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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

In the East they say, 'We Brahmins, we are right, we are superior, we know', they assert their dogmas and beliefs, their conduct and morality, all of which creates division in the world. So we ask, is there a life of action which is never fragmentary, never exclusive, never divided?




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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, Saanen, Switzerland - 16 July 1968

I WONDER IF YOU ever ask yourself a fundamental question; a question that, in the very asking, indicates a depth of seriousness; a question the answering of which does not necessarily depend on another, or on any philosophy, or teacher and so on. I would like to ask, this morning, one of those serious and fundamental questions.

Is there right action which is right under all circumstances, or is there only action neither right nor wrong?

Right action varies according to the individual and the different circumstances in which he is placed. The individual as opposed to the community, the individual as a soldier, he might ask, 'What is right action?' To him the right action obviously would be as he's in the front to kill. And the individual with his family enclosed within the four walls of the idea of mine, my family, my possessions to him there is also a right action. And the business man in the office, to him also there is right action.

And so the right action breeds opposition; the individual action opposed to the collective action. Each maintains that his action is right; the religious man with his exclusive beliefs and dogmas pursues what he considers right action and this separates him from the non-believer, from those who think or feel the opposite of what he believes. There is the action of the specialist who is working according to certain specialized knowledge, he says 'This is the right action'. There are politicians with their right and wrong action; the communists, the socialists, the capitalists, and so on. There is this whole stream of life, which includes the business life, the political life, the religious life, the life of the family and also the life in which there is beauty love, kindliness, generosity and so on.

One asks oneself in looking at all these fragmentary actions which breed their own opposites seeing all this, one asks 'What is right action in all circumstances?' Or there is only action, which is neither right nor wrong a very difficult statement even to make or to believe, because obviously it is wrong action to kill, obviously it is wrong action when one is held by a particular dogma and acts according to that.

There are those who, seeing all this, say 'We are activists, we are not concerned with philosophies, with theories, with various forms of speculative ideology, we are concerned with action, doing.' And, there are those who withdraw from 'doing' into monasteries, they retire into themselves and go to some paradise of their own, or they spend years in meditation, thinking to find the truth and from there act.

So, serving these phenomena the opposing and fragmentary actions of those who say 'We are right', 'This is the right action'. This will solve the problems of the world' yet so creating, consciously or unconsciously, activities opposed to that and thus everlasting divisions and aggressive attitudes one asks 'What is one to do?'

What is one to do in a world that is really appalling, brutal in a world where there is such violence, such corruption, where money, money, money, matters enormously and where one is willing to sacrifice another in seeking power, position, prestige, fame; where each man is wanting, struggling to assert, to fulfil, to be somebody.

What is one to do? what are you to do? I do not know if you have asked this question, 'What am I, living in this world, seeing all this before me, the misery, the enormous suffering man is inflicting upon man, the deep suffering that one goes through, the anxiety, the fear, the sense of guilt, the hope and the despair seeing all this, one must, if one is at all aware of all this, ask 'what am I, living in this world, to do?' How would you answer that question?

If you put that question to yourself in all seriousness, if you put that question very, very seriously, it has an extraordinary intensity and immediacy. What is your answer to this challenge? One sees that the fragmentary action, the action that is 'right', does lead to contradiction, to opposition, to separateness; and man has pursued this, the 'right' action, calling it morality, pursuing a behaviour pattern, a system in which he is caught and by which he is conditioned; to him there is right action and wrong action, which in their turn produce other contradictions and oppositions. So one asks oneself, 'Is there an action which is neither right nor wrong only action?' ...

How to live a life that is complete, whole? ... In the East they have their own pattern of behaviour; they say, 'We Brahmins, we are right, we are superior, we are this, we are that, we know', they assert their dogmas and beliefs, their conduct and morality, yet all in opposition, 'tolerating' each other and killing each other at a moment's notice. So we ask, 'Is there a life of action which is never fragmentary, never exclusive, never divided?'

How will we find out? Is it to be found out through verbal explanations, is it to be found out by another telling you? Is it to be found out because you, having never acted completely, are so tired, exhausted, heartbroken that out of that weariness and despair you want to find the other? So one must be clear about the motive with which one asks this question.

If one has a motive of any kind, one's answer will have no meaning whatsoever because the motive dictates the answer. One must ask this question without any motive, because it is then only that truth is to be found, the truth of anything. In putting this question one must discover one's motive. And if one has a motive because one wants to be happy, or because one wants peace in the world, or because one has struggled for so long, or if one's motive in searching for complete action is out of weariness, out of despair, out of various forms of longing, of escape, of fulfilment then one's answer will inevitably be very limited.

So one must be really aware when one puts this question to oneself. But if you can put it without any motive at all then you are free to look, you understand? you are free to find out you are not tethered to a particular demand, to a particular urge. Can we go on from there? It is very difficult to be free of motive.

So what is action, which is not fragmentary, which is neither right nor wrong and which does not create opposition, action which is not dualistic please follow all this an action which does not breed conflict, contradictions?

Having put that question to yourself in all seriousness, how are you going to find out? You have to find out. Nobody can give it to you, it would not be of your own finding, it would not be something which you have come upon because you have looked with clarity and therefore something which could never be taken away, destroyed by circumstance. In asking this question, the intellect, with all its cunning, can be given all the data, all the circumstances, seeing that every contradictory action breeds conflict and therefore misery it can say 'I will do this' and make that into a principle, a pattern, a formula, according to which it will live; but then you will live according to that formula as you have done previously, then you are again breeding contradiction, then you are imitating, following, obeying.

