Desire...is life itself
"If you kill your desire, you are like the withered branch of a lovely tree."
"Now desire, contrary to general belief, is the most precious possession of man. It is the eternal flame of life; it is life itself."
p. 141 (10 April 1930, Los Angeles)
Question: Must there not be a creative urge or power, outside the control of the
individual, which impels him to attain the abundant life?
KRISHNAMURTI: What greater urge do you need than of laughter and
tears? That is why I have been talking about tears and laughter, and not the
explanations of them. If you do not know how to suffer, if you have never cried,
how can you understand, and what greater urge is there than desire? What are
you doing all the time with your desire? Your highest aim is to kill it, but you
cannot kill desire. What you perceive, you desire; but if your perception is small,
your desires are small. If your vision is large, your desires are large. If you are in
chaos, it is not the fault of desire, it is the fault of your perception.
pp. 151-2 (31 May 1930, Ojai)
Now, when you ask yourself what you are seeking, what you really desire to
understand is how life works as a whole, what truth is as a whole. You wish to
find the universal within all the mass of particulars. You want to understand life
in all its various shades of expression and the way in which you, as an individual,
can express that life, and how you can assimilate the happiness which is the fruit
of life. And you will notice that every individual, whether advanced or not,
wishes to understand life in his own particular way, to narrow it down to suit
himself. The philosopher will intellectualize life and have many systems and
explanations of things, and will seek life along that particular line. The poet will
seek the understanding of life in the balance and beauty of words; and so forth.
Everyone, in brief, wants to interpret life according to his own desires, or in
terms of the particular system or religion to which he belongs.
Now, if you wish to understand truth in its totality, you cannot come to it
along any of these particular lines, because life is all inclusive; it lies beyond all
philosophies, beyond the garland of words, beyond ugliness and beauty, beyond
poverty and riches; and yet, because it is beyond these, it is in them all. So, if you
would realize with serious intent, you must grasp at this fullness, this totality,
and must free yourself from all the special fantasies of desire. Life, as an inner
principle, is the completeness of thought and love; and the way to this
completeness is from the personal to the impersonal. There must ever,
therefore, be a conflict between emotion and mind until they become poised in
self-existent happiness in the liberated life. All particular desires — whether
they be of the poet or the philosopher, or of the thoughtless seeker after
pleasure — are, at bottom, the desire for this self-existent, enduring happiness.
That is what your own life — separate as it is, caught in reactions, urged about
by fear — is really seeking. For life, this is its ultimate potentiality, which it is
ever craving to bring into actualization....... *
[Original asterisk footnote:] * Krishnamurti here traced once more the three stages
of desire, as outlined on pages 5 and 13 of this issue.
Any unreal satisfaction of the inner want, which we call desire, is usually
accompanied by a desire to pass on all this unreality to somebody else. I will
explain. You want to give understanding and love in a particular way, which is
your way; and you are hurt when this is not accepted. But such giving is the
giving of illusion, not reality. Also, there is cruelty in it, for it arises from the
desire to dominate, to guide, and control; and it is out of this kind of giving that
we get our steel-bound morality. Both giving and wanting come to the same
thing. Giving is but weakening the individual, and wanting is but relying on
something external. Therefore, neither of these have anything to do with truth.
The point is that, at the root of both wanting and giving, there is a going
outwards away from yourself; and this is what you have to resist. But, if you
do, what is left? When you are not giving or wanting something, what are you?
You are Being, which is the only positive thing in man.
Being is fearless and does not depend on anything outside itself; hence it
does not cast a shadow. It knows no separation and it is immortal. And so, when
you as an individual enter into that pure Being, you become the delight of life’s
expression, because you have been through everything. Such Being is life’s fulfilment. That is what everyone is seeking — to be himself; not to depend on
external things for his wanting or giving. When you are such Being, you are as
the sunshine in which all things grow and in which there is nothing which is
either evil or good, bad or indifferent.
