THREE PIOUS EGOISTS The other day three pious egoists came to see me. The first was a sannyasi, a man who had renounced the world; the second was an orientalist and a great believer in brotherhood; and the third was a confirmed worker for a marvellous Utopia. Each of the three was strenuous in his own work and looked down on the others' attitudes and activities, and each was strengthened by his own conviction. Each was ardently attached to his particular form of belief, and all were in a strange way ruthless. They told me, especially the Utopian, that they were ready to deny or sacrifice themselves and their friends for what they believed. They appeared meek and gentle, particularly the man of brotherhood, but there was a hardness of heart and that peculiar intolerance which is characteristic of the superior. They were the chosen, the interpreters ; they knew and were certain. The sannyasi said, in the course of a serious talk, that he was preparing himself for his next life. This life, he declared, had very little to offer him, for he had seen through all the illusions of worldliness and had forsaken worldly ways. He had some personal weaknesses and certain difficulties in concentration, he added, but in his next life he would be the ideal which he had set for himself. His whole interest and vitality lay in his conviction that he was to be something in his next life. We talked at some length, and his emphasis was always on the tomorrow, on the future. The past existed, he said, but always in relation to the future; the present was merely a passage to the future, and today was interesting only because of tomorrow. If there were no tomorrow, he asked, then why make an effort? One might just as well vegetate or be like the pacific cow. The whole of life was one continuous movement from the past through the momentary present to the future. We should use the present, he said, to be something in the future: to be wise, to be strong, to be compassionate. Both the present and the future were transient, but tomorrow ripened the fruit. He insisted that today is but a stepping stone, and that we should not be too anxious or too particular about it; we should keep clear the ideal of tomorrow and make the journey successfully. Altogether, he was impatient of the present. The man of brotherhood was more learned, and his language more poetic; he was expert in handling words, and was altogether suave and convincing. He too had carved a divine niche for himself in the future. He was to be something. This idea filled his heart, and he had gathered his disciples for that future. Death, he said, was a beautiful thing, for it brought one nearer to that divine niche which was making it possible for him to live in this sorrowful and ugly world. He was all for changing and beautifying the world, and was working ardently for the brotherhood of man. He considered that ambition, with its attendant cruelties and corruption, was inevitable in a world where you had to get things done; and unfortunately, if you wanted certain organizational activities carried on, you had to be a little bit on the hard side. The work was important because it was helping mankind, and anyone who opposed it had to be put aside gently, of
course. The organization for that work was of the utmost value and must not be hindered. "Others have their paths," he said, "but ours is essential, and anyone who interferes is not one of us." The Utopian was a strange mixture of the idealist and the practical man. His Bible was not the old but the new. He believed in the new implicitly. He knew the outcome of the future, for the new book foretold what it was to be. His plan was to confuse, organize and carry out. Th e present, he said, was corrupt, it must be destroyed, a nd out of this destruction the new would be built. The present was to be sacrificed for the future. The future man was all important, not the present man. "We know how to create that future man," he said, "we can shape his mind and heart; but we must get into power to do any good. We will sacrifice ourselves and others to bring about a new state. Anyone who stands in the way we will kill, for the means is of no consequence; the end justifies any means." For ultimate peace, any form of violence could be used; for ultimate individual freedom, tyranny in the present was inevitable. "When we have the power in our hands," he declared, "we will use every form of compulsion to bring about a new world without class distinctions, without priests. From our central thesis we will never move; we are fixed there, but our strategy and tactics will vary depending upon changing circumstances. We plan, organize and act to destroy the present man for the future man." The sannyasi, the man of brotherhood and the Utopian all live for tomorrow, for the future. They are not ambitious in the worldly sense, they do not want high honours, wealth or recognition; but they are ambitious in a much more subtle way. The Utopian has identified himself with a group which he thinks will have the power to reorient the world; the man of brotherhood aspires to be exalted, and the sannyasi to attain his goal. All are consumed with their own becoming, with their own achievement and expansion. They do not see that this desire denies peace, brotherhood and supreme happiness. Ambition in any form for the group, for individual salvation, or for spiritual achievement is action postponed. Desire is ever of the future; the desire to become is inaction in the present. The now has greater significance than the tomorrow. In the now is all time, and to understand the now is to be free of time. Becoming is the continuation of time, of sorrow. Becoming does not contain being. Being is always in the present, and being is the highest form of transformation. Becoming is merely modified continuity, and there is radical transformation only in the present, in being. IDENTIFICATION Why do you identify yourself with another, with a group, with a country? Why do you call yourself a Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist, or why do you belong to one of the innumerable sects? Religiously and politically one identifies oneself with this or with that group through tradition or habit, through impulse,
