Quote of the Day

by Jiddu Krishnamurti

Question: To what extent can a person control his own actions? If we are, at any one time, the sum of our previous experience, and there is no spiritual self, is it possible for a person to act in any other way than that which is determined by his original inheritance, the sum of his past training, and the stimuli which play upon him at the time? If so, what causes the changes in the physical processes, and how?

Krishnamurti: "To what extent can a person control his own actions?" A person does not control his own actions if he has not understood environment. Then he is only acting under the compulsion, the influence of environment; such an action is not action at all, but is merely reaction or self-protectiveness. But when a person begins to understand environment, sees its full significance and worth, then he is master of his own actions, then he is intelligent; and therefore no matter what the condition he will function intelligently.

"If we are, at any one time, the sum of our previous experience, and there is no spiritual self, is it possible for a person to act in any other way than that which is determined by his original inheritance, the sum of his past training, and the stimuli which play upon him at the time?"

Again, what I have said applies to this. That is, if he is merely acting from the burden of the past, whether it be his individual or racial inheritance, such action is merely the reaction of fear; but if he understands the subconscious, that is, his past accumulations, then he is free of the past, and therefore he is free of the compulsion of the environment.

After all, environment is of the present as well as of the past. One does not understand the present because of the clouding of the mind by the past; and to free the mind from the subconscious, the unconscious hindrances of the past, is not to roll memory back into the past, but to be fully conscious in the present. In that consciousness, in that full consciousness of the present, all the past hindrances come into activity, surge forward, and in that surging forward, if you are aware, you will see the full significance of the past, and therefore understand the present. "If so, what causes the changes in the physical processes, and how?" As far as I understand the questioner, he wants to know what produces this action, this action which is forced upon him by environment. He acts in a particular manner, compelled by environment, but if he understood environment intelligently, there would be no compulsion whatever; there would be understanding, which is action itself.

Ojai, California
11th Public Talk 30th June, 1934