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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

Many are so identified with an ideal that, if you disagree with it, they will hate you, and some will try to kill you. This identification with a thought-form, a surrendering of self, creates a terrorized mind, makes one incapable of living, incapable of listening, of opening oneself to the messages of 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, Amsterdam - 22 May 1968

AS ONE OBSERVES what is happening in the world, the chaos, the confusion and the brutality of man to man, which no religion or social order - or perhaps disorder - has been able to prevent, as one observes the activities of the politicians, the economists, the social reformers, right throughout the world, one sees they have brought more and more confusion, more and more misery.

Religions, that is organized beliefs, have certainly in no way helped to bring order, deep abiding happiness to man. Nor have any utopias, whether the Communist or those minority groups who have formed communities, brought any deep lasting clarity to man.

And one needs a tremendous revolution right throughout the world; a great change is necessary. We do not mean an outward revolution, but an inward revolution at the psychological level, which obviously is the only hope, is the only - if one can use the word - salvation for man. Ideologies have brought brutality, they have brought various forms of killing, wars; ideologies, however noble, are really quite ignoble. There must be a total mutation in the very structure of our brain cells, in the very structure of thought.

And to bring about such deep lasting mutation, revolution or change, one needs a great deal of energy. One needs a drive, a sustained, constant intensity, not the casual interest, or passing enthusiasm which brings about a certain quality of energy, which is soon dissipated. To really bring about this change in human beings at the psychological level, inside the skin as it were, we need energy, force, intensity, drive. And that energy man has hoped to come by through resistance, through constant discipline, imitation, conformity. You can see it in the religious orders throughout the world, or in those people who have committed themselves to a particular ideology.

They hope by believing, acting according to an ideology, or by dedicating themselves to a particular belief, doctrine, dogma, to derive that intense quality of energy which is necessary to bring about a radical change in the human mind and heart. Yet that resistance, conformity, discipline, mere adjustment to an idea, has not given man that necessary energy and force. So one has to find a different action that will bring this necessary energy.

In this present structure of society, in our relationship between man and man, the more we act, the less energy we have. For in that action there is contradiction, fragmentation, and so that action brings conflict and therefore wastes energy. One has to find the energy, which is sustaining, which is constant, which does not fade away. And I think there is such an action which brings about this vital quality which is necessary for a deep radical revolution in the mind. For most of us action, that is 'to do', to be active, takes place according to an idea, a formula, or a concept; if you observe your own activities, your own daily movement in action, you will see that you have formulated an idea or an ideology and according to that you act. So there is a division between the idea of what you should do, or what you should be, or how you should act and actual action; you can see that in yourselves very clearly. So action is always approximation to the formula, to the concept, to the ideal. And there is a division, a separation, between what should be and what is, which causes duality and therefore there is conflict.

Please, as we said the other day, and at all the talks here, do not merely listen to a series of words - words have no meaning in themselves, words have never brought about any radical change in man; you can pile up words, make a garland of them, as most of us do, and live on words, but they are ashes, they do not bring beauty into life; words do not bring love, and if you are merely listening this evening to a series of ideas or words, then I am afraid you will go empty handed. But if you would listen, not only to the speaker, but to your own thoughts, listen to the way of your life, listen to what is being said not as something outside of you, but which is actually taking place within you, then you would see the reality - or the falseness - of what is being said.

One has to see what is true and what is false for oneself, not through somebody else. And to find that out you have to listen, you have to give care, affection, attention, which means to be very serious; and life demands that we be serious, because it is only for the mind that is very serious that there is life - there is an abundance of life. But there is not to the curious, not to the intellectual, not to the emotionalist, not to the sentimentalist.

We are talking about action (for life is action, all living is action, all relationship is action) and when one observes the movement of action within oneself, one sees there is this division between what should be - the ideal - and what the actual action is.

Most of our action is the outcome of an idea, an ideal, a belief, a supposition, a formula and therefore there is a division and in this division there is the approximation, trying to come as close to the ideal as possible. In that there is conflict and this conflict is a waste of energy, it is the very source of wastage of energy. Action means doing, acting in the living present, and when there is action according to a pattern then action is not in the present, it is according to the past or according to the future; and therefore in that action there is confusion, there is conflict. Do please see this very simple fact, that in this there is a tremendous wastage of energy. That is the basic, fundamental, distortion of energy, which is to act according to a principle, to a belief, to an ideology.

Is there action without the formula? I hope the question is clear. That is, when action - which is always in the active, living present - is an approximation, or trying to get as close to the ideal as possible, then there is conflict. And that conflict is the essential waste of energy. We need tremendous energy to bring about a psychological change in ourselves as human beings, because we have lived far too long in a world of make-belief, in a world of brutality, violence, despair, anxiety. To live humanly, sanely, one has to change.

