QUESTION 5 'ON DISCIPLINE'
Question: All religions have insisted on some kind of self-discipline to moderate the instincts of the brute in man. Through self-discipline the saints and mystics have asserted that they have attained godhood. Now you seem to imply that such disciplines are a hindrance to the realization of God. I am confused. Who is right in this matter?
Krishnamurti: It is not a question of who is right in this matter. What is important is to find out the truth of the matter for ourselves - not according to a particular saint or to a person who comes from India or from some other place, the more exotic the better.
You are caught between these two: someone says discipline, another says no discipline. Generally what happens is that you choose what is more convenient, what is more satisfying: you like the man, his looks, his personal idiosyncrasies, his personal favouritism and all the rest of it. Putting all that aside, let us examine this question directly and find out the truth of the matter for ourselves. In this question a great deal is implied and we have to approach it very cautiously and tentatively.
Most of us want someone in authority to tell us what to do. We look for a direction in conduct, because our instinct is to be safe, not to suffer more. Someone is said to have realized happiness, bliss or what you will and we hope that he will tell us what to do to arrive there. That is what we want: we want that same happiness, that same inward quietness, joy; and in this mad world of confusion we want someone to tell us what to do. That is really the basic instinct with most of us and, according to that instinct, we pattern our action. Is God, is that highest thing, unnameable and not to be measured by words - is that come by through discipline, through following a particular pattern of action? We want to arrive at a particular goal, particular end, and we think that by practice, by discipline, by suppressing or releasing, sublimating or substituting, we shall be able to find that which we are seeking.
What is implied in discipline? Why do we discipline ourselves, if we do? Can discipline and intelligence go together? Most people feel that we must, through some kind of discipline, subjugate or control the brute, the ugly thing in us. Is that brute, that ugly thing, controllable through discipline? What do we mean by discipline? A course of action which promises a reward, a course of action which, if pursued, will give us what we want - it may be positive or negative; a pattern of conduct which, if practised diligently, sedulously, very, very ardently, will give me in the end what I want. It may be painful but I am willing to go through it to get that. The self, which is aggressive, selfish, hypocritical, anxious, fearful - you know, all of it - that self, which is the cause of the brute in us, we want to transform, subjugate, destroy. How is this to be done? Is it to be done through discipline, or through an intelligent understanding of the past of the self, what the self is, how it comes into being, and so on? Shall we destroy the brute in man through compulsion or through intelligence? Is intelligence a matter of discipline? Let us for the time being forget what the saints and all the rest of the people have said; let us go into the matter for ourselves, as though we were for the first time looking at this problem; then we may have something creative at the end of it, not just quotations of what other people have said, which is all so vain and useless.
We first say that in us there is conflict, the black against the white, greed against non-greed and so on. I am greedy, which creates pain; to be rid of that greed, I must discipline myself. That is I must resist any form of conflict which gives me pain, which in this case I call greed. I then say it is antisocial, it is unethical, it is not saintly and so on and so on - the various social-religious reasons we give for resisting it. Is greed destroyed or put away from us through compulsion? First, let us examine the process involved in suppression, in compulsion, in putting it away, resisting. What happens when you do that, when you resist greed? What is the thing that is resisting greed? That is the first question, isn't it? Why do you resist greed and who is the entity that says, "I must be free of greed"? The entity that says, "I must be free" is also greed, is he not? Up to now, greed has paid him, but now it is painful; therefore he says, "I must get rid of it". The motive to get rid of it is still a process of greed, because he is wanting to be something which he is not. Non-greed is now profitable, so I am pursuing non-greed; but the motive, the intention, is still to be something, to be non-greedy - which is still greed, surely; which is again a negative form of the emphasis on the 'me'.
We find that being greedy is painful, for various reasons which are obvious. So long as we enjoy it, so long as it pays us to be greedy, there is no problem. Society encourages us in different ways to be greedy; so do religions encourage us in different ways. So long as it is profitable, so long as it is not painful, we pursue it but the moment it becomes painful we want to resist it. That resistance is what we call discipline against greed; but are we free from greed through resistance, through sublimation, through suppression? Any act on the part of the 'me' who wants to be free from greed is still greed. Therefore any action, any response on my part with regard to greed, is obviously not the solution.
First of all there must be a quiet mind, an undisturbed mind, to understand anything, especially something which I do not know, something which my mind cannot fathom - which, this questioner says, is God. To understand anything, any intricate problem - of life or relationship, in fact any problem - there must be a certain quiet depth to the mind. Is that quiet depth come by through any form of compulsion? The superficial mind may compel itself, make itself quiet; but surely such quietness is the quietness of decay, death. It is not capable of adaptability, pliability, sensitivity. So resistance is not the way.
Now to see that requires intelligence, doesn't it? To see that the mind is made dull by compulsion is already the beginning of intelligence, isn't it? - to see that discipline is merely conformity to a pattern of action through fear. That is what is implied in disciplining ourselves: we are afraid of not getting what we want. What happens when you discipline the mind, when you discipline your being? It becomes very hard, doesn't it; unpliable, not quick, not adjustable. Don't you know people who have disciplined themselves - if there are such people? The result is obviously a process of decay. There is an inward conflict which is put away, hidden away; but it is there, burning.
Thus we see that discipline, which is resistance, merely creates a habit and habit obviously cannot be productive of intelligence: habit never is, practice never is. You may become very clever with your fingers by practising the piano all day, making something with your hands; but intelligence is demanded to direct the hands and we are now inquiring into that intelligence.
