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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

The exhibition of outward simplicity is not necessarily inward simplicity. That is something different. Simplicity means to have no conflict, no burning desires, no ambitions.




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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 3, Brockwood Park, England - 13 September 1969

I THINK MOST of us are seeking some kind of deep significance or meaning to life. We see what is happening around us, the utter futility of war, the lack of meaning of one's own life, all the divisions - race against race, people against people, one religion against another - the sheer futility and meaninglessness of this whole struggle, only to end up in the grave. So we are seeking some kind of meaning to life. Not finding any, we either worship the state - whether it be the communist or the capitalist state - and we accept the tradition which either says there is, or there is not, a meaning to life. Or we do not believe in anything, live entirely in the present as is profitable, convenient and satisfactory.

If one rejects both - the intellectual pattern invented by the specialists or by oneself, or the mere living of a despairing meaningless life in the present - one is then faced with a much deeper question, which is: what is this striving about? Education, the family, voting, the acquisition of knowledge and experience - where does it all lead to? Shall we find the answer to that question in outward relationships, outward activities, objectives and ideologies, or shall we find the answer inwardly? And is the inward answer any different from the outward answer? Are the inward and the outward answers mutually dependent, or can we, while living in the outward world and doing the everyday things of life, go so deeply inwardly that we understand - not intellectually, nor emotionally, nor sentimentally - but go so deeply inwardly that the outwardness and the inwardness coalesce, leaving no real outer or inner but only a movement which has its own meaning; a meaning, not invented by the mind or by clever, cunning and deceptive thought. Perhaps that may be the answer to the question as to whether life has any meaning at all.

To go very deeply inwardly, without rejecting the outer - the outer being the form, the action, the responsibilities, the everyday living - to go inwardly in such depth requires tremendous honesty. Not the honesty of conforming to a principle, or an idea, or to some form of pattern which one has set for oneself. That is not honesty at all. Thought can very easily deceive itself and create an illusion and think that it is honest.


Editor's note: This is "the honest person" as a role we play. For example, those who might assert, “honesty is the best policy” are saying less than they think they know. Honesty is not a policy, not an affirmation on the bathroom mirror. It’s a level of consciousness that automatically and naturally seeks the truth in all contexts, but not because it’s been voted and approved as the most profitable course, which might be overturned for a new policy if fashions change.


Surely honesty is to see exactly 'what is', without any distortion, not only outwardly but also inwardly - to see exactly what one is, both at the conscious levels as well as at the deeper levels. To see, if one tells a lie, that it is a lie - just that, without deception, without excuse, without covering it up or escaping from it. When there is such great clarity, when there is that quality of perception, then there is innocency. And only then, I feel, can one begin to understand what love is.

That word 'love' is so weighted, so mischievous, ugly and rather destructive. I would like, if I may, to talk a little more about it. The politician uses that word, the housewife uses it, the priest and also the young girl in love with a boy. So if we talk about it, which is naturally rather difficult, we must, I think, be not only verbally very clear, but also understand the non-verbal process behind it, the very structure of it. That is, there must be this extraordinary sense of clarity and honesty within oneself, which inevitably brings about a quality of innocency, and then, perhaps we can freely - and yet with great hesitancy - enquire into this word.

First of all, love, surely, is not a sentiment, an emotional state, because sentiment and emotion change and where there is sentiment and emotion there is a great deal of cruelty. One can get excited about the flag, about one's country and be ready to kill others - a ruthless destructiveness based on sentiment. It can be readily observed in daily life, both outwardly and inwardly, that where there is any emotional upheaval or surge of sentimentality, it does bring with it a sense of hardness, brutality and violence. Can sentimental and emotional states bring about the qualities of gentleness and tenderness, or, when there is tenderness, the quality of beauty that goes with being very gentle? Are there not in these states the seeds of ruthlessness and brutality? You can cry over an animal and yet kill it. We can repeat that we are all brothers, that the world is my neighbour and yet be ready to kill that neighbour, be it in the business world or on the battlefield. All brought about through sentimentality and the extravagance of emotionalism. And in all that, obviously, there is no love.

