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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

"There isn't much difference between the believer and the non-believer, both are conditioned, to believe or not to believe. Intellectual people are believers," too, or they join the other group, they don't believe. People join groups because "belief gives hope", minds invent belief systems to manufacture various kinds of hope and comfort.




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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 5, Amsterdam - 30 May 1967

We have been considering many problems of life and I think we should also enquire into the problem of what is a religious mind. We have talked about fear, death, and also we went into the question of what love is. I think we should this evening consider the state of mind that is able to perceive what is truth.

Because man, not only in the West but also in the East has been searching, groping endlessly to find out what truth is, and what God is: if there is a God, if there is such a thing as truth. Every culture, every civilization, every human being throughout the world has been asking this question.

And it seems to me that we should not only ask the question seriously, but also find out for ourselves, not theoretically, not as a vague belief in a concept, in an idea, but find out the fact whether there is God or not. There is a whole group of people who deny the very idea of God, because to them it smells too much, it stinks. They throw it out, because in the name of religion so many crimes have been committed; there have been so many wars - in the name of God, in the name of peace there has been such torture - as the Inquisition. And there are those who firmly assert that there is.

And to belong to either camp, to the believer or non-believer, seems to me so utterly immature; because both are conditioned to believe. From childhood one is brought up to believe that there is God, that there is a truth, that it must be attained, that only a certain saviour can show the way, or help one. And there is the whole Communist world which doesn't believe it at all, from childhood they are conditioned not to believe.

So there isn't much difference between the believer and the non-believer, because both are conditioned, to believe or not to believe. And it seems to me, to find out if there is such a reality, if there is something beyond the measure of man's mind, one must set aside totally all belief and non-belief - and that requires a great deal of energy; because one can deny, or one can accept, but we believe because we are afraid; our life is so uncertain, our life has very little meaning, it has no significance, no lasting, enduring meaning.

So we want to find something that will give us abiding significance, abiding comfort, a depth to our life. So out of this deep loneliness, misery, uncertainty, we create, or put together, an idea called God or truth. And there are those people who say there is no such thing at all; that there is only this present life, which must be lived bitterly, without any hope, without any significance; making the best of it an living as decently, as peacefully as possible.

So, to find out, not intellectually, because the intellect cannot answer this question - it can argue, it can dialectically tear opinion down, or invent a theory - but intellect, with all its cunning capacity can never find out. The more the intellect enquires the more it is inclined to believe, because one observes throughout the world that intellectual people are believers. Or they join the other group, they don't believe.

But if one seriously, with full intention, demands of oneself that it is absolutely imperative to find out - not so as to give meaning to life, not as a thing of security, as something that can give comfort - but if one has the intention to find out, then one has to end all belief. Because belief gives hope, and one needs hope; because in the life we lead, the everyday miserable, conflicting, anxious life, in which there is no answer, such a life demands a hope, needs a hope and therefore it invents according to its culture, according to its climate, according to its temperament and inclination whether it be artistic, material, and so on - such a mind invents, and in what it has invented, in that lies its hope.

But a man who would enquire and come upon this reality, if there is one, must obviously not only deny totally all forms of belief - which doesn't mean he becomes atheistic, a non-believer - but also he must deny every form of hope, because hope is born of belief.

Again, this doesn't mean that one becomes cynical, bitter, materialistic, callous, indifferent. This is an immense question; it isn't just a matter of belief, a matter of words, a matter of concepts. Man has lived for so long with words, with concepts, with belief, with hope, but has never actually come upon that state of mind which actually perceives what is.

And in enquiring into this question there is the danger of falling into the trap of becoming completely superficial; that is, when there is no hope, no belief - which demands tremendous understanding, not merely a denial - but when one does put it aside, then there is the danger of becoming materialistic in the sense, not of not having possessions, houses and so on, but materialistic in the sense of worshipping something in the nature of the State.

You know what is happening in the world, you deny God on the one hand and create another kind of God, which is the Communist ideology. You can deny the ideologies of the religions and yet be extremely alert - not be caught in the ideologies of the State, as all important - or in working for the State, or working for man, helping man, and getting lost in that activity, which is obviously very materialistic - which doesn't mean that one mustn't help man.

But to find out if there is a dimension, a totally different dimension, not invented by thought, one must be extremely alert not to create illusion, a fancy, a myth. Illusion exists only when there is a capacity to measure; that is to compare. And when there is no comparison at all there is no possibility of illusion. And this is important to understand, when the mind is enquiring into this extraordinary problem.

Also there is another thing one must be aware of, which is, in denying in negating, there is the positive: in the very negation is the positive. That is, to deny war (not merely on the battlefield, but to deny war inwardly, conflict in any form) to totally deny it ...

