Krishnamurti & the Art of Awakening
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What does it mean to be serious?

Total Freedom | First Talk at Rajghat School, Varanasi, 1955

If we can begin by considering what it is to be serious, then perhaps our investigation into the whole process of our thinking and responding to the various challenges of life will have deeper significance.

What do we mean by being serious? And are we ever really serious? Most of us think very superficially, we never sustain a particular intention and carry it through, because we have so many contradictory desires, each desire pulling in a different direction. One moment we are serious about something, and the next it is forgotten and we pursue a different object at a different level. And is it possible to maintain an integrated outlook towards life? I think this is a fairly important question to consider cause I wonder how many of us are serious at all? Or are we serious only about those things which give us satisfaction and have but a temporary meaning?

So I think it would be very interesting, not merely to listen to a talk which I happen to be giving, but earnestly to try to find out together what it means to be serious. When a petty mind gives its effort to being serious, its seriousness is bound to be very shallow, because it is without any understanding of the deeper significance of its own process. One may give one's energies to a particular object, spiritual or mundane, but as long as the mind remains petty, complex, without any understanding of itself, its serious activities will have very little significance. That is why it seems to me very important, especially at this time when there are so many complex problems, so many challenges, that a few of us at least should have a sustained interest in trying to find out if it is possible to be earnest or serious without being distracted by the superficial activities of the mind.

I don't know if you are interested in this problem, but it is surely quite important to find out why most people are not really serious; because it is only a serious mind that can pursue a particular activity to its end and discover its significance. If one is to be capable of action which is integral one must understand the ways of one's own mind, and without that understanding, merely to be serious has very little meaning. I wonder if any of you are following all this, and whether I am explaining myself?

We see the disintegrating process that is going on in the world. The old social order is breaking down, the various religious organizations, the beliefs, the moral and ethical structures in which we have been brought up, are all failing. Throughout our so-called civilization, whether Indian, European, or whatever it be, there is corruption, and every form of useless activity is being carried on. So, is it possible for you and me to be aware of this whole process of disintegration and, stepping out of it as individuals, be serious in our intention to create a totally different kind of world, a different kind of culture, civilization? Do you think we could discuss this instead of my giving a talk?

The problem is this: Being caught up in this social, religious, and moral disintegration, how can we as individuals break away and create a different world, a different social order, a different way of looking at life? Is this a problem to any of you, or are you content merely to observe this disintegration and respond to it in the habitual manner? Can we this evening discuss this problem together, think it right through, and resolve it in ourselves? Do you think it would be profitable to discuss what we mean by change?

Questioner: Let us discuss seriousness.

KRISHNAMURTI: What do we mean by seriousness? To be serious, to be earnest, surely implies the capacity to find out what is true. Can I find out what is true if my mind is tethered to any particular point of view? If it is bound by knowledge, by belief, if it is caught in the conditioning influences that are constantly impinging upon it, can the mind discover anything new? Does not seriousness imply the total application of one's mind to any problem of life? Can a mind which is only partially attentive, which is contradictory within itself, however much it may attempt to be serious, ever respond adequately to the challenge of life? Is a mind that is torn by innumerable desires, each pulling in a different direction, capable of discovering what is true, however much it may try? And is it not therefore very important to have self-knowledge, to be serious in the process of understanding the self with all its contradictions? Can we discuss that?

Questioner: Would you kindly tell us if life and the problems of life are the same.

KRISHNAMURTI: Can you separate the problems of life from life itself? Is life different from the problems which life awakens in us? Let us take that one question and follow it right through.

Questioner: What about the atomic and the hydrogen bombs? Can we discuss that?