What then is love? Remembering that the word, the description is not the thing, we can see that it is a non-verbal state, and yet it is not pleasure brought about through desire. When pleasure is involved in love, there must also be pain in it, fear, jealousy, the aggressive possessiveness of 'my family', 'my wife', 'my husband', and all the rest of it. Wherever there is the pursuit of pleasure there must be this sense of domination, possessiveness and attachment, all of which breeds a great deal of fear and therefore pain. We have said that love goes with sex; for most of us love is sex. May we go into it a little more, or are you all too grown up, or have finished with it? (laughter)

This question of what is love is really very important. I think one must find out about it for oneself; as one must also find out what living is and what death is. These are the most fundamental questions. What is living, what is love, what is death? - not to be answered by someone else telling you what they are, for in that there is no freedom. That would be merely copying, imitating, following, depending on your pleasure and your fear. But these questions must be answered, and the more intelligent, the more deeply aware and suffering any human being is, the more deeply must he ask them. We have said love is sex. We have put those two words and the activity of those two words together; which means sex as the ultimate pleasure.

What part does thought play in all this? What is the relationship between thought and pleasure? If I am not capable of establishing that relationship clearly, there will always be a quarrel between the two, a division. So I must find out what pleasure is, or rather, if there can be pleasure without thought or whether pleasure is the process of thought. Pleasure to us is extraordinarily important and all our morality is based on that - at any rate, social morality, which obviously is not morality at all. Most human beings are pursuing pleasure because they are so discontented, so unhappy, so miserable, so tortured by their environment, by their own thoughts, their own feelings and problems; freedom for most human beings means pleasure and the expression of that pleasure.

How does this pleasure relate to thought? How does thought give it shape and vitality? One has a certain pleasure, whatever it is - sexual, or the pleasure of seeing a lovely sunset, the beauty of a great tree in the wind, or of still water - and in the seeing of it there is great pleasure, great enjoyment. Then what takes place? Thought steps in and demands: 'I must have it again tomorrow',


Editor's note: In other words, thought says "I must have more - because one time didn't make me whole and complete."


I must see it again the next minute', 'I must enjoy it again as I did that first moment'. So thought comes in and gives it a continuity. This is fairly obvious if one watches it in oneself. There is the sexual activity followed by imagination and the cultivation of excitement by thought. So thought, by thinking about that sexual pleasure of yesterday, gives it continuity and vitality. This is the whole process which we call love and out of that comes jealousy, possessiveness and domination. Such love becomes extraordinarily brutal and violent - the love of one's country, the love of God, the love of an ideology for which one is willing to kill another and destroy oneself.

And as thought also creates fear and pain, then where in all this is love? Can one put it into words at all? The words, 'I love you', are merely a means of communication and we well know the word is never the thing, neither linguistically nor semantically. Then what is love? We said that it is obviously not pleasure, that no pleasure is involved in it. It is not desire, not the product of thought, it cannot be cultivated as you would cultivate a rose or a particular quality. It requires a great deal of honesty to find out for oneself what love is, to come upon its beauty and its innocency; without it, life has really no meaning at all. Knowing what love is we will find most of our questions answered, politically, economically, and if one can use that word, spiritually. So when there is this love, then perhaps we can begin to enquire freely into the whole question of meditation; because without love meditation becomes so utterly infantile.

So honesty, innocency, and this thing called love must be the foundation for meditation, otherwise it becomes an escape, a cheap affair, a form of self-hypnosis. As with those people who after paying the money that is always involved in this sort of thing, go through some peculiar initiation and then repeat certain phrases, the very sound of which, they think, will produce a certain result. Surely that is not meditation. To meditate one needs tremendous intelligence and sensitivity - the intelligence that comes of self-knowledge, the understanding of oneself that comes through knowing oneself completely. To look at oneself with great clarity and honesty is essential; so that there is no possibility of deception. And when a mind is so completely honest it is really innocent. This knowing of oneself brings that sensitivity which is great intelligence and which cannot be bought in a university or acquired through books. You don't have to read a single book about philosophy or psychology - it is all there in yourself. And only when there is this clarity in the knowing and the understanding of oneself, both at the conscious level as well as in the deeper, hidden levels - which is part of meditation - can the mind, uncluttered and free, proceed into things that can never be put into words, that can never be communicated to another.

Please ask questions if you feel it will be of any value - if what has been said has any value.

Questioner: Why is one not orderly on the instant? Is it because of the lack of response?

