Krishnamurti on Virtue
Virtue is really the ordering of the mind; and our problem is how to bring
about virtue without the cultivation of virtue, is it not? If I cultivate
virtue, it ceases to be virtue; and yet without virtue there is no order.
Virtue is really a disciplining of the mind without an end in view; it is
like putting a room in order. Virtue is not an end in itself; it merely
makes the mind clear, free, uncontaminated by society.
So the problem is, is it not, how can one’s mind, one’s whole being, be
virtuous immediately, and not go through the process of becoming virtuous?
Because the struggle to become virtuous only strengthens narrowness, the
self-centred activity of the mind. I think that is fairly clear: that when I
try to become virtuous, I am really emphasizing the activity of my own
egotism, and therefore it is no longer virtue.
Virtue frees the mind, and the mind is not free as long as there is no
virtue. But the so-called virtue on which most of us base our behaviour
merely on social convenience; and society, being rooted in acquisitiveness,
in competition, egotism, envy, cannot possibly understand the virtue of
being and not becoming.
If we do not understand what it is to be virtuous, the mind will never be
free to inquire, to find out what reality is. Virtue is essential as
conduct, as behaviour; but behaviour which is based on compulsion, on
conformity, fear, is no longer the action of a virtuous mind. So we must
find out what it is to be virtuous, without the cultivation of virtue. I
think the two things lead in entirely different directions. A man who
cultivates virtue is all the time thinking about himself; he is
everlastingly concerned about his own progress, his personal improvement,
which is still the activity of ‘me’, the self, the ego; and this activity
obviously has nothing whatever to do with virtue, which is a state of being
and not becoming.
Now, how can a mind whose whole social and moral conditioning has been to
cultivate virtue by using time as a means of becoming virtuous – how can
such a mind free itself of that sense of becoming, and be in a state of
virtue? I do not know if you have ever thought of the problem in this way.
To understand it, I think we have to find out what it means to discipline
Most of us use discipline to achieve a result. Being angry, I say I must not
be angry, so I discipline myself, control, suppress, dominate my anger,
which means that I conform to an ideological pattern. That is what we are
used to: a constant struggle to adjust what we are to what we think we
should be. In order to become what we should be, we go through certain
practices, we discipline ourselves day after day, month after month, year in
and year out, hoping to arrive at a stage which we think is right. So in
discipline there is involved, not only suppression, but also conformity,
narrowing the mind down to a particular pattern. Please understand, sirs,
that I am not condemning discipline. We are examining the whole process
involved in conduct that is based on discipline.
1957 3rd Public Talk, Bombay
The Collected Works of J. Krishnamurti
Reality, truth, is not to be recognized. For truth to come, belief,
knowledge, experiencing, virtue, pursuit of virtue – which is different from
being virtuous – all this must go. The virtuous person who is conscious of
pursuing virtue, can never find reality. He may be a very decent person;
that is entirely different from the man of truth, from the man who
understands. To the man of truth, truth has come into being. A virtuous man
is a righteous man, and a righteous man can never understand what is truth;
because virtue to him is the covering of the self, the strengthening of the
self; because he is pursuing virtue. When he says ‘I must be without greed’,
the state in which he is non-greedy and which he experiences, strengthens
the self. That is why it is so important to be poor, not only in the things
of the world, but also in belief and in knowledge. A rich man with worldly
riches, or a man rich in knowledge and belief, will never know anything but
darkness, and will be the centre of all mischief and misery. But if you and
I, as individuals, can see this whole working of the self, then we shall
know what love is. I assure you that is the only reformation which can
possibly change the world. Love is not the self. Self cannot recognize love.
You say ‘I love’, but then, in the very saying of it, in the very
experiencing of it, love is not. But, when you know love, self is not. When
there is love, self is not.
1952, 5th Public Talk, Madras. ‘The Collected Works of J. Krishnamurti, Vol
So why call yourselves by different names and separate yourselves?
Whereas, if we really altered the environment to which we have become such
slaves, then we should be really Gods in ourselves, not follow anybody.
Personally, I do not belong to any sect, large or small.
I will put it this way. An ordinary individual now, as he is, is nothing
else but the focal point of the environment, of society, of religion, of
moral edicts and economic conditions - as the ordinary individual, he is
Because what we call individuals are nothing else but the result of false
environment. This focal point of the present state of individuality is
really false, isn't it?
I call that a true moral act when we perceive a thing completely and act,
and not when forced by circumstances, or there is brought about a
brotherhood forced by the sheer brutal necessity of life. That is, when
business people, the capitalist, the financiers, begin to see that this
distinction does not pay, that they cannot make more money, they cannot be
in the same position, then they will bring about environment forcing the
individual to become brotherly; as now you are forced by environment to be
unbrotherly, to exploit, so you will also be forced to co-operate. Surely
that is not brotherhood: that is merely an action brought about by
convenience, without human intelligence and understanding.
1934-04-06 Talk to Business Men in Auckland, New Zealand