Is it not the happy means to the happy end? The end is in the means, is it not? So there is only the means. The means itself is the end, the result. ‘I have never before looked at it this way, but I see that it is so.’ We are inquiring into what is the happy means. If effort produces conflict, opposition within and without, can effort ever lead to happiness? If effort produces more problems and conflict, it is obviously destructive. And why do we make an effort? Do we not make effort to advance, to gain?
‘Do you think all acquisition is baneful?’ Security, which is having essential physical needs, is one thing, and acquisitiveness is another. It is acquisitiveness in the name of race or country, or in the name of the individual, that is destroying the sensible and efficient organisation of physical necessities for the well-being of man. We must all have adequate food, clothing and shelter, that is simple and clear. Now, what is it we are seeking to acquire, apart from these things?
One struggles to attain wealth and position in order to be powerful; and having succeeded in outer things, one wants to be successful, with regard to inner things. Each may have one’s own particular sociological and psychological effect, but all acquisition is gratification. Gratification at any level is sensation. We are making efforts to acquire greater or more subtle varieties of sensation, which we call experience. Effort is to acquire gratification, which is sensation.
You have found gratification at one level, and now you are seeking it at another; and when you have acquired it there, you will move to another level, and so you keep going. This constant desire for gratification for more and more subtle forms of sensation is called progress, but it is ceaseless conflict.
The search after ever-wider gratification is without end, and so there is no end to conflict, antagonism, and hence no happiness. ‘You are saying that the search for gratification is really the search for misery. Effort towards gratification is everlasting pain. So give up seeking gratification and just stagnate?’ If one does not seek gratification, is stagnation inevitable? Our acquisitions are a means of covering up our own emptiness. This is our life, the conflict of never-satisfying escapes and mounting misery. It is strange how we are never strictly be alone. We are always with something, with a problem, a book, a person; and when we are alone, our thoughts are with us. To be alone is essential. All escapes must cease; and only then there is aloneness that can receive the alone, the measureless.
— Excerpts from Commentaries on Living Vol 2 by J Krishnamurti