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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)

What Is Right Action?

National College, La Plata, Argentina
Public Talk 2nd August, 1935

Friends, to most of us, profession is apart from our personal life. There is the world of profession and technique, and the life of subtle feelings, ideas, fears and love. We are trained for a world of profession, and only occasionally across this training and compulsion, we hear the vague whisperings of reality. The world of profession has become gradually overpowering and exacting, taking almost all our time, so that there is little chance for deep thought and emotion. And so the life of reality, the life of happiness, becomes more and more vague and recedes into the distance. Thus we lead a double life: the life of profession, of work, and the life of subtle desires, feelings and hopes.

This division into the world of profession and the world of sympathy, love and deep wanderings of thought, is a fatal impediment to the fulfilment of man. As in the lives of most people this separation exists, let us inquire if we cannot bridge over this destructive gulf.

With rare exceptions, following any particular profession is not the natural expression of an individual. It is not the fulfilment or complete expression of one's whole being. If you examine this, you will see that it is but a careful training of the individual to adjust himself to a rigid, inflexible system. This system is based on fear, acquisitiveness and exploitation. We have to discover by questioning deeply and sincerely, not superficially, whether this system to which individuals are forced to adjust themselves is really capable of liberating man's intelligence, and so bringing about his fulfilment. If this system is capable of truly freeing the individual to deep fulfilment, which is not mere egotistic self-expression, then we must give our entire support to it. So we must look at the whole basis of this system and not be carried away by its superficial effects.

For a man who is trained in a particular profession, it is very difficult to discern that this system is based on fear, acquisitiveness and exploitation. His mind is already vested in self-interest, so he is incapable of true action with regard to this system of fear. Take, for example, a man who is trained for the army or the navy; he is incapable of perceiving that armies must inevitably create wars. Or take a man whose mind is twisted by a particular religious belief; he is incapable of discerning that religion as organized belief must poison his whole being. So each profession creates a particular mentality, which prevents the complete understanding of the integrated man. As most of us are being trained or have already been trained to twist and fit ourselves to a particular mould, we cannot see the tremendous importance of taking the many human problems as a whole and not dividing them up into various categories. As we have been trained and twisted, we must free ourselves from the mould and reconsider, act anew, in order to understand life as a whole. This demands of each individual that he shall, through suffering, liberate himself from fear. Though there are many forms of fear, social economic and religious, there is only one cause, which is the search for security. When we individually destroy the walls and forms that the mind has created in order to protect itself, thus engendering fear, then there comes true intelligence which will bring about order and happiness in this world of chaos and suffering.

On one side there is the mould of religion, impeding and frustrating the awakening of individual intelligence, and on the other the vested interest of society and profession. In these moulds of vested interest the individual is being forcibly and cruelly trained, without regard for his individual fulfilment. Thus the individual is compelled to divide life into profession as a means of livelihood, with all its stupidities and exploitations; and subjective hopes, fears, and illusions, with all their complexities and frustrations. Out of this separation is born conflict, ever preventing individual fulfilment. The present chaotic condition is the result and expression of this continual conflict and compulsion of the individual.

The mind must disentangle itself from the various compulsions, authorities, which it has created for itself through fear, and thus awaken that intelligence which is unique and not individualistic. Only this intelligence can bring about the true fulfilment of man.

This intelligence is awakened through the continual questioning of those values to which the mind has become accustomed, to which it is constantly adjusting itself. For the awakening of this intelligence, individuality is of the greatest importance. If you blindly follow a pattern laid down, then you are no longer awakening intelligence, but merely conforming, adjusting yourself, through fear, to an ideal, to a system.

The awakening of this intelligence is a most difficult and arduous task, for the mind is so timorous that it is ever creating shelters to protect itself. A man who would awaken this intelligence must be supremely alert, ever aware, not to escape into an illusion; for when you begin to question these standards and values, there is conflict and suffering. To escape from that suffering, the mind begins to create another set of values, entering into the limitation of a new, enclosure. So it moves from one prison to another, thinking that it is living, evolving.

The awakening of this intelligence destroys the false division of life into profession or outward necessity, and the inward retreat from frustration into illusion, and brings about the completeness of action. Thus through intelligence alone can there be true fulfilment and bliss for man.

Question: What is your attitude towards the university and official, organized teaching?

Krishnamurti: For what is the individual being trained by the university? What does it call education? He is being trained to fight for himself, and thus fit himself into a system of exploitation. Such a training must inevitably create confusion and misery in the world. You are being trained for certain professions within a system of exploitation, whether you like the system or not. Now this system is fundamentally based on acquisitive fear, and so there must be the creation in each individual of those barriers which will separate and protect him from others.

Take, for example, the history of any country. In it you will find that the heroes, the warriors of that particular country, are praised. There you will find the stimulation of racial egotism, power, honour and prestige; which but indicates stupid narrowness and limitation. So gradually the spirit of nationalism is instilled; through papers, through books, through waving of flags, we are being trained to accept nationalism as a reality, so that we can be exploited. (Applause) Then again, take religion. Because it is based on fear, it is destroying love, creating illusions, separating men. And to cover up that fear, you say that it is the love of God. (Applause)

So education has come to be merely conformity to a particular system; instead of awakening the individual's intelligence, it is merely compelling him to conform and so hinders his true morality and fulfilment.

