J Krishnamurthi on Life
Life demands that you listen to every movement of it.
Life is yourself, your thoughts, your feelings, your activities, your ways of life. How you react to all that is the movement of life. And you have to listen to it passionately, completely, totally with all your being. Then only does one understand the actual fact of life and the movement of life in which thought and mind can flow
Because our life is very short, we have to live so completely in the now. So we have to understand this movement of life with its tradition, with its brutality, with its agony, with its violence, disorder; and in understanding this movement of confusion, conflict, out of such understanding comes order. So, order has to come naturally not by your act of will as then it would create conflict.
All the characteristics of man, most of the characteristics of the human being are shown in the animal. Unless there is a transformation in each one of us as a human being – that is, freeing ourselves from the animal – we shall live everlastingly in conflict.
What brings about unity is the understanding of disunity? Nationalism, religious organizations, beliefs, dogmas, conceptual attitudes towards life – all these bring about disunity. You and I notice this; any intelligent man reading history, observing daily facts, knows all this; and yet we keep on repeating this pattern over and over again. So we do not learn through suffering, we do not learn through experience, we do not learn through history. But apparently we just want to live for the moment, suffer and die and not re-create a new world, a new sense of being.
As long as you are satisfied, as long as you are left undisturbed in your little backyard, as long as nothing threatens you, you live peacefully. But the moment there is any kind of threat, any kind of uncertainty – uncertainty about your relationship with your wife – you become violent; when there is uncertainty about your position, when you are not capable of fulfilling yourself, being somebody, having a position, prestige, when all those are threatened, you become violent.
So what you really want is not the ending of violence; what you really want is to be completely secure, both inwardly and outwardly. You want to be secure inwardly with your ideas, secure in your relationships, secure in your concepts. But unfortunately you can never be secure. That is one of the first things you realize: that life is not for the secure – which does not mean that you must be insecure or that you must seek insecurity. That is, each one of us, as a human being, wants to be secure within the pattern which we have created for ourselves as being secure, and that pattern will invariably contradict the pattern of another, and so there is a battle between us. And if you observe, not idealistically but factually, life is never secure. There is disease; there is death; nothing is secure. As a human being, can you understand for yourself – observing life, the every day incidents – that there is no such thing as security, that life is a movement, an endless movement? And a man who can move with it and go beyond this movement – he will find that peace, that joy, that eternity.
And seriousness leads to efficiency, clarity. It is only the serious, earnest man that lives, and the rest become merely either cannon fodder or useless human beings.
Revolution must begin within oneself. And then you will have peace, a state of non-violence, a state of freedom from violence and order. Without these we are not human beings; we are violent, destructive, incapable of order, and therefore we have no love thinking one thing and doing another; thinking marvellous thoughts, how you should be this and that and the other, and living contrary to them. So there is this contradiction. The more intellectual, verbal, theoretical, political you are, the greater is the contradiction: because you are living in theories, but not in facts. So this contradiction breeds conflict.
We are concerned with the life of each one of us, because each one of us has to live in relationship, and relationship is life. And when there is conflict in that relationship, then it is destruction, it is disorder. A man who is not in conflict with himself or with society – he has no conflict and therefore he is essentially peaceful.
So, we see all this – effort, contradiction, imitation, conformity to a pattern, this everlasting thinking, thinking which has very little meaning; that is our daily life, our daily problem of anxiety, of fear, of greed, of envy. Seeing all this how is a human mind which is the result of time, which is the result of violence – how is such a mind to bring about a mutation within itself.
The fragmentation of our lives in various roles that we carry- they are all contradictions, there we live in departments and each department is in contradiction with the other. And so our life is a series of contradictions and therefore conflicts, therefore misery and confusion. And unless we solve this problem of fragmentation for ourselves, as human being, we shall always be in a contradiction and conflict and therefore in sorrow.
