The Tree of knowledge
Living in Goodness
Why has man not been able to change? He only changes a little here and there, and yet he demands that there be a good society. He wants order, not only in himself, in his relationships, however intimate or otherwise, but he also wants some kind of peace in the world; he wants to be left alone to flower, to have some kind of beatitude.
This has been mankind’s demand, if you observe, throughout history from ancient days. And yet the more man becomes civilized, the more he is creating disorder, the more wars there are. The earth has not known a period when there have been no wars, man killing man, one religion destroying another religion, one institution dominating and destroying others, one organization suppressing others.
Aware of this everlasting struggle, don’t you ever ask if it is possible to live in this world, not run away from it, not go off into a commune or become a hermit or a monk, but live in this world sanely, happily, intelligently, without all the battle going on inwardly and outwardly? If you do — and I hope you are doing it now because we are thinking together — then you must demand that there be a good society.
To bring about a good society has been the dream of ancient Hindus, the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. And a good society can only exist when mankind is good because being good he creates goodness, brings about goodness — in his relationships, in his actions, in his way of life.
Good also means that which is beautiful. Good also means that which is holy; it is related to God, to the highest principles. That word good needs to be very clearly understood, When there is goodness in you, then whatever you do will be good — your relationships, your actions, your way of thinking. One may capture the whole significance of that word, the extraordinary quality of that word, instantly.
Please, let’s carefully think this over together, because if you really go into it very deeply it is going to affect your consciousness, it is going to affect your way of thinking, the way of your life. So please give a little attention to the understanding of that word. The word is not the thing. I may describe a mountain most beautifully, paint it, make a poem, but the word, the description, the poem, is not the actual thing. We are generally carried away emotionally, irrationally by the description, by the word.
Goodness is not the opposite of that which is bad, goodness is totally unrelated to that which is ugly, evil and bad, to what is not beautiful. Goodness is by itself. If you say the good is the outcome of the bad, the evil, the ugly, then the good has in it the bad, the ugly, the brutal, so the good must be, and is, totally unrelated to that which is not good.
The good cannot possibly exist when there is acceptance of any authority. Authority is very complex. There is the authority of law that man has put together through many centuries. There is the law of nature. There is the law of our own experience that we obey, the law of our own petty reactions that dominate our lives. Then there is the law of institutions, the law of organized beliefs that are called religions, dogmas. We are saying goodness is totally unrelated to every form of authority.
Examine it, look at it. Goodness is not the pursuit of conformity. If you conform to a belief, to a concept, to an idea, to a principle, that is not good, because it creates conflict. Goodness cannot flower through another, through a religious figure, through dogma, through belief; it can only flower in the soil of total attention in which there is no authority. The essence of goodness is a mind that is not in conflict. And goodness implies great responsibility. You can’t be good and allow wars to take place. So a person who is really good is totally responsible for his whole life.
We are asking if one who has lived in a society with the pressures of institutions, of beliefs, of authoritarian religious people, can be good, because it is only if you are good, if you, as a human being, are totally and absolutely good, not partially – that we will create a different society. Is it possible, living in this world, being married, with children, jobs, to be good? We are using the word in the sense that implies great responsibility, care, attention, diligence and love.
The word good contains all that. Is that possible for you who care to listen? If it is not possible, then you accept society as it is. To create a different society, a society that is essentially good, in the context in which we are using the word, demands great energy. This demands your attention; that means your energy. Human beings have plenty of energy; when they want to do something, they do it.
What prevents every human being from being utterly good? What is the barrier? What is the block? Why don’t human beings be utterly, sanely good? One who observes realizes what the world is and that he is the world, that the world is not different from him, that he has created that world, that he has created society, that he has created the religions with their innumerable dogmas, beliefs, rituals, with their separations, with their factions. Human beings have created this. Is that what is preventing us from being good?
Is it because we believe, or because we are so self concerned with our own problems of sex, fear, anxiety, loneliness, wanting to fulfill, wanting to identify with something or other? Is that what is preventing a human being from being good? If those things are preventing us, then they have no value. If you see that to bring about this quality of goodness any pressure from any direction — including your own belief, your own principles, your own ideals — utterly prevents that goodness from being, then you will naturally put them aside without any equivocation, any conflict, because they are stupid.
The great chaos and disorder right throughout the world is a danger to life. It is spreading everywhere. So any serious observer of himself and the world must ask these questions. The scientists, the politicians, the philosophers, the psychoanalysts, the gurus have given all kinds of theories but they haven’t solved the problems. Nobody else will. We have to solve these problems ourselves because we have created the problems.
We are asking if we can live with goodness with its beauty, with its holiness? If we cannot, then we will accept increasing danger of chaos in our own lives, in our children’s lives, and so on down the line. Are we willing to go into the question of knowing oneself? Because oneself is the world. Human beings right throughout the world suffer psychologically, inwardly. They go through great anxieties, great loneliness, have an extraordinary sense of despair, depression, a sense of the meaninglessness of living the way we do. Throughout the world, people are psychologically similar. That’s a reality, that’s truth. So you are the world psychologically, and the world is you; and when you understand yourself you understand the whole human structure and nature. It is not mere selfish investigation, because when you understand yourself you go beyond yourself, a different dimension comes into being.
As none of the things outside of are going to help, including all the gods, then it becomes obvious that I alone have to understand myself. I have to see what I am and change myself radically. Then goodness comes out of that. Then one can create a good society.
Extracts from ‘This Light In Onself: True Meditation’ by J. Krishnamurti
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