prejudice, imitation and laziness. This identification puts an end to all creative understanding, and then one becomes a mere tool in the hands of the party boss, the priest or the favoured leader. The other day someone said that he was a "Krishnamurti ite," whereas so and so belonged to another group. As he was saying it, he was utterly unconscious of the implications of this identification. He was not by any means a foolish person; he was well read, cultured and all the rest of it. Nor was he sentimental or emotional over the matter; on the contrary, he was clear and definite. Why had he become a "Krishnamurti ite"? He had followed others, belonged to many wearisome groups and organizations, and at last found himself identified with this particular person. From what he said, it appeared that the journey was over. He had taken a stand and that was the end of the matter; he had chosen, and nothing could shake him. He would no w comfortably settle down and follow eagerly all that had been said and was going to be said. When we identify ourselves with another, is that an indication of love? Does identification imply experimentation? Does not identification put an end to love and to experiment? Identification, surely, is possession, the assertion of ownership; and ownership denies love, does it not? To own is to be secure; possession is defence, making oneself invulnerable. In identification there is resistance, whether gross or subtle; and is love a form of self protective resistance? Is there love when there is defence? Love is vulnerable, pliable, receptive; it is the highest form of sensitivity, and identification makes for insensitivity. Identification and love do not go together, for the one destroys the other. Identification is essentially a thought process by which the mind safeguards and expands itself; and in becoming something it must resist and defend, it mu st own and discard. In this process of becoming, the mind or the self grows tougher and mo re capable; but this is not love. Identification destroys freedom, and only in freedom can there be the highest form of sensitivity. To experiment, need there be identification? Does not the very act of identification put an end to inquiry, to discovery? The happiness that truth brings cannot be if there is no experimentation in self discovery. Identification puts an end to discovery; it is another form of laziness. Identification is vicarious experience, and hence utterly false. To experience, all identification must cease. To experiment, there must be no fear. Fear prevents experience. It is fear that makes for identification identification with another, with a group, with an ideology, and so on. Fear must resist, suppress; and in a state of self defence, how can there be venturing on the uncharted sea? Truth or happiness cannot come without undertaking the journey into the ways of the self. You cannot travel far if you are anchored. Identification is a refuge. A refuge needs protection, and that which is protected is soon destroyed. Identification brings destruction upon itself, and hence the constant conflict between various identifications. The more we struggle for or against identification, the greater is the resistance to understanding. If one is aware of the whole process of identification, outward
as well as inner, if one sees that its outward expression projected by the inner demand, then there is a possibility of discovery and happiness. He who has identified himself can never know freedom, in which alone all truth comes into being. GOSSIP AND WORRY How oddly similar are gossi p and worry. They are both the outcome of a restless mind. A restless mind must have a changing variety of expressions and actions, it must be occupied; it must have ever increasing sensations, passing interests, and gossip contains the elements of all these. Gossip is the very antithesis of intensity and earnestness. To talk about another, pleasantly or viciously, is an escape from oneself, and escape is the cause of restlessness. Escape in its very nature is restless. Concern over the affairs of others seems to occupy most people, and this concern shows itself in the reading of innumerable magazines and newspapers with their gossip columns, their accounts of murders, divorces and so on. As we are concerned with what others think of us, so we are anxious to know all about them; and from this arise the crude and subtle forms of snobbishness and the worship of authority. Thus we become more and more externalized and inwardly empty. The more externalized we are, the more sensations and distractions there must be, and this gives rise to a mind that is never quiet, that is not capable of deep search and discovery. Gossip is an expression of a restless mind; but merely to be silent does not indicate a tranquil mind. Tranquillity does not come into being with abstinence or denial; it comes with the understanding of what is. To understand what is needs swift awareness, for what is is not static. If we did not worry, most of us would feel that we were not alive; to be struggling with a problem is for the majority of us an indication of existence. We cannot imagine life without a problem; and the more we are occupied with a problem, the more alert we think we are. The constant tension over a problem which thought itself has created only dulls the mind, making it insensitive and weary. Why is there this ceaseless preoccupation with a problem? Will worry resolve the problem? Or does the answer to the problem come when the mind is quiet? But for most people, a quiet mind is a rather fearsome thing; they are afraid to be quiet, for heaven knows what they may discover in themselves, and worry is a preventive. A mind that is afraid to discover must ever be on the defensive, and restlessness is its defence. Through constant strain, through habit and the influence of circumstances, the conscious layers of the mind have become agitated and restless. Modern existence encourages this superficial activity and distraction, which is another form of self defence. Defence is resistance, which prevents understanding.