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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

Love, true romantic love, cannot be cultivated - like a plant, water it, nourish it, look after it. If you could do that with love it would be very simple, but unfortunately it does not work that way.




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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, Stanford University - 12 February 1969


We were saying yesterday that all our life is a constant struggle. From the moment we are born until we die, our life is a battlefield. And one wonders, not in the abstract but actually, whether that strife can end and if one can live completely at peace not only inwardly but also outwardly.

While in actual fact there is no such division as the inner and the outer - it is really a movement - this division is regarded as existing, not only as the world inside and outside the skin, but also as the division between me and you, we and they, the friend and the enemy, and so on.

We draw a circle round ourselves: a circle around me and a circle around you. Having drawn the circle - whether it is the circle of me and you, or the family, or the nation, the formula of religious beliefs and dogmas, the circle of knowledge one weaves round oneself - these circles divide us and so there is this constant division which invariably brings about conflict. We never go beyond the circle, never look beyond it. We are afraid to leave our own little circle and discover the circle, the barrier, around another.

And I think that therein begins the whole process, the structure and the nature of fear. One builds a barrier around oneself, enclosing a private world very carefully made up of formulas, concepts, words and convictions. Then, living within those walls, one is afraid to go outside. This division not only breeds various forms of neurotic behaviour, but also a great deal of conflict. And, if we abandon one circle, one wall, we build another wall around ourselves. So there is this constant, enduring resistance built of concepts, and one wonders whether it is at all possible not to have any division at all - to end all division and thus bring an end to all conflict.

Our minds are conditioned by formulas: my experiences, my knowledge, my family, my country, like and dislike, hate jealousy, envy, sorrow, the fear of this and the fear of that. That is the circle, the wall behind which I live. And I am not only afraid of what is within, but even more so of what is beyond the wall. One can observe this fact very simply in oneself without having to read a great many books, study philosophy and all the rest of it. It may very well be because one reads so much of what others have said that one knows nothing about oneself, what one actually is, and what is actually taking place in oneself. If we looked in ourselves ignoring what we think we should be but seeing what we actually are, then, perhaps, we would discover for ourselves the existence of these formulas and concepts - which are really prejudices and bias - that divide man against man. And so, in all relationships between man and man, there is fear and conflict - not only the conflict of sexual rights, of territorial rights, but also the conflict between what has been, is and what should be.

When one observes this fact in oneself - not as an idea not as something that you look in at from outside the window - but actually see in yourself, then one can find out whether it is at all possible to uncondition the mind of all formulas, of all beliefs, prejudices and fears and thereby, perhaps, live at peace. We see that man, both historically and in present times, has accepted war as a way of life. So how to end war not any particular war but all wars - how to live utterly at peace without any conflict, becomes a question not only for the intellect, but one that must be answered totally, not fragmentarily or in specialized fields.

Can man - you and I - live completely at peace - which doesn't mean living a dull life, or one that has no active, driving energy - can we find out if such a peace is possible? Surely it must be possible, otherwise our life has very little meaning. The intellectuals throughout the world try to find a significance or assign a meaning to life. All the religious say that existence is only a means to an end, which is God - God being the real significance. If you happen not to be a religious person, then you will substitute the State for God, or invent some other theory out of despair.

So our quest, really, is to find out if man can live at peace; actually live it, not theoretically, not as an idea, not as your formula according to which you are going to live peacefully. Such formulas again become walls - my formula and your formula, my concept and yours, with resulting division and everlasting battle. Can one live without a formula, without division, and therefore without conflict? I do not know if you have ever put that question to yourself in all seriousness: whether the mind can ever be free of these divisions of the me and the not me? The me, my family, my country, my God; or, if I have no God, the me, my family, the State; and if I have no State: me, my family, and an idea, an ideology.

Is it possible to free oneself from all this, not eventually, but overnight? If we entertain the "eventual theory," we are not living at all: "eventually" we will be free, or "eventually" we will live at peace. Surely that is not good enough: when a man is hungry, he wants to be fed immediately.