To live according to a formula, to an ideology, to a foreseeable conclusion, is to live a life of adjustment, imitation, conformity, therefore a life of opposition, duality, endless conflict and confusion. The intellect cannot answer this question, nor can thought. Thought, if you have gone into it deeply with yourselves, thought is always divided, thought can never bring about a unity of action; it may bring about integrated action, but any action that is the outcome of integration through thought will inevitably breed contradictory action.

One sees the danger of thought, thought which is the response of memory, experience, knowledge, conviction and so on; one sees that thought, which is the response from the past, can lay out a way of life and force itself to conform to the formula which it has created ideologically.

And one sees that, that means inward conflict, for in that there is right and wrong, that which is true, or false, that which should be and that which is not, that which might have been and so on and on. So, if the mind, in putting this question, can be clear of motive, be clear of the danger of the intellectual perception and the conformity to an ideology which it has invented, then it can ask this question and the answer will be entirely different.

Is it possible to live so completely, so wholly, so totally that there are no fragmentary actions? As one observes, life is action; whatever you do or think or feel, is action. Life is a movement, an endless movement, without a beginning and without an end; and we have broken it up into the past, present and the future, as living and dying, as well as breaking it up into love and hate, into nationalities.

And we are asking: is there a way of life not ideologically, but actually, every minute of daily life in which there is no contradiction, no opposition, no fragmentation, in the very living of which is complete action?

Have you ever considered what love is? is it this torture? it may be beautiful at the beginning when you tell somebody 'I love you', but it soon deteriorates into every form of cunning, possessive, dominating relationship, with its hate and jealous anxiety, its fear. Such love is pleasure and desire, pleasure of sex and the urge of desire maintained by thought chewing over that particular pleasure day after day; that is what we call love.

The love of Country, the love of God, the love of fellow man, all that means absolutely nothing, it is just ideas. When we talk about the love of the neighbour, in the church or in the temple, we do not really mean it; we are hypocrites for on Monday morning we destroy our neighbour in business, through competition, by wanting a better position, more power, and so on and on and on.

Love of the particular, in the family and the love of man outside that circle as possessiveness, possessing my wife, my husband, my child, dominating them, or I let them go because I am too occupied, I have business, I have other interests, I have... God knows what else, so there is no home; yet when there is a home there is this constant battle of possessiveness, domination, fear, jealousy, of trying to fulfil oneself through the family, through sex all these phenomena we call love.

I do not think we are exaggerating, we are merely stating the fact; we may not like it but it is there. In that love, again, is the right and wrong action, which again breeds various forms of conflict. Is all that love? that which we accept as love, that which has become part of our nature. We instinctively cover up this structure, but when you look at it objectively, very earnestly, with clear eyes is that love? obviously it is not.

And being caught in the behaviour pattern set by ourselves and by society for centuries, we cannot break away, we do not know what to do and hence there is conflict between the 'right' love and the 'wrong' love, between what should be and what is.

The 'morality' of this structure is really immoral; and knowing that, we create another ideology and therefore conflict in opposing the immorality. So, what is love? not your opinion, not your conclusion, not what you think about it who cares what is thought about it. You can only find out what it is when you completely get rid of the structure of jealousy, domination, hate, envy, the desire to possess the structure of pleasure.

Pleasure is something that has to be gone into. We are not saying that pleasure is wrong or right, which again would lead us to various conclusions and therefore oppositions. But for most of us, love is associated, is closely knit, with pleasure sexual and other forms of pleasure.

And if love is pleasure then love is pain; and when there is pain, is there love? logically, there is not, yet we go on with it, day after day. Can one break away from the structure, the tradition, the thing in which we are caught and find out, or come upon, that state of love which is none of this? it is beyond, outside the tent, it is not within the tent, within ourselves.

Is a life possible in which the very living is the beauty of action and love? Without love there is always the right and wrong action, breeding conflict, contradiction and opposition. There is only one action that comes out of [real] love; there is no other action which never contradicts, never breeds conflict. You know, love is both aggressive and non-aggressive, do not misunderstand it, love is not something pacifist, quiet, down somewhere in the cellar or up in heaven; when you love you have vitality, drive, intensity and the immediacy of action. So, is it possible for us human beings to be involved in this beauty of action, which is love?

It would quite extraordinary if all of us here, in this tent, could come upon this not as an idea, not something speculatively to be reached and actually from this day step out into a different dimension and live a life so whole, complete, so sacred; such a life is the religious life, there is no other life, no other religion.

Such a life will answer every problem, because love is extraordinarily intelligent and practical, with the highest form of sensitivity and there is humility. That is the only thing that is important in life; one is either steeped in it, or one is not. If we could, all of us, come into this naturally, easily, without any conflict or effort, then we would live a different life, a life of great intelligence, sagacity, clarity; it is this clarity which is a light to itself, this clarity solves all problems.

Questioner: Does it mean that you do not make plans?

Krishnamurti: I am afraid it does not. I had to make a plan when I got up this morning to come here; you have to make a plan when you are going to catch your train. You see, intelligence will answer these questions; having lived a life of imitation, of acceptance, obedience, of conformity to a formula, when that is taken away forcibly or you reject it because you see the absurdity of it you are lost, you say, 'My God, must I not do this, that?' and what happens? Whereas, if you with intimacy, actually observe the structure, the formula, the system you are living, see, feel and taste it, then out of that observation comes intelligence and that intelligence will act that intelligence is, by its very nature, free.



Editor's last word:

These are very important questions, but ones not answered in this lecture.

See K’s discussion on “choice.” See “The Wedding Song” on the nature of love as elevated level of consciousness.

What we want to avoid is the control and influence of one’s prior conditioning which leads us to “local nomos,” a private morality based on geography.