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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

There are groups which believe in creating perfect outward organizations to bring peace through sanctions and laws; or, by inwardly identifying with principles or ideology. Can there be the cessation of conflict if one is compelled, outwardly or inwardly, to live at peace with yourself and your neighbor?




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Editor’s prefatory comments:

Jiddu Krishnamurti has been an important teacher in my life. I began learning about the “true” and “false” selves about 15 years ago, and his insights served to inaugurate this vital area of enquiry.

He was the one to make clear that “guru” signifies merely “one who points,” not “infallible sage.” Pointing the way is what even the best teachers provide, but no more. One must walk the path of enlightenment alone, no one can do this for us.





Public Talk 3, Saanen, Switzerland - 13 July 1967

We were saying, the other day, how important it is to understand the nature of conflict, not only outwardly as war, but also inwardly, which is much more complex, needing greater attention and deeper, wider understanding.

Most of us are in conflict, at different levels of our consciousness. There is no one spot untouched by conflict. There is no one area which hasn't been a battlefield, and in all our relationships whether with the most intimate person, or with the neighbour, or with society, this conflict exists - a state of contradiction, division, separation, duality, the opposites, all of which contribute to conflict.

The more one is aware and just observing oneself and one's relationship to society and its structure, the more we see that at all levels of our being there is conflict - major or minor conflict - which brings about devastating results, or very superficial responses.

But the actual fact is, there is deeply rooted in all of us the essence of conflict, which expresses itself in so many different ways, through antagonism, through hate, through the desire to dominate, to possess, to guide another's life.

Now is it at all possible to be totally free of this essence of conflict? ... In enquiring about this matter one must first see whether any outward organization can help in bringing about peace within.

There are whole groups of people, called by different names, who believe in creating perfect outward organizations - a welfare society bureaucratically run, or a society based on computer thinking, and so on - they believe that such organizations can bring peace to man.

There are the Communists, the Materialists, Socialists, and also the so-called religious people who belong to various organizations; they all fundamentally believe that by bringing about a certain order outwardly there will be established through various forms of sanctions, compulsions and laws, freedom from all aggression and from all conflict.

Also there is a group of people who say we will have order without conflict, if inwardly we have identified ourselves with a certain principle or ideology and live according to that - according to certain inward, established laws.

We know these various types, but through conformity, whether enforced or willing, can there be the cessation of conflict? Do you understand the question?

Can there be the cessation of conflict if you are either compelled outwardly to live at peace with yourself and your neighbour - compelled, brainwashed, forced - or, you are inwardly trying to live according to ideologies and principles given to man by authority - forcing yourself, struggling, trying constantly to conform?

Man has tried every way - obedience, revolt, conformity and the following of certain directives, in order to live inwardly at peace - without any conflict.

If one observes various civilizations and religions one cannot doubt that man has tried, but somehow, it seems to me, he has always failed, Maybe an altogether different approach is necessary, which is neither conformity, nor obedience, nor imitation, nor an identification with a principle, or image, or formula, but a totally different way... A peace, an inward tranquillity which knows no disturbance at any moment - is such a state at all possible?...

Man has accepted war as a way of life; man has accepted conflict as innate, as part of daily existence; man has accepted hate, jealousy, envy, greed, aggression, causing enmity in another, as the natural way of existence. When we accept such a way of life, we must naturally accept the structure of society as it is. If one accepts competition, anger, hate, greed, envy, acquisitiveness, then naturally one lives within the pattern of respectable society. That is what most of us are caught in, because most of us want to be terribly respectable.

... What we are trying to do together is to examine our own minds, our own hearts, the way we think, the way we feel and how we act in our daily life - to examine what we actually are... And there one observes that as long as one conforms to the pattern of society one must accept aggression, hate, enmity, envy, as part of life, that part of life which inevitably breeds conflict, wars, brutality, the so-called modern society.

