The Present is the Only Action There Is

Published: 05th August 2015 04:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th August 2015 04:30 AM   |  A+A-


All this talk about psychology, the inner workings of the mind, is a waste of time; people want work and food. Are you not deliberately misleading your audiences when it is obvious that the economic situation must first be attacked? What you say may ultimately be effective, but what is the good of all this stuff when people are starving? You can’t think or do anything without having a full stomach.’

One must of course have something in the stomach to be able to carry on; but to have food for all, there must be a fundamental revolution in the ways of our thinking, and hence the importance of attacking the psychological front. To you, an ideology is far more important than the production of food. You may talk about feeding the poor and of having consideration for them, but are you not much more concerned with an idea, with an ideology?

‘Yes, we are; but an ideology is only a means of gathering people together for collective action. Without an idea there can be no collective action; the idea, the plan comes first, and then action follows.’

So you also are concerned with psychological factors first, and from that what you call action will follow. You do not mean, then, that to talk of psychological factors is deliberately to mislead the people. What you mean is that you have the only rational ideology, so why bother to consider further? You want to act collectively for your ideology, and that is why you say any further consideration of the psychological process is not only a waste of time but also a deviation from the main issue, which is the setting up of a classless society with work for all and so on.

‘Our ideology is factual, not like the superstitious beliefs of religion. It has direct experience behind it, not mere visions and illusions.’

The ideologies or dogmas of organised religions are also based on experience, perhaps that of the one who has given out the teachings. They also are founded on historical facts. Your ideology may be the outcome of study, of comparison, of accepting certain facts and denying others, and your conclusions may be the product of experience; but why reject the ideologies of others as being illusory when they also are the result of experience? You gather a group around your ideology, as do others around theirs; you want collective action, and so do they in a different way. In each case, what you call collective action springs from an idea; you are both concerned with ideas, positive or negative, to bring about collective action. Each ideology has experience behind it, only you refute the validity of their experience, and they refute the validity of yours. They say that your system is impractical, will lead to slavery and so on, and you call them warmongers and say that their system must inevitably lead to economic disaster. So both of you are concerned with ideologies, not with feeding people or bringing about their happiness. The two ideologies are at war and man is forgotten.

‘Man is forgotten to save man. We sacrifice the present man to save the future man.’

You liquidate the present for the future. You both have your gods and your holy book; you both have the true interpreters, the priests — and woe to anyone who deviates from the true and the authentic! There is not much difference between you. You both want to save the future man by sacrificing the present man — as though you knew all about the future, as though the future were a fixed thing and you had the monopoly of it! Yet you are both as uncertain of tomorrow as any other. There are so many imponderable facts in the present that make the future. You both promise a reward, a utopia, a heaven in the future; but the future is not an ideological conclusion. Ideas are always concerned with the past or the future, but never with the present. You cannot have an idea about the present, for the present is action, the only action there is. All other action is delay, postponement, and so no action at all; it is an avoidance of action.


— Excerpt from Commentaries on Living I by Jiddu Krishnamurti


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