So do not seek to understand this Being through any one particular
channel. It is far above all these petty creations of illusion. Seek it by casting out
all fear, for when that is done life will show you what it means you to be.
pp. 154-5 (1 June 1930, Ojai)
Now desire, contrary to general belief, is the most precious possession of
man. It is the eternal flame of life; it is life itself. When its nature and functions
are not understood, however, it becomes cruel, tyrannical, bestial, stupid.
Therefore your business is not to kill desire as most spiritual people in the world
are trying to do, but to understand it. If you kill your desire, you are like the
withered branch of a lovely tree. Desire must keep growing and find out its true
meaning through conflict and friction. Only by the continuance of the conflict
can understanding come. This is what most people do not see. As soon as the
conflict comes, and the sorrow born of conflict, they at once seek comfort.
Comfort, in its turn, breeds fear. Fear leads to imitation and the sheltering
behind established tradition. From this come rigid systems of morality, laying
down what is spiritual and what is not spiritual, what is the religious life and
what is not the religious life. It is the fear of life which produces guides, teachers,
gurus, churches, religions. Please, I know.
None of these things are going to satisfy a mind which is really enquiring,
which is really in revolt. As soon as you fear, you have the desire to conform, to
listen to everybody, to become a machine, a type. And all this is but contraction,
and contraction is slow death. It is not in this way that desire can ever
Growth can only come by the liberation of desire, and liberation here means
freeing it from all fear, and so from the cruelty and exploitation which results
from the quest of comfort, which is the refuge of fear. And this, in its turn, can
only come about through the wearing down of the egotism in desire by contact
with life itself. Only in this way can the reality be reached which is the true
consummation of desire. And so, truly to grow is to learn to love more and
more, to think more and more impersonally, through experience.
Desire, freed from its limitations and from the illusion of fear, becomes joy,
which is but the true poise of reason and love. From being at first personal,
limited, anxious, clinging, it grows by suffering till it becomes all-inclusive, till it
is as the sunset which gives and does not ask anything in return. In the same
way, by continual experience, by choosing, by assimilating and rejecting,
thought becomes more and more impersonal. When both thought and desire
are purified, then we get the perfect balance and harmony between the two,
which is the fulfilment of life and which we speak of as intuition. Such
purified life is the highest reality, and I say that every man and woman must
sooner or later attain to it. It is not reserved for the few, because life is not the
possession of the few. It is that which is struggling for realization in every
human being, and the path to realization is the same in all cases. It is by
struggle, effort, choice and conflict.
Now this highest reality is something which I assert that I have attained. For
me, it is not a theological concept. It is my own life-experience, definite, real,
concrete. I can, therefore, speak of what is necessary for its achievement, and I
say that the first thing is the recognizing exactly what desire must become in
order to fulfil itself, and then to discipline oneself so that at every moment, one
is watching one’s own desires, and guiding them towards that all-inclusiveness of
impersonal love and thought which must be their true consummation.
you have established the discipline of this constant awareness, this constant
watchfulness upon all that you think and feel and do, then life ceases to be the
tyrannical, tedious, confusing thing that it is for most of us, and becomes but a
series of opportunities for growing towards that perfect fulfilment.
The goal of life is, therefore, not something far off, to be attained only in the
distant future, but it is to be realized moment by moment in that Now which is
all eternity. In such realization every moment controls the future; by what you
are now, you make yourself the master of tomorrow. To understand life and to
live it with understanding you must make yourself free of all the illusions which
desire throws up in its efforts to grow. And this means that you must be free of
fear, for all such illusions are born of fear. Once you have attained to fearlessness,
then you will understand clearly what desire is really seeking, and how it may
attain its end. The man who is seeking happiness, and understands what he is
seeking, must have no divorce between his desires and his actions. Knowing what
desire really wants, he will translate this into daily action. In other words, all his
actions will show forth that poise of reason and of love, which is desire’s true
goal because it is the liberation of life.
pp. 191-2 (22 July 1930, Summer, Ommen)