One has to accept it and live with it and in it, making one's life a battle field. If one does not accept, and no religious person can possibly accept such a society, then how is this inward order with no outward domination to be found? - an inward tranquillity which demands no expression at all, a tranquillity which is in itself a blessing.

... most of us think in terms of time, we think that inward order can only come about through time, that tranquillity is to be built little by little, adding every day. Time does not bring this inward order and peace, so one of the important things to understand is how to put a stop to time so as not to think in terms of gradualness, - which is quite an immense task, which actually means there is no tomorrow for you to be peaceful. You have to be orderly on the instant, there is no other moment.


Editor's note: The error of reincarnation is built upon the concept of gradual improvement over much time. See the report.


... where there is authority, inwardly there is disorder... We know there is inward disorder, inward conflict, which expresses itself outwardly as war, and so on. Being aware of this disorder, this conflict, confusion, and misery, one begins to look, to find out why there is this disorder...  when we are no longer seeking any authority to tell us, the moment we are free from the authority of another, we are already clear, our mind is already sharp to look...

I wonder, when you look, what is your response? Is it to the causes of conflict, or to the person with whom you are in conflict, or to the division between what you want and its contrary - or is it to the very nature of conflict?

... What I want to know, in essence, is why should conflict exist at all? When I put that question to myself, I see a fundamental issue, which has nothing to do with peripheral conflicts and their solution. I am concerned with the central issue, and I see, perhaps you also see, that the very nature of desire, if not properly understood, inevitably leads to conflict.

I desire contradictory things. Desire itself is always in contradiction; which doesn't mean that I must destroy desire - suppress is, control it, sublimate it. I see that desire in itself is contradictory - not the desire for something, for achievement, for success, for prestige, for having a better house, better knowledge, and so on, not in the object, but in the very nature of desire itself, there is contradiction.


Editor's note: Just as "beauty is not in the thing," one's inward contradiction is not in the object under review but in the very nature of desire itself.


Now, I have to understand the nature of desire before I can understand conflict and when I am concerned with it I am neither condemning, justifying, nor suppressing it. I am just aware of the nature of desire, in which there is a contradiction, and that this contradiction breeds conflict.

We are in ourselves in contradiction, wanting this and not wanting that, wanting to be more beautiful or more intelligent, wanting more power. In ourselves we are in a state of contradiction, and that state of contradiction is brought about by desire - desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

So I see desire as the root of all contradiction. Desire says I must have this, I must avoid that - I must have pleasure, whether sexual, or the pleasure of becoming famous, the pleasure of dominating, pleasures of various subtle kinds. Not achieving these, not being able to arrive at what I want, there is the pain of not achieving, which is a contradiction. So we live in a state of contradiction; I must think this, but I think that; I must be that, but actually I am this; there must be brotherhood of mankind, but I am nationalistic; I cling to my church, my God, my house, my family. So we live in contradiction. That is our life.

And that contradiction cannot be integrated; that is one of the fallacies. Contradiction only comes to an end when I begin to understand the whole nature of desire. Throughout the world, in the Orient and the Occident, there are people who are interested in this, the so-called religious people - not the business man, not the army people, not the bureaucrats, they are not interested in any of these things, but the so-called religious people - knowing that desire is the root of all these things, they have said that it must be suppressed, sublimated, destroyed, controlled.

But what is happening? Some Catholic priests are in revolt and want to get married and the monk is now looking outward. All the agonies of suppression, distortion, the brutal discipline of conformity to a pattern, have no meaning whatsoever, they don't lead to truth. To understand truth the mind must be completely free, without distortion - not a spot of it.

