Krishnamurti - One Definition A Day
WHAT ARE WE SEEKING?
Original Title in English
By Author: J. Krishnamurti
Abstract from 'The First and Last Freedom'
WHAT IS IT THAT most of us are seeking? What is it that each one of us wants? Especially in this restless world, where everybody is trying to find some kind of peace, some kind of happiness, a refuge, surely it is important to find out, isn’t it?, what is it that we are trying to seek, what is it that we are trying to discover. Probably most of us are seeking some kind of happiness, some kind of peace; in a world that is ridden with turmoil, wars, contention, strife, we want a refuge where there can be some peace. I think that is what most of us want. So we pursue, go from one leader to another, from one religious organization to another, from one teacher to another.
Now, is it that we are seeking happiness or is it that we are seeking gratification of some kind from which we hope to derive happiness? There is a difference between happiness and gratification.
Can you seek happiness? Perhaps you can find gratification but surely you cannot find happiness.
Happiness is derivative; it is a by-product of something else. So, before we give our minds and hearts to something which demands a great deal of earnestness, attention, thought, care, we must find out, must we not?, what it is that we are seeking; whether it is happiness, or gratification. I am afraid most of us are seeking gratification. We want to be gratified, we want to find a sense of fullness at the end of our search.
After all, if one is seeking peace one can find it very easily. One can devote oneself blindly to some kind of cause, to an idea, and take shelter there. Surely that does not solve the problem. Mere isolation in an enclosing idea is not a release from conflict. So we must find, must we not?, what it is, inwardly, as well as outwardly, that each one of us wants.
If we are clear on that matter, then we don’t have to go anywhere, to any teacher, to any church, to any organization. Therefore our difficulty is, to be clear in ourselves regarding our intention, is it not? Can we be clear? And does that clarity come through searching, through trying to find out what others say, from the highest teacher to the ordinary preacher in a church round the corner? Have you got to go to somebody to find out? Yet that is what we are doing, is it not? We read innumerable books, we attend many meetings and discuss, we join various organizations - trying thereby to find a remedy to the conflict, to the miseries in our lives. Or, if we don’t do all that, we think we have found; that is we say that a particular organization, a particular teacher, a particular book satisfies us; we have found everything we want in that; and we remain in that, crystallized and enclosed.
Do we not seek, through all this confusion, something permanent, something lasting, something which we call real, God, truth, what you like - the name doesn’t matter, the word is not the thing, surely. So don’t let us be caught in words. Leave that to the professional lecturers. There is a search for something permanent, is there not?, in most of us - something we can cling to, something which will give us assurance, a hope, a lasting enthusiasm, a lasting certainty, because in ourselves we are so uncertain. We do not know ourselves. We know a lot about facts, what the books have said; but we do not know for ourselves, we do not have a direct experience.
And what is it that we call permanent? What is it that we are seeking, which will, or which we hope will give us permanency? Are we not seeking lasting happiness, lasting gratification, lasting certainty?
We want something that will endure everlastingly, which will gratify us. If we strip ourselves of all the words and phrases, and actually look at it, this is what we want. We want permanent pleasure, permanent gratification - which we call truth, God or what you will.
Very well, we want pleasure. Perhaps that may be putting it very crudely, but that is actually what we want - knowledge that will give us pleasure, experience that will give us pleasure, a gratification that will not wither away by tomorrow. And we have experimented with various gratifications, and they have all faded away; and we hope now to find permanent gratification in reality, in God.
Surely, that is what we are all seeking - the clever ones and the stupid ones, the theorist and the factual person who is striving after something. And is there permanent gratification? Is there something which will endure?
Now, if you seek permanent gratification, calling it God, or truth, or what you will - the name does not matter - surely you must understand, must you not?, the thing you are seeking. When you say, ”I am seeking permanent happiness” - God, or truth, or what you like - must you not also understand the thing that is searching, the searcher, the seeker? Because there may be no such thing as permanent security, permanent happiness.
Truth may be something entirely different; and I think it is utterly different from what you can see, conceive, formulate. Therefore, before we seek something permanent, is it not obviously necessary to understand the seeker? Is the seeker different from the thing he seeks? When you say, ‘’I am seeking happiness”, is the seeker different from the object of his search? Is the thinker different from the thought? Are they not a joint phenomenon, rather than separate processes? Therefore it is essential, is it not?, to understand the seeker, before you try to find out what it is he is seeking.
