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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

"Most of us want deep fundamental lasting experience, that will be completely satisfying, that will never be destroyed by thought. So the demand for satisfaction dictates experience.To have great satisfaction is a great pleasure, so pleasure dictates the form of experience we demand. Pleasure is the measure of experience. So in seeking what is true, is there anything which is really holy in life?"




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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, London - 30 Sept 1967

... We may live seventy years spending forty or fifty years in an office, with the routine, the boredom and the loneliness of it, which has very little meaning. Realizing that, both in the Orient and here, one then gives significance and worthwhileness to a symbol, to an idea, to a God - which are obviously the inventions of the mind. They have said in the East that life is One: don't kill; God exists in every human being: don't destroy. But the next minute they are destroying each other, actually, verbally, or in business and so this idea that life is One, the sacredness of life, has very little meaning.

Also in the Occident, realizing what life actually is, the brutality, the aggressiveness, the ruthless competition of everyday life, one gives significance to a symbol and those symbols upon which all religions are based are considered very holy. That is, the theologians, the priests, the saints who have had their peculiar experiences, have given a meaning to life and we cling to those meanings out of our despair, out of our loneliness, out of our daily routine, which has so little meaning.

And if we could put aside all the symbols, all the images, the ideas and the beliefs, which one has built throughout the centuries and to which one has given a sense of sacredness, if we could actually de-condition ourselves from all those extraneous inventions, then perhaps we could really ask ourselves if there is a something that is true, that is really holy and sacred. Because that's what man has been seeking amongst all this turmoil, despair, guilt and death.

is there anything holy in itself

Man has always sought in various forms this feeling of something that must be beyond the transitory, beyond the flux of time. And could we this morning spend some time in going into this and trying to find out for ourselves if there is such a thing? - but not what you want, not God, not an idea, not a symbol. Can one really brush all that aside and then find out?

Words are only a means of communication but the word is not the thing; the word, the symbol is not the actuality, and when one is caught up in words, then it becomes very difficult to extricate oneself from the symbol, the words, the ideas which actually prevent perception. Though one must use words, words are not the fact. So if we can also be aware, on guard, that the word is not the fact, then we can begin to go into this question very deeply. That is,

Man out of his loneliness and despair has given sacredness to an idea, to an image made by the hand or by the mind. The image has become extraordinarily important to the Christian, to the Hindu, to the Buddhist and so on, and they have invested the sense of sacredness in that image… That is what we are asking this morning: whether there is, beyond the symbol, the word, anything real, true, something completely holy in itself?

To understand that, or to come upon it, one must first investigate this whole question of experience… our daily life is so shallow, empty and dull… we want deeper, wider experiences… Most of us want deep fundamental lasting experience: an experience that will be completely satisfying, an experience that will never be destroyed by thought. So it seems to me that one has to go into this question of experience and what is involved in it...

Behind this demand for experience there is the desire for satisfaction. We want to be satisfied but nothing satisfies us - sex, so-called love, so-called daily existence which is very shallow - we want something very deep and very satisfying and so there is our demand for great, wide, deep experience. So the demand for satisfaction dictates [and leads us to crave] the experience…To have great satisfaction is a great pleasure; the more lasting, deep and wide that experience the more the pleasure. So pleasure dictates the form of experience that we demand… pleasure is the measure by which we measure the experience. So in seeking something fundamental - as what is true - and is there anything which is really holy in life?

 … And what do we mean by experience? When you experience anything, it doesn't matter what it is, what does that mean? Seeing a sunset is an experience, there is a reaction to that colour and from that reaction you have certain sensations, ideas and so on, and that you call experience - the challenge and the response to that challenge. You must recognise the experience otherwise it will not be an experience at all. If I am incapable of recognising an experience, is it an experience at all? To experience implies recognition; I must recognise that it was an experience of such and such a kind. So when I recognise an experience, it has already been, it is already old. I hope I am making myself clear.

So every experience has already been experienced, otherwise I wouldn't recognise it. Therefore it is already old. I experience something according to my conditioning, so I recognise that experience as being good, bad, beautiful, holy and so on, according to my background, according to my conditioning.

The recognition of the experience must inevitably be old, so there is no new experience at all. If I say I have had a new experience, to recognise it as new and to know it is new, implies I have already recognised it, therefore it is already old…

So recognition plays a great part in all experiences and therefore all experiences which are recognizable are by their very nature old. There is nothing new through experience which is recognizable. We are now trying to find out if there is anything true, real, holy - and if I say I have experienced it, it means I must recognise it, and if I recognise it, it is already the reaction of the past; so it is not new at all. So what is one to do? You understand? I hope I am making myself clear.