Krishnamurti: What does that word 'orderly' mean? To keep order, as one has order in one's room? Is order brought about through conformity, by imitation of what one considers orderliness to be? I want order within myself because I am disorderly. I am in conflict, I am in contradiction because I find myself driven one day by this desire and the next day by that. I am in a constant state of conflict and contradiction, with burning discontent. And out of this chaos, out of this confusion and disorder I want order; because I see that if I don't have order I cannot think clearly, I cannot observe; I cannot perceive without distortion. Order, in the sense we are talking about, has nothing to do with conforming to a particular ideology, the order of the politician who doesn't want any contradiction, or the order of a religious group which claims to be the sole guardian of the way to truth. We are talking of the order which comes about through the understanding of the disorder in oneself - the duality, the contradiction and the opposition. Through understanding what disorder is, naturally there comes order; through the negation of what is disorder comes the positive which is order - not in conforming to the positive, or what one considers to be order.

Questioner: Isn't it the trouble of many people that they will think about themselves all the time and not about other people?

Krishnamurti: The lady suggests that the real trouble is caused by thinking about oneself instead of about others; that is, my thinking should be rather about you than about myself. You are myself; you are as disorderly, as mischievous, as ugly, as brutal as I am, and if I think about you, my thinking is in actuality also about myself. But let us return to this question of order, because it is really extraordinarily important to understand it.

When you look at our social morality and examine it very closely you will find that it is completely immoral, completely disorderly. Society admits you to be greedy and envious, that you must seek power, position, prestige, that you will have to fight your way, be violent and competitive: all that is considered perfectly respectable, orderly and moral. When you see that, not theoretically but actually, and when you deny all that, then there is order, which is virtue.

The questioner was asking whether that order can be brought about instantly. If one has looked at oneself at all clearly, one can see the disorder, the mischief, the cruelty, the fears and the pleasures in oneself; can order be born out of that disorder instantly? Or must one have time? Time being the gradual bringing about of order within oneself, which may take many days, years or the rest of one's life. Time means eventually. By the time we have explored and freely examined ourselves, gradually cultivating order out of disorder, we shall probably be dead. So one asks whether it is possible to bring about order out of this disorder immediately. Do you not act immediately the instant you see some danger? You don't take time, you don't say, 'I'll think about it'. Where there is the perception of danger, both psychologically and physically, especially when there is bodily danger, there is immediate action. Perception then is action. The seeing is the doing. There is no time interval between the seeing and the doing. So why do we not see the real danger - not an ideological or mere intellectual perception of the danger - but actually see the whole danger of disorder instantly, with the response of our whole being? If you saw it instantly, there would be instant action. If I saw a precipice, a snake, or a bus coming, I would act instantly because I see the danger of it; it makes an enormous impression on me and I act without any hesitation. What prevents me from looking at myself, in which there is so much disorder, and seeing the danger of it? After all, disorder leads to various neurotic conditions, and I see how dangerous it is not to have order. Order, which is essentially virtue, is a living thing and where there is order there is greater security. It is only the disorderly person, with his disorderly activity, that creates mischief and insecurity.

I do not know if you have observed for yourself how the brain demands order - not habit or routine, but order, a living thing; and whether you have noticed that most of our day is spent in disorder - quarrels, aggressiveness, fears, pleasures and competitiveness. That is our day. And as you go to sleep, the brain sets about to bring order within itself, because it cannot live in disorder. If it does it becomes more and more distorted and there is the greater danger of insecurity for itself.

So order is essential. The animal demands order, but we have accepted disorder as a way of life. Now what is it that prevents one from seeing the danger and the mischief? The disorder outwardly - the division of nationalities with their sovereign governments and armies, this everlasting fragmentation of human beings in their relationships - all that is a tremendous danger. Why don't we see it instantly and drop this nonsensical, meaningless division as the Englishman, the Frenchman and all the rest of it? And why do we not see equally clearly the inward danger and mischief that disorder brings about? Is it that we have got used to it, or that we don't know what to do about the disorder? How can a disordered brain do something about its own disorder? If you have the leisure and the money, you go to an analyst. He is also disorderly and has had to undergo analysis himself in order to analyse another! So you are at the mercy of another's disorder.

Is it possible to observe this disorder within oneself instantly, see the danger of it immediately and end it? I cannot answer it for you, obviously, but to end it instantly you must see the total disorder of the inward self, rather than collect the fragmentary disorders and then say, 'I am disorderly'. To see the totality of disorder in oneself instantly, surely this is possible? Otherwise we will continue in this state of confusion, mischief and misery. Is it possible to see your wife or your husband or your neighbour without prejudice and without opinion, to observe without like or dislike? That requires great awareness of oneself. But, you see, one hasn't the time or the energy or the urge. One plays around. And so one accepts wars, disorders, and the confusion and the mischief.

