Friday, 9 April 2010

"They desired to help but were themselves helpless"

"When I went to Europe for the first time I lived among people who were wealthy and well educated, who held positions of social authority; but whatever their dignities or distinctions, they could not satisfy me. I was in revolt also against theosophists with all their jargon, their theories, their meetings, and their explanations of life. When I went to a meeting, the lecturers repeated the same ideas which did not satisfy me or make me happy. I went to fewer and fewer meetings, I saw less and less of the people who merely repeated the ideas of Theosophy. I questioned everything because I wanted to find out for myself.

I walked about the streets, watching the faces of people who perhaps watched me with even greater interest. I went to theatres; I saw how people amused themselves, trying to forget their unhappiness, thinking that they were solving their problems by drugging their hearts and minds with superficial excitement.

I saw people with political, social or religious power - and yet they did not have that one essential thing in their lives, which is happiness.

I attended labour meetings, communist meetings, and listened to what their leaders had to say. They were generally protesting against something. I was interested, but they did not give me satisfaction.

By observation of one type and another I gathered experience vicariously. Within everyone there was a latent volcano of unhappiness and discontentment. I passed from one pleasure to another, from one amusement to another, in search of happiness and found it not. I watched the amusements of the young people, their dances, their dresses, their extravagances, and I saw that they were not happy with the happiness which I was seeking. I watched people who had very little in life, who wanted to tear down those things which others had built up. They thought that they were solving life by destroying and building differently and yet they were unhappy.

I saw people who desired to serve going into those quarters where the poor and the degraded live. They desired to help but were themselves helpless. How can you cure another of disease if you are yourself a victim of that disease?

I saw people satisfied with the stagnation which is unproductive, uncreative - the bourgeois type which never struggles to be above the surface or falls below it and so feels its weight.

I read books on philosophy, on religion, biographies of great people and yet they could not give me what I wanted. I wanted to be so certain, so positive, in my attitude towards life that nothing could disturb me.

Then I came to India and I saw that the people there were deluding themselves equally, carrying on the same old traditions treating women cruelly. At the same time they called themselves very religious and painted their faces with ashes. In India they may have the most sacred books in the world, they may have the greatest philosophies, they may have constructed wonderful temples in the past, but none of these was able to give me what I wanted. Neither in Europe nor in India could I find happiness."

(J. Krishnamurti. "Life in Freedom". 1928)

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