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One of our most difficult problems is what we call discipline, and it is really very complex. You see, society feels that it must control or discipline the citizen, shape his mind according to certain religious, social, moral and economic patterns.
Now, is discipline necessary at all? Please listen carefully, don't immediately say 'yes' or 'no'. Most of us feel, especially while we are young, that there should be no discipline, that we should be allowed to do whatever we like, and we think that is freedom. But merely to say that we should or should not have discipline, that we should be free, and so on, has very little meaning without understanding the whole problem of discipline.
The keen athlete is disciplining himself all the time, is he not? His joy in playing games and the very necessity to keep fit makes him go to bed early, refrain from smoking, eat the right food and generally observe the rules of good health. His discipline is not an imposition or a conflict, but a natural outcome of his enjoyment of athletics.
Now, does discipline increase or decrease human energy. Human beings throughout the world, in every religion, in every school of philosophy, impose discipline on the mind, which implies control, resistance, adjustment, suppression; and is all this necessary? If discipline brings about a greater output of human energy, then it is worth while, then it has meaning; but if it merely suppresses human energy, it is very harmful, destructive. All of us have energy, and the question is whether that energy through discipline can be made vital, rich and abundant, or whether discipline destroys whatever energy we have. I think this is the central issue.
Many human beings do not have a great deal of energy, and what little energy they have is soon smothered and destroyed by the controls, threats and taboos of their particular society with its so-called education; so they become imitative, lifeless citizens of that society. And does discipline give increased energy to the individual who has a little more to begin with? Does it make his life rich and full of vitality?
When you are very young, as you all are, you are full of energy, are you not? You want to play, to rush about, to talk; you can't sit still, you are full of life. Then what happens? As you grow up your teachers begin to curtail that energy by shaping it, directing it into various moulds; and when at last you become men and women the little energy you have left is soon smothered by society, which says that you must be proper citizens, you must behave in a certain way. Through so-called education and the compulsion of society this abounding energy you have when you are young is gradually destroyed.
Now, can the energy you have at present be made more vital through discipline? If you have only a little energy, can discipline increase it? If it can, then discipline has meaning; but if discipline really destroys one's energy, then discipline must obviously be put aside.
What is this energy which we all have? This energy is thinking, feeling; it is interest, enthusiasm, greed, passion, lust, ambition, hate. Painting pictures, inventing machines, building bridges, making roads, cultivating the fields, playing games writing poems, singing, dancing, going to the temple, worshipping - these are all expressions of energy; and energy also creates illusion, mischief, misery. The very finest and the most destructive qualities are equally the expressions of human energy. But, you see, the process of controlling or disciplining this energy letting it out in one direction and restricting it in another becomes merely a social convenience; the mind is shaped according to the pattern of a particular culture, and thereby its energy is gradually dissipated.
So, our problem is, can this energy, which in one degree or another we all possess, be increased, given greater vitality - and if so, to do what? What is energy for? Is it the purpose of energy to make war? Is it to invent jet planes and innumerable other machines, to pursue some guru, to pass examinations, to have children, to worry endlessly over this problem and that? Or can energy be used in a different way so that all our activities have significance in relation to something which transcends them all? Surely, if the human mind, which is capable of such astonishing energy, is not seeking reality or God, then every expression of its energy becomes a means of destruction and misery. To seek reality requires immense energy; and, if man is not doing that, he dissipates his energy in ways which create mischief, and therefore society has to control him. Now, is it possible to liberate energy in seeking God or truth and, in the process of discovering what is true, to be a citizen who understands the fundamental issues of life and whom society cannot destroy? Are you following this, or is it a little bit too complex?
You see, man is energy, and if man does not seek truth, this energy becomes destructive; therefore society controls and shapes the individual, which smothers this energy. That is what has happened to the majority of grown-up people all over the world. And perhaps you have noticed another interesting and very simple fact: that the moment you really want to do something, you have the energy to do it. What happens when you are keen to play a game? You immediately have energy, have you not? And that very energy becomes the means of controlling itself, so you don't need outside discipline. In the search for reality, energy creates its own discipline. The man who is seeking reality spontaneously becomes the right kind of citizen, which is not according to the pattern of any particular society or government.