What, then, is the act that will free the mind from all conditioning - the act, not a series of acts? Here we have this self-centred activity which creates these divisions: the self-centred activity round a principle, an ideology, a country, a belief, round the family, and so on. This self-centred activity is separative and therefore causes conflict. Now, can this movement of the formula - which is the "me" with its memories, which is the centre around which the walls are built - can that "me", that separate entity with its self-centred activity, come to an end, not by a series of acts but by one act completely?

You know, we try to break down the conflicts little by little, chopping the tree little by little and never getting at the root of it. So one asks if it is at all possible, by one act, to end this whole structure of division, the separateness, the self-centred activity - all breeding conflict, war and strife. Is it possible?

When one asks that question in all seriousness, does one wait for an answer from another? After having that question put to you, are you waiting for an answer from the speaker? It is not that the speaker is avoiding answering, but are you waiting to be answered? If you are at all serious - and as we said yesterday, one must be because it is only a serious person that knows life, who knows what it is to live - will you wait for an answer? If you await an answer from the speaker, then the answer will be so many ashes, so many words, so many ideas, another series of formulas which, in themselves, will then become another cause for division: the Krishnamurti formula or somebody else's formula.

But, if we do not wait for an answer from anybody - the speaker included - then we can take the journey together. Then it is your responsibility as well as the speaker's. Then you are not merely listening to words, to ideas. Then we are both walking together, which I think very important as we get rid of this division between the speaker and yourselves; we are together discovering, understanding, acting, living - not according to any formula. Then there is direct relationship between us in taking a journey, because we are both feeling our way into reality: the reality - not the words, the description, the explanation or the philosophies of the cunning mind.

So, presuming that one is sufficiently serious, what is our problem? How to live our daily life here - not in a monastery or in some romantic dream world, not in some emotional, dogmatic, drug ridden world - but here and now, every day; how to live at great peace, with great intelligence, without any frustration or fear, to live so completely, so in a state of bliss - which, of course, implies meditation - that, really is the basic problem. And also whether it is possible to understand this whole life, not in fragments, but completely: be completely involved in it and not committed to any part of it; to be involved with the total process of living without any conflict, misery, confusion or sorrow.

That is the real question. For only then can one bring about a different world. That is the real revolution, the inward psychological revolution from which springs an immediate outward revolution. Let us, then, take the journey together - and I mean together, not you sitting there and I sitting on the platform - to look together at this whole field of life so that we understand it; not for someone else to understand it and then tell us how to understand it. Then only will we be both teacher and disciple.

We see that these divisions, these formulas of the "me" and the "not me", and the "we" and the "they", behind which we live, breed fear. And if one can be aware of this overall fear, this total fear, then one can understand a particular fear. Merely trying to understand a particular, silly little fear, however garnished, will have no meaning until you understand the entire question of fear. Fear destroys freedom. You may revolt, but it is not freedom. Fear perverts all thought. Fear in oneself destroys all relationship.

Please, these are not just words: this is evident in one's whole life - fear from the beginning to the end. Fear of public opinion, fear of not being successful, fear of loneliness, fear of not being loved, the measuring of ourselves against the hero of what "should be" and thus breeding more fear. This fear, moreover, lies not only at the obvious level of the mind but it also runs deep down. And we ask whether this fear can come to an end - not gradually, not bit by bit, but completely.

What is this fear? Why is one afraid? Is it because of what lies beyond the circle, or within the circle, or is it because of the circle? You follow what we mean? We are not trying to find out the particular cause of this fear, because, as we said yesterday, the discovery of the cause, the analytical process of understanding the cause and the effect, does not necessarily end fear - one has played that game for so long. But when one sees this fear - as one sees this microphone, actually what it is - is it within the wall, on the other side of the wall, or does it exist because of the wall? Surely it exists because of the wall, because of the division and not because you are within the wall or that you are afraid to look beyond the wall. It exists factually as it is, as you observe it; because of the wall. Now, how does this wall come into being?

Here please remember that we are taking the journey together and that you are not waiting for an answer from the speaker. We are taking the journey together, holding hands, and there is no point in your suddenly separating, taking away your hand and saying, "You walk ahead of me and tell me all about it". In journeying together, our verbal communication becomes more than mere communication: it becomes a kind of communion where there is affection, com, passion and understanding because it is concerned with our common human problem. It is not that it was my problem and that I've resolved it and that therefore you have to accept my verdict. It is our problem.

