Making the Ideal Superior Brings Misery

When there are no fixed points, there will be no contradictions. The State is dynamic, we build walls around it hoping to put it in blueprint, but a living thing cannot be tied down without killing it

Published: 07th July 2015 03:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th July 2015 03:38 AM   |  A+A-


He was a well-known and well-established politician, somewhat arrogant, and hence his impatience. He was a fluent speaker, and the very fluency was its own misfortune; he was incorruptible, and therein lay his hold on the public. He was oddly uncomfortable sitting in that room; the politician was far away, but the man was there, nervous and aware of himself.

‘Why is there contradiction in our life?’ he asked. ‘We talk of the ideals of peace, of non-violence, and yet lay the foundation stone of war. We must be realists and not dreamers. We want peace, and yet our daily activities ultimately lead to war; Why is there this contradiction? Is it inevitable? Can the modern State be wholly for peace? Can it afford to be entirely one thing? It must work for peace and yet prepare for war; the goal is peace through preparedness for war.’

Why do we have a fixed point, an ideal, since deviation from it creates contradiction? If there were no fixed point, no conclusion, there would be no contradiction. We establish a fixed point, and then wander away from it, which is considered a contradiction. We come to a conclusion through devious ways and at different levels, and then try to live in accordance with that conclusion or ideal. As we cannot, a contradiction is created; and then we try to build a bridge between the fixed, the ideal, the conclusion, and the thought or act which contradicts it.

The conclusion which we call an ideal may be established at any level, and it may be conscious or unconscious; and having established it, we try to approximate our action to it, which creates contradiction. What is important is not how to be consistent with the pattern, with the ideal, but to discover why we have cultivated this fixed point, this conclusion; for if we had no pattern, then contradiction would disappear. So, why have we the ideal, the conclusion? Does not the ideal prevent action? Is it not possible to act without the ideal?

If there is no fixed point, no ideal from which to deviate, there is no contradiction with its urge to be consistent; then there is only action from moment to moment, and that action will always be complete and true. The true is not an ideal, a myth, but the actual. The actual can be understood and dealt with. The understanding of the actual cannot breed enmity, whereas ideals do. Ideals can never bring about a fundamental revolution, but only a modified continuity of the old.

There is fundamental and constant revolution only in action from moment to moment which is not based on an ideal and so is free of conclusion.

‘But there must be a goal, a planned action, a concentrated effort on a particular issue. What you say may be applicable to the individual, and I see in it great possibilities for myself; but it will not work in collective action.’

There can be complete action only when the total process is understood, and this understanding does not depend on any blueprint. The State is not static; its leaders may be, but the State, like the individual, is living, dynamic, and what is dynamic cannot be put in the straightjacket of a blueprint. We generally build walls around the State, walls of conclusions, ideals, hoping to tie it down; but a living thing cannot be tied down without killing it, so we proceed to kill the State and then mould it according to our blueprint, according to the ideal. There is contradiction the moment we try to fit life into a fixed pattern or conclusion.

The ideal is not superior to life, and when we make it so there is confusion, antagonism and misery.

Excerpt from Commentaries on Living I by Jiddu Krishnamurti

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