So when I demand an experience, when one demands an experience as one does - an experience of reality - to experience it implies you must know it, that you have recognised it, and the moment that you recognise it you have already projected it; therefore it is not real but is still within the limit of time, it is still within the field of thought. So if one realizes that, how is one to find out? How is one to see what is true?

It is really a very interesting question this… If one is merely seeking satisfaction through an experience, then satisfaction is the measure and anything that is measurable is within the limits of thought and is apt to create illusion. One can have marvellous experiences and yet be completely in delusion. You can see Christ, Buddha or whatever it is and you will inevitably see these people in visions according to your conditioning. The Catholic believer who practises, he strengthens his background and his conditioning and the experiences become stronger - and to him that is the real - but it is obviously a projection of his demands, of his own urges, of his own background and therefore it has no validity at all.

Editor's note: K is correct. See how this craving, this demand for projection of one's own conditioning, played out in a famous NDE.

So to investigate this question is [by means of] meditation. You know that word has been used both in Asia and here in a most unfortunate way. There are those people who come from India who talk about meditation and give you a certain word and by thinking about that word you will have an extraordinarily transcendental experience - which is sheer nonsense, because you can repeat Amen or Om or Coca Cola a hundred times (please, it isn't a subject for laughter). One can repeat these words indefinitely, and obviously you will have certain experiences, because by repetition the mind becomes quiet.

It is a well-known phenomenon which has been practised for generations, for thousands of years in India, the Mantra Yoga it's called, and it is so obvious, it is so infantile. One can induce the mind, by repetition of a word, to be quiet, to be gentle, to be soft, but it is still a petty little mind, it is still a shoddy little thing. It's like the experiments of those people who take a piece of stick, which they pick up in the garden, and put it on the mantelpiece; every day they put a flower there, give a flower to it! Within a month they are worshipping it and not to give a flower to that stick is a calamity, a sin!

One can make the mind, induce the mind to do anything it wants, or produce any vision. But meditation is not following a system, it is not repetition, a constant imitation; meditation is something that demands an astonishingly alert mind, great sensitivity in which there is no sense of bringing something about through demand, no illusion. So one has to be free of all demands, therefore of all experience, because the moment you demand, you will experience; and that experience obviously will be according to your conditioning.

To be free of demand and satisfaction necessitates investigation into oneself; it necessitates understanding the whole nature of demand. Demand is born out of duality. 'I am unhappy and I must be happy.' The demand that I must be happy, in that very thing is unhappiness. The opposite always contains its own opposite.

Editor’s note: This is really interesting. In “The Wedding Song” we spoke of couples in the world who enter marriage with the provision “you must make me happy.” But in this demand, already there is an implicit admission of unhappiness. Well, no couple would deny this for, after all, to find happiness is why they’re getting married. What isn’t realized, however, is that if you don’t bring your joy into the marriage, you won’t find it there.

So when one makes an effort to be good, decides to be good, in that very goodness is its opposite, which is evil. If one could only understand this and therefore that any demand of life, any demand that you must experience the truth, reality, that very demand is born out of your discontent with 'what is', and therefore that demand creates the opposite.

Editor’s note: Strictly speaking, the “good”, in any meaningful sense, has no opposite, but is part of the singular pervasive reality that is God’s mind. We discussed this in “The Wedding Song.” However, within the present context, the egoic mind is "making an effort," is striving, is "trying very hard," seeking a limited “good”, usually defined as “getting what one wants.”

In the opposite there is what has been. So one must be free of this incessant demanding: the mind that is always comparing, measuring, which breeds illusion. And one must know the nature and the structure of this effort, the effort of duality (the mind is really non-dual, but there's not time to go into that).

Editor’s note: The mind is “non-dual” because the mind, as an extension of Universal Consciousness, is part of God’s mind. People are confused on this as they imagine that the “little voice in the head” is the mind, but the incessant chattering derives from the “false self”.

This means knowing oneself so completely that the mind is no longer seeking, asking, demanding, and therefore it is completely quiet.

Editor’s note: The mind, which is the soul, the “true self,” as part of God’s mind never demands, lives from a perspective of abundance, and is in need of nothing.

All that is part of meditation;

Editor’s note: Mediation, properly executed, will access pure mind, the soul.

not the endless prayers, repetitions and the forcing the mind to be still. That breeds conflict and conflict must inevitably exist when there is duality. There is the duality that is created by the observer and the thing he wishes to be, which is observed. And there is the mind that is trying, not to experience, but to uncover, to discover - not follow, not imitate, not become something. The becoming is another form of duality and therefore of conflict.

Editor’s note: The mind is not trying to experience, but is satisfied, makes no demands.

