Jiddu Krishnamurti On The Soul

Our culture, our civilization has invented the word ‘soul’ – civilization being the collective desire and will of many people. Look at the Indian civilization. Is it not the result of many people with their desires, their wills? Any civilization is the outcome of what may be called the collective will; and the collective will in this case has said that there must be something more than the physical body which dies, decays, something much greater, vaster, something indestructible immortal; therefore it has established this idea of the soul. Now and then there may have been one or two people who have discovered for themselves something about this extraordinary thing called immortality, a state in which there is no death, and then all the mediocre minds have said, “Yes, that must be true, he must be right; and because they want immortality they cling to the word ‘soul’.

You also want to know if there is something more than mere physical existence, do you not? This ceaseless round of going to an office, working at something in which you have no vital interest, quarrelling, being envious, bearing children, gossiping with your neighbour, uttering useless words – you want to know if there is something more than all this. The very word ‘soul’ embodies the idea of a state which is indestructible, timeless, does it not? But, you see, you never find out for yourself whether or not there is such a state. You don’t say, “I am not concerned with what Christ, Shankara, or anybody else has said, nor with the dictates of tradition of so-called civilization; I am going to find out for myself whether or not there is a state beyond the framework of time”. You don’t revolt against what civilization or the collective will has formulated; on the contrary, you accept it and say, “Yes, there is a soul”. You call that formulation one thing, another calls it something else, and then you divide yourselves and become enemies over your conflicting beliefs.

The man who really wants to find out whether or not there is a state beyond the framework of time, must be free of civilization; that is, he must be free of the collective will and stand alone. And this is an essential part of education: to learn to stand alone so that you are not caught either in the will of the many or in the will of one, and are therefore capable of discovering for yourself what is true.

Don’t depend on anybody. I or another may tell you there is a timeless state, but what value has that for you? If you are hungry you want to eat, and you don’t want to be fed on mere words. What is important is for you to find out for yourself. You can see that everything about you is decaying, being destroyed. This so-called civilization is no longer being held together by the collective will; it is going to pieces. Life is challenging you from moment to moment, and if you merely respond to the challenge from the groove of habit, which is to respond in terms of acceptance, then your response has no validity. You can find out whether or not there is a timeless state, a state in which there is no movement of ‘the more’ or of ‘the less’, only when you say, “I am not going to accept, I am going to investigate, explore” – which means that you are not afraid to stand alone.

Post Author: Chad

A child of the universe. A student of life and death.