The test of right action is in its spontaneity, but to act spontaneously is to be greatly intelligent. The majority of people have merely reactions which are perverted, twisted, and stifled because of the lack of intelligence. Where intelligence is functioning, there is spontaneous action.
Now the questioner wants to know how he can act freely and without self-repression when he knows his action must hurt those he loves. You know, to love is to be free – both parties are free. Where there is the possibility of pain, where there is the possibility of suffering in love, it is not love; it is merely a subtle form of possession, of acquisitiveness.
If you love, really love someone, there is no possibility of giving him pain when you do something that you think is right. It is only when you want that person to do what you desire or he wants you to do what he desires, that there is pain.
That is, you like to be possessed; you feel safe, secure, comfortable; though you know that comfort is but transient, you take shelter in that comfort, in that transience.
So each struggle for comfort, for encouragement, really but betrays the lack of inward richness; and therefore an action separate, apart from the other individual naturally creates disturbance, pain and suffering; and one individual has to suppress what he really feels in order to adjust himself to the other.
In other words, this constant repression, brought about by so-called love, destroys the two individuals. In that love there is no freedom. To an intelligent mind environment yields its significance; therefore that intelligent mind is the master of environment, that mind is free of environment, is not conditioned by environment. What conditions the mind? The lack of understanding. Isn’t it? Not environment, environment does not limit the mind; what limits the mind is the lack of understanding of a particular condition. Where there is intelligence, mind is not conditioned by any environment, because it is all the time conscious, aware and functioning, and therefore discerning, perceiving the full worth of the environment.
Mind can only become conditioned by the environment when it is lethargic and lazy, trying to escape from the condition itself. Though mind may think in that condition, it is not functioning truly, it is only thinking within that limited circle of condition, which to me is not thinking at all.
So what creates intelligence, what awakens intelligence is this perception of true values, and as the mind is crippled with so many values imposed on it by tradition, one has to be free of these past experiences, past burdens in order to understand the present environment. So the battle is between the past and the present.
The struggle is between the background which we have cultivated through the centuries and the ever changing circumstances in the present. Now, a mind that is clouded by the past cannot understand these swift changes of environment. In other words, to understand the present, mind must be supremely free of the past; that is, it must have a spontaneous appreciation of values in the present.
Excerpted from the 4th public talk 19th June, 1934, Ojai. The 112th birth anniversary of J. Krishnamurti was celebrated on May 11