All this process of knowing oneself is the beginning of meditation - not putting the mind to sleep, not having visions or transcendental experiences through some foolish word - but to uncover the conditioned and the state of mind which is ourselves in its relationship to society, in its relationship to another. To discover oneself and penetrate deep - all that is meditation. One has to go into it very deeply, but not in the sense of time and measure - one must use the word 'deep', but when one uses it, it has its opposite which is 'shallow'. For when one wants to be deep, then there is conflict and therefore depth is the shallow.

Editor’s note: The key here is “wants to be deep.” Meditation is not about “trying very hard” to be deep or quiet but simply noticing the inner disorder.

So the mind investigating all this becomes highly sensitive, highly aware; and obviously a mind that is tremendously alert, awake, is silent. A chattering mind says 'this is' distraction, because I want to concentrate on 'this other; but such a division is also a distraction. And being highly intelligent - for intelligence is to be completely sensitive, aware, in which there is no choice at all and hence no conflict - then out of that comes a silence which is not the opposite of noise, nor the cessation of noise.

And it is only in such a silent mind that there is no demand, no illusion, because of no desire to be satisfied and therefore no desire for wider and deeper experiences; it is only such a mind that can discover what is sacred. That is meditation and in that meditation to discover it - not to be told or to copy and obey and all that immature nonsense. Then in that silence, which is really not an experience at all, but a state,

Editor’s note: This is very important. The sense of one’s inner life, the soul, the pure mind, is not so much an experience as it is a state of consciousness.

in that silence one discovers, one comes upon something that has no word, that is not measurable - when the mind with its [ego led] brain, which has stored up so many memories, when all that becomes extraordinarily quiet - and it is only in that state there is a possibility of discovering something that man has sought throughout the centuries.

Editor’s note: Absolutely spot on.

Questioner: If one meditates in order to discover, is not that in itself a demand?

Krishnamurti: Obviously. You don't meditate because you want to find truth, or to find happiness, bliss, but to understand oneself and learning about oneself is a constant process; that I said is meditation, not in order to discover something. You know, the word 'discover' is an unfortunate word, but I don't know what other word to use; one can use different words, but the essence of meditation is self-knowing: to know oneself. And you cannot know yourself if what you have learnt about yourself becomes the measure. I don't know if you see that. I watch myself and I have learnt something about myself: that I am greedy. I have learnt about greed, the nature of it, and having learnt, I measure with what I have learned all future greed; and therefore I am not studying the future greed as it arises but I am only measuring with what I have learnt. Therefore - see the structure of it! …

Editor’s note: If one attempts to “meditate” impelled by cravings of the ego to “be more” and “I am not enough,” then there will be no success here. This is a frantic egoic impulse to have and to get. What is needed is simple desire to know one’s own self; just to see the structure of the mind, the soul – with no taint of “I am not enough.”

Questioner: Then how does one make the mind quiet?

Krishnamurti: You cannot. You see when you put that question, 'How am I to make the mind quiet?' you have already asserted something born out of unquiet-ness. Therefore when you say 'my mind must be quiet', you are creating a duality and the quietness is noise, only you call it 'quietness'. Please Sir, it is very important to understand this. There is only fact, 'what is', and nothing else. So the mind will only become quiet naturally, non-neurotically (and be at the same time active, tremendously active) when there is self-knowing. When I know myself - as I begin to understand myself in every minute (which is not accumulative), then out of this watchful sensitivity and intelligence comes about a silent mind, which is not a dead mind…

Questioner: Is meditation a whole way of life?

Krishnamurti: Obviously it is, but to understand meditation one has to observe. You have to observe how you look at the tree, whether there is a space between you and the tree, between the observer and the thing observed, which is the tree. How does that space come into being? The space comes into being because the observer has his own memories about that tree. Or when the observer separates himself from greed and says, 'I am not greedy and I must get rid of greed', and there is a space between the observer and the observed and then the conflict. But the observer is the observed because he, being greedy, says, 'I must not be greedy', and therefore creates a duality. So meditation is the most extraordinary thing if you know how to do it, and you cannot possibly learn from anybody; and that's the beauty of it. It isn't something you learn, a technique, and therefore there is no authority. Therefore if you will learn about yourself, watch yourself, watch the way you walk, the way you talk, how you eat, what you say, the gossip, the hate, the jealousy. If you are aware of it, without any choice, all that is part of meditation, and as you go, as you journey, as that movement goes, all that movement is meditation. Then that movement is endless, timeless.

Editor’s note: This is a great explanation here by K of what is called meditation. I don’t like that word as it is overlaid with much error. Better to speak of “choiceless awareness,” or "mental noticing without craving.”



Editor's last word: 

On the mind, which is linked to God, is holy in itself. And this is why we endevour to know it.