To bring about a change within oneself and therefore within society, one needs this radical energy, for the individual is not different from society - the society is the individual and the individual is the society. And to bring about a necessary radical, essential change in the structure of society - which is corrupt, which is immoral - there must be change in the human heart and mind. To bring about that change you need great energy and that energy is denied or perverted, or twisted, when you act according to a concept; which is what we do in our daily life. The concept is based on past history, or on some conclusion, so it is not action at all, it is an approximation to a formula.

So one asks if there is an action which is not based on an idea, on a conclusion formed by dead things which have been. We are going to find out, if we can work and co-operate together this evening - not merely listen to the speaker - to find out if there is an action which brings more energy, not less and less.

There is such action. Stating that is not the creation of another idea. One has to find out that action for oneself, and to find out one has to begin right at the beginning of our human behaviour, of our human quality of mind. That is, we are never alone, we may be walking in a wood by ourselves but we are not alone [in that we are burdened by our thoughts].

You may be with your family, in society, but the human mind is so conditioned by past experience, knowledge, memory, that it does not know what it is to be alone. And one is afraid to be alone because to be alone implies - does it not? - that one has to be outside society.

One may live in society but one has to be an outsider to society. And to be an outsider to society one has to be free of society. Society demands that you act according to an idea; that is all society knows, that is all that human beings know - conform, imitate, accept, obey. And when one accepts the edicts of tradition, conforms to the pattern which society has set up (which means human beings have set up) then one is part of this whole conditioned human existence, which wastes its energy through constant effort, constant conflict, confusion, misery. Is it possible for human beings to be free of this confusion, of this conflict?

Essentially this conflict is between the action and what that action should be. And one observes within oneself, as one must, how conflict constantly drains energy. The whole social structure - which is to be competitive, aggressive, comparing oneself with another, accepting an ideology, a belief and so on - is based on conflict, not only within oneself but also outwardly. And we say, if there is no conflict within oneself, no struggle, battle, we shall become like animals, we shall become lazy, which is not the actual fact. We do not know any other kind of life than the life we live, which is the constant struggle from the moment we are born until we die; that is all we know.

As one observes it one can see what a wastage of energy it is. And one must extricate oneself from this social disorder, from this social immorality; which means one must be alone. Though you may live in society you are no longer accepting its structure, values - the brutality, the envy, the jealousy, the competitive spirit - and therefore you are alone; and when you are alone you are mature - maturity is not of age.

Throughout the world there is revolt, but that revolt is not through the understanding of the whole structure of society, which is yourself. That revolt is fragmentary; that is, one may revolt against a particular war, or fight and kill another in one's favourite war, or be a religious believer belonging to a particular culture or group - Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, what you will. But to revolt means to revolt against the whole structure, not against a particular fragment of that culture.

To understand this whole structure one must first be aware of it, one must first look at it, become conscious of it; that is, be choicelessly aware of it. You can't choose a particular part of society and say 'I like this, I don't like that', 'this pleases me and that does not please me'. Then you are merely conforming to a particular pattern and resisting the other pattern, therefore you are still caught in the struggle.

So what is important is first to see the picture of this whole human existence, the daily existence of our life to see it! Not as an idea, not as a concept, but actually be aware of it as one is aware of being hungry. Hunger is not an idea, it is not a concept: it is a fact. In the same way, to see this confusion, this misery, the constant endless struggle, when one is choicelessly aware of this whole thing, then there is no conflict at all; then one is outside the social structure because the mind has extricated itself from the absurdity of society. Because you have ideals you are aggressive; because you have beliefs, dogmas and belong to certain groups and communities you are violent.

So, is it possible to look, to observe oneself - not analytically, but just to observe - because 'oneself' is the human being, oneself is the social structure, oneself is the entity that has brought about this social disorder, so that when you observe without any choice, then you begin to understand the total nature of this structure. In that understanding there is action which is not based on a formula, it is a total action. And that is the state of maturity.

We are not mature, we are more or less unbalanced people. After all, the extreme form of imbalance is that a man believes he is something he is not, or has so identified himself with an ideal, he is not capable of living.

Editor's note: Think of the many people who are so identified with some mental concept, which makes them angry, and angry at you, hating you, if you disagree with them, that they are incapable of opening themselves to the messages of life all around them.

And if I may say so most of us - probably ninety-nine point nine per cent - are rather unbalanced, because we are pursuing ideals that have no value at all, we are idealists, we are violent. You belong to one group, which believes in certain ideals, and another [group] to another [set of ideals] and there is war.

So when one is aware in the sense that there is no choice whatsoever, then out of that action comes what is not fragmentary. [Then] You don't love and hate; then there is only a quality of life that is not touched by hate, anger, jealousy, envy. And to come upon that one has to have great energy.