You see somebody whom you consider happy or as having realized, and he does certain things; you, wanting that happiness, imitate him. This imitation is called discipline, isn't it? We imitate in order to receive what another has; we copy in order to be happy, which you think he is. Is happiness found through discipline? By practising a certain rule, by practising a certain discipline, a mode of conduct, are you ever free? Surely there must be freedom for discovery, must there not? If you would discover anything, you must be free inwardly, which is obvious. Are you free by shaping your mind in a particular way which you call discipline? Obviously you are not. You are merely a repetitive machine, resisting according to a certain conclusion, according to a certain mode of conduct. Freedom cannot come through discipline. Freedom can only come into being with intelligence; and that intelligence is awakened, or you have that intelligence, the moment you see that any form of compulsion denies freedom, inwardly or outwardly.
The first requirement, not as a discipline, is obviously freedom; only virtue gives this freedom. Greed is confusion; anger is confusion; bitterness is confusion. When you see that, obviously you are free of them; you do not resist them. but you see that only in freedom can you discover and that any form of compulsion is not freedom, and therefore there is no discovery. What virtue does is to give you freedom. The unvirtuous person is a confused person; in confusion, how can you discover anything? How can you? Thus virtue is not the end product of a discipline, but virtue is freedom and freedom cannot come through any action which is not virtuous, which is not true in itself. Our difficulty is that most of us have read so much, most of us have superficially followed so many disciplines - getting up every morning at a certain hour, sitting in a certain posture, trying to hold our minds in a certain way - you know, practise, practise, discipline, because you have been told that if you do these things for a number of years you will have God at the end of it. I may put it crudely, but that is the basis of our thinking. Surely God doesn't come so easily as all that? God is not a mere marketable thing: I do this and you give me that.
Most of us are so conditioned by external influences, by religious doctrines, beliefs, and by our own inward demand to arrive at something, to gain something, that it is very difficult for us to think of this problem anew without thinking in terms of discipline. First we must see very clearly the implications of discipline, how it narrows down the mind, limits the mind, compels the mind to a particular action, through our desire, through influence and all the rest of it; a conditioned mind, however 'virtuous' that conditioning, cannot possibly be free and therefore cannot understand reality. God, reality or what you will - the name doesn't matter - can come into being only when there is freedom, and there is no freedom where there is compulsion, positive or negative, through fear. There is no freedom if you are seeking an end, for you are tied to that end. You may be free from the past but the future holds you, and that is not freedom. It is only in freedom that one can discover anything: new idea, a new feeling, a new perception. Any form of discipline which is based on compulsion denies that freedom whether political or religious; and since discipline, which is conformity to an action with an end in view, is binding, the mind can never be free. It can function only within that groove, like a gramophone record.
Thus, through practice, through habit, through cultivation of a pattern, the mind only achieves what it has in view. Therefore it is not free; therefore it cannot realize that which is immeasurable. To be aware of that whole process - why you are constantly disciplining yourself to public opinion; to certain saints; the whole business of conforming to opinion, whether of a saint or of a neighbour, it is all the same - to be aware of this whole conformity through practice, through subtle ways of submitting yourself, of denying, asserting, suppressing, sublimating, all implying conformity to a pattern: this is already the beginning of freedom, from which there is a virtue. Virtue surely is not the cultivation of a particular idea, Non-greed, for instance, if pursued as an end is no longer virtue, is it? That is if you are conscious that you are non-greedy, are you virtuous? That is what we are doing through discipline.
Discipline, conformity, practice, only give emphasis to self-consciousness as being something. The mind practises non-greed and therefore it is not free from its own consciousness as being non-greedy; therefore, it is not really non-greedy. It has merely taken on a new cloak which it calls non-greed. We can see the total process of all this: the motivation, the desire for an end, the conformity to a pattern, the desire to be secure in pursuing a pattern - all this is merely the moving from the known to the known, always within the limits of the mind's own self-enclosing process. To see all this, to be aware of it, is the beginning of intelligence, and intelligence is neither virtuous nor non-virtuous, it cannot be fitted into a pattern as virtue or non-virtue. Intelligence brings freedom, which is not licentiousness, not disorder. Without this intelligence there can be no virtue; virtue gives freedom and in freedom there comes into being reality. If you see the whole process totally, in its entirety, then you will find there is no conflict. It is because we are in conflict and because we want to escape from that conflict that we resort to various forms of disciplines, denials and adjustments. When we see what is the process of conflict there is no question of discipline, because then we understand from moment to moment the ways of conflict. That requires great alertness, watching yourself all the time; the curious part of it is that although you may not be watchful all the time there is a recording process going on inwardly, once the intention is there - the sensitivity, the inner sensitivity, is taking the picture all the time, so that the inner will project that picture the moment you are quiet.
Therefore, it is not a question of discipline. Sensitivity can never come into being through compulsion. You may compel a child to do something, put him in a corner, and he may be quiet; but inwardly he is probably seething, looking out of the window, doing something to get away. That is what we are still doing. So the question of discipline and of who is right and who is wrong can be solved only by yourself.
Also, you see, we are afraid to go wrong because we want to be a success. Fear is at the bottom of the desire to be disciplined, but the unknown cannot be caught in the net of discipline. On the contrary, the unknown must have freedom and not the pattern of your mind. That is why the tranquillity of the mind is essential. When the mind is conscious that it is tranquil, it is no longer tranquil; when the mind is conscious that it is non-greedy, free from greed, it recognizes itself in the new robe of non-greed but that is not tranquillity. That is why one must also understand the problem in this question of the person who controls and that which is controlled. They are not separate phenomena but a joint phenomenon: the controller and the controlled are one.