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‘The Individual and the Community’

‘The Individual and the Community’

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The Urgency of Change

Questioner: I don’t quite know how to ask this question but I have a strong feeling that relationship between the individual and the community, these two opposing entities, has been a long history of mischief. The history of the world, of thought, of civilization, is, after all, the history of the relationship between these two opposing entities. In all societies the individual is more or less suppressed; he must conform and fit into the pattern which the theorists have determined. The individual is always trying to break out of these patterns, and continuous battle between the two is the result. Religions talk about the individual soul as something separate from the collective soul. They emphasize the individual. In modern society – which has become so mechanical, standardized and collectively active – the individual is trying to identify himself, enquiring what he is, asserting himself. All struggle leads nowhere. My question is, what is wrong with all this?

Krishnamurti: The only thing that really matters is that there be an action of goodness, love and intelligence in living. Is goodness individual or collective, is love personal or impersonal, is intelligence yours, mine or somebody else’s? If it is yours or mine then it is not intelligence, or love, or goodness. If goodness is an affair of the individual or of the collective, according to one’s particular preference or decision, then it is no longer goodness. Goodness is not in the backyard of the individual nor in the open field of the collective; goodness flowers only in freedom from both. When there is this goodness, love and intelligence, then action is not in terms of the individual or the collective. Lacking goodness, we divide the world into the individual and the collective, and further divide the collective into innumerable groups according to religion, nationality and class. Having created these divisions we try to bridge them by forming new groups which are again divided from other groups. We see that every great religion supposedly exists to bring about the brotherhood of man and, in actual fact, prevents it. We always try to reform that which is already corrupt. We don’t eradicate corruption fundamentally but simply rearrange it.

Questioner: Are you saying that we need not waste time in these endless bargainings between the individual and the collective, or try to prove that they are different or that they are similar? Are you saying that only goodness, love and intelligence are the issue, and that these lie beyond the individual or the collective?

Krishnamurti: Yes.

Questioner: So the real question seems to be how love, goodness and intelligence can act in daily living.

Krishnamurti: If these act, then the question of the individual and the collective is academic.

Questioner: How are they to act?

Krishnamurti: They can act only in relationship: all existence is in relationship. So the first thing is to become aware of one’s relationship to everything and everybody, and to see how in this relationship the “me” is born and acts. This “me” that is both the collective and the individual; it is the “me” that separates; it is the “me” that acts collectively or individually, the “me” that creates heaven and hell. To be aware of this is to understand it. And the understanding of it is the ending of it. The ending of it is goodness, love and intelligence.