Lecture Delivered at Benares, India on December 28th, 1921
by J. Krishnamurti
As it is December 28th, you are all probably expecting something miraculous, and I am afraid you will be rather disappointed, because I am a very matter-of-fact person, and I want to present you with a common-sense point of view. I want you to leave this meeting to-day, to go away, with a perfect understanding of what a World- Teacher is.
As you will notice in the principles of the Order of the Star in the East, we specially declare that a World Teacher is coming, not a particular Teacher. We to be universal, and not sectarian; we want to be international, not national; we want to embrace all nationalities - it does not matter what our colour, religion or evolution may be. What does matter is that we should have a common goal, a common ideal for which to work, and a common inspiration to give us energy, creative force, without which we as an Order can do nothing in the world.
I am not going to say anything this morning which will give mere happiness, mere satisfaction to the suffering soul, because no individual, it does not matter who he is - a Buddha, a Christ, a Krishna - can give that happiness from the outside. What He can do - and does do - is to awaken the Divinity which abides in each one of us, a Divinity which shows the path to true Enlightenment, to true happiness.
Now, it is of no avail to read books, as we Brahmans are apt to do, and to practice meditation, which lulls our conscience to sleep; what is wanted, and what we must do, if we are going to do anything in the world as an active body to make the world better, is to dig deep down into ourselves first; we must make ourselves perfect before we can make the world perfect. What I mean by that is that we must think out for ourselves, in the light of the knowledge that we already possess, the various problems that exist in the world nowadays. Any problem, of whatever dimensions it may be, will dwindle down to this: Do we regard it personally or impersonally? If we take it personally, I think we are not acting as true Star members. We must study all our questions impersonally.
Each one of us has that Divinity within which shows us the path to Enlightenment. Why is it that Divinity is more often asleep than awake? Because we are children, not men who can suffer. We do not like to face suffering; not one of us is capable of real suffering. We hold up a coloured glass before the sun because we dare not look the sun in the face. We like to hide the truth which cleanses, which purifies, which makes us big, which makes us supreme and happy; we like to cover up our Divinity with trivialities. We like to busy ourselves the whole day long with the little things of life, little things that are of no consequence, little angers, little worries, little happinesses that we shall be ashamed of in a few years' time. We like to pacify the waking consciousness with false ideas and false conceptions of greatness. How many of us are earnestly longing for true enlightenment? Very few. We think we are longing for it, but the moment suffering comes we shrink back. We prefer to be of the multitude which goes on slowly, century after century.
You may smile and nod your heads in agreement with what I say, but the stage of passive acquiescence has passed; it has lasted for the past ten years. What is wanted to-day is action. A sword must be put into us. This is the truest compassion. Compassion must hurt if it is to rouse the Divinity within. You cannot kindle a fire by covering it with damp wood and dirt, and, metaphorically, this is what we have been doing; we have quenched the Divinity within us by covering it with all kinds of impurities, with little smallnesses, with little pleasures which we call happiness. We have been children, content to play with toys. Do not let us be children any longer, but with powerful effort set ourselves seriously to climb the mountain without looking back. At present we are always looking back to the things of the world, because we do not understand the things of another world. All the books have taught us that perfection is to be reached by looking within ourselves, yet is our gaze ever turned outwards.
Now, we have all joined the Order of the Star in the East, and the Theosophical Society, because we are looking for happiness which is not of this world, and yet, when the other happiness looms for a moment in front of us, we are incapable of seizing it. We are afraid, because we are not quite sure that it is really happiness, and because we like to cling to something that is near and that we know.
Every member of the Order of the Star in the East should develop a special attitude towards life. He should look at all things pleasant or unpleasant, through impersonal eyes. Most of us are inclined to take a personal view about people and questions we do not like, and yet to pride ourselves about our impersonal attitude towards what pleases us. This is the first attitude to develop - to be impersonal towards all questions of life, and I should like us to exercise it every moment of life; for that is where the test comes. The great opportunities are rare. It is in training ourselves in daily life that we can compass the great things. We cannot be great suddenly; through slow and painful processes only can we become great.
Now, the second point is that we all realise that the World-Teacher is the personification of Compassion and Wisdom. We know it instinctively; and, consequently if we are to imitate that Supreme Being, we must develop the qualities which He Has. First let us take the quality of pity. We must develop that peculiar kind of pity, the pity that changes what needs changing. We all pity people from a distance. We pity the poor, and we pity the suffering; but what are we doing for them? We get up on platforms, and we read books; but what are we *really* doing to abolish this abomination of starvation which exists all around us? What do we do as a body, as the Order of the Star in the East?
What we want, and what we must have, is a body of people able to go to the root of the evil. It is not sufficient just to give food; you must also bring inspiration to the man who is at present starving - mentally, as well as physically. We have so to change social conditions that this same man may not only be fed, but may have leisure to think and to develop himself. This brings us back, as always, to education. We, as a body, must proclaim this principle, that education is the right of every person born into the world, and we must work to realise it.
If you do not deal with the root, how can you kill a poisonous thing? Therefore I hope the National Secretaries will occupy themselves with this question: you must help them, not by merely subscribing to the principle, but by doing, in your little places, where you are, great things; by being active, not passive. "Passive as the Indian" - that must cease. We must be active - like the Americans are, like the Western people are. They are far more Theosophical than we are, for they are trying to remove this suffering of the poor. What are we doing in this country ? As you go down the streets of Benares you see some awful and painful sights, and we Star members have existed years in this country, yet that sight of pain has not been stopped. It will be stopped, because compassion and pity will conquer everything in some far-off future. But do not leave the suffering man to the far-off future. He does not want his suffering to last so long; and it is our duty, who are a little happy, to share our happiness with the man in the street."
