Jiddu Krishnamurti on earning Livelihood
Questioner: Can I remain a government official if I
want to follow your teachings? The same question would arise with regard
to so many professions. What is the right solution to the problem of
Sirs, you have to think it out a little bit. Obviously, food, clothing, and shelter could be produced abundantly; there is enough scientific knowledge to supply the demand, but the demand for war is greater, not merely by the warmongers, but by each of us, because each one of us is violent. There is sufficient scientific knowledge to give man all the necessities; it has been worked out, and they could be produced so that no man would be in need. Why does it not happen?
Because, no one is satisfied with food, clothing, and
shelter; each one wants something more, and, put in different words, the
`more' is power. But it would be brutish merely to be satisfied with
needs. We will be satisfied with needs in the true sense, which is
freedom from the desire for power, only when we have found the inner
treasure which is imperishable, which you call God, truth, or what you
will. If you can find those imperishable riches within yourself, then
you are satisfied with few things - which few things can be supplied.
So, as long as we are seeking sensate value - whether
of touch, of taste, of smell, of perception, or of thought - the outer
becomes far more significant than the inner, and the mere denial of the
outer is not the way to the inner. You may deny the outer and withdraw
from the world into a jungle or a cave and there think of God; but that
very denial of the outer, that thinking of God, is still sensate because
thought is sensate; and any value based on the sensate is bound to
create confusion - which is what is happening in the world at the
present time. The sensate is dominant, and as long as the social
structure is built on that, the means of livelihood becomes
They want security. They have worked so many years for
their pensions, and they would like to live comfortably for the rest of
their lives. They have time, but they are indifferent; they are only
concerned with some abstraction which they call God, and which has no
reference to the actual; but their abstraction is not God, it is a form
of escape. And those who fill their lives with ceaseless activity are
caught in the middle, they have not the time to find the answers to the
various problems of life. So, those who are concerned with these things,
with bringing about a radical transformation in the world through the
understanding of themselves, in them alone is there hope.
There is increasing unemployment, greater armies, larger police forces with their secret service; and big business is becoming bigger and bigger, forming vast corporations which are eventually taken over by the state, for the state has become a great corporation in certain countries. Given this situation of exploitation, of a society built on dissension, how are you going to find a right livelihood? It is almost impossible, is it not?
Either you will have to go away and form, with a few
people, a community - a self-supporting, cooperative community - or
merely succumb to the vast machine. But you see, most of us are not
interested in really finding the right livelihood. Most of us are
concerned with getting a job and sticking to it in the hope of
advancement with more and more pay. Because each one of us wants safety,
security, a permanent position, there is no radical revolution. It is
not those who are self-satisfied, contented, but only the adventurous,
those who want to experiment with their lives, with their existence, who
discover the real things, a new way of living.
There is no such thing as security. When you seek security, what happens? What is happening in the world at the present time? All Europe wants security, is crying for it, and what is happening? They want security through their nationalism. After all, you are a nationalist because you want security, and you think that through nationalism you are going to have security. It has been proved over and over again that you cannot have security through nationalism because nationalism is a process of isolation, inviting wars, misery, and destruction.
So, right livelihood on a vast scale must begin with those who understand what is false. When you are battling against the false, then you are creating the right means of livelihood. When you are battling against the whole structure of dissension, of exploitation, whether by the left or by the right, or the authority of religion and the priests, that is the right profession at the present time because that will create a new society, a new culture. But to battle, you must see very clearly and very definitely that which is false so that the false drops away. To discover what is false, you must be aware of it; you must observe everything that you are doing, thinking, and feeling, and out of that you will not only discover what is false, but out of that there will come a new vitality, a new energy, and that energy will dictate what kind of work to do or not to do.
Source: Jiddu Krishnamurti 2nd Talk at Bangalore (India) 1948