You know, man - that is each one of us wherever we live - wants to find a state of mind, a state of living, which is not a travail, which is not a battle. I am sure all of us, however lowly or however intellectual we are, want to find a way of life that is orderly, full of beauty and great love. That has been the search of man for thousands of years. And instead of finding it he has externalized it, put it out there, created gods, saviours, priests with their ideas and so he has missed the whole issue. One must deny all that, deny totally the acceptance that there is heaven through another, or by following another. Nobody in the world or in heaven can give you that life. One has to work for it - endlessly.

And in understanding this whole business of existence, this life which is so painful, one must also ask what is the meaning of life, what is it all about. We are educated badly, we are trained for a particular job, a livelihood, then we slip into family life, then comes the endless struggle - is that what human beings live for, is that all life is?

Therefore we invent a theory of God, a theory of an 'otherness'; that there is something beyond this life, or there is something in us which is the true divinity and so on and so on, which are absolutely not facts.

Editor's note: This is where I part ways with K. I assert that one can access, within oneself, a sense of the reality of God, which is not an "otherness" but part of one's own true self; of life, of continued life. None of this is a belief, but, if accessed properly, becomes a living reality.

The facts are in our daily life - and we must deny the whole structure that we have invented in order to escape from our daily life. It is in our daily life that we have to bring about a change and not in some ideological future world.

So one has to ask oneself: what is it all about? What do we live for? What is the meaning of life? The meaning of life is not according to the theoreticians, the theologians. They are so conditioned by there belief, by their experience, by being tethered to a particular church or group, they cannot possibly see the meaning of life. We have to see it for ourselves, not according to somebody else.

So one has to ask this question: what is it all about? What is the meaning of life? Is there a meaning to life at all? Or is there only this life of struggle, battle, despair, sorrow and endless confusion. Man has asked this question. It isn't the first time we are asking it. Man has asked it and not finding the meaning, invented a meaning, given a significance to life. That is the intellectual trick - giving significance to life. But to find out for oneself what the significance is, what the meaning of life is, without inventing a meaning, then one finds out if there is one or if there is not.

Therefore one has neither to accept, nor reject. That is, one has to be totally negative to find out. Do please see this point. To see anything clearly the mind must be empty. To see even the leaf of a tree, if the mind is chattering, thinking of other things, problems, is full of ideas, knowledge, it never sees the beauty, the loveliness of a leaf. In the same way, to see the deep meaning of life - if there is any meaning at all - the mind must be emptied of its own conditioning. Can the brain cells, which have been anthropologically and biologically conditioned for millions and millions of years, can that heavily conditioned brain be utterly quiet so that it can see something new?

In asking that question, whether there is a meaning to life at all, one has to find the answer for oneself; the mind, the brain itself has to be extraordinarily quiet. That is to say, the old brain; the old brain which is so heavily conditioned, which responds and says: I am a Catholic, I am a Protestant, or I am a Dutchman, I am a Hindu and all that nonsense. To find out the significance - if there is one - that old brain must be quiet. And that is part of meditation - not to suppress it, you can't suppress it, you can't alter it, you can't change it - but you can see, if you are choicelessly aware, how the old brain is always interfering, always responding immediately according to its conditioning.

If you are choicelessly aware of it, then you will see it becomes fairly quiet; there is an interval between the challenge and the response. When there is a response to any challenge, it is the old mind that responds immediately. And when you are aware without any interference - therefore choicelessly aware of the fact - then you will see that the old brain becomes extraordinarily quiet. And that is the whole meaning of meditation. The word has been so spoilt by exploiters or by those people who have a particular system which they want to thrust upon others; which means they don't know what meditation means at all.

So, to find out if there is a significance in this life, which is so full of sorrow and misery with an occasional flutter of happiness and delight, one has to put that question in all seriousness to oneself. You will find the answer only when the old brain is not made tranquil by drugs, by tricks, when it is quiet you will find that there is a meaning. And in the discovery of that meaning, the observer, who is the centre (the ego, the me, the personality, the entity that gathers character unto itself as the thinker, the experiencer) comes to an end.

You know, it is one of the most extraordinary facts of life that our consciousness, our mental condition, is very narrow, very limited, because we think in fragments and being aware of this limitation we try by various means to expand that limitation through reading, through taking drugs, through various psychedelic experiences, through various chemicals, because we realize our minds are so petty, shallow, everlastingly offering opinions, judgments. One realizes that and so one says, is it possible to go beyond this limitation?

