Are Injury and Help Co-existent

Published: 15th September 2015 05:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th September 2015 05:27 AM   |  A+A-


Aloof and inclined to be cynical, he was some kind of minister in the Government. He had been brought along, or more probably dragged, by a friend, and seemed rather surprised at finding himself there. The friend wanted to talk something over and evidently thought that the other might as well come along and hear his problem.

The minister was curious and rather superior. He was a big man, sharp of eye and a facile talker. He had arrived in life, and was settling back. To travel is one thing, and to arrive is another. Travelling is constant arriving, and arrival that has no further travelling is death. How easily we are gratified, and how quickly discontent finds contentment! We all want a refuge of some kind, a haven from all conflict, and we generally find it. The clever, like the foolish, find their haven and are alert within it.

‘I have been trying to understand my problem for a number of years, but I haven’t been able to get to the bottom of it. In my work I have always brought about antagonism; enmity has somehow crept in amongst all the people I have tried to help. In helping some, I sow opposition among others. With one hand I give, and with the other I seem to injure. This has been going on for more years than I can remember, and now a situation has arisen in which I have to act rather decisively. I really don’t want to hurt anyone, and I am at a loss what to do.’

Which is more important: not to hurt, not to create enmity, or to do some piece of work?

‘In the course of my work I do hurt others. I am one of those people who throw themselves into their work; if I undertake something, I want to see it through. I have always been that way. I think I am fairly efficient and I hate to see inefficiency. After all, if we undertake some kind of social work, we must go through with it, and those who are inefficient or slack naturally get hurt and become antagonistic. The work of bringing help to others is important, and in helping the needy I hurt those who come in the way. But I really don’t want to hurt people, and I have begun to realise that I must do something about it.’

Which to you is important: to work, or not to hurt people?

‘When one sees so much misery and plunges into the work of reform, in the course of that work one hurts certain people, though most unwillingly.’

In saving one group of people, others are destroyed. One country survives at the expense of another. The so-called spiritual people, in their ardour for reform, save some and destroy others; they bring blessings and also curses. We always seem to be kind to some and brutal to others. Why?

Which to you is important: to work, or not to hurt people?

‘After all, one has to hurt certain people, the slovenly, the inefficient, the selfish; it seems inevitable. Don’t you hurt people by your talks? I know a rich man who has been very hurt by what you say about the wealthy.’

I do not want to hurt anyone. If people are hurt in the process of certain work, then to me that work has to be put aside. I have no work, no schemes for any kind of reform or revolution. With me work is not first, but not to hurt others. If the rich man feels hurt by what is said, he is not hurt by me, but by the truth of ‘what is’, which he dislikes; he doesn’t want to be exposed. It is not my intention to expose another. If a man is temporarily exposed by the truth of ‘what is’ and gets angry at what he sees, he puts the blame on others; but that is only an escape from the fact. It is foolish to be angry with a fact. Avoidance of a fact through anger is one of the commonest and most thoughtless reactions.

But you have not answered my question. Which to you is important: to work, or not to hurt people?

‘Work has to be done, don’t you think?’ put in the minister.

Why should it be done? If in the course of benefiting some you hurt or destroy others, what value has it? You may save your particular country, but you exploit or maim another. Why are you so concerned about your country, your party, your ideology? Why are you so identified with your work? Why does work matter so much?

— Excerpt from Commentaries on Living I by Jiddu Krishnamurti

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