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One of the many problems confronting all of us, and especially those who are now being educated and must soon go out and face the world, is this question of reform. Various groups of people-the socialists, the communists, and reformers of every kind-are concerned with trying to bring about certain changes in the world, changes which are obviously necessary. Although in some countries there is a fair degree of prosperity, throughout the world there is still hunger, starvation, and millions of human beings have insufficient clothing and no proper place to sleep. And how is a fundamental reformation to take place without creating more chaos, more misery and strife? That is the real problem, is it not? If one reads a little history and observes present-day political trends, it becomes obvious that what we call reformation, however desirable and necessary, always brings in its wake still other forms of confusion and conflict; and to counteract this further misery, more legislation, more checks and counterchecks become necessary. Reformation creates new disorders; in putting these right, still further disorders are produced, and so the vicious circle continues. This is what we are faced with, and it is a process which seems to have no end.
Now, how is one to break through this vicious circle? Mind you, it is obvious that reformation is necessary; but is reformation possible without bringing about still further confusion? This seems to me to be one of the fundamental issues with which any thoughtful person must be concerned. The question is not what kind of reformation is necessary, or at what level, but whether any reformation is possible at all without bringing with it other problems which again create the need of reform. And what is one to do in order to break up this endless process? Surely, it is the function of education, whether in the small school or in the large university, to tackle this problem, not abstractly, theoretically, not by merely philosophizing or writing books about it, but by actually facing it in order to find out how to solve it. Man is caught in this vicious circle of reformation which always needs further reform and, if it is not broken up, our problems can have no solution.
So, what kind of education, what kind of thinking is necessary to break up this vicious circle? What action will put an end to the increase of problems in all our activities? Is there any movement of thought, in any direction, that can free man from this manner of living, the reformation of which always needs further reform? In other words, is there an action which is not born of reaction?
I think there is a way of life in which there is not this process of reformation breeding further misery, and that way may be called religious. The truly religious person is not concerned with reform, he is not concerned with merely producing a change in the social order; on the contrary, he is seeking what is true, and that very search has a transforming effect on society. That is why education must be principally concerned with helping the student to seek out truth or God, and not merely preparing him to fit into the pattern of a given society.
I think it is very important to understand this while we are young; because, as we grow older and begin to set aside our little amusements and distractions, our sexual appetites and petty ambitions, we become more keenly aware of the immense problems confronting the world, and then we want to do something about them, we want to bring about some kind of amelioration. But unless we are deeply religious we shall only create more confusion, further misery; and religion has nothing to do with priests, churches, dogmas, or organized beliefs. These things are not religion at all, they are merely social conveniences to hold us within a particular pattern of thought and action; they are the means of exploiting our credulity, hope and fear. Religion is the seeking out of what is truth, what is God, and this search requires enormous energy, wide intelligence, subtle thinking. It is in this very seeking of the immeasurable that there is right social action, not in the so-called reformation of a particular society.
To find out what is truth there must be great love and a deep awareness of man's relationship to all things-which means that one is not concerned with one's own progress and achievements. The search for truth is true religion, and the man who is seeking truth is the only religious man. Such a man, because of his love, is outside of society, and his action upon society is therefore entirely different from that of the man who is in society and concerned with its reformation. The reformer can never create a new culture. What is necessary is the search of the truly religious man, for this very search brings about its own culture and it is our only hope. You see, the search for truth gives an explosive creativeness to the mind, which is true revolution, because in this search the mind is uncontaminated by the edicts and sanctions of society. Being free of all that, the religious man is able to find out what is true; and it is the discovery of what is true from moment to moment that creates a new culture.
That is why it is very important for you to have the right kind of education. For this the educator himself must be rightly educated so that he will not regard teaching merely as a means of earning a livelihood, but will be capable of helping the student to put aside all dogmas and not be held by any religion or belief. The people who come together on the basis of religious authority, or to practise certain ideals, are all concerned with social reform, which is merely the decorating of the prison walls. Only the truly religious man is truly revolutionary; and it is the function of education to help each one of us to be religious in the true sense of the word, for in that direction alone lies our salvation.
Questioner: I want to do social work, but I don't know how to start.
KRISHNAMURTI : I think it is very important to find out not how to start, but why you want to do social work at all. Why do you want to do social work? Is it because you see misery in the world-starvation, disease, exploitation, the brutal indifference of great wealth side by side with appalling poverty, the enmity between man and man? Is that the reason? Do you want to do social work because in your heart there is love and therefore you are not concerned with your own fulfilment? Or is social work a means of escape from yourself? Do you understand? You see, for example, all the ugliness involved in orthodox marriage, so you say, "I shall never get married," and you throw yourself into social work instead; or perhaps your parents have urged you into it, or you have an ideal. If it is a means of escape, or if you are merely pursuing an ideal established by society, by a leader or a priest, or by yourself, then any social work you may do will only create further misery. But if you have love in your heart, if you are seeking truth and are therefore a truly religious person, if you are no longer ambitious, no longer pursuing success, and your virtue is not leading to respectability-then your very life will help to bring about a total transformation of society.
I think it is very important to understand this. When we are young, as most of you are, we want to do something, and social work is in the air; books tell about it, the newspapers do propaganda for it, there are schools to train social workers, and so on. But you see, without self-knowledge, without understanding yourself and your relationships, any social work you do will turn to ashes in your mouth.
It is the happy man, not the idealist or the miserable escapee, who is revolutionary; and the happy man is not he who has many possessions. The happy man is the truly religious man, and his very living is social work. But if you become merely one of the innumerable social workers, your heart will be empty. You may give away your money, or persuade other people to contribute theirs, and you may bring about marvellous reforms; but as long as your heart is empty and your mind full of theories, your life will be dull, weary, without joy. So, first understand yourself, and out of that self-knowledge will come action of the right kind.
Questioner: Why is man so callous?
KRISHNAMURTI : That is fairly simple, is it not? When education limits itself to conveying knowledge and preparing the student for a job, when it merely holds up ideals and teaches him to be concerned with his own success, obviously man becomes callous. You see, most of us have no love in our hearts. We never look at the stars or delight in the whispering waters; we never observe the dance of moonlight on a rushing stream or watch the flight of a bird. We have no song in our hearts; we are always occupied; our minds are full of schemes and ideals to save mankind; we profess brotherhood, and our very look is a denial of it. That is why it is important to have the right kind of education while we are young, so that our minds and our hearts are open, sensitive, eager. But that eagerness, that energy, that explosive understanding is destroyed when we are afraid; and most of us are afraid. We are afraid of our parents, of our teachers, of the priest, of the government, of the boss; we are afraid of ourselves. So life becomes a thing of fear, of darkness, and that is why man is callous.
Questioner: Can one refrain from doing whatever one likes and still find the way to freedom?
KRISHNAMURTI : You know, it is one of the most difficult things to find out what we want to do, not only while we are adolescent, but throughout life. And unless you find out for yourself what you really want to do with your whole being, you will end by doing something which holds no vital interest for you, and then your life will be miserable; and, being miserable, you will seek distraction in cinemas, in drink, in reading innumerable books, in some kind of social reform and all the rest of it.
So, can the educator help you to find out what it is you want to do right through life, irrespective of what your parents and society may want you to do ? That is the real question, is it not ? Because, if once you discover what you love to do with your whole being, then you are a free man; then you have capacity, confidence, initiative. But if, without knowing what you really love to do, you become a lawyer, a politician, this or that, then there will be no happiness for you, because that very profession will become the means of destroying yourself and others.
You must find out for yourself what it is you love to do. Don't think in terms of choosing a vocation in order to fit into society, because in that way you will never discover what you love to do. When you love to do something, there is no problem of choice. When you love, and let love do what it will, there is right action, because love never seeks success, it is never caught up in imitation; but if you give your life to something which you don't love, you will never be free. But merely doing whatever you like is not doing what you love to do. To find out what you really love to do requires a great deal of penetration, insight. Don't begin by thinking in terms of earning a livelihood; but if you discover what it is you love to do, then you will have a means of livelihood.
Questioner: Is it true that only the pure can be really fearless?
KRISHNAMURTI : Don't have ideals of purity, chastity, brotherhood, non-violence and all the rest of it, because they have no meaning. Don't try to be courageous, because that is merely a reaction to fear. To be fearless requires immense insight, an understanding of the whole process of fear and its cause.
You see, there is fear as long as you want to be secure-secure in your marriage, secure in your job, in your position, in your responsibility, secure in your ideas, in your beliefs, secure in your relationship to the world or in your relationship to God. The moment the mind seeks security or gratification in any form, at any level, there is bound to be fear; and what is important is to be aware of this process and understand it. It is not a matter of so-called purity. The mind which is alert, watchful, which is free of fear, is an innocent mind; and it is only the innocent mind that can understand reality, truth or God.
Unfortunately, in this country as elsewhere, ideals have assumed extraordinary importance, the ideal being the what should be: I should be non-violent, I should be good, and so on. The ideal, the what should be is always somewhere far away, and therefore it never is. Ideals are a curse because they prevent you from thinking directly, simply and truly, when you are faced with facts. The ideal, the what-should-be is an escape from what is. The what-is is the fact that you are afraid-afraid of what your parents will say, of what people will think, afraid of society, afraid of disease, death; and if you face what is, look at it, go into it even though it brings you misery, and understand it, then you will find that your mind becomes extraordinarily simple, clear; and in that very clarity there is the cessation of fear. Unfortunately we are educated in all the philosophical absurdities of ideals, which are merely postponement; they have no validity at all.
You have the ideal of non-violence, for example; but are you non-violent? So why not face your violence, why not look at what you are? If you observe your own greed, your ambition, your pleasures and distractions, and begin to understand all that, you will find that time as a means of progress, as a means of achieving the ideal has come to an end. You see, the mind invents time in which to achieve, and therefore it is never quiet, never still. A still mind is innocent, fresh, though it may have had a thousand years of experience, and that is why it is able to resolve the difficulties of its own existence in relationship.
Questioner: Man is the victim of his own desires, which create many problems. How can he bring about a state of desirelessness?
KRISHNAMURTI : Wanting to bring about a state of desirelessness is merely a trick of the mind. Seeing that desire creates misery and wanting to escape from it, the mind projects the ideal of desirelessness and then asks, "How am I to achieve that ideal?" And then what happens? In order to be desireless you suppress your desire, do you not? You throttle your desire, you try to kill it, and then you think you have achieved a state of desirelessness-which is all false.
What is desire? It is energy, is it not? And the moment you throttle your energy you have made yourself dull, lifeless. That is what has happened in India. All the so-called religious men have throttled their desire; there are very few who think and are free. So, what is important is not to throttle desire, but to understand energy and the utilization of energy in the right direction.
You see, when you are young you have abounding energy- energy that makes you want to skip over the hills, reach for the stars. Then, society steps in and tells you to hold that energy within the walls of the prison which it calls respectability. Through education, through every form of sanction and control, that energy is gradually crushed out. But you need more energy, not less, because without immense energy you will never find out what is true. So the problem is not how to curtail energy, but how to maintain and increase it, how to make it independent and continuous-but not at the behest of any belief or society-so that it becomes the movement towards truth, God. Then energy has quite a different significance. As a pebble thrown into a calm lake creates an ever-widening circle, so the action of energy in the direction of what is true creates the waves of a new culture. Then, energy is limitless, immeasurable, and that energy is God.