So, students as well as teachers must work together to bring about the release of this tremendous energy to find reality, God or truth. In your very seeking of truth there will be discipline, and then you will be a real human being, a complete individual, and not merely a Hindu or a Parsi limited by his particular society and culture. If, instead of curtailing his energy as it is doing now, the school can help the student to awaken his energy in the pursuit of truth, then you will find that discipline has quite a different meaning.
Why is it that in the home, in the classroom and in the hostel you are always being told what you must do and what you must not do? Surely, it is because your parents and teachers, like the rest of society, have not perceived that man exists for only one purpose, which is to find reality or God. If even a small group of educators were to understand and give their whole attention to that search, they would create a new kind of education and a different society altogether.
Don't you notice how little energy most of the people around you have, including your parents and teachers? They are slowly dying, even when their bodies are not yet old. Why? Because they have been beaten into submission by society. You see, without understanding its fundamental purpose which is to find extraordinary thing called the mind, which has the capacity to create atomic submarines and jet planes, which can write the most amazing poetry and prose, which can make the world so beautiful and also destroy the world - without understanding its fundamental purpose, which is to find truth or God, this energy becomes destructive; and then society says, "We must shape and control the energy of the individual."
So, it seems to me that the function of education is to bring about a release of energy in the pursuit of goodness, truth, or God, which in turn makes the individual a true human being and therefore the right kind of citizen. But mere discipline, without full comprehension of all this, has no meaning, it is a most destructive thing. Unless each one of you is so educated that, when you leave school and go out into the world, you are full of vitality and intelligence, full of abounding energy to find out what is true, you will merely be absorbed by society; you will be smothered, destroyed, miserably unhappy for the rest of your life. As a river creates the banks which hold it, so the energy which seeks truth creates its own discipline without any form of imposition; and as the river finds the sea, so that energy finds its own freedom.
Questioner: Why did the British come to rule India?
Krishnamurti: You see, the people who have more energy, more vitality, more capacity, more spirit, bring either misery or well-being to their less energetic neighbours. At one time India exploded all over Asia; her people were full of creative zeal, and they brought religion to China, to Japan, to Indonesia, to Burma. Other nations were commercial, which may have also been necessary, and which had its miseries - but that is the way of life. The strange part of it is that those who are seeking truth or God are much more explosive, they release extraordinary energy, not only in themselves but in others; and it is they who are the real revolutionaries, not the communists, the socialists, or those who merely reform. Conquerors and rulers come and go, but the human problem is ever the same. We all want to dominate, to submit or resist; but the man who is seeking truth is free of all societies and of all cultures.
Questioner: Even at the time of meditation one doesn't seem able to perceive what is true; so will you please tell us what is true?
Krishnamurti: Let us leave for the moment the question of what is true and consider first what is meditation. To me, meditation is something entirely different from what your books and your gurus have taught you. Meditation is the process of understanding your own mind. If you don't understand your own thinking, which is self-knowledge, whatever you think has very little meaning. Without the foundation of self-knowledge, thinking leads to mischief. Every thought has a significance; and if the mind is incapable of seeing the significance, not just of one or two thoughts, but of each thought as it arises then merely to concentrate on a particular idea, image, or set of words - which is generally called meditation - is a form of self-hypnosis.
So, whether you are sitting quietly, talking, or playing, are you aware of the significance of every thought, of every reaction that you happen to have? Try it and you will see how difficult it is to be aware of every movement of your own thought, because thoughts pile up so quickly one on top of another. But if you want to examine every thought, if you really want to see the content of it, then you will find that your thoughts slow down and you can watch them. This slowing down of thinking and the examining of every thought is the process of meditation; and if you go into it you will find that, by being aware of every thought, your mind - which is now a vast storehouse of restless thoughts all battling against each other - becomes very quiet, completely still. There is then no urge, no compulsion, no fear in any form; and, in this stillness, that which is true comes into being. There is no 'you' who experiences truth, but the mind being still, truth comes into it. The moment there is a 'you' there is the experiencer, and the experiencer is merely the result of thought, he has no basis without thinking.