So, when we deny every form of belief, belief in God, belief in saying 'there is no God', when you deny both - which is to understand why human beings want to believe (because in that there is a hope, and one projects hope because one is frightened, one is insecure, anxious, in despair) then when you deny all that, negate it, in that very negation is a positive in which there is no conflict whatsoever.

So has one understood that in the total denial of man's structure with regard to what he calls God, or no God, in that negation is a state of mind which is utterly positive, in which there is no contradiction? Such a mind is necessary in order to find out if there is, or if there is not, a God, a truth. Which means a mind that is neither afraid, nor that merely accepts the world as it is. The world as it is needs tremendous revolution, not economic or social, but psychological revolution, deeply, a revolution that is not born of ideas, a revolution not born according to Marx, Freud or Jung, or any of these opposite camps; but a revolution deep in the psyche, and it is only such a revolution that can bring about a different world altogether...

Therefore, to enquire the first imperative necessity is to be totally free of belief - without becoming bitter, cynical, superficial, or merely intellectually inventing theories and living in those theories.

That is, to enquire, search must come to an end. You know, man throughout the ages has been seeking, seeking this immeasurable something. Some people have had, they say, the experience of that, and communicate it to others. And the others want it again, they want it too. So they go after it, they search for it, they seek it out. But that thing cannot be experienced. When you experience that, it is not that. When you say you know what it is, then you don't know.

Therefore, one must understand this constant seeking, because that is the outcome of discontent. Most human beings are discontented with superficial things, and also at a deeper level there is discontent which can easily be satisfied, and being discontented we want to find something which will give a total contentment. And so we go after it, we ask, we beg, we pray, we demand, we seek. Man has done this throughout the ages. He says, what is truth, what is God, I must find out, I must seek it out. And when you seek, obviously you will find what you have projected.

Please do understand this. If one seeks God, or truth, to find it you must already have known it; that is, you must be able to recognize it. And you are able to recognize it you have already known it. It a vicious trap, and most of us are caught in it, because we are all seeking, seeking, seeking. And that probably is what most of you are here - without understanding the nature searching. So, to enquire is not to seek, when you see the nature of seeking.

When you are not seeking, searching, groping, then there is no authority: the authority of the priest, the authority the saint, the authority of the saviour, the authority of a teacher, including that of the speaker. There is no authority that is necessary to understand and that means complete freedom to find out, not according to somebody.

So a mind that is enquiring - rather a mind that is in a state of enquiry which is very different from enquiring - a mind that is in a state of enquiry is entirely different from a mind that is seeking; because in seeking is implied effort, conformity authority and therefore conflict.

When the mind is utterly free from every form of authority - whether it is the authority outwardly of the church, or the priest, or doctrine, belief dogmas, rituals, or the authority of one's own experience. then the mind is in a state of constant enquiry, and therefore it is free from illusion.

That is, when the mind is free from belief, and is not caught in the trap of its opposite; when the mind is free from fear, and hence at the end of seeking, and therefore free from all authority, then it is in a state of enquiry. Such a mind ... is extraordinarily active, because (as we explained) it is only when there is a total denial of that which is not - total denial of organized religion which is not truth, then in that denial the positive - which is not touched by conflict, and is therefore completely free from all sense of compulsion and imitation, is capable of perceiving what is.

There are two things ... absolutely necessary to find out about: the understanding of space, and the nature of silence. It is a most interesting thing to find out what space means. We are talking not of the distance between the earth and the moon, but psychological space, the space within...

As long as there is a centre, that centre must create a limited space within the boundaries of its observation; that is fairly simple. There is this microphone, it exists within space; and it creates space round itself. In us psychologically there is the centre which creates the space between itself and the periphery.

Without the centre, space is entirely different; then there is no boundary. When you look at the stars of evening you see the distance between yourself and the star And when you look at yourself, when the centre is aware, itself, it creates a space round itself. So long as there is centre from which there is observation taking place, it may observe extensively, but it will always be limited.

Therefore the space that we know is always limited. And the freedom from that limitation only comes when there is no observer when there is no centre; it is only then there is freedom.... So a mind that is limited by its own centre is not capable of discovering what is true. It is always looking at something according its own limitation. If you are interested in this you can into it for yourself; you need nobody's help. You can observe how little space you have inwardly; we are overcrowded with noise, chattering, endless memories, images, symbols opinions, knowledge, crammed full of second-hand things. There is no space there at all; therefore there is no freedom. And without this space, in which there is no boundary, the mind is incapable of finding out, of coming upon that immeasurable reality.