... So one has to find out what desire is. Why shouldn't there be desire and what is wrong with desire? When one sees a beautiful house, a lovely stream, a cloud lit by the evening sun over the mountain, when you look at all that, there is immense sensual pleasure, the enjoyment of lovely colour and so on. What is wrong with it? Why should one suppress it? And when one sees a lovely face, why shouldn't one look at that face? We know how desire arises, it is a very simple and a very obvious phenomenon that doesn't need a great deal of investigation. There is seeing, contact, sensation, and when thought interferes with that sensation desire arises. I can look at that beautiful face, well proportioned, intelligent, alive, not self-centred, it is not self-conscious of its own beauty and therefore no longer beautiful; I can look at it and the looking brings a sensation, and then thought comes in and all the things that thought develops, possession, holding, sex - the whole process begins, by thought. So the reaction is perverted by thought. But to react is normal, healthy, sane. It would be absurd to see a marvellous light on the cloud and not enjoy it, but thought dwells upon it and makes it into a pleasurable memory, and it wants that pleasure to be repeated. This is the whole nature of sex, thought chews over the pleasure, over and over again and it wants it to be repeated. So there is thought and desire which are always in contradiction with each other. Is it clear? Look, these are only ordinary explanations and as explanations have no value at all. But what has value is to see how desire comes into being, how thought interferes with sensation and makes it into a memory and the desire for the pleasure of that memory is given continuity and sustained by thought, nourished by thought.

Thought and desire must always be in contradiction in themselves because they are fragmentary. As we said the other day, all thought is fragmentary, and therefore desire is a contradiction. Our life is in a state of self contradiction from morning until night, until we die...

I see in myself a state of contradiction. I see how this contradiction has arisen, and that this contradiction is disorder and that there can be no order brought about by thought, because thought in itself is fragmentary, is limited; thought is the response of memory, and when that memory which is fragmentary, acts upon this contradiction it breeds further contradiction.

So I see the whole of this phenomenon and the very seeing is the action within which there is no contradiction. Look, let's put it very simply. I see I am dull, stupid - the response to that is, I want to be more clever, intelligent, brighter. Now what has happened? I am dull, stupid, and I want to be brighter, more intelligent, in that there is contradiction already, therefore there is further conflict which is a further waste of energy. But if I could live with that stupidity, with that dullness, without the contradiction and therefore with the capacity to look at that dullness, it would be no longer dull. I don't know if you see?

Or, I am envious and I don't want to change it, I don't want to become non-envious - the fact is, I am envious. Can I look at that envy without introducing its opposite, without wanting not be envious, or to change it, or to be specific about it? Can I look at that envy, which is a form of hate and jealousy, can I look at it, as it is, without introducing any other factor?

The moment I introduce any other factor I bring in further contradiction. But envy in itself is a contradiction, isn't it? I am this, I want to be that, and so long as there is any form of comparative thinking, there must be conflict.

And this does not mean that I am satisfied with what I am, for the moment I am satisfied with what I am I only breed further conflict. Can I look at my envy without bringing about conflict in that look? Can I just look at a beautiful house, a lovely garden with flowers, without any contradiction? Contradiction must exist as long as there is division, and the very nature of desire, which thought builds up, is to bring about division.


Editor's note: He is denying the power of thought to help us out of inward contradiction because the solution, that "total-field perception," does not issue as thought but as elevated state of consciousness.


So to have inward order, inward tranquillity and a mind that is not in conflict at any time, one has to understand the whole nature of thought and desire, and that understanding can only exist when thought doesn't breed further conflict.

Just a minute, Sir, just a minute. Let us take a breather shall we? You know, it is very odd that you come prepared with questions and therefore you are not listening to the talk. You are more interested in the question that you are going to put than in listening to what has been said. Sir, take time, have a little patience, because we have talked about some thing very serious, that demands a great deal of enquiry, a great deal of looking into. If you have looked deeply into yourselves, you have no time to ask a question so immediately.

Questioner: What is going to prevent a new religion, with a dogma with a church and a priest and an interpreter being formed of what you are saying?

Krishnamurti: I am afraid nobody can prevent it except yourself. Isn't that so? If you are a follower then you destroy everything and you will invent a new sect, a new religion, a new priest, a new dogma and all that filth. And I am using that word filth properly. So it depends on you, whether you are going to use this to exploit it, to achieve a particular position, a particular understanding and all the rest of it. It is so simple.



Editor's last word: