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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 livelihood?

Jiddu Krishnamurti : Sirs, what do we mean by livelihood? It is the earning of one's needs, food, clothing, and shelter, is it not? The difficulty of livelihood arises only when we use the essentials of life - food, clothing, and shelter - as a means of psychological aggression. That is, when I use the needs, the necessities, as a means of self-aggrandizement, then the problem of livelihood arises; and our society is essentially based, not on supplying the essentials, but on psychological aggrandizement, using the essentials as a psychological expansion of oneself.

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.

But, unfortunately, we are carried away by sensate values. The values of the senses have become more important than the values of the real. After all, our whole social structure, our present civilization, is essentially based on sensate values. Sensate values are not merely the values of the senses but the values of thought because thought is also the result of the senses; and when the mechanism of thought, which is the intellect, is cultivated, then there is in us a predominance of thought, which is also a sensory value.

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 extraordinarily difficult.

So, what is the right means of livelihood? This question can be answered only when there is a complete revolution in the present social structure, not according to the formula of the right or of the left, but a complete revolution in values which are not based on the sensate. Now, those who have leisure - like the older people who are drawing their pensions, who have spent their earlier years seeking God or else various forms of destruction - if they really gave their time, their energy, to finding out the right solution, then they would act as a medium, as an instrument for bringing about revolution in the world. But they are not interested.

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.

Sirs, surely we can see what is a wrong profession. To be a soldier, a policeman, a lawyer, is obviously a wrong profession because they thrive on conflict, on dissension; and the big businessman, the capitalist, thrives on exploitation. The big businessman may be an individual, or it may be the state - if the state takes over big business it does not cease to exploit you and me. And as society is based on the army, the police, the law, the big businessman - that is, on the principle of dissension, exploitation, and violence - how can you and I, who want a decent, right profession, survive?

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.

So, before there can be a right livelihood, the obviously false means of earning a livelihood must first be seen - the army, the law, the police, the big business corporations that are sucking people in and exploiting them, whether in the name of the state, of capital, or of religion. When you see the false and eradicate the false, there is transformation, there is revolution; and it is that revolution alone that can create a new society. To seek, as an individual, a right livelihood is good, is excellent, but that does not solve the vast problem. The vast problem is solved only when you and I are not seeking security.

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

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