Life has no significance. Life is meant to be lived, and in that very living one begins to discover the reality, the truth, the beauty of life. To discover the truth, the beauty of life, you must understand the total movement of it. And to understand the total movement of it, you have to end all this fragmentary thinking and ways of life; you have to cease to be a Hindu, not only in name, but inwardly; you have to cease to be a Muslim, or a Buddhist, or a Catholic with all the dogmas, because these things are dividing people, dividing your own minds, your own hearts.
Because life is not something outside, something that is flowing by, which we look at. Life is this movement in ourselves, of which we are a part; it is that which we have to understand, which we have to unravel, comprehend, love, pursue; and we have to imbibe deeply the full significance of it all. Life is action from the beginning to the end; the whole movement is action. But, unfortunately, we have divided action into fragments: noble action, ignoble action, political action, religious action, scientific action, the action of the reformer, the action of the socialist, the action of the communist and so on and on. We have broken it up, and therefore there is a contradiction between each action, and there is no understanding of the total movement of action.
All life is relationship; and till we understand clearly the problem of relationship in our life, at whatever level we may try to live, fully or fragmentarily, we will always be in a state of conflict, confusion and misery.
if you will make life a significant thing in itself, a life that has a meaning, a life that is rich, full, complete – is that you understand this question of fear and death. Without love, without this feeling of beauty, life naturally becomes utterly empty. And being empty we seek the gods which are man-made; being empty, beliefs, dogmas, rituals become very important; and we fill that emptiness with these tawdry affairs of things, tawdry affairs which have been put together by man. So if you would know what love is, there must be freedom from jealousy, from conflict, from the desire to dominate, the desire to be powerful – which means you must live peacefully to know what love is, not outside of life, but each of us, as a human being, is both society and the individual. The individual is not separate from society; the individual has created the psychological structure of society, and in that psychological structure he is caught. And therefore he tries to break away from that psychological structure, which is a mere revolt and therefore does not resolve any problem.
I see that violence, in itself, is destructive; in itself, it destroys the human mind because, if I am competing, fulfilling, struggling, battling with you and with everything, the brain wears itself out. There is no affection, there is no tenderness, no grace, no beauty. I see that, but I do not know how to change this thing called violence.
So we need to bring about a radical mutation in our relationship, economically, socially, politically and all the rest of it, and also in our relationship with ourselves, in the relationships which we have created as an image according to which we function. Unless there is a change in the image that each one of us has about oneself, about the society, about the various values that we have given to life, unless we look at all these problems with clarity, mere outward change brought about by communism, by socialism, by war, or by great inventions will have very little meaning. Because in ourselves the image of ourselves will project, and according to that image we live. Unless in that image there is a mutation, unless that image is completely shattered, we cannot possibly have right relationship and therefore a way of life totally different from that which we are living now.
We said that there must be in ourselves and in our relationships a great change, because we cannot as human beings lead the lives that we are doing: in battle with ourselves. The society is you, and you are the society. The psychological structure of society has been created by each human being, and in that psychological frame each human being is caught. And until the human being breaks that psychological structure within himself, completely and totally, he is incapable of living peacefully with a great sense of reality.
And nothing can function or blossom in hate, in confusion, in conflict. And as human beings we have to find a different way of living: to live in this world without inward conflict. Then that inward sense of peace expresses itself in action in society. Life has no significance. Life is meant to be lived, and in that very living one begins to discover the reality, the truth, the beauty of life. To discover the truth, the beauty of life, you must understand the total movement of it. And to understand the total movement of it, you have to end all this fragmentary thinking and ways of life; you have to cease to be a Hindu, not only in name, but inwardly; you have to cease to be a Muslim, or a Buddhist, or a Catholic with all the dogmas, because these things are dividing people, dividing your own minds, your own hearts.
And so you have to examine your own life voluntarily, you will find that you look with eyes which are full of affection – not with condemnation, not with judgment, but with care. You look at yourself with care and therefore you look at yourself with immense affection. And it is only when there is great affection and love, that you see the total existence of life.
- Excerpts from J Krishnamurthy’s talks on Life and Death