From Krishnamurti Foundation Trust: “The nearest direct quote from Krishnamurti we have found, from Commentaries on Living Series 3 (1960), written in the early 1950s, is:
Is society healthy, that an individual should return to it? Has not society itself helped to make the individual unhealthy? Of course, the unhealthy must be made healthy, that goes without saying; but why should the individual adjust himself to an unhealthy society? If he is healthy, he will not be a part of it. Without first questioning the health of society, what is the good of helping misfits to conform to society?
To help the individual to fit into a society which is ever at war with itself – is this what psychologists and analysts are supposed to do? Is the individual to be healed only in order to kill or be killed? If one is not killed, or driven insane, then must one only fit into the structure of hate, envy, ambition and superstition which can be very scientific?
The origin of this quote being assigned to Krishnamurti is probably a book written by Mark Vonnegut (Kurt Vonnegut’s son) about his mental illness (The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity) . . .
Aldous Huxley, a close friend of Krishnamurti’s, also wrote a passage that is similar, contained in his book Brave New World Revisited (1958):
The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does. They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.
There is also a very similar quote from Henry Miller (who was inspired by Krishnamurti), from his travelogue The Colossus of Maroussi (1941):
There is no salvation in becoming adapted to a world which is crazy.”
From Charles Eisenstein: “If you’re well-adjusted, like, adjusted to what? You know? You’re able to go along with the program . . . And you’re okay with that. You’re adjusted to it. You’re a creature of that system, and that way of being. Which is fine if we agree that that system is the system that we should have. And that the world you’re participating in is the world that we want. And that the direction that you are helping take us is the direction that we want to go.
If you were, you know, a white, middle-class person in the 1950s, 1960s,1970s, it was pretty easy to believe those things, that society was basically on the right track, that science was solving our problems, that modern medicine was conquering one disease after another, that we were progressing. Life was getting better and better. Since then, it’s become harder and harder to maintain the belief that we are living in the right world.
This is something that, maybe like really sensitive, prescient people have seen this for forever. But, I believe that it began to take on a mass character – I mean, I hesitate to put a date on it – but certainly when I was a kid, it was starting to wear thin a little bit. I certainly sensed a wrongness in the world that pervaded everything. I couldn’t make myself adjust. I couldn’t make myself be well-adjusted… and well-adjusted can mean going through the motions and at least complying with the explicit requirements of participation. And I couldn’t even quite do that. And a lot of people in my generation couldn’t do that, either.
So we became slackers. Or we became addicted to things. Or we became fuck-ups. Or we’d procrastinate and not study hard and get drunk, you know? . . . The drunkenness, the addiction, the squandering of endless hours in front of video games and mindless pursuits, these are not some problem that must be overcome to make us better participants in society. These are symptoms. These would not exist if we were in a life we really cared about.
. . . So whether it’s laziness, procrastination, addiction, self-sabotage, greed, materialism, all these things that we judge and say is the problem – these are the symptoms. It’s not because there is something wrong with you that you just can’t make yourself get with the program. It’s that there is something wrong with the program. So of course you don’t want to participate. Of course you get depressed and just want to withdraw, and just can’t make yourself do it. It’s not because you’re unhealthy. It’s a mutiny of the soul.
Or you get anxious. Something is wrong around here. And the authorities say, ‘No, no, no, everything is just fine. The problem is with you. Here are some meds.’ Now, I understand that, immersed within this reality, there may be no obvious alternative to the medications that enables a person to keep going. This is a very, very hot-button topic. Because many people will say that, ‘The meds saved me. They turned my life around. They saved me from depression.’ And maybe I am not qualified to pass judgment on whether or not they are universally a bad thing. But I can see what their general function is – it’s to keep people operational in the world that is given to them.
And it’s a catch-22. How do you get out of that world? What alternative do you have to simply coping with it? Simply adjusting to it?”
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