Question: Do you think that the present laws and the present sys- tem, which are based on egotism and the desire for individual security, can ever help people towards a better and happier life?

Krishnamurti: I wonder why I am asked this question? Does not the questioner himself realize that these things prevent human beings from living completely? If he does, what is his individual action towards this whole structure? To be merely in revolt is comparatively useless, but individually to free oneself through one's own action, releases creative intelligence and so the bliss of life. This means that you yourself must be responsible, and not wait for some collective group to change the environment. If each one of you truly felt the necessity for individual fulfilment, you would be continually destroying the crystallization of authority and compulsion which man ever seeks and clings to for his comfort and security.

Question: It is said that you are against all kinds of authority. Do you mean to say that there is no need for some kind of authority in the family or at school?

Krishnamurti: Whether authority should exist or not in a school or family will be answered when you yourself understand the whole significance of authority.

Now, what I mean by authority is conformity, through fear, to a particular pattern, whether of environment, of tradition and ideal or of memory. Take religion as it is. There you will see that, through faith and belief, man is being held in the prison of authority, because each one is seeking his own security through what he calls immortality. This is nothing but a craving for egotistic continuance; and a man who says there is immortality. gives a guarantee to his security. (Laughter) So gradually, through fear, he comes to accept authority, the authority of religious threats. fears. superstitions, hopes and beliefs. Or he rejects the outer authorities and develops his own personal ideals, which become his authorities, clinging to them in the hope of not being hurt by life. So authority becomes the means of self-defence against life, against intelligence.

When you understand this deep significance of authority, there is not chaos but the awakening of intelligence. As long as there is fear, there must be subtle forms of authority and ideals to which each one submits, to avoid suffering. Thus, through fear, each one creates exploiters. Where there is authority, compulsion, there cannot be intelligence, which alone can bring about true co-operation.

Question: How could the liberty of the occidental world be organized according to the sensibility of the oriental?

Krishnamurti: I am afraid I don't quite understand the question. To most people, the Orient is something mysterious and spiritual. But the orientals are people just like yourselves; like yourselves they suffer, they exploit, they have fears, they have spiritual longings and many illusions. The Orient has different superficial customs and habits, but fundamentally we are all alike, whether of the West or of the East. Some rare people of the East have given thought to self-culture, to the discovery of the true significance of life and death, to illusion and reality. Most people have a romantic idea of India, but I am not going to give a talk about that country. Don't, please, seek to adjust yourselves to a supposedly spiritual land, like the East, but become aware of the prison in which you are held. In understanding how it is created, and in discerning its true significance, the mind will liberate itself from fear and illusion.

Question: What should be the attitude of society towards criminals?

Krishnamurti: It all depends on whom you call criminals. (Laughter, applause) A man who steals because he cannot help it, must be looked after and treated as a kleptomaniac. The man who steals because he is hungry, we also call a criminal, because he is taking something away from those who have. It is the system that makes him go hungry, to be in want, and it is the system that turns him into a criminal. Instead of altering the system, we force the so-called criminal into a prison. Then there is the man who, with his ideas, disturbs the vested interest of religion or of worldly power. You call him also a dangerous criminal and get rid of him.

Now, it depends on the way you look at life, as to whom you call a criminal. If you are acquisitive, possessive, and another says that acquisition leads to exploitation, to sorrow and cruelty, you call that person a criminal, or an idealist. Because you cannot see the greatness and the practicality of non-acquisition, of not being attached, you think he is a disturber of the peace. I say you can live in the world, where there is this continual acquisitiveness and exploitation, without being attached, possessive.

Question: Many of us are conscious of and take part in this corrupt life around us. What can we do to free ourselves from its suffocating effects?

Krishnamurti: You can be intellectually aware, and so there will be no action; but if you are aware with your whole being, then there is action, which alone will free the mind from corruption. If you are merely aware intellectually, then you ask such a question as this. Then you say, "Tell me how to act", which means, "Give me a system, a method to follow, so that I can escape from that action which may necessitate suffering." Because of this demand, people have created exploiters throughout the world.

If you are really conscious with your whole being that a particular thing is a hindrance, a poison, then you will be completely free from it. If you are conscious of a snake in the room - and that consciousness is generally acute, for there is fear involved in it - you never ask another how to get rid of the snake. (Laughter) In the same way, if you are completely, deeply aware, for example, of nationalism, or any other limitation, you will then not ask how to get rid of it; you discern for yourself its utter stupidity. If you are wholly conscious that the acceptance of authority in religion and politics is destructive of intelligence, then you, the individual, will disentangle the mind from all the stupidities and pageantry of religion and politics. (Applause) If you truly felt all this, then you would not merely applaud, but individually you would act.

The mind has imposed upon itself many hindrances, through its own desire for security. These hindrances are preventing intelligence and hence the complete fulfilment of man. Were I to offer a new system, it would merely be a substitution, which would not make you think anew, from the beginning. But if you become aware of how through fear you are creating many limitations, and free yourself from them, then there will be for you the life of rich beauty, the life of eternal becoming.

It is very good of you, sirs, to have invited me. and I thank you for listening to me.