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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

Each generation revolts against parental conditioning but, in this reaction, merely trades old chains for new. To label "this is a rose" already conditions the observation.




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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 2, Berkeley, California - 04 February 1969


One sees the mind is always demanding to be certain, to be secure, to be safe. A mind that is safe, secure, is a bourgeois mind, a shoddy mind. Yet that is what all of us want: to be completely safe. And psychologically there is no such thing. See what takes place outwardly - it's quite interesting if you observe it - each person wants to be safe, secure. And yet psychologically he does everything to bring about his own destruction.

You can see this. As long as there are nationalities with their sovereign governments, with their armies and navies and so on, there must be war. And yet psychologically we are conditioned to accept that we are a particular group, a particular nation, belonging to a particular ideology, or religion. I do not know if you have ever observed what mischief the religious organizations have done in the world, how they have divided man. You are a Catholic, I am a Protestant. To us the label is much more important than the actual state of affection, love, kindliness. Nations have divided us, nationalities have divided us. One can observe this division, which is our conditioning and which brings about fear.

"Can thought be silent?" Can one look at the sunset and be completely involved in the beauty of that sunset, without thought bringing into it the question of pleasure?

For most of us, action is derived from an ideology. First we have an idea about what we should do, the idea being an ideology, a concept, a formula. Having formulated what we should do, we act according to that ideology. So there is always a division, and hence a conflict between action and what you have formulated that action should be.

Learning, like seeing, is a great art. When you see a flower, what takes place? Do you see the flower actually, or do you see it through the image you have of that flower? The two things are entirely different. When you look at a flower, at a colour, without naming it, without like or dislike, without any screen between you and the thing you see as a flower, without the word, without thought, then the flower has an extraordinary colour and beauty. But when you look at the flower through botanical knowledge, when you say: "this is a rose", you have already conditioned your looking.

If you are sensitive, alive, watching [without thought], then you will see that the space between you and the flower disappears and when that space disappears you see the thing so vitally, so strongly! In the same way when you observe yourself without that space (not as "the observer" and "the thing observed") then you will see there is no contradiction and therefore no conflict.

In seeing the structure of fear, one also sees the structure and nature of pleasure. The seeing is the learning about it and therefore the mind is not caught in the pursuit of pleasure. Then life has quite a different meaning. One lives - not in search of pleasure.

Questioner: What is one to do when one notices the sunset and at the same time thought is coming into it?

Krishnamurti: What is one to do? Please understand the significance of the question. That is, you see the sunset, thought interferes with it, and then you say "What is one to do?, Who is the questioner who says "What is one to do?" Is it thought that says what am I to do? Do you understand the question? Let me put it this way. There is the sunset, the beauty of it, the extraordinary colour, the feeling of it, the love of it; then thought comes along and I say to myself: "Here it is, what am I to do?" Do listen to it carefully, do go into it. Is it not thought also that says "What am I to do?" The "I" who says "What am I to do?", is the result of thought. So thought, seeing what is interfering with this beauty, says: "What am I to do?"

Don't do anything! (Laughter) If you do something, you bring conflict into it. But when you see the sunset and thought comes in, be aware of it. Be aware of the sunset and the thought that comes into it. Don't chase thought away, be choicelessly aware of this whole thing: the sunset and thought coming into it. Then you will find, if you are so aware, without any desire to suppress thought, to struggle against the interference of thought, if you don't do any of those things then thought becomes quiet. Because it is thought itself that is saying "What am I to do?" That is one of the tricks of thought. Don't fall into the trap, but observe this whole structure of what is happening.

Questioner: We are conditioned how to look at the sunset, we are conditioned how we listen to you as the speaker. So through our conditioning we look at everything and listen to everything. How is one to be free of this conditioning?

Krishnamurti: When are you aware of this conditioning, of any conditioning? Do please follow it a little bit. When are you aware that you are conditioned? Are you aware that you conditioned as an American, as a Hindu, as a Catholic, Protestant, Communist, this and that? Are you aware that you are so conditioned, or are you aware of it because somebody has told you? If you are aware because someone has pointed out to you that you are conditioned, then that is one kind of awareness.

But if you are aware that you are conditioned without being told, then it has a different quality. If you are told that you are hungry, that is one thing; but if you are actually hungry that is another. Now find out which it is: whether you were told you are conditioned and therefore you realize it; or because you are aware ...

Becoming aware of a particular conditioning, you revolt against it, as the present generation is revolting - which is merely a reaction. Revolt against a conditioning forms another kind of conditioning.

One becomes aware of one's conditioning as a Communist, a Protestant, a Democrat, or a Republican... What takes place when you are choicelessly aware of this conditioning, which you have found for yourself? There is no reaction. Then you are learning about this conditioning, why it comes into being.

Two thousand years of propaganda have made you believe in a particular form of religious dogma. You are aware of how the church through centuries upon centuries, through tradition, repetition, through various rituals and entertainments, has conditioned our minds. There has been the repetition day after day, month after month, from childhood on; we are baptized and all the rest of it. And another form of the same thing takes place in other countries like India, China and so on.

Now when you become aware of it, what happens? You see how quickly the mind is influenced. The mind being pliable, young, innocent, is conditioned as a Communist, Catholic, Protestant and so on. Why is it conditioned? Why is it so shaped by propaganda? Are you following this? Why are you persuaded by propaganda to buy certain things, to believe in certain things, why? Not only is there this constant pressure from the outside, but also one wants to belong to something, one wants to belong to a group, because belonging to a group is safe. One wants to be a tribal entity. And behind that there is fear, fear of being alone, of being left out...

So the question then is: Is it possible to be so intensely aware of conditioning that you see the truth of it? - not whether you like or dislike it, but the fact that you are conditioned and therefore have a mind incapable of freedom. Because only the free mind knows what love is.

Questioner: Is it true that the past should be consumed by the fire of present total involvement?

Krishnamurti: What is the present? Do you know what it is? ... Can you be aware of "the now", know what it is? Or do you only know the past, the past which operates in the present, which creates the future?

Are you following? When you say "live in the present" you must find out what that present actually is. Is there such a thing? ... There is nothing new in you, you are second-hand. You are the past looking at the present, translating the present. The present being the challenge, the pain, the anxiety, a dozen things which are the result of the past, and you are looking at it getting very frightened and thinking about tomorrow, which again creates another pleasure - you are all that.

To understand the now is an immense problem of meditation - that is meditation. To understand the past totally, see where its importance lies, and to see its total unimportance, to realize the nature of time - all that is part of meditation... But Sirs, before you can meditate there must be the foundation of righteousness, which means no fear. If there is any kind of fear, secret or obvious, then meditation is the most dangerous thing, because it offers a marvellous escape. To know what the meditative mind is, is one of the greatest things.



Editor's last word:

"Becoming aware of a particular conditioning, you revolt against it, as the present generation is revolting - which is merely a reaction. Revolt against a conditioning forms another kind of conditioning."

Each generation thinks itself avant-garde, but merely trades the old chains of conditioning for newly-fashioned ones.

"when you say: "this is a rose," you have already conditioned your looking."

The egoic mind, not in a healthful way, wants to compare, label, analyze; in so doing, it seeks to marginalize, to bring the observed under its control, in terms of "I am better than this"; if not, it will identify with, subordinate itself to, in order to find safety that way.