Then also one must understand what silence is. You know we are never silent; either we are having a dialogue with our selves, or with somebody else. The machinery of thought incessantly active, projecting itself, what it should do, it must not do, how it has been - endlessly chattering, chattering, chattering; or conforming, accepting, comparing judging, condemning, imitating, obeying. Knowing this, the are various forms of meditation which tell you how to control thought. But controlling thought is not meditation at all, anybody can concentrate, from the schoolboy to the higher general preparing for war.

And it is only a silent mind that can perceive, that can actually see; not a chattering mind, not a controlled mind, not a mind that is tortured, suppressed - nor yielding, indulging. It is only a very silent mind that can actually see. You only see a cloud, with its full light and beauty, or a leaf, when your mind is completely silent. Then you actually see it. Then, in that silence, the space between you and the leaf disappears...

It is when the mind is completely silent, not made silent - you can make the mind very silent by taking a tranquillizer, a drug, or by controlling, forcing it; but such a mind is a stagnant mind, a dull mind. But when one understands the nature of chattering, comparing, the endless gossip that goes on within oneself, the dialogue - when you understand that - and to understand it is not an intellectual process, but actually to be aware of it, as it is taking place - out of that alertness, out of that watchfulness, the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet.

Which doesn't mean the mind goes to sleep, or becomes blank. That is, when one has totally denied the world, the psychological world which man has created for himself and has denied the society in which he lives, that is, the psychological structure of society of which we are: the greed, the envy, the brutality, the violence, the jealousies, the hatred; then when you totally deny, you have space and silence.

And it is only such a mind, that is the religious mind, not belonging to any organized, propagandist religion - it is only such a mind that can see what is the immeasurable. And such a mind cannot, does not experience, because it is a light to itself.

But all this requires tremendous energy. One can derive energy through friction, through conflict. One can derive energy by committing oneself to a certain form of activity. One can gather energy by identifying oneself with something which one calls greater. Or one can have energy by following certain ideologies and so on and so on. In that energy there is always conflict. Therefore there is a deterioration of energy. But what we are talking about is a state of energy in which there is no conflict whatsoever. Therefore, that energy is the highest form of intelligence. And it is only such a mind that is - perhaps - the immeasurable…

Questioner: When I observe my thoughts there is great tension -

Krishnamurti: When one observes one's thoughts, the questioner says, there is greater strain, greater conflict. Why does this take place? When you observe your thought why should there be strain? There is strain, tension, conflict, because you look at your thought with the eyes of condemnation, comparison, judgment... When I look at that microphone, I can look at it and not make it a strain. But, if I say, 'I don't like it', immediately it becomes a strain. We compare and judge because we are conditioned to look at everything in our life with condemnation, comparison, or justification; never to look at things as they are without any of this...

Editor’s note: K addresses very important concepts, however, according to his own admission, he does not make them plain. I have edited and deleted parts of his discourse which are confusing, even to him, and he acknowledges this. In his later lectures he does a much better job of clarifying.

The idea of “observing from a center” means that one mentally observes the world around oneself. This creates the "observer and the observed", subject and object, and in this dualism, he rightly asserts, one will never find reality, the truth. Why is this so? The vision of the observer is always limited, and that which is seen is always fragmentary, a mere atom of reality. What is needed is a “total field of perception,” which phrase he uses in later lectures. The total field comes to one when observer and observed collapses into “no you and no me.” This latter is a much better descriptor of the process.

How does one enter “no you and no me”? There is no prescribed sure-fire way. “Truth is a pathless land,” and its avenue of access will be somewhat different for each person. What is needed is to become “very alert” as K says. In this “state of enquiry,” not a quest of searching, as such – he makes this distinction – one will receive tiny flashes of insight, or “sparks” of knowing. Collect, make mental note of, these “sparks.” Follow them, follow the breadcrumbs, as these will lead one to greater and greater vistas of the truth, over the months and years.

Space and silence are closely related. In the state of “no you and no me” there is no psychological space between subject and object; no room for the ego to condemn, judge, accuse, worry, or the like. When this “space” is eliminated, then the ego’s chattering is shut down. Silence naturally results when space is taken away.

Yes, I know, it will be asked, how can one access this “no you and no me”? But, as we’ve said, no one can tell another precisely how to do this. One must “follow the breadcrumbs” and in so doing one will “teach oneself,” as K often put forward. This is absolutely correct.

For the masses of planets Earth, this process is never entered into. Instead, people latch onto belief systems. They want some Dear Leader to give them the truth on a golden plate. They allow this kind of surrendering of autonomy and critical reasoning in order to find refuge from the terrors of living and of death. Intellect is no savior here, as PhDs do this along with the high-school dropouts. They look for a “strong father figure,” in all sorts of belief systems – religious, political, corporate, academic, on and on. And in this childish and fearful frame of mind, one will never, ever find the truth.



Editor's last word: