Jiddu Krishnamurti, Third Talk in Bangalore, July 18, 1948

So, what we are trying to discuss and find out is whether life has a purpose, and whether that purpose can be measured. It can only be measured in terms of the known, in terms of the past; and when I measure the purpose of life in terms of the known, I will measure it according to my likes and dislikes. Therefore, the purpose will be conditioned by my desires, and therefore it ceases to be the purpose… I can understand what is the purpose of life only through the screen of my own prejudices, wants, and desires – otherwise I cannot judge, can I? So, the measure, the tape, the yardstick, is a conditioning of my mind, and according to the dictates of my conditioning, I will decide what the purpose is. But is that the purpose of life? It is created by my want, and therefore it is surely not the purpose of life. To find out the purpose of life, the mind must be free of measurement; then only can it find out – otherwise, you are merely projecting your own want. This is not mere intellection, and if you go into it deeply, you will see its significance. After all, it is according to my prejudice, to my want, to my desire, to my predilection, that I decide what the purpose of life is to be. So, my desire creates the purpose. Surely, that is not the purpose of life. Which is more important – to find out the purpose of life, or to free the mind itself from its own conditioning and then inquire? And perhaps when the mind is free from its own conditioning, that very freedom itself is the purpose. Because, after all, it is only in freedom that one can discover any truth.

So, the first requisite is freedom, and not seeking the purpose of life. Without freedom, obviously, one cannot find it; without being liberated from our own petty little wants, pursuits, ambitions, envies, and ill will – without freedom from these things, how can one possibly inquire or discover what is the purpose of life? So, is it not important, for one who is inquiring about the purpose of life, to find out first if the instrument of inquiry is capable of penetrating into the processes of life, into the psychological complexities of one’s own being? Because, that is all we have, is it not? – a psychological instrument that is shaped to suit our own needs. And as the instrument is fashioned out of our own petty desires, as it is the outcome of our own experiences, worries, anxieties, and ill will, how can such an instrument find reality? Therefore, is it not important, if you are to inquire into the purpose of life, to find out first if the inquirer is capable of understanding or discovering what that purpose is? I am not turning the tables on you, but that is what is implied when we inquire about the purpose of life. When we ask that question, we have first to find out whether the question, the inquirer, is capable of understanding.

Now, when we discuss the purpose of life, we see that we mean by life the extraordinarily complex state of interrelationship without which there would be no life. And if we do not understand the full significance of that life, its varieties, impressions, and so on, what is the good of inquiring about the purpose of life? If I do not understand my relationship with you, my relationship with property and ideas, how can I go further? After all, sir, to find truth or God, or what you will, I must first understand my existence, I must understand the life around me and in me; otherwise, the search for reality becomes merely an escape from everyday action, and as most of us do not understand everyday action, as for most of us life is drudgery, pain, suffering, anxiety, we say,”For God’s sake, tell us how to escape from it.” That is what most of us want – a drug to put us to sleep so that we don’t feel the aches and pains of life. Have I answered your question about the purpose of life?

Questioner: May one say that the purpose of life is to live rightly?

Krishnamurti: It is suggested that the purpose of life is to live rightly. Sirs, I do not want to quibble, but what do we mean by a ”right life”? We have the idea that to live according to a pattern laid down by Shankaracharya, Buddha, X, Y, or Z is to live rightly. Is that living rightly? Surely, that is only a conformity which the mind seeks in order to be secure, in order not to be disturbed.

Questioner: There is a Chinese saying that the purpose of life is the pleasure of it, the joy of it. It is not an abstract joy, but it is the joy of living, the pleasures of sleeping, drinking, the joy of meeting people and talking to them, of coming, of going, of working. The joy of living, of everyday happenings, is the purpose of life.

Krishnamurti: Surely, sirs, there is a joy. There is real happiness in understanding something, is there not? If I understand my relationship with my neighbor, my wife, with the property over which we fight, wrangle, and destroy each other – if I understand these things, surely out of that understanding there comes a joy; then life itself is a joy, a richness, and with that richness one can go further, deeper. But without that foundation, you cannot build a great structure, can you? After all, happiness comes naturally, easily, only when there is no friction either in us or about us, and friction ceases only when there is an understanding of things in their right proportion, in their right values. To find out what is right, one must first know the process, the working of one’s own mind. Otherwise, if you do not know your own mind, how can you discover the right value of anything?

So, we are confused; our relationships, our ideas, our governments are really confused. It is only a foolish man who does not see the confusion. The world is in an awful mess, and the world is the projection of ourselves. What we are, the world is. We are confused, fearfully entangled in ideas, and we do not know what is true and what is false; and being confused, we say, ”Please, what is the purpose of life, what is the need of all this mess, this misery?”

Now, some will naturally give you a verbal explanation of what the purpose of life is, and if you like it, you accept it and mold your life accordingly. But that does not solve the problem of confusion, does it? You have only postponed it, you have not understood what is. Surely, the understanding of what is – the confusion within me and therefore about me – is more important than to inquire how to behave rightly. If I understand what has caused this confusion, and therefore how to put an end to it, if I understand these things, there comes naturally a true, affectionate behavior. So, being confused, my problem is not to find out what is the end or purpose of life, nor how to get out of confusion, but rather how to understand the confusion because if I understand it, then I can dissolve it. To put an end to confusion requires the understanding of what is at any given moment, and that demands enormous attention, interest to find out what is, and not merely the dissipation of our energies in the pursuit of our life, of our own methods, of our actions according to a particular pattern – all of which is so much easier because it is not tackling our problems but rather escaping from them.

So, as you are confused, every man who becomes a leader, political or religious, is merely the expression of your own confusion, and because you follow the leader, he becomes the voice of confusion. He may lead you away from a particular confusion, but he will not help you to resolve the cause of confusion, and therefore you will still be confused because you create the confusion, and confusion is where you are. So, the question is not how to get out of confusion but how to understand it, and in understanding it, perhaps you will find the meaning of all these struggles, these pains, these anxieties, this constant battle within and without.

So, is it not important to find out why we are confused? Can anybody, except a very few, say that they are not confused politically, religiously, economically? Sirs, you have only to look around you. Every newspaper is shouting in confusion, reflecting the uncertainties, the pains, the anxieties, the impending wars; and the sane, thoughtful person, the earnest person who is trying to find a way out of this confusion surely has first to tackle himself. So then, our question is this, What causes confusion? Why are we confused? One of the obvious factors is that we have lost confidence in ourselves, and that is why we have so many leaders, so many gurus, so many holy books telling us what to do and what not to do. We have lost self-confidence. Obviously, there are people, the technicians, who are full of confidence because they have achieved results. For example, give a first class mechanic any machine and he will understand it. The more technique we have, the more capable we are of dealing with technical things, but surely, that is not self-confidence. We are not using the word confidence as it applies to technical matters. A professor, when he deals with his subject, is full of confidence – at least, when other professors are not listening – or a bureaucrat, a high official, feels confident because he has reached the top of the ladder in the technique of bureaucracy, and he can always exert his authority. Though he may be wrong, he is full of confidence – like a mechanic when you give him a motor he knows all about. But surely, we do not mean that kind of confidence, do we, because we are not technical machines. We are not mere machines ticking according to a certain rhythm, revolving at a certain speed, a certain number of revolutions per minute. We are life, not machines. We would like to make ourselves into machines because then we could deal with ourselves mechanically, repetitiously, and automatically – and that is what most of us want. Therefore, we build walls of resistance, disciplines, controls, tracks along which we run. But even having so conditioned, so placed ourselves, having become so automatic and mechanical, there is still a vitality that pursues different things and creates contradictions. Sirs, our difficulty is that we are pliable, that we are alive, not dead; and because life is so swift, so subtle, so uncertain, we do not know how to understand it, and therefore we have lost confidence. Most of us are trained technically because we have to earn our livelihood, and modern civilization demands higher and higher technique. But with that technical mind, that technical capacity, you cannot follow yourself because you are much too swift, you are more pliable, more complicated than the machine, so you are learning to have more and more confidence in the machine and are losing confidence in yourself and are therefore multiplying leaders. So, as I said, one of the causes of confusion is this lack of confidence in ourselves. The more imitative we are, the less confidence we have, and we have made life into a copy book. From early childhood up, we are told what to do – we must do this, we must not do that. So what do you expect? And must you not have confidence in order to find out? Must you not have that extraordinary inward certainty to know what truth is when you meet it?

So, having made life into a technical process, conforming to a particular pattern of action, which is merely technique, naturally we have lost confidence in ourselves, and therefore we are increasing our inward struggle, our inward pain and confusion. Confusion can be dissolved only through self-confidence, and this confidence cannot be gained through another. You have to undertake, for yourself and by yourself, the journey of discovery into the process of yourself in order to understand it. This does not mean you are withdrawn, aloof. On the contrary, sirs, confidence comes the moment you understand, not what others say, but your own thoughts and feelings, what is happening in yourself and around you. Without that confidence which come from knowing your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences – their truth, their falseness, their significance, their absurdity – without knowing that, how can you clear up the whole field of confusion which is yourself? 

Questioner. Confusion can be dispelled by being aware.

Krishnamurti: You are saying, sir, that by being aware, by being conscious of the confusion, that confusion can be dissipated. Is that it?

Questioner: Yes, sir.

Krishnamurti: For the moment we are not discussing how to dissipate confusion. Having lost self-confidence, our problem is how to get it back – if we ever had it at all. Because, obviously, without that element of confidence we shall be led astray by every person we come across – and that is exactly what is happening. What is right purpose politically, and how are you to know it? Should you not know it? Should you not know what is true in it? Similarly, must you not know what is true in the babble of tongues of religion? And how are you going to find out what is true among all the innumerable sayings – Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and so on? In this frightful confusion, how are you going to find out? To find out, you must obviously be in a great strait, you must be burning to know what you are in yourself. Are you in such a position? Are you burning to find out the truth of anything, whether of communism, fascism, or capitalism? To find out what is true in the various political actions, in the religious assertions and experiences which you so easily accept – to find out the truth of all these things, must you not be burning with the desire to know the truth? Therefore, never accept any authority. Sir, after all, acceptance of authority indicates that the mind wants comfort security. A mind that seeks security, either with a guru or in a party, political or any other, a mind that is seeking safety, comfort can never find truth, even in the smallest things of our existence. So, a man who wants this creative self-confidence must obviously be burning with the desire to know the truth of everything, not about empires or the atomic bomb, which is merely a technical matter, but in our human relationships, our relationship with others, and our relationship to property and to ideas. If I want to know the truth, I begin to inquire, and before I can know the truth of anything, I must have confidence. To have confidence, I must inquire into myself and remove those causes that prevent each experience from giving its full significance.

Questioner: Our minds are limited. What the way out of this impasse?

Krishnamurti: Now wait a minute. Before we inquire how to free the mind from its own conditioning, which creates confusion, let us try to find out how to discover the truth of anything – not of technical things, but the truth of ourselves in relation to something, even in relation to the atomic bomb. You understand the problem, sir? We are not self-confident, there is no confidence in us, that creative thing which gives sustenance, life, vitality, understanding. We have lost it, or we have never had it, and because we do not know how to judge anything, we have been led here and pushed there, beaten up driven – politically, religiously, and socially. We don’t know, but it is difficult to say we don’t know. Most of us think we do, but actually we know very little except in technical matters – how to run a government, a machine, or how to kick the servant or wife or children, or whatever it is. But we do not know ourselves, we have lost that capacity. I am using the word lost, but that is probably the wrong word because we have never had it.

…My point is that there must be self-confidence – and I have sufficiently explained what I mean by self-confidence. It is not the confidence that you have through technical capacity, technical knowledge, technical training. The confidence that comes with self-knowledge is entirely different from the confidence of aggressiveness and of technical skill, and that confidence born of self-knowledge is essential to clear up the confusion in which we live. Obviously, you cannot have this self-knowledge given to you by another because what is given to you by another is mere technique. That creative confidence in which there is the joy of discovering, the bliss of understanding, can come only when I understand myself, the whole total process of myself, and to understand oneself is not such a very complex business, one can begin at any level of consciousness. But, as I said last Sunday, to have that confidence there must be the intention to know oneself. Then I am not easily persuaded – I want to know everything about myself, and so I am open to all the intimations concerning me, whether they come from another or from within myself. I am open to the conscious and the unconscious within me, open to every thought and feeling that is constantly moving, urging, arising and fading away in myself. Surely, that is the way to have this confidence – to know oneself completely, whatever one is, and not pursue an ideal of what one should be or assume that one is this or that, which is really absurd. It is absurd because then you are merely accepting a preconceived idea, whether your own or another’s, of what you are or would like to be. But to understand yourself as you are, you must be voluntarily open, spontaneously vulnerable to all the intimations of yourself; and as you begin to understand the flow, the movement, the swiftness of your own mind, you will see that confidence comes from the understanding. It is not the aggressive, brutal, assertive confidence, but the confidence of knowing what is taking place in oneself. Surely, without that confidence, you cannot dispel confusion, and without dispelling the confusion within you and about you, how can you possibly find the truth of any relationship?

So, to find out what is true, or what is the purpose of life, or to discover the truth of reincarnation or of any human problem, the inquirer who is demanding truth, who wants to know truth, must be very clear as regards his intentions. If his intentions are to seek security, comfort, then obviously he does not want truth because truth may be one of the most devastating, discomforting things. The man who is seeking comfort does not want truth; he only wants security, safety, a refuge in which he will not be disturbed. But a man who is seeking truth must invite disturbances, tribulations because it is only in moments of crisis that there is alertness, watchfulness, action. Then only that which is is discovered and understood.

Full Talk: http://www.jkrishnamurti.org/krishnamurti-teachings/view-text.php?tid=284&chid=4614&w=freedom


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