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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

"To look at ourselves is one of the most difficult things, to see ourselves as we are. How can we bring about this state of inward awareness? Have you ever tried to examine every thought, every feeling, to trace out the source of these to motive and various layers of the mind? This will reveal the whole content of our conditioning." 




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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 4, Saanen, Switzerland - 14 July 1968

IT SEEMS TO ME that it is so important to understand, and to be in, the state in which the mind is completely religious. Such a mind, not abstractly or theoretically, can solve all our problems. A religious mind is not burdened with any ideologies or assumptions but is concerned with the facts, with 'what is', and going beyond it.

Our consciousness is conditioned, through education, through various inherited or acquired states, through various contradictions and the conflicts of the opposites; that is the consciousness of which we are.

I think it is fairly obvious that this conditioned state of the mind can only be discovered, by each one of us, in looking at ourselves objectively. It seems that to look at ourselves is one of the most difficult things to do, to see ourselves actually as we are, without any theories, without any despair or hope, without any demand or opinion, just to look at ourselves. Unless we do this I do not see how one can go beyond this limited, narrow, circle in which we live.

In what manner is it possible to bring about the state of inward awareness in which to see what is actually taking place in ourselves, without any bias, without any neurotic assumptions, being aware, choicelessly, of what is actually going on?

I do not know if you have ever tried to examine every thought, every feeling; tried to trace out the source of that thought or of that feeling; to see the examination of behaviour the cause, the motive and the various layers of the mind, of our consciousness? But that would take too long and would lead us nowhere, for the analytical process implies an analyser and the analyser is conditioned, so whatever he examines that also will be conditioned, and be seen through his conditioned state; the analytical process is obviously limited in this way.

There must be a way of looking at ourselves totally, without going through all the complications of introspective analysis and so on; there must be a state, a regard, a look, that will reveal the whole content of our conditioning...

Human beings are conditioned, the whole of their behaviour pattern, their outlook, their activities, their aggressiveness, their contradictory states of mind, hate and love, pleasure and pain, the despair and hope, this constant battle in the whole field of our consciousness, the inventions of gods and beliefs and faiths, is the outcome of this conditioned mind. Our nationalities, the division of people, racial and so on, is the result of our education and of the influence of the society which we have built; and so there we are, that is the field of our so obviously conditioned consciousness.

How is one to be free, completely, of this, so that there is no conflict of any kind? The conflict, the struggle and battle, is a waste of energy. Our whole life is spent in this way, one desire opposing another desire, one demand, urge, instinct, contradicted by another. That is our life and one asks oneself if it is possible to step completely out of it and if so, how is this to be done? Is it at all possible?

We were saying that systems, philosophies and religions, have not freed man; he is still within the prison he has made of consciousness and that is not freedom at all. It is like a prisoner living within four walls and saying he is free, he is not free, he can walk about in the yard but freedom is something entirely different, it lies totally outside the prison. Seeing this whole complex human relationship, this complex of conditioning, the battle, the struggle, the fear of death, the loneliness, the despair, the lack of love, the brutality, the aggressiveness, of which we are, is it possible to go completely beyond and be free of it all?

No outside agency can help us; the outside agency is another invention of a conditioned mind, another ideology of a mind that cannot find a way out and therefore it posits a belief.

Now when you brush aside all that, you are left with this fact, that the mind is wholly conditioned, both the conscious mind as well as the unconscious deeper layer. If one is aware of that, what actually takes place? If I am aware that whatever I do, whatever movement of thought or effort I make, is within the limitation of that conditioning, then what actually takes place? You understand my question? I am aware how my mind, the very complex of brain cells themselves, is heavily loaded with the past, with memories, experience, knowledge, tradition, with systems of behaviour which one has accepted in the name of law and order yet with the aggression, the killing, each other, the destroying by word, by gesture, by an act separating ourselves.

Now, how am I aware of this? Am I aware of it intellectually? ... How am I aware of this fact? I have to ask myself 'what do I mean by awareness?' 'How do I look at my conditioning?' Obviously, when I look at it I either condemn it, justify it, or accept it as inevitable...

So what do we mean by an awareness? I am aware that I am conditioned, that is a fact, I am aware of it, I am conscious of it, I know it; what does that mean? Is there a separation between this awareness and the thing of which it is aware? Am I aware of my conditioning as an outsider looking in? One knows one is aggressive, in word, in feeling, in act.. Does one know it as a knowledge, or does one communicate with that fact, not as an outsider, but as a communion established between the entity that is aware and the thing of which he is aware? You understand?

