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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


You remember that we have been talking about fear. Now, is not fear also responsible for the accumulation of knowledge? This is a difficult subject and so let us see whether we can go into it very carefully, and consider it. As I said just now, fear takes the form of knowledge and that is why human beings accumulate knowledge and worship knowledge. They think that knowledge is so important in life - knowledge of what has happened, knowledge of what is going to happen, knowledge not only scientific, but so-called spiritual knowledge. The whole process of accumulating information gradually becomes a thing which we worship as knowledge. Is that not also from the background of fear? We feel that, if we do not know, we would be lost, we would not know how to conduct ourselves, we would not know how to behave. So, gradually through other people's beliefs and experiences, through our own experiences, through book-know- ledge, through what the sages have said, we gradually build up knowledge which becomes tradition; and behind that tradition, behind that knowledge, we take refuge. We think this knowledge is essential; we feel that without this knowledge, we shall be lost, we shall not know what to do.

Now, when we talk about knowledge, what do we mean by knowledge? What do we know? What do you know when you really consider the knowledge that you have accumulated? What is it? At some level, knowledge is important, such as, science, engineering; but beyond that, what is it that we know? Have you ever considered this process of accumulating knowledge? Why is it that you pass examinations, why is it that you study? It is necessary, is it not?, at certain levels; because without knowledge of mathematics, geography, history, how can one be an Engineer or be a Scientist? All social contact is built upon such knowledge; and we would not be able to keep on earning a livelihood without it; so, that kind of knowledge is essential. Beyond that, what do we know?

As I was saying, knowledge is essential at certain levels of our life in order to live. But beyond that, what is the nature of knowledge? What do we mean when we say that knowledge is necessary to find God, or that knowledge is necessary to know oneself, or that knowledge is essential to find a way through all the turmoils of life? Here, we mean knowledge as experience. What is it that we experience? What is it that we know? Is not this knowledge used by the ego, by the `me', to strengthen itself? Say, for instance, I have achieved a certain social standing. That experience, the success of it, the prestige of it, the power of it, gives me a certain sense of assurance, of comfort; and so, the knowledge of my success, the knowledge of my being, of having power, my position, the knowledge that I am somebody, strengthens the `me', does it not? So, we use knowledge as a means of strengthening the ego, the `me'. Have you not noticed the Pundits or your father or mother or teacher, how knowledgepuffed they are? How knowledge gives the sense of the expansion of the `me', the `I know and you do not know; I have experienced more and you have not'. So, gradually, knowledge which is merely information, is used for vanity and becomes the sustenance, the food, the nourishment for the ego, for the `me'. For the ego cannot be without some form of parasitical dependence. The scientist uses his knowledge to feed his vanity, to feel that he is somebody; so does the Pundit; so does the teacher; so do the parents; so do the gurus - they all want to be somebody in this world. So, they use knowledge as a means to that to fulfil that desire; and when you examine, go behind their words, what is there? What is it that they know? They know only what the books contain; or, they know what they have experienced, the experiences depending on the background of their conditioning. So, most of us are filled with words, with information which we call knowledge; and without that, we are lost. So, there is fear lurking right behind the screen of words, the screen of information; and this we transform into knowledge, as a means of our vocation in life.

So, where there is fear, there is no love; and knowledge without love destroys one. That is what is happening in the world at the present time. For example, people have knowledge of how to feed human beings throughout the world, but they are not doing it. They know how to feed them, clothe them, shelter them; but they are not doing it because each group of people is divided by its nationalistic, egotistic pursuits. If they really had the desire to stop war, they could do so; but they are not doing it for the same reason. So, knowledge without love has no meaning. It is only a means of destruction. Until we understand this, merely to pass examinations or to have a position or prestige or power leads to degeneration, leads to corruption, leads to the slow withering away of human dignity. So, what is important is, not only to have knowledge at certain levels - which is essential - but to cultivate this feeling, to see how knowledge is used for egotism, for selfish purposes. Watch how experience is employed as a means of self-expansion, as a means for power, for prestige for oneself. You watch, and you will see how grown-up people in positions cling to their success, cling to their position. They want to build a nest for themselves so that they are powerful, so that they have prestige, position and authority; and they survive because each one of us wants to do the same, wants to be somebody. You do not want to be yourself whatever you are, but you want to be somebody. There is a difference between being and wanting to be. The desire `to be' continues through knowledge which is used for self-aggrandizement, for power, position, prestige. So, what is important is, for all of us, for you and me as we are maturing, to see all these problems and to go into them, to see that we do not merely respect a person because he has a title, a name, a position. We know very little. We may have plenty of knowledge of books; but very few have direct experience of anything. It is the direct experiencing of reality, of God, that is of vital importance. And for that, there must be love.

December 22, 1952