How, then, does this wall of resistance, division and separation come into being? In everything we do, in all our relationships however intimate they be, there is this division bringing confusion, misery and conflict. How has this barrier come into being? If one could really understand it - not verbally, not intellectually - but actually see it and feel it, then one would find that it comes to an end. Let us go into it. We asked how this wall has come into being. I wonder what you would say had you to answer that. Now each one of us has an opinion or will offer an opinion - my opinion being right and your opinion wrong. Dialectically we can examine it, but we are not concerned with dialectical examination and reaching a definite conclusion. Truth is not to be found in opinion or conclusion. Truth is something that is always new and therefore the mind cannot come to it with a conclusion, with an opinion, a judgment; it must be free. So when we ask this question as to how this wall of resistance has come into being, we are not asking for an opinion or for some clever, erudite person to tell us how - because there is no authority. We are watching it together, examining it together, feeling our way into it.

Surely the wall has come into being through the mechanism of thought. No? Please do not reject it: just observe it: thought. If there were no thinking about death, you would not be afraid of death. If you were not brought up to be a Christian, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist or God knows what else: if you were not conditioned by propaganda, by words, by thought, you would have no barrier. And one can see how thought, as the "me" and the "you", brings this about. So thought not only creates this wall with its self-centred activities, but it also creates your own activity within your wall.

So it is thought, in bringing about division, that creates fear. Thought is fear, as thought is pleasure. I see something very beautiful: a beautiful face, a lovely sunset, an enjoyable event of yesterday; thought thinks about it: how nice it was. Please do observe this: how lovely that experience, and thought, by the very act of thinking, gives to that experience the continuity of pleasure. So thought is not only responsible for fear but also for pleasure. That is fairly clear, obviously.

Because you have enjoyed the meal this afternoon, you want it repeated; or you have had some sexual experience, and thought thinks about it, mulls over it, chews it over, creates the picture, the image, and wants it repeated. This is pleasure repeated, which you call love. And thought, having created this circle, the barrier, the resistance, the belief, is afraid lest it be broken down, letting in something from beyond the wall. So thought breeds both fear and pleasure. You cannot possibly have pleasure without fear; they both go together, because they are the children of thought. And thought is the barren child of a mind that is only concerned with pleasure and fear. Please do observe it. Again let me remind you that we are taking the journey together: you are examining yourself, watching yourself in the mirror of the words.

So fear, pain and pleasure are the result of thought. And yet thought must function logically, sanely, healthily and objectively where it is needed in the technological world - not in human relationship, because the moment thought enters human relationship there is fear; then, in that, there is pleasure and pain. I am not saying anything crazy: you can see this for yourself. Thought is the response of memory, experience and knowledge and so is always old and therefore never free. There is "freedom of thought", certainly: that is, to say what you want. But thought itself is never free and can never bring about freedom. Thought can perpetuate either fear or pleasure but not freedom. And where there is fear and pleasure, love ceases to be. Love is neither thought nor pleasure. But to us love is pleasure and therefore fear.

When one is aware of this whole business of life as it is - not as we would like it to be, not according to some philosopher or holy priest, but actually as it is - one asks whether thought can have its right place and yet not interfere at all in every relationship. This does not mean a division between the two states of thought and non-thought. You see, Sirs, one has to live in this world, earn a livelihood, unfortunately, and go to the office. If ever there should come about a decent government of one world, then perhaps we might have no need to work more than a day, thereafter leaving the computers to take over, allowing us some leisure. But as long as that doesn't happen, one has to earn a livelihood and earn it efficiently and fully. However, the moment that efficiency becomes ugly through, for example, greed, or through this terrible desire to succeed and become somebody, the barrier of the "me" and the "not me" springs into being, bringing about competition and conflict. Realizing all this, how are we to live decently, efficiently, without ruthlessness and yet in complete relationship, not only with nature but also with another human being, in which there is no shadow of the "me" and the "you" - the barrier created by thought?

When one actually sees this thing that we are talking about - not verbally but actually - the very seeing, the actual seeing, is the act that brings down the wall of separation. When you see the danger of anything, such as a precipice or a wild animal and so on, there is action. Such action may well be the result of conditioning, but it is not the act of fear: is the act of intelligence.

