Questioner: Why are some people born in poor circumstances, while others are rich and well-to-do?
Krishnamurti: What do you think? Instead of asking me and waiting for my answer, why do you not find out what you feel about it? Do you think it is some mysterious process which you call karma? In a former life you lived nobly and therefore you are now being rewarded with wealth and position! Is that it? Or, having acted very badly in a former life, you are paying for it in this life!
You see, this is really a very complex problem. Poverty is the fault of society - a society in which the greedy and the cunning exploit and rise to the top. We want the same thing, we also want to climb the ladder and get to the top. And when all of us want to get to the top, what happens? We tread on somebody; and the man who is trodden on, who is destroyed, asks, "Why is life so unfair? You have everything and I have no capacity, I have nothing". As long as we go on climbing the ladder of success, there will always be the sick and the unfed. It is the desire for success that has to be understood, and not why there are the rich and the poor, or why some have talent and others have none. What has to be changed is our own desire to climb, our desire to be great, to be a success. We all aspire to succeed, do we not? There lies the fault, and not in karma or any other explanation. The actual fact is that we all want to be at the top - perhaps not right at the top, but at least as high up the ladder as we can climb. As long as there is this drive to be great, to be somebody in the world, we are going to have the rich and the poor, the exploiter and those who are exploited.
Part One Chapter 4