Jiddu Krishnamurti on Ambition
Jiddu Krishnamurti - One of the causes of fear is ambition, is it not? You are all ambitious, are you not? What is your ambition? To pass some examination? To become a clerk? To become a governor? Or if you are very young, to become an engineer or to drive engines across the bridge? You are all ambitious. Why are you ambitious? What does it mean? Have you ever thought about it? Have you noticed older people, how ambitious they are? In your own family, have you not heard your father, your mother, your uncle talk about getting more salary or occupying some prominent position? Everybody is doing that.
In our society - I explained what our society is - in our society, everybody is trying to be on the top of the others. Are they not? They all want to become somebody - a governor, a minister, a manager. If they are clerks, they want to become managers; if they are managers, they want to become bigger, and so on and on and on - the continual struggle to be something. If I am a teacher, I want to become the principal; if I am the principal, I want to become the manager, and so on. If you are ugly, you want to be beautiful, you want to have more money, more saris, more clothes, more dresses, more and more and more. Not only outwardly - furniture, houses, clothes, property - but also inwardly you want to be somebody, though you clothe or cover that ambition by a lot of words.
Have you not noticed this? You have, and you think it is perfectly right, don't you? You think it is perfectly normal, justifiable, right. What has ambition done in the world? So few have ever thought about it. When somebody is struggling to be on the top of somebody else, when everybody is trying to achieve, to gain, have you ever found out what is in their hearts? If you will look at your own heart and see when you are ambitious, when you are struggling to be somebody, spiritually or in the world, you will find that there is the worm of fear inside it.
The ambitious man is the most frightened man because he is afraid to be what he is, because he says, "If I am what I am, I shall be nobody. Therefore, I must be somebody, I must become the engineer, the engine driver, the magistrate, the judge, the minister." If you examine this very closely, if you go beyond the wall of words, behind the wall of ideas, positions, and ambitions, you will find there is fear because he is afraid to be what he is. Because he thinks that what he is, is so insignificant, so poor, so ugly, so lonely, so empty, he says, "I must go and do something outside." Either he goes after what he calls God - which is just another form of ambition - because he is afraid, or he wants to be somebody in the world.
So, what happens is that this fear is covered up, this loneliness - this sense of inward emptiness of which he is really frightened - is covered up. He runs away from it, and the ambition becomes the emotions through which he can escape.
So, what happens in the world is that everybody is fighting somebody. One man is lesser than another man. There is no love, there is no consideration, there is no thought. Each man wants to become somebody. A member of parliament wants to become the leader of the parliament, to become the prime minister, and so on and on and on. There is perpetual fighting, and our society is one constant struggle of one man against another, and this struggle is called the ambition to be something. Old people encourage you to do that. You must be ambitious, you must be something, you must marry a rich man or a rich woman, you must have the right kind of friends.
So, the older generation, those who are frightened, those who are ugly in their hearts, try to make you like them, and you also want to be like them because you see the glamour of it all. When the governor comes, everybody bows down to the earth to receive him, gives him garlands, makes speeches; he loves it, and you love it because you feel you are honored, you know his uncle or you know his clerk, so you want to bask in the sunshine of his ambitions, of his achievements. So you are easily caught in it, in the web of the older generation, in a world which is most ugly, most monstrous. Only if you are very careful, if you are watchful and if you question all the time, if you do not accept and are not afraid, then you will not be caught in it, then you will create a different world.
That is why it is very important that you should find the right vocation. You know what "vocation" means? Something which you will love to do, which is natural. After all, that is the function of education, of a school of this kind, to help you to grow independently so that you are not ambitious but can find your true vocation. The ambitious man has never found his true vocation. If he had found it, he would never be ambitious. Is it not the function of the teacher, of the principal, of the manager, of the trustees of this place to help you to be intelligent? - which means, not to be afraid - so that you can choose, you can find out your own vocation, your own way of life, the way you want to live, the way you want to earn your own livelihood.
This means, really, a revolution in thinking because, in the world, the man who can talk, the man who can write, the man who can preach, the man who can rule, the man who has a car, is thought to be in a marvelous position; and the man who digs in the garden, who cooks, who builds a house, is despised. Have you noticed your own feelings, how you look at the mason, the man who builds, who mends the road, the driver of a taxi or a rickshaw, how you regard him with absolute contempt? To you he does not even exist, but when you look at a man with a title, an M.A., or a B.A., a little clerk, a banker, a merchant, a pundit, a minister, immediately you respect him and disregard the tongawala.
But if you really found your true vocation, then you would break down this system completely because then you might be a gardener, a painter, because then you would be doing something which you really love with your being. That is not ambition, to do something marvelously, completely, truly according to what you think; that is not ambition; in that there is no fear. But it is very difficult because that means that the teacher has to pay a great deal of attention to teach each one of his boys to find out what he is capable of, to help him to find out, to help him not to be afraid but to question, to investigate. You may be a writer, you may be a poet, you may be a painter, and if you love that, you have no ambition because, in that, you want to be, to create; it is a thing which you love. In love, there is no ambition.
So, is it not very important when you are young, when you are in a place like this, to help you to awaken your own intelligence so that you naturally find your vocation? Then, if you find it and if it is a true thing, then you will love it right through life. In that, there will be no ambition, no competition, no struggle, no fighting each other for position, for prestige; and perhaps then you will be able to create a new world.
Then, in that world, all the ugly things of the old generation will not exist - their wars, their mischief, their separative gods, their rituals which mean absolutely nothing, their government, their violence. In a place of this kind, the responsibility of the teacher and of you is very great because you can create a new world, a new culture, a new way of life.
Source - Jiddu Krishnamurti Book - Life Ahead