Questioner: It appears to me that we have to give the time and induce the energy and urge in ourselves in order to go forward in the direction you have indicated.

Krishnamurti: But how will you get that energy, Sir? Why do you not have it?

Questioner: I have other interests.

Krishnamurti: Other interests? When the house is burning? Do the other interests not also create disorder? I may have tremendous interest and energy for some fragment of my life - business or whatever it is. I give thirty or forty years of my life to that interest, while the rest of it is chaos and misery - you know all the ugliness of it. And that interest concentrated in one fragment is obviously bringing about disorder in other fragments. I am very kind, gentle and affectionate with my family, but in the business world I become a tiger. And then I say to myself, 'I have not the energy to tame that tiger which is creating so much mischief in my life'.

From this arises the question: why do we break up our lives into these compartments: the business world, the family world, the world of golf, the world of God and so on? Why this fragmentation? On one side the pleasure, the pain, the sorrow, the competitiveness, the aggression, the violence, and on the other the demand for peace. Is it habit, custom, tradition and education, blaming society by thinking, 'If I could only be free of the environment I would be perfect'? The environment is created by us, by our greed, ambitions and brutality. The environment is us. Until we become aware of ourselves as we are, and change radically - which is the real revolution - there can be no possibility of living together in peace. And to do that one must have tremendous energy, not for this or that fragment, but totally.

Questioner: Does this order, which the brain demands for its security, come about through awareness of oneself, through knowing oneself?

Krishnamurti: Obviously - but not through knowing oneself according to some expert, or some philosopher, or through the speaker, but through looking at oneself, understanding oneself as one is. And to look at oneself is not possible in isolation, not by going into a monastery. Only in relationship can you see all your angers, your jealousies, your domineering, your greed, your assertions and all the rest of it. When one is really aware of oneself - through a gesture or a word, through the manner in which you assert - the clarity of perception is the instant action of understanding.

Questioner: Why does awareness of unity come so often to people who know very little and have not studied at all?

Krishnamurti: The questioner asks why primitive people, who are not very clever or intellectual, who have not studied or been highly educated, so frequently have this sense of unity, of friendship and generosity. Is it difficult to answer that question? Those people who are educated and highly sophisticated are spoilt; they are the really savage people. They are concerned with their problems, with their own lives, and never look at another, never look at the beauty of the sky, the leaf or the waters. They may see beauty in art galleries or in the pictures they own, but not around them. They are insensitive and are full of knowledge of what other people have said or written.

Questioner: What is simplicity? And how does this big estate (i.e. Brockwood) fit into it?

Krishnamurti: This estate has thirty-six acres only, the rest is farming land belonging to someone else. This place is a school which will eventually have about forty to fifty students living here, and for that you must have a large house and the necessary grounds in which to live and play. And you ask, 'Is that simple?'. Simplicity is reckoned to be one loin cloth or one pair of trousers and a coat. Or one meal a day. They have tried this in India, where people talk about a simple life. Monks have tried it but their lives are not simple at all. Outwardly they may have only one coat and one pair of trousers and eat one meal a day, but the exhibition of outward simplicity is not necessarily inward simplicity. That is something quite different. Simplicity means to have no conflict, no burning desires and no ambitions. You see, we always want the outward show of simplicity while inwardly we are boiling, burning and destroying. And you ask, 'Why do you have that big house - or so many coats, or whatever it is?'.

As we said, simplicity implies honesty, so that there is no contradiction in oneself. And when there is such a state of mind, there is real simplicity.



Editor's last word:

Elsewhere in my writings, beginning in “Prometheus,” we discussed how true love is characterized by joy, as opposed to “thrill” of John-and-Mary love. This latter is the “pleasure” to which K refers.

Pleasure is part of what Dr. Campbell calls the “zeal of the organs.” All mammals experience this elation, especially in reference to libido. Mother Nature uses this to ensure the propagation of the species.

Primarily of the body, pleasure leads the focus of most. It’s so demanding that, it might be said, civilization, along with definitions of morality, has been built to capture its fleeting essence.

In this process, pleasure covers and masks the unhappiness in people’s lives resulting from the ego’s malaise of “I don’t have enough” because “I am not enough.” We want to feel good. We want to distract and escape ourselves, the raging turmoil below, and there are many who would do almost anything to quiet the roiled waters of inner being, even for a little while.

But the soul has its own delights, and of a higher order – joy. This cannot be fully accessed until we still the “chattering in the head,” allowing the deeper true self to express its joy of being alive.