So we have to come to the point when we ask ourselves, really earnestly and profoundly, if peace, happiness, reality, God, or what you will, can be given to us by someone else. Can this incessant search, this longing, give us that extraordinary sense of reality, that creative being, which comes when we really understand ourselves? Does self-knowledge come through search, through following someone else, through belonging to any particular organization, through reading books, and so on?
After all, that is the main issue, is it not?, that so long as I do not understand myself, I have no basis for thought, and all my search will be in vain. I can escape into illusions, I can run away from contention, strife, struggle; I can worship another; I can look for my salvation through somebody else. But so long as I am ignorant of myself, so long as I am unaware of the total process of myself I have no basis for thought, for affection, for action.
But that is the last thing we want: to know ourselves. Surely that is the only foundation on which we can build. But, before we can build, before we can transform, before we can condemn or destroy, we must know that which we are. To go out seeking, changing teachers, gurus, practicing yoga, breathing, performing rituals, following Masters and all the rest of it, is utterly useless, is it not? It has no meaning, even though the very people whom we follow may say: ”Study yourself”, because what we are, the world is. If we are petty, jealous, vain, greedy - that is what we create about us, that is the society in which we live.
It seems to me that before we set out on a journey to find reality, to find God, before we can act, before we can have any relationship with another, which is society, it is essential that we begin to understand ourselves first. I consider the earnest person to be one who is completely concerned with this, first, and not with how to arrive at a particular goal, because, if you and I do not understand ourselves, how can we, in action, bring about a transformation in society, in relationship, in anything that we do? And it does not mean, obviously, that self-knowledge is opposed to, or isolated from, relationship. It does not mean, obviously, emphasis on the individual, the me, as opposed to the mass, as opposed to another.
Now without knowing yourself, without knowing your own way of thinking and why you think certain things, without knowing the background of your conditioning and why you have certain beliefs about art and religion, about your country and your neighbour and about yourself how can you think truly about anything? Without knowing your background, without knowing the substance of your thought and whence it comes - surely your search is utterly futile, your action has no meaning, has it?
Whether you are an American or a Hindu or whatever your religion is has no meaning either.
Before we can find out what the end purpose of life is, what it all means - wars, national antagonisms, conflicts, the whole mess - we must begin with ourselves, must we not? It sounds so simple, but it is extremely difficult. To follow oneself to see how one’s thought operates, one has to be extraordinarily alert, so that as one begins to be more and more alert to the intricacies of one’s own thinking and responses and feelings, one begins to have a greater awareness, not only of oneself but of another with whom one is in relationship. To know oneself is to study oneself in action, which is relationship.
The difficulty is that we are so impatient; we want to get on, we want to reach an end, and so we have neither the time nor the occasion to give ourselves the opportunity to study, to observe. Alternatively we have committed ourselves to various activities - to earning a livelihood, to rearing children - or have taken on certain responsibilities of various organizations; we have so committed ourselves in different ways that we have hardly any time for self-reflection, to observe, to study. So really the responsibility of the reaction depends on oneself not on another. The pursuit, all the world over, of gurus and their systems, reading the latest book on this and that, and so on, seems to me so utterly empty, so utterly futile, for you may wander all over the earth but you have to come back to yourself.
And, as most of us are totally unaware of ourselves, it is extremely difficult to begin to see clearly the process of our thinking and feeling and acting. The more you know yourself the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end - you don’t come to an achievement, you don’t come to a conclusion. It is an endless river. As one studies it, as one goes into it more and more, one finds peace. Only when the mind is tranquil - through selfknowledge and not through imposed self-discipline - only then, in that tranquillity, in that silence, can reality come into being. It is only then that there can be bliss, that there can be creative action.
And it seems to me that without this understanding, without this experience, merely to read books, to attend talks, to do propaganda, is so infantile - just an activity without much meaning; whereas if one is able to understand oneself, and thereby bring about that creative happiness, that experiencing of something that is not of the mind, then perhaps there can be a transformation in the immediate relationship about us and so in the world in which we live.
French translation by Anh Tho Andres @YourVietnamExpert.com
Vietnamese translation by Cuong Phan, Kim Hoang, Bich Hong, Bao Han
German translation by Han Dang-Klein
Italian translation by Phan Cong Danh
Japanese translation by Hong Anh
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