I think it is very important to understand this. When I say 'I know', 'I know I am conditioned', the word 'know' is a very complex word. You have looked at your conditioning before and you have learnt something about it and you say 'I know'. But when you say, 'I know' you have already accumulated knowledge about it and it is with that knowledge that you look. But the thing, the conditioning, must change in the meantime and does change. Therefore to say 'I know' is the most dangerous thing. To say 'I know you' which is absurd, 'I know my wife, my husband, my children, my politician, my God' (that is the last thing!) when you say 'I know you', you mean you know your wife, or your husband, or your friend, as of two or three days ago. But in the meantime that friend, or husband or wife, has undergone a change. So to say 'I know' is 'wrong' if I may use that word.

So knowledge prevents you from looking right? Now, can I look without the previous experience, without knowledge, so that I look with freshness, with newness? Life is a series of experiences, conscious or unconscious these experiences, the various forms of influences, ideas, propaganda, all are pouring in and each leaves a mark. It is with these various hurts, marks, memories, as knowledge, that I look. So my look is always spotted, never clear. Can I look at myself with eyes that have never been touched by experience? Do please follow this and do it; do it and you will see something. If I look at myself with the eyes of experience, with eyes that have looked at so many things - I have been through such tragedies, such thoughts, such despairs and sorrows - then those eyes never see anything clearly. Can the mind be free of all the past, to look?

Can the mind be aware of its conditioning, can it look at it without any distortion, without any bias? That is the problem. Is it possible to look at anything, the tree, the cloud, the flower, the child, the face of a woman or a man, as though you are looking at it for the first time? That is really the central issue, real freedom to look.

And freedom is to be free of the whole depth of the past. The past is the culture in which we have been brought up, the social, economic influences, the peculiar tendencies of each one of us, the impulses, the religious dogmas, beliefs, all of that is the past; and with that past we try to look at ourselves, yet we ourselves are that past.

There are two types of freedom, are there not? There is freedom from something. I am free from anger, let us suppose, but the freedom from something is a reaction; obviously that is not freedom. To be free from one's nationality means absolutely nothing; a very intelligent man is free from that particular poison; but that does not constitute freedom at all. And there is a different kind of freedom, a state of mind in which there is no effort at all. Such freedom is love; it is not as when you say, 'I must learn to love, to practise love', 'I hate people but I am going to struggle, make an attempt to love', that is not love.

Freedom is a state of mind in which love is and it is not the opposite of hate, or jealousy, or aggression. When we are dealing with opposites and trying to be free from one and achieve the other then the other has its root in its own opposite right? Through conflict freedom cannot possibly be understood.

We will come back to this question what is it to be aware? Is there an awareness of that tree, of that cloud, of the green sparkling grass in the early morning; is there an awareness of it without any choice, without any interference of thought or of knowledge which divides? We were saying the other day, do look at a tree, or a cloud, or whatever it is, without space.

Did you do it? To look at your wife, or your husband, or your girl friend, or boy friend, without the image; have you ever tried it? Have you seen what its implications are and seen whether you can be free from these implications, so that you can look? I think this is very important to understand and is the key to the whole thing. When there is no separation between the observer and the thing observed, there is no conflict and therefore there is immediate action.

I am aware that I am angry; the observer, if he is separate, sees anger as something apart from himself, outside of himself. When there is this division between the observer and the observed, the observer says, 'I must get rid of it', 'I must suppress it', or 'I must understand it, 'I must look to the cause of it' and so on and on. In that there is conflict, there is a state of disturbance, control, suppression, of yielding to it or rationalizing it, justifying it, and so on; which is all a waste of energy because of the conflict involved in it.

But when the observer realizes he himself is the thing observed, then he sees that he is anger (not he himself and anger as two separate things). When he sees that he is anger, then there is no waste of energy. What actually takes place what happens then? I see I am angry, that state you all know, I am not separate from the anger, I am anger and I am aware of it, there is no division then what takes place?


Editor's note: I am persuaded that K does not explain this very well. He does not understand the difference between the true and false selves. Anger can be seen in oneself, but it is not of the true self. See the "mind the gap" principle on the "surrender and acceptence" page. The unity or totality of perspective, without division, of which K speaks is a product of the true self observing but free of the influence of the ego/false self.


Then there is no effort or struggle or contradiction or battle there is only one thing, that which actually is. And what actually is, is myself (the observer who thought he was different from the observed) And there is only that fact, anger, jealousy, or whatever it is; and all the movement of contradictory thought has come to an end. Therefore there is only perception, a seeing in which there is no division, no contradiction and a new state of energy comes into being. This new state of energy is going to dispel that fact altogether.

We need a great deal of energy; to look at a tree without this space, without this division, between the seer and the seen, you need great energy of attention and also you need a sense of freedom. Freedom and attention must go together, which is love and that quality of attention in which the observer is not...



Editor's last word: