They were chanting in the temple. It was a clean temple of carved stone, massive and indestructible. There were over thirty priests; their pronunciation of the Sanskrit was precise and distinct, and they knew the meaning of the chant. The depth and sound of the words made those walls and pillars almost tremble, and instinctively the group that was there became silent. The creation, the beginning of the world was being chanted, and how man was brought forth. The people had closed their eyes, and the chant was producing a pleasant disturbance: nostalgic remembrances of their childhood, thoughts of the progress they had made since those youthful days, the strange effect of Sanskrit words, delight in hearing the chant again. What is the idea of progress? We like to think we shall achieve a better state, become more merciful, peaceful and virtuous. We love to cling to this illusion, and few are deeply aware that this becoming is a pretence, a satisfying myth. We love to think that some day we shall be better, but in the meantime we carry on.
Progress is such a comforting word, so reassuring, a word with which we hypnotize ourselves. The thing which ‘is’ cannot become something different; greed can never become non-greed, any more than violence can become non-violence. We worship the success of the state, of the ideology, of the self, and deceive ourselves with the comforting illusion of progress.
Thought may progress, become something more, go towards a more perfect end, or make itself silent; but as long as thought is a movement of acquisitiveness or renunciation, it is always a mere reaction. Reaction ever produces conflict, and progress in conflict is further confusion, further antagonism.
He said he was a revolutionary, ready to kill or be killed for his cause, for his ideology. He was prepared to kill for the sake of a better world. To destroy the present social order would of course produce more chaos, but this confusion could be used to build a classless society. What mattered was not the present man, but the future man; the new world that they were going to build would have no inequality, there would be work for all, and there would be happiness. How can you be so sure of the future? We all translate the past according to our particular conditioning and interpret it to suit our prejudices. You are as uncertain of tomorrow as the rest of us, and thank heaven it is so! But to sacrifice the present for an illusory future is obviously most illogical. ‘Do you believe in change, or are you a tool of the capitalist bourgeoisie?’ Change is modified continuity, which you may call revolution; but fundamental revolution is quite a different process, it has nothing to do with logic or historical evidence.
‘What to you is revolution?’ Change based on an idea is not revolution; for idea is the response of memory, which is again a reaction. A revolution born of antagonism ceases to be what it says it is; it is only opposition, and opposition can never be creative.
The man with an ideology is concerned with ideas, words, and not with direct action; he avoids direct action. An ideology is a hindrance to direct action. Revolution based on an idea, however logical and in accordance with historical evidence, cannot bring about equality. The very function of idea is to separate people. Belief, religious or political, sets man against man. So called religions have divided people, and still do. You with your ideology are doing the same, are you not? You also are forming a nucleus or group around an idea; you want to include everyone in your group, just as the believer does.
In the eyes of God we are all equal, but in capacity there is variation; life is one, but social divisions are inevitable. One has capacity, and another has not; one leads, and another follows; one is dull, and another is sensitive, alert, adaptable; one paints or writes, and another digs; one is a scientist, and another a sweeper. Inequality is a fact, and no revolution can do away with it. What so-called revolution does is to substitute one group for another, and the new group then assumes power, political and economic; it becomes the new upper class which proceeds to strengthen itself by privileges, and so on; it knows all the tricks of the other class, which has been thrown down. It has not abolished inequality, has it?
Revolution has used man as a means to an end. The end was important, but not man. Religions have maintained, at least verbally, that man is important; but they too have used man for the building up of belief, of dogma. The utilizing of man for a purpose must of necessity breed the sense of the superior and the inferior, the one who is near and the one who is far, the one who knows and the one who does not know. This separation is psychological inequality, and it is the factor of disintegration in society. At present we know relationship only as utility; society uses the individual, just as individuals use each other, in order to benefit in various ways. This using of another is the fundamental cause of the psychological division of man against man.
It is love, the only factor that can bring about a fundamental revolution. Love is the only true revolution. But love is not an idea; it is when thought is not. Love is not a tool of propaganda; it is not something to be cultivated and shouted about from the housetops. Only when the flag, the belief, the leader, the idea as planned action, drop away, can there be love; and love is the only creative and constant revolution. ‘But love won’t run machinery, will it?’
— J Krishnamurti Excerpts from Commentaries on Living Vol 2