Questioner: I left the world, my world of professional writing, because I wanted to lead a spiritual life. I abandoned all my appetites and ambitions to be famous, although I had the necessary talent, and came to you hoping to find, to realize, the ultimate. I have been under this great banyan tree for five years now and I find myself all of a sudden dull, washed out, inwardly lonely and rather miserable. I wake up in the morning to find that I have not realized anything at all, that I was perhaps better off a couple of years ago when I still had some strong religious fervour. Now there is no fervour left and, having sacrificed the things of the world to find God, I am without either. I feel like a sucked orange. What is to blame - the teachings, you, your environment - or is it that I have no capacity for this thing, that I have not found the crack in the wall that will reveal the sky? Or is it simply that this whole quest, from beginning to end, is a mirage and that I would have been better off never to have thought of religion but to have stuck to the tangible, everybody fulfilments of my former life? What is wrong, and what am I to do now? Shall I leave all this? If so, for what?
Krishnamurti: Do you feel that living under this banyan tree, or any other tree, is destroying you, preventing you from understanding, seeing? Is this environment destroying you? If you leave this world and go back to what you did before - the world of writing and all the everyday things of life - will you not be destroyed, dulled and sucked dry there also by the things of that life? You see this destructive process going on everywhere in people who pursue success, whatever they are doing and for whatever they are doing and for whatever reason. You see it in the doctor, in the politician, in the scientist, in the artist. Does anyone anywhere ever escape this destruction?
Questioner: Yes, I see that everyone is sucked dry. They may have fame and wealth, but if they look at themselves objectively they have to admit that they are actually nothing more than a showy facade of actions, words, formulas, concepts, attitudes, platitudes, hopes and fears. Underneath there is emptiness and confusion, age and the bitterness of failure.
Krishnamurti: Do you also see that the religious people who have supposedly abandoned the world are still really in it because their conduct is governed by the same ambitions, the same drive to fulfill, to become, to realize, to attain, to grasp and to keep? The objects of this drive are called spiritual and seem to be different from the objects of the drive in the world, but they are not different at all because the drive is exactly the same movement. These religious people also are caught in formulas, ideals, imagination, hopes, vague certainties, which are only beliefs - and they also become old, ugly and hollow. So the world A which they have left is exactly the same as the world B of the so-called spiritual life. A is B, and B is A. In this so-called spiritual world you are destroyed just as you were destroyed in that other everyday world. Do you think that this dying, this destruction, comes from your environment, or from yourself? Does it come from another or from you? Is it something that is done to you or something that you are doing?
Questioner: I thought that this dying, this destruction, was the result of my environment, but now that you have pointed out how it takes place in all environments, everywhere and continues even when you change the environment from A to B, or back again from B to A, I am beginning to see that this destruction is not the result of environment. This dying is self-destruction. It is something which I do to myself. It is I who do it, I who am responsible, and it has nothing to do with people or environment.
Krishnamurti: This is the most important point to realize. This destruction comes from yourself and from nobody and nothing else, not from your environment, not from people, not from events or circumstances. You are responsible for your own destruction and misery, your own loneliness, your own moods, your own empty hollowness. When you realize this you either become bitter or insensitive to it all, pretending that all is well; or you become neurotic, vacillating between A and B, thinking that there is some difference between them, or you take to drink or drugs like so many people have done.
Questioner: I understand this now.
Krishnamurti: In that case you will abandon all hope of finding a solution by simply changing the outer environment of your life, by simply changing from B back to A, for you will know that A and B are the same; in both of them is the desire to achieve, to attain, to gain the ultimate pleasure, whether in so-called enlightenment, God, truth, love, a fat banking account or any other form of security.
Questioner: I see this, but what am I to do? I am still dying, still destroying myself. I feel sucked dry, empty, useless. I have lost all I had and gained nothing in return.
Krishnamurti: You have not understood then. When you feel and say that, you are still walking the same road we have been talking about - that road of self-fulfillment in either A or B. That road is the self-killing, that road is the factor of dying. Your feeling that you have lost all and gained nothing in return is to walk that road; that road is the destruction; the road itself is its own destination which is self-destruction, frustration, loneliness, immaturity. So the question now is, have you really turned your back on that road?
Questioner: How do I know whether I have turned my back on it or not?
Krishnamurti: You don't know, but if you see what that road actually is, not only its end but its beginning, which is the same as its end, then it is impossible for you to walk on it. You may, knowing the danger of it, occasionally stray on to it in a moment of inattention and then catch yourself on it suddenly - but seeing the road and its desolation is the ending of that road, and this is the only act. Don't say, "I don't understand it, I must think about it, I must work at it, I must practice awareness, I must find out what it is to be attentive, I must meditate and go into it," but see that every movement of fulfillment, achievement or dependence in life is that road. Seeing this is the abandonment of that road. When you see danger you don't make a great fuss trying to make up your mind what to do about it. If, in the face of danger, you say, "I must meditate about it, become aware of it, go into it, understand it," you are lost, it is too late. So what you have to do is simply to see this road, what it is, where it leads and how it feels - and already you will be walking in a different direction.
This is what we mean when we speak of awareness. We mean to be aware of the road and all the significance of that road, to be aware of the thousand different movements in life which are on the same road. If you try to see or walk on the "other road" you are still on the same old road.
Questioner: How can I be sure that I am seeing what to do?
Krishnamurti: You can't see what to do, you can see only what not to do. The total negation of that road is the new beginning, the other road. This other road is not on the map, nor can it ever be put on any map. Every map is a map of the wrong road, the old road.