Questioner: If we make a mistake and somebody points it out to us, why do we commit the same error again?
Krishnamurti: What do you think? Why do you pick at the flowers, or tear up plants, or destroy furniture, or throw paper about, though I am sure you have been told a dozen times that you should not do it? Listen carefully and you will see. When you do such things you are in a state of thoughtlessness, are you not? You are not aware, you are not thinking, your mind has gone to sleep, and so you do things which are obviously stupid. As long as you are not fully conscious, not completely there, it is no good merely telling you not to do certain things. But, if the educator can help you to be thoughtful, to be really aware, to observe with delight the trees, the birds, the river, the extraordinary richness of the earth, then one hint will be enough, because then you will be sensitive, alive to everything about you and within yourself.
Unfortunately, your sensitivity is destroyed because, from the time you are born till you die, you are everlastingly being told to do this and not to do that. Parents, teachers, society, religion, the priest, and also your own ambitions, your own greeds and envies - they all say 'do' and 'don't'. To be free of all these do's and don'ts and yet to be sensitive so that you are spontaneously kind and do not hurt people, do not throw paper about or pass by a rock on the road without removing it - this requires great thoughtfulness. And the purpose of education, surely, is not just to give you a few letters of the alphabet after your name, but to awaken in you this spirit of thoughtfulness so that you are sensitive, alert, watchful, kind.
Questioner: What is life, and how can we be happy?
Krishnamurti: A very good question from a little boy. What is life? If you ask the business man, he will tell you that life is a matter of selling things, making money, because that is his life from morning till night. The man of ambition will tell you that life is a struggle to achieve, to fulfil. For the man who has attained position and power, who is the head of an organization or a country, life is full of activity of his own making. And for the labourer, especially in this country, life is endless work without a day of rest; it is to be dirty, miserable, without sufficient food.
Now, can man be happy through all this strife, this struggle, this stagnation and misery? Obviously not. So what does he do? He does not question, he does not ask what life is, but philosophizes about happiness. He talks about brotherhood while exploiting others. He invents the higher self, the super-soul, something which eventually is going to make him permanently happy. But happiness does not come into being when you seek it; it is a by-product, it comes into being when there is goodness, when there is love, when there is no ambition, when the mind is quietly seeking out what is true.
Questioner: Why do we fight among ourselves?
Krishnamurti: I think the older people also ask this question, don't they? Why do we fight? America is opposed to Russia, China stands against the West. Why? We talk about peace and prepare for war. Why? Because I think the majority of human beings love to compete, to fight, that is the plain fact, otherwise we would stop it. In fighting there is a heightened sense of being alive, that also is a fact. We think struggle in every form is necessary to keep us alive; but, you see, that kind of living is very destructive. There is a way of living without struggle. It is like the lily, like the flower that grows; it does not struggle, it is. The being of anything is the goodness of it. But we are not educated for that at all. We are educated to compete, to fight, to be soldiers, lawyers, policemen, professors, principals, business men, all wanting to ride on top. We all want success. There are many who have the outward pretensions of humility, but only those are happy who are really humble inwardly, and it is they who do not fight.
Questioner: Why does the mind misuse other human beings and also misuse itself?
Krishnamurti: What do we mean by misuse? A mind that is ambitious, greedy, envious, a mind that is burdened with belief and tradition a mind that is ruthless, that exploits people - such a mind in its action obviously creates mischief and brings about a society which is full of conflict. As long as the mind does not understand itself, its action is bound to be destructive; as long as the mind has no self-knowledge, it must breed enmity. That is why it is essential that you should come to know yourself and not merely learn from books. No book can teach you self-knowledge. A book may give you information about self-knowledge, but that is not the same thing as knowing yourself in action. When the mind sees itself in the mirror of relationship, from that perception there is self-knowledge; and without self-knowledge we cannot clear up this mess, this terrible misery which we have created in the world.
Questioner: Is the mind that seeks success different from that which seeks truth?
Krishnamurti: It is the same mind, whether it is seeking success or truth; but, as long as the mind is seeking success, it cannot find out what is true. To understand the truth is to see the truth in the false, and to see what is true as true.