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To be free is to be aware of contradiction

To be free is to be aware of contradiction
February 13
14:15 2020


The word is never the thing. The word is not action. But most of us live in words, in images, in symbols, and therefore action doesn’t breed or bring about energy. And we dissipate whatever energy we have through contradiction within ourselves; and we seldom realise that energy, or the passion of energy, comes through action.

Action is energy. It’s not that you must have energy first to act. But when one realises the word is not the thing, is not the act, and therefore begins to understand the structure of the word and the meaning and significance of word, then there is action; and it is action that brings about the passionate sustained energy, which has nothing whatsoever to do with enthusiasm.

And we cannot act – that brings about energy – when there is contradiction within ourselves. And most of us consciously or unconsciously have many kinds of contradictions; some of which we are aware, know, and others of which we do not know. And so all our life is caught up in this contradiction, and therefore there is no clear, direct action, which alone can bring about energy.

And energy is necessary, not only to do physical activity but also energy, that sustained passionate energy to go right through any one action completely. And so, it seems to me that it is very important to understand this nature of contradiction: the contradiction between the word and the act, the contradiction between the conscious demands, urges, pursuits, and the unconscious hidden demands, secret desires and pursuits. There are contradictions in our activities, in our desires, in our pursuits, in our various forms of human existence.

I think one is aware of this if one is at all conscious of one’s own activities and being and thoughts; and so, on being aware of these contradictions, one tries to integrate, try to bring about integration within oneself. And I think that such an act of integration is sheer folly. We cannot integrate the opposites.

You cannot possibly integrate love and hate. Either you hate or you love – there is no combination of both, no integration. So I think we should be very clear that the attempt to bring about integration within oneself has no meaning at all.

What has meaning and what has significance is the understanding and therefore being free of contradiction? And to be free is to be aware of the contradiction – perhaps most of us are not aware of it even, we just carry on. And when we do become aware of this extraordinary contradiction not only outwardly but very deeply, and we find no solution for it, no answer, no freedom from it, we either turn to so-called god – that is the whole structure of belief, dogma, ritual, authority, which is generally called religion – or take life and give it no significance at all, which is what most modern writers are trying to do.

If one has observed oneself, one sees the more active physically one is there is more energy. It is not the other way round, that you must have the energy to act. On the contrary, the more you act the more energy there is, biologically as well as psychologically. it’s not action and then energy, or energy and then action. It’s not the idea and action. The idea is never to give energy.

Excerpted from Public Talk 5 Paris, France –  30 May 1965. The 36th death anniversary of J. Krishnamurti is being observed on February 17



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