Similarly, to see intelligently this whole structure, the nature of this division, the conflict, strife, misery, the self-centeredness - to actually see the danger of it means the ending of it. There is no "how". So, what is important is to take the journey into all this - not led by another, for there is no guide - but seeing the world as it is: the extraordinary confusion, the unending sorrow of man, seeing it actually. Then the seeing of the whole structure of it is the ending of it.

Perhaps, if you care to, we can talk the thing over by asking questions. Yes, Sir?

Questioner: What does it mean to "actually" see something?

Krishnamurti: Do you see your wife or your husband actually, or do you see them through an image, through a veil of opinions and conclusions - and therefore not at all? If so, no relationship can exist, for relationship means contact, to be related to. If the husband is ambitious, greedy, envious, seeking success, worried, beaten down, living in his own circle, and the wife also living in hers, where is the relationship? And yet that is what we call relationship: my family opposed to the rest of the world. If I see that, see the actual image through which I look - not an invented image but the actual image as it is - that very act of seeing the truth dispels the image.

You know, it is one of the most difficult things to ask a question. But we must ask questions, we must doubt everything on this earth: doubt our conclusions, our ideas, opinions, the judgments - doubt everything - and yet also know when not to doubt. As with a dog on a leash, you must let him go sometimes, because out of freedom alone one discovers the truth. But to ask a question, the right question, needs a great deal of alertness, intelligence and awareness of the problem. I can ask casually without really entering into the problem, casually seeking an answer, but if I enter into the problem with my whole heart and mind, not trying to escape from it, in the very looking into that problem lies the answer. And therefore, when one asks a question - which doesn't mean that the speaker is preventing you from asking a question - when one asks a question one must be responsible not only for the asking but also for the receiving of the answer. How you receive the answer is much more important than how you ask the question, because the answer may be such that you do not like it at all. You may reject it because it does not, for the time being, please you, or because you do not see the value of it, or that you are thinking in terms of profit.


Editor's note: See my comments on the Galatians commentary, on which project I spent 15 years. It needn't have taken so long, but I was unwilling to accept my own findings.


Questioner: I am not sure of the difference between thought, feeling, sensation and emotion.

Krishnamurti: Sir, what is sensation? A stimulus. You see a beautiful face, a lovely colour. This perception is followed by sensation, then contact, then desire, with thought finally coming in and saying, "Ah! I wish I could have that!" There we have this whole movement of perception, sensation, contact, desire - which is strengthened by thought: "I want it", or "I do not want it; "it is mine" and "it is not mine". The question then arises as to whether there can be perception of a beautiful face or a lovely sunset, without the interference of thought, or, in other words, can there be a state of non-experience, but only perception - which is greater than all experiences.

Have I explained it or am I saying something which sounds not very plausible and rather crazy? Look, Sir, there is the perception of a beautiful car, (laughs, joined by audience), - perhaps a beautiful face may be better, laughter) - then there is sensation: you want to touch it, look at it. Finally thought comes in and the whole machinery of pleasure and pain begins. Now, can there be observation that face without the interference of the pain and pleasure principle? You understand what I'm talking about? Sir, this really is a very interesting problem.

We depend so much on others, psychologically. That dependence is based on fear and pleasure. Knowing the pain of dependence, one tries to cultivate freedom from dependence, but that very cultivation breeds other forms of fear, pain and conflict. One never asks why one depends, psychotically, on another. You depend on the milkman, the postman, and so on, but that is quite a different matter. But why this dependence psychologically, inwardly? Is it because one is lonely, that one has nothing in oneself, is insufficient to oneself?

The very thing on which you depend is, is it not, the product of sensation and pleasure; therefore dependence is both the product and the cause of thought. Right? Which goes to show that experience is a complicated matter. And yet all of us are seeking greater and more meaningful experiences. We have never stopped to question the need, psychologically, of an experience. We have accepted, as we accept so many things, that experience is necessary for enlightenment, for understanding, for bliss, whereas, on the contrary, it is only a mind that is innocent that is capable of bliss - not a mind burdened with experiences. Moreover these experiences are based on this division of fear and pleasure, with every experience being discarded except those we like or dislike.