And the danger of it is that we invent a god: all gods are man's inventions, the saviours, the gurus, those who say, 'We know and you don't know'. But if you reject all that completely then you will find for yourself that there is tremendous significance to life, not an invented significance. Then we will know what love is. Then we will know what action is, and what virtue is. Virtue is not harsh; virtue is order and that order cannot possibly come about through harshness, which the priests have practiced throughout life and imposed upon people: the idea that one must live a harsh life which is called austerity, to find reality. Obviously one must lead an austere life, but that austerity is not born out of harshness; it comes naturally, easily, through understanding. To understand this whole life is to be choicelessly aware of it; you will see for yourself, if you go that far - and you must go that far, because our house, our life, is being destroyed. To put an end to all that one must in daily life be so intensely, choicelessly aware, that all conflict comes to an end. And out of that comes an aloneness, which gives an abundance of energy, and that energy brings a radical revolution at the deep inner level.

Then perhaps you will be lucky. It is a strange thing that you cannot invite reality, you cannot invite the whole heavens and the beauty of the earth - all that you have to do is to leave the window open and let that beauty, that love, come. But to leave the window open you must have order and therefore deny this total disorder of life, of this society which man has created. And only when there is this complete inward order, then one comes upon that immeasurable reality.

We have got five minutes more - do you think it would be worth while to ask questions? Just a minute, Sir, before you ask a question. I know we have many questions because we must question everything, doubt everything, including what the speaker has said. That's the only way to find out, because that is the only way to be free, but to ask a question the question must be a right question. We never ask the right questions, the essential questions. And that is one of the most difficult things to do, because to ask a right question you must have gone into the question yourself and when you have gone into the question very deeply you have already answered it. But if you wait for another to answer that question, however right it be, it will be only verbal, which means you have not worked upon it yourself, gone into it, explored it. So one must ask the right question. And the right question will always find the right answer; not from another, the other is merely a sounding board and the sounding board is not important.

You know that word 'guru', which is so misused all over the world, means 'the one who points out: like a post by the roadside he points out the direction. You don't build a shrine round that post, you don't put garlands round it, you don't obey it, you don't give respect to it, you look at it and pass by. But when the post becomes important then you are lost, then you are exploited. In asking questions (and we must), we need a great deal of intelligence, not intellect. Intelligence comes with maturity and maturity is that state of mind which is completely alone. One doesn't see the enormous beauty of being alone, one is afraid of it. Love is alone and therefore it is incorruptible.

Yes, Sir?

Questioner: What is the best attitude towards hostility and brutality?

Krishnamurti: I wonder what we mean by attitude. Why do we want an attitude? What does attitude mean? Taking up a position, coming to a conclusion. I have an attitude about whatever it is, which means I have come to a conclusion after study, after examining, after planning, after probing into the question. I have come to this point, to this attitude, which means that very assumption of an attitude is resistance; therefore that in itself is violence. We cannot have an attitude towards violence or hostility. That means you are interpreting it according to your particular conclusion, fancy, imagination, understanding. What we are saying is: is it possible to look at this hostility in oneself, this creating enmity in oneself, this violence, this brutality in oneself without any attitude, to see the fact as it is? The moment you have an attitude you are already prejudiced, you have taken a side and therefore you are not looking, you are not understanding that fact within yourself.

So, Sir, to look at oneself without an attitude, without any opinion, judgment, evaluation, is one of the most arduous tasks. In this looking there is clarity and it is that clarity which is not a conclusion, not an attitude, that dispels this total structure of brutality and hostility.

Have I stopped you all from asking questions? I hope not!

Questioner: If we understand what it is to listen with our whole being, do we understand everything else you are talking about too?

Krishnamurti: Do we understand anything if we give our heart and mind to it? Is that it Sir?

Questioner: You have mentioned many things in your talks, one of the things you have mentioned is listening with our whole being. If we understand listening with our whole being, does that mean that we understand everything else that you say?

Krishnamurti: Obviously! - if we listened with our whole being to any problem. Because Sir, look: all problems are related to one problem, there is no 'one problem' and 'other problems'. All problems, human problems, are interrelated.

And when I understand one problem completely I have understood all problems. To understand the problem of envy - I am taking that as an example - does not mean probing and examining it intellectually, coming to a conclusion and saying 'It is right' or 'wrong', or whatever it is. To understand it means to listen to that problem, and you cannot possibly listen to that problem if your mind is not quiet. When you understand one problem, however deep or however superficial it be, that problem is related to all other problems. Then if you listen to it quietly, without any choice, are aware of it, you will see that you will begin to understand and transcend all problems.

Questioner: Isn't it better not to do a kindness when it is only done out of duty, without love?

Krishnamurti: If there is no love, but you do some kindly action out of duty, is it worth while? Need you ask that question? Need one reply to that question? You know that word 'duty' is a terrible word. We use that word only when there is no love. The heart that loves has no duty and no responsibility. When there is love, do whatever you will, then there is responsibility; but if it is a responsibility born out of duty and there is no love, it is a most awful action, because it brings confusion and misery.



Editor's last word: