totally unaware. But a second later you say, ‘I have been happy,’ which is the remembrance of that thing a second later, registered. And the registration of that happiness, which is gone, which is dead, that registration is thought remembering that incident and demanding more of it. So thought remembers an incident; however marvellous, beautiful, exciting, that incident has been registered, then thought takes it over, remembers it and then demands more of it. And the ‘more of it’ is the pleasure.
So joy happens by itself. Occasionally, if you are lucky, quiet, unaware, not concerned with your little self everlastingly, it happens. Then the remembrance of it and the pursuit of that joy merely becomes a pleasure. So joy is not pleasure. I wonder if you understand this.
Now the problem is that modern civilisation is encouraging us commercially and in other ways to pursue this pleasure – more, more, more, waste and so on. We are destroying the earth, we are destroying nature, we are destroying ourselves. And the problem is, seeing the operation, the function of pleasure, can one observe an incident like a beautiful sunset and end it, not say, ‘I must have it tomorrow’? Do you understand my question? That is, see something extraordinarily beautiful and that’s the end of it. Why carry it over for the next day? Which means to observe totally with all your senses. Then there is no registration. The registration, the remembrance of that incident or that happening, and the pursuit of that is pleasure, with all its conflicts, its pain and all the rest of it.
Krishnamurti in Ojai 1978, Talk 4
When There Is Enjoyment, the Brain Relaxes
I do not know if you have gone into the question of enjoyment. There is a vast difference between pleasure and enjoyment. Pleasure has a motive. The pursuit of pleasure is the memory of a previous pleasure, and enjoyment is from moment to moment. You can’t cultivate enjoyment, but you can cultivate pleasure. And when there is enjoyment, then the brain relaxes. But when it is pursuing pleasure, it becomes tense, purposeful. Thought then cultivates determination and will. Whereas if there is enjoyment, the brain cells relax.
I was told the other day by somebody who seemed to know something about this, that recently scientists have discovered that when there is enjoyment, a new gland, at the very centre of the back of the head, functions and brings more activity to the brain. This is not the activity of strain.
To learn there must be enjoyment. One must enjoy that which one is learning. And you cannot enjoy, be happy in the act of learning when you are comparing, judging, evaluating; or when what you are learning is being stored up in order to enjoy more. Please watch your own brain in operation, which is really a part of meditation; it is to observe completely without the act of will. When there is the act of will, there is conflict. And what we are trying to do – not ‘trying’, sorry, I don’t like the word ‘try’; when you try it means an effort. If you do it actually, it is going on. What we are trying to… (Laughter) what we are doing is to observe happily why the mind is attached to property. Because unless the brain cells, the mind understands why there is this attachment, death becomes a terror.
Why is the mind attached to so many things? Is it because there is nothing so permanent as property? There is the house, there is the furniture, the carpet, the pictures – they are solid, and in that solidity, the mind can take rest and be attached to it. Look at it, go into it fairly deeply and you will see it for yourself.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1972, Talk 6
Is Happiness in the Past or Future?
We live either in the past, in remembrance, in all the things of the past, or in the future. I will meet you tomorrow, how happy it will be. How unfortunate it was that this happened in the past. Or how happy I was in the past and I hope that happiness, that joy, that something celestial will take place tomorrow. So we are always caught in the psychological time as memory of the past and the hope of the future. That is time as memory, time as hope, and we don’t know what it is to live totally now. Because now is life, not ahead or behind. Am I making myself clear? Not verbally. If you observe yourself, if you are aware of yourself, this is what is going on all the time in us – the past and the future. In that there is suffering.
So I have to find out, the mind has to inquire, examine and find out whether there is a timeless state which is called the now. This has been the haunt, the search of deep persons concerned with life. Which means, is love a memory – either as the past or the future: I will love you, or I have loved you? And do I know or understand or have an insight or am I aware of what love is now? And why do we as human beings live in this battle of the past and the future, which is the psychological time? Therefore there is an effort to forget the past, an effort to put away the future and try to live in the present.
That is, I want to live in the present. We don’t understand what that means but we just immediately react to every reaction that we have, idiotic, rational, stupid or neurotic – doing the thing now, whatever we want. This is what is happening. And we are asking: man, human beings, the mind, is looking to the future, which means hope, which means a sense of advancement, moving towards the ideal and so on – is that the truth or a reality created by thought? You are following this? Please do follow this.
Thought, whatever it thinks about, is a reality but is not truth. Reality means the act of thinking about something, which then becomes real. That is reality of a hope, reality of a purpose, reality of an ideal, reality of an enlightenment – all are the projections of thought. Therefore thought has made that real. But that reality is not truth; thought cannot think about truth. Now, the truth of finding out a way of living – not ‘a way’ – of living without the future and without the past. To find that out, which is the truth, thought cannot invent it because then it becomes an illusory reality. You have got what I am talking about? I can’t keep on repeating this, I want to get on.
So, can the mind uncondition itself from the psychological hurts, images, pleasures of yesterday, and the psychological demands of the future, the hopes, the longings – can that mind uncondition itself and find, see the truth of what it is to live totally now? In the now, and therefore that is the truth.
Krishnamurti in Ojai 1975, Talk 3
To Come Upon Happiness One Must Understand Oneself
Man has struggled for so long; his life is a battlefield, not only within himself but outwardly. All his relationships are in conflict – in the factory, in the office, at home, it is a constant struggle and battle. And we are saying such a life is no life at all. You may have your gods, your riches, you may have an extraordinary capacity and so on, but we are not living – we are not happy people. There is no happiness or bliss in our life. And to come upon this happiness and this bliss, one must understand oneself. To understand oneself there must be freedom to look. To look properly there must be no division between the observer and the observed. When this takes place, the whole sense of struggle to become something, to be something, disappears. You are what you are. And in the observation of it there comes an immediate, radical change. And therefore that puts an end to the idea of time and gradualness
Krishnamurti in San Juan 1968, Talk 1