Questioner: Does true love require growth?

Krishnamurti: Is there a false love? (Laughter). Sirs, do not laugh - it is so easy to laugh about things that touch one deeply. By laughter we put it away. Do we know what love is? Or do we know only the pain, the pleasure, the jealousy, the travail of that which we call love? Can an ambitious man, a competitive man, can a man who has specialized, know what love is? Can the man who is afraid of being a failure, or is struggling to become a success, know what love is? Can you ever have love and jealousy at the same time? Can a man or a woman who loves ever be jealous, ever dominate, possess, hold, be dependent?

Actually all that we know is the pleasure and the pain of what we call love, which is generally translated into sex. So sex becomes an extraordinary problem. Not that we are against it - it would be terrible to be against anything - but one sees it for what it is. You know only the pain and the pleasure of what we call love, and therefore it is not love.

Love cannot be cultivated - if it could, it would be marvellous; to cultivate it like a plant, water it, nourish it, look after it. If you could do that with love it would be very simple, but unfortunately it does not work that way. To love is quite a different thing in which there is no pain or pleasure. Therefore one must understand this fear and pleasure and all the rest of it, so that there is no division.

Questioner: The fact is that the world is in disorder and man in despair. That is the fact. What then can change man? Is it even possible?

Krishnamurti: Sir, is the world separate from us? Are we not, each one of us, in disorder, confused - not merely superficially but in conflict: the conflicts of the opposites, the contradictions, the opposing desires? All that is disorder. And you ask whether it is worth changing all that. Is that the question?

Questioner: No, not exactly. There is this desire to change, but, confronted with the fact of the disorder in the world, what can be the nature of the change?

Krishnamurti: The nature of the change is the negation of disorder. Disorder cannot be made into order. But the denial of disorder is the nature of the change: the very denial is the change. The negation of disorder is the positive nature of change. That is, I see disorder in myself: anger, jealousy, brutality, violence, suspicion, guilt - you know what human beings are. I'm aware of it. The mind is totally aware of all this disorder. Can it completely negate it, put it away? When it does so, through negation, the nature of change is the positive order. The positive can only come through the negative.

Look, Sir, I see nationalism, the division of religions, the separateness that belief brings about, all the conflict, the disorder: I see that actually, feel it in my blood. And I put it away, not verbally, but actually: in myself I belong to no country, to no religion, subscribe to no dogma, no belief. Then that negation of what is false, which is the nature of the change, is truth.

Questioner: Doesn't this contradict what you said, that when you find jealousy within you, that you don't deny it, but that you become that jealousy?

Krishnamurti: No, Madam. I said the observer is the observed. When there is the separateness on the part of the observer who says, "I am different from jealousy", then there is conflict between the observer and the thing observed. Let us go slowly. Like everything else, the human problem is really quite complex. So let us play with it a little bit and see it for ourselves. You know, when the wife is not me but is separate from me, there is no relationship. Then the "me" observes the wife as a separate entity, which division leads to conflict. That is clear.

When the "me" is separate from its jealousy, there is conflict; such as: "how to get rid of it, it is right to be jealous, it is enjoyable to be jealous, it is part of love to be jealous", and all the rest of it. But when there is no division between the observer and the thing he calls jealousy, he is that. He does not become jealousy, he is it. Then what will you do? You understand the problem?

Audience: That is what the lady is asking, Sir. She asks how can you negate that which you are. You said to negate disorder is change and the lady asks: "If I am the disorder, how can I negate it?"

Krishnamurti: Ah! I will explain. How can I negate disorder if I am disorder? I am the nation, I am the belief, the disorder. If the "I" negates disorder, that very I, which is separate, will create yet another form of disorder. That is your question, Madam? Right. When you say "negate disorder", what do you mean by that? Who is there to negate disorder? Please follow this slowly, step by step. This disorder is the cause of thought: my belief and your belief, my God and your God, my formula and your formula, my prejudice opposed to your prejudice. So I am that disorder and thought is that disorder, because I am thought. Right? Thought is me and the "me" is disorder. So, when one negates this, one negates thought, not disorder: not "I" negate it. Look, I am disorder. This disorder is created by thought, which is me and which brings about separation. That's a fact. What, then is the negation of this fact? Who is it that is going to deny this disorder and put it aside? What is it that is going to change this? Is that clear? Now the negation of disorder is silence. Any movement of thought will only breed further disorder. Then you will ask, how thought is to come to an end, who is to bring to a stop this perpetual motion that is going on night and day?

Thought itself must deny itself. Thought itself sees what it is doing - right? - and therefore thought itself realizes that it has to come of itself to an end. There is no other factor than itself. Therefore when thought realizes that whatever it does, any movement that it makes, is disorder (we are taking that as an example), then there is silence. The nature of the change from disorder is silence. I do not know if you've ever seen or felt the quality of silence: when the mind and the body are extraordinarily quiet. That is, when you want to see something very clearly, when you want to hear something that is being said with all your heart and mind, your body is quiet and your mind is quiet. It is not a trick. It is quiet. In the same way, disorder and the manner of change are resolved only when there is complete silence. it is silence that brings about order, not thought.

Questioner: Does man always try to possess that which is pleasurable to him?

Krishnamurti: Don't we all do that? Don't we all want to possess that which has given us pleasure - a picture on the wall, a building, a woman, a man? So, when we possess a piece of furniture that we like, we are the furniture. And pain is involved in that possession as it might get lost. That is why we cling to our husband, our wife, the family. The marvellous circle is woven around the family, bringing it into battle with the rest of the world. One asks whether the family could exist without the circle, without the wall. Those of you who have a family should try it and see what happens. You will see something totally different taking place. Then perhaps you will know what love is and see with your own eyes the nature of the change that love brings about.



Editor's last word:

It is my contention that little of this can be understood until it’s experienced. However, let’s review some of K’s statements which might cause confusion to the “uninitiated.”

“Disorder cannot be made into order. But the denial of disorder is the nature of the change: the very denial is the change.”

“I said the observer is the observed. When there is the separateness on the part of the observer who says, ‘I am different from jealousy’, then there is conflict between the observer and the thing observed.”

“Then the ‘me’ observes the wife as a separate entity, which division leads to conflict.”

“When the ‘me’ is separate from its jealousy, there is conflict.”

“Thought is me and the 'me' is disorder.”

In the “surrender and acceptance” article I used the British-subway phrase “mind the gap” to illustrate a sense of separation between the true and false selves.

But K speaks of “When there is the separateness on the part of the observer who says, ‘I am different from jealousy’, then there is conflict between the observer and the thing observed.”

To make sense of this apparent confusion, we need to define the “me” or the “I” in question.

The egoic mind might know that jealousy, for example, is not good. However, the ego cannot see that what it condemns in others, or even in itself, is part of the egoic self.

The ego is fueled and empowered by thought. This thought, for the ego, becomes the “me,” the sense of self. But the ego cannot perceive that the jealousy is also the “me” because the jealousy is just a form of thought, as well. The “observer is the observed,” and the ego cannot separate itself from the problems it sees because the ego itself is the source of the problems.

But there is another “me” in play here. K called it “the silence” which brings about order to a beleaguered self. How does it work? There is the “me,” the false self, which identifies with the thoughts in the head. We think this is the “real me” but it is not. The “real me” is the background, silent witnessing presence, a superintending non-verbal awareness, that sees the antics of the ego.

This “silence,” this higher self, has the power to instantly know a connection between all peoples. In this existential nexus, there is no “me” and no “you” but only oneness. Within this transcendent union, all conflict immediately disappears.

To properly “mind the gap” we are to perceive a space between ourselves, the “real me,” and the ego, the “false me,” and its various forms of negativity, jealousy being but one.

The ersatz way to “mind the gap” is the ego seeing itself as separate from the jealousy, which is illusion.

Special note: K said that "love cannot be cultivated." This reminds us of Kahlil Gibran's statement that, if true romantic love is not present, at least in embryonic form, right at the start, it will never be there, despite years of "working on" the marriage or the relationship. As K said, "it doesn't work that way."

Love, true love, cannot be cultivated, but exists only as a function of invisible soul bonds, which, if they are not there, can never be manufactured. See more discussion on this in "The Wedding Song."