One of the most difficult things in life is to find a way of behaviour that is not dictated by circumstances. Circumstances and people dictate, or force you to behave in a certain way. The way you conduct yourself, the way you eat, the way you talk, your moral, your ethical behaviour depend on where you find yourself and so your behaviour is constantly varying, constantly changing. This is so when you speak to your father, your mother or to your servant—your voice, your words, are quite different. The ways of behaviour are controlled by environmental influences, and by analysing behaviour you can almost predict what people will do or will not do.
Now, can one ask oneself if one can behave the same inwardly, whatever the circumstances? Can one’s behaviour spring from within and not depend on what people think of you or how they look at you? But that is difficult because one does not know what one is within. Within, a constant change is going on also. You are not what you were yesterday. Now, can one find for oneself a way of behaviour which is not dictated by others or by society or by circumstances or by religious sanctions, a way of behaviour that does not depend on environment? I think one can find that out, if one knows what love is.
Do you know what love is? Do you know what it is to love people? To look after a tree, to brush a dog, comb it, feed it, means that you care for the tree, you feel great affection for the dog. I do not know whether you have noticed a tree in a street for which nobody cares; occasionally people look at it and pass it by. That tree is entirely different from a tree that is cared for in a garden, a tree you sit under, look at, on which you see the leaves, climb the branches. Such a tree grows with strength. When you look after a tree, when you give it water, manure; when you trim it, prune it, care for it, it has a different feeling altogether from the tree that grows by the roadside.
The feeling of care is the beginning of affection. You know, the more you look after things, the more sensitive you become. So there has to be affection, a sense of tenderness, kindliness, generosity. If there is such affection, then behaviour is dictated by that affection and is not dependent on environment, The feeling of care is the beginning of affection. You know, the more you look after things, the more sensitive you become. So there has to be affection, a sense of tenderness, kindliness, generosity. If there is such affection, then behaviour is dictated by that affection and is not dependent on environment,
With most of us love is possessiveness. Where there is jealousy, envy, it breeds cruelty, it breeds hatred. Love can only exist and flower when there is no hate, no envy, no ambition. Without love, life is like the barren earth, arid, hard, brutal. But the moment there is affection it is like the earth which blossoms with water, with rain, with beauty. One has to learn all this when one is very young, not when one is old for then it is too late. Then you become prisoners of society, of environment, of husband, wife, office. Find out for yourself if you can behave with affection. Can you go to your class punctually because you feel you do not want to keep people waiting? Can you stop shouting while you are together because there are other people watching you, being with you?
When behaviour, politeness, consideration are superficial and without affection they have no meaning. But if there is affection, kindliness, consideration, then, out of that, comes politeness, good manners, consideration for others, which means really that one is thinking less and less about oneself, and that is one of the most difficult things in life. When one is not concerned with oneself, then one is really a free human being. Then one can look at the skies, the mountains, the hills, the waters, the birds, the flowers, with a fresh mind, with a great sense of affection.
Krishnamurti on Education, pp 63-65
© Krishnamurti Foundation Trust Ltd., U.K