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'What Is'

'What Is'

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The Urgency of Change

Questioner: I have read a great deal of philosophy, psychology, religion and politics, all of which to a greater or lesser degree are concerned with human relationships. I have also read your books which all deal with thought and ideas, and somehow I'm fed up with it all. I have swum in an ocean of words, and wherever I go there are more words - and actions derived from those words are offered to me: advice, exhortations, promises, theories, analyses, remedies. Of course one sets all these aside - you yourself have really done so; but for most of those who have read you, or heard you, what you say is just words. There may be people for whom all this is more than words, for whom it is utterly real, but I'm talking about the rest of us. I'd like to go beyond the word, beyond the idea, and live in total relationship to all things. For after all, that is life. You have said that one has to be a teacher and a pupil to oneself. Can I live in the greatest simplicity, without principles, beliefs, and ideals? Can I live freely, knowing that I am enslaved by the world? Crises don't knock on the door before they appear: challenges of everyday life are there before you are aware of them. Knowing all this, having been involved in many of these things, chasing various phantoms, I ask myself how I can live rightly and with love, clarity and effortless joy. I'm not asking how to live, but to live: the how denies the actual living itself. The nobility of life is not practising nobility.

Krishnamurti: After stating all this, where are you? Do you really want to live with benediction, with love? If you do, then where is the problem?

Questioner: I do want to, but that doesn't get me anywhere. I've wanted to live that way for years, but I can't.

Krishnamurti: So though you deny the ideal, the belief, the directive, you are very subtly and deviously asking the same thing which everybody asks: this is the conflict between the "what is" and the "what should be".

Questioner: Even without the "what should be", I see that the "what is" is hideous. To deceive myself into not seeing it would be much worse still.

Krishnamurti: If you see "what is" then you see the universe, and denying "what is" is the origin of conflict. The beauty of the universe is in the "what is; and to live with "what is" without effort is virtue.

Questioner: The "what is" also includes confusion, violence, every form of human aberration. To live with that is what you call virtue. But isn't it callousness and insanity? Perfection doesn't consist simply in dropping all ideals! Life itself demands that I live it beautifully, like the eagle in the sky: to live the miracle of life with anything less than total beauty is unacceptable.

Krishnamurti: Then live it!

Questioner: I can't, and I don't.

Krishnamurti: If you can't, then live in confusion; don't battle with it. Knowing the whole misery of it, live with it: that is "what is". And to live with it without conflict frees us from it.

Questioner: Are you saying that our only fault is to be self-critical?

Krishnamurti: Not at all. You are not sufficiently critical. You go only so far in your self-criticism. The very entity that criticizes must be criticized, must be examined. If the examination is comparative, examination by yardstick, then that yardstick is the ideal. If there is no yardstick at all - in other words, if there is no mind that is always comparing and measuring - you can observe the "what is", and then the "what is" is no longer the same.

Questioner: I observe myself without a yardstick, and I'm still ugly.

Krishnamurti: All examination means there is a yardstick. But is it possible to observe so that there is only observation, seeing, and nothing else - so that there is only perception without a perceiver?

Questioner: What do you mean?

Krishnamurti: There is looking. The assessment of the looking is interference, distortion in the looking: that is not looking; instead it is evaluation of looking - the two are as different as chalk and cheese. Is there a perception of yourself without distortion, only an absolute perception of yourself as you are?

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: In that perception is there ugliness?

Questioner: There is no ugliness in the perception, only in what is perceived.

Krishnamurti: The way you perceive is what you are. Righteousness is in purely looking, which is attention without the distortion of measure and idea. You came to enquire how to live beautifully, with love. To look without distortion is love, and the action of that perception is the action of virtue. That clarity of perception will act all the time in living. That is living like the eagle in the sky; that is living beauty and living love.