Quote of the Day

by Jiddu Krishnamurti

Question: Why can't you influence the leaders of a party, or members of a government, and work through them?

Krishnamurti: For the simple reason that leaders are factors of degeneration in society, and governments are the expression of violence. And how can you, how can any man who really wants to understand truth, work through instruments which are opposed to reality? Now, why do we want leaders, political or religious: For the obvious reason that we want to be directed, we want to be told what to do or what to think. Our education, our social and religious organizations, are based on that: they tell us, not how to think, but what to think. Naturally, then, you must have leaders. Because you are confused, disintegrating, because you are in misery and do not know what to do, you look to somebody else, to political, religious, or economic leaders, to help you out of this chaotic condition of existence. Now, can any leader, political or religious, lead you out of this misery, out of this confusion? Please, this is a very important question. Because, in leadership is implied power, position, prestige; in leadership is implied exploitation - by the follower as well as by the leader. The leader comes into being because the led want to be led. That is, the follower exploits the leader, and the leader exploits the follower. Without the follower, where is the leader? He is frustrated, he feels lost. And without the leader, where is the follower? So, it is a process of mutual exploitation; and where there is a desire for power, for position, for dominance, for guidance, there is no understanding. Where the leader becomes the authority, the person to whom everything is referred, politically or religiously, then you as the follower become merely the record-player, the automaton; and as most people want to repeat, to look on while the leaders play, the result is that you become unproductive, thoughtless. That is exactly what has happened in the world.

So, our problem is, why do we need leaders? Can anybody, lead you out of your confusion, which you yourself are creating? Others may point out the causes of your confusion - but surely, they don't become leaders. For example, I am pointing out the cause of confusion, but I am not becoming your leader or your guru. It is for you to perceive and act upon it, or to leave it. But if I made you join an organization, if I became your authority, then I would become important; therefore your confusion would still exist, and you would merely be running away from your confusion and giving emphasis to me; whereas, the emphasis should be laid on your confusion, and not on me. So, I am out of the picture. What is important is to understand your own suffering, your own confusion, your own pain, your own disastrous existence. And to understand, do you need anybody's help? What you need is to look truly, to look with clarity, with eyes that are not biased. And you have to do that for yourself, you have to look within yourself to find out whether you are biased, whether you are prejudiced. That means, you have to be aware of your own process, of your idiosyncracies; but as most of us are unwilling to discover ourselves and go into the process of self-knowledge, we look to a leader - or rather, we create a leader. So, the leader becomes important, because the leader helps us to run away from ourselves. The leader can be worshipped, put away in a cage and whispered about. So, the leader is really a degenerating factor. Surely, when the individual, when a society, when a culture looks to a leader, it indicates a state of disintegration. A society that is creative has no leader, because each individual is a light unto himself. Such a society is the result of relationship between people who are seeking deep, fundamental self-knowledge, understanding; and such people don't require a static society with its leaders, with its authoritarian social organizations.

Public Talk, February 29th, 1948
Mumbai, India