The main thing that we want to develop is the pity that understands, that is dominated by tolerance - a tolerance that is full of imagination. We all are tolerant towards those with whom we agree. That is easy. It is because we have no imagination that we lose tolerance. We Indians boast that we have imagination, but I am sorry to say that the majority of Indians are intolerant people. We are all about the same - English and Indians, East and West. We must evolve together. We must train this imagination along particular lines, the line, that makes us realise another person's feelings, look at questions from another's point of view - not through our own eyes. We have been too long accustomed to that habit.
We must train ourselves to look from an English point of view from time to time. The moment has come when there is surging a wave of international feeling throughout the world. We must show to people that there is a greater ideal than nationalism. That is our duty - to show to the world that the goal of internationalism is eventually the goal for humanity. India must, naturally, pass through nationalism, but let that nationalism be clean, be devoid of bloodshed.
Then I want to deal with politics here for a moment, if you will allow me. We must be able to co-operate with the Co-operator and with the Non-Co-operator. I myself am a Co-operator, but I respect the man who non-co-operates, because that is his point of view; I respect him because he has grit enough to think for himself. I do not want you to think that, because I am a Co-operator, the Order is expected to adopt that point of view. It cannot; it is international body, and I, who am for the moment at the head of the Order, cannot, and will not, make the Order either one or the other, and you will not force me I am sure, to put myself in a very awkward position.
There are people in the Order of many nationalities; English, French, German, etc.; and if we make the Order either one or the other through our little foolishnesses, the Order will crumble: it will cease to be the fountain of inspiration to so many, as it is now. So I beg you to be careful. Do not make the Order sectarian, either Co~operator or Non-Co-operator. Let each individual choose for himself; and leave the other, respect the other, who thinks differently from him. This is what I mean by tolerance. He is as big as you are: do not make him as little as you are. And from those who are Non-Co-operators I would ask the same. What we want in the Order is Co-operation with all the world. We cannot stand alone. If we stand alone we shall fall. We cannot evolve without guidance from all people. Consequently I beg you to be very careful about this. Do not rush to conclusions with unnecessary precipitation. Think carefully over what you should do and what you should not do; and if you decide one thing or the other, respect the man who thinks the contrary, and treat him like a gentleman and not like an inferior being, but as your equal. Treat him as you would treat a God; respect him as you would respect yourself.
Next, to find in the Order throughout the world - it does not matter where a lack of common sense. People think that they can leave common sense outside when they join the Order. When we are dealing with spiritual force, you must have all the common sense which you can, and more. You must be positive and not negative. And if you want to be spiritual - and each one of us must be spiritual - we must have common sense, for without common sense we are apt to be credulous, to believe anything that comes along. And if the Order is to be a body of great spiritual force - which I hope it will be it must possess more common sense than the ordinary business man of the world possesses. If we had more common sense, we should laugh at ourselves from time to time. At present we take ourselves too seriously. We do not laugh at our ideas. I laugh at my own ideas very often. It does sometimes help to laugh at one's self. It brings us down to realities and makes us face the truth. Sentimentality and grave faces do not imply spirituality; but common sense we must have, or we shall fall, and fall heavily.
The other day a French member told me that the coming Teacher would certainly be a white man, probably a Frenchman. I smiled and wished it as a joke; but I want to ask you a question. Would you receive the World-Teacher if He was in a white skin, if He put on trousers instead of a dhoti and kurtha? Think it out. Would you? We are full of little prejudices that stand in our way. What does it matter of what nationality He is, of what colour, so long as He is great and shows us the Path? But unfortunately we are so carried away by our little emotions that we forget all these things when the moment of trial comes - like a friend of mine, who is a great Theosophist when a friend of has died - a very dear friend - he was so overwhelmed with sorrow that he forgot Theosophy and all its teaching, and crumpled up like a flower in the sun. That is where we must be careful. When the moment of trial comes, we must stand up like Theosophists and Star members, and not like the snow that disappears with the ray of sunshine.
Therefore, I'd would ask you: Would you receive the Christ, the World-Teacher, if He were in a Chinese body? People may laugh, I know; but I want you to think it over, to examine yourselves, and think it out. What will be your attitude? I do not know what He is going to be. He may be a woman; and I can see men smile, especially Indians, who treat women - well, I will not go into it, because it is a painful subject. What will they think? So be prepared; that is what we want. Be prepared to look at everything from an impersonal point of view.
There here is a vague idea throughout the Order that it is sufficient to put on a star, and to believe vaguely in the Coming of a World-Teacher. I tell you it is not enough. Symbols are outside things. Do not put them on and look sentimental. That is not enough. What we want is that we should have the Star impressed on the heart, where it can bleed and make us suffer, and make us realise that there is a World-Teacher Who looks at us every moment of the day, from the far-off mountain top, Who watches every moment of the day our daily life. Imagine that He is standing beside you every moment as, indeed, I am sure He is. And with that point of view, with that idea in your mind, behave as though He were standing by you, as though His blessing, His compassion, were always with you. Do not put Him on the top of the mountain and merely look at Him from time to time. Treat Him as your friend, treat Him as a Man. Do not always put your head down and look at His big toe. That will not help you. Ask Him, as a man should ask a man, to give you strength, to give compassion. We have not lived enough: our soul is little, and we must be great to understand greatness.
Treat the World-Teacher as an example to be followed not as an image to be looked at. He is the Leader, and you must show that you are His followers, but not the blind followers that we are at present. We shall into our turn be leaders, great leaders; and to be His followers to be His real friends, we must be great ourselves, not small. We must be an example to others who do not see the World-Teacher. We must be a lighthouse on a dark and perilous shore; we must give light to others. Then only shall we be worthy of really being a member of the Star.