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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

The ego’s image-forming process is a way of not getting hurt. If you insult or flatter me, I react, and that reaction builds an image. The reaction comes about when there is no attention to “what is.” But when I am completely attentive, with choiceless awareness, then there is no image-forming at all.




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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 1, New Delhi - 10 December 1970

One of the most difficult things is to learn about communication. The word implies that we share together a common factor, that we think together about a problem. The word implies all that - taking a common factor that all of us have and examining it closely in communication, which means sharing together.

So we are going to talk over together, which means you are sharing the problem, not merely receiving, not merely arguing, agreeing or disagreeing but examining together. Therefore it is as much your responsibility as that of the speaker.

The problem is the question of change. Everywhere you see, as you go around the world, you observe one common thing, that there must be a tremendous revolution - not the physical revolution, not throwing bombs, shedding blood, not revolt - because every physical revolution inevitably ends in bureaucratic dictatorship or the tyranny of the few. This is historical fact we don't even have to discuss; but what we have to talk about together is this question of inward revolution. There must be vast, profound changes not only in the outward structure of society but also inwardly, because the society in which we live, the culture in which we have been brought up is part of us. The social structure, the culture is what we have created.

So we are the culture and the culture is us. We are the world and the world is us. If you are born in a particular culture, you represent that culture. You are part of it and to change the structure of that culture, you have to change yourself. A confused mind, a mind that is ideologically inclined or has deep convictions cannot possibly alter or bring about a change in the social structure. I think that's fairly clear. That is, you are the world, not in abstraction, not as an idea but in actuality. If you change the social structure, out of your confusion, out of your bigotry, out of your petty, narrow limited ideals and convictions what you will produce is further chaos, further misery.


Editor's note: The college radicals of that day grew up, took over universities, the govenment, all power-positions of society. Are we better off for it? A thousand times no, for, as K asserts, change that is the product of another ideological structure "will produce ... further chaos, further misery." This is exactly what's happened, as today America and the West have never experienced such onslaught -- from within!! -- of totalitarian threat and diminishment of personal liberties - by whom? The college radicals of the late 1960s.


So our problem is, is it possible for the human mind to undergo a radical change, a change that demands not an analytical process, not time, but rather an instantaneous change? Is it possible for the human mind to bring about the psychological revolution inwardly, and that's what we are going to examine, and that is what we are going to share together

Sharing implies that there is no teacher and disciple. We are not your authority, we are not pointing out what to do, but what we are concerned with is the examination and bringing about an understanding of this immense, complex problem.

There must be a social change, because society is terribly corrupt. There is vast injustice, war, every kind of brutality, violence, and the human beings who live in a particular culture, in a particular society are part of that; and to bring about this radical change there must be a revolution in the psyche, in oneself.

So we, together, are going to consider this question, knowing that there must be a radical, psychological revolution, deeply, which will then affect the society in which we live. It must begin with the human mind, not with the structure which the human mind has created, whether it is the communist society or so called democratic society, or the capitalist or the Maoist society.

So first we are asking whether this human mind, which is the result of time, of so-called evolution, which has lived through thousands of experiences, this mind that you have - the mind includes the brain, the heart, the whole being, the whole structure of the human being - whether that mind can radically change itself and not depend on its environment for change. Please see the importance of this. If you depend on the environment for change, the environment which is created by you, and therefore when you depend on the structure of a society for you to change, then you are deceiving yourself, you are living in an illusion, because you have created this society. So how is this possible for the human mind that is so conditioned? If you observe your own mind, you will see that it is heavily conditioned as a Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, communist, Maoist or whatever it is.

This mind which is the result of conditioning - and the conditioning is the past - how can such a mind bring about in itself a total change? And that is what we are going to consider right through these talks. Is it possible to change through analytical process? You understand? Is it possible for this conditioned mind to change itself through the analytical process, that is, analyse, examine and discover through analysis a way to bring about this revolution in the psyche?

Now Sirs, in listening to a talk of this kind, you are listening not to acquire knowledge but rather listening so that you will observe clearly. That is, there are two movements in learning. One movement is the accumulative movement - you study a language and acquire knowledge and that knowledge is the past, and according to that knowledge you act; that is, you act according to what you have learnt, and what you have learnt is the past. Right?

That is one way we learn, accumulate knowledge and act according to that, whereas there is another kind of learning which is not accumulating but moving, going along as we learn.

We were asking if the mind can change through analysis? Analysis implies an observer (the analyser) and the thing analysed. please observe it in yourself, don't listen to the speaker casually, superficially. We are saying where there is analysis, there is the observer (the analyser) and the thing to be analysed. In that there is division. Now, wherever there is division there must be conflict not only physically but psychologically. When there is a division between the Hindu and the Muslim there must be conflict. And when there is a division between the analyser and the thing analysed there must be conflict. Then the analyser, in analysing the thing he has observed in himself begins to correct, dominate it, suppress it.

All our religious, sociological training, conditioning, is to analyse step by step, is to progress slowly. That is our upbringing, and I assure you, that will never bring about a change. Analysis is a postponement of action. So will analysis, which is this dualistic examination by the analyser, will that bring about a deep fundamental change?

And who is the analyser? Is the analyser different from the thing analysed? All our life is an action in fragmentation. We are fragmented human beings outwardly as well as inwardly. Look at what is happening in India and in the world - the South against the North, East against the West, the anti-Brahmins - you know what is going on in this country. Fragmentation is going on all the time, not only in the country, but in religion - the Catholic against the Protestant, the Hindu against the Muslim, and so on, in private life and in public life. In private life you are one thing, in public you are another. So you live in fragmentation. Please observe this.

You are not being taught by me. You can see this happening right through the world and inwardly also this takes place, this fragmentation, which is the observer and the observed, the analyser and the thing he analyses.

Now, is the analyser different from the thing he analyses? The analyser examines his anger, his jealousy, his ambition, his greed, his brutality, in order to get over it or in order to suppress it or in order to resist it. He examines in order to produce a result negatively or positively. Who is the examiner and the thing examined? You are following all this? Who is the examiner, who is the analyser? Is he not one of the fragments of the many fragments? He may call himself the super-fragment, he may call himself the mind, the intelligence, but he is still a fragment. He may call himself the Atman or whatever you like to call it. It is still a super-fragment. Is that clear?

It is not a question of agreement or disagreement, but observing what goes on in your lives, because you have to change your life, your living - not your ideas, your conclusions, your convictions.

So is the observer, the analyser, different from the analysed? Or are they not both the same? please, it is important that we understand this very clearly and deeply, because if they are both the same, then conflict comes to an end. You follow this?

Look, from the moment we are born till we die, we are in conflict. We are struggling and we have never been able to solve that problem, and we say that as long as there is division between the analyser and the thing analysed there must inevitably be in conflict, because the analyser is the past. He has acquired knowledge through various experiences, through various influences; he is the past, he is the censor who judges, says this is right, this is wrong, this should be, this should not be. Right? And the censor then dictates to that thing which he observes, what it should do, what it should not do; how he should suppress it, go beyond it according to his past conditioning.

Probably you are not used to this kind of examination. Unfortunately, you have too many gurus in this country. They have told you what to do, what to think, what to practise. They are the dictators, and therefore, you have stopped thinking clearly. Gurus destroy, not create. If you really saw that, you would drop all spiritual authority completely, you wouldn't follow anybody including the speaker; you would really observe with your heart, with your mind, find out, examine, because it is you who have to change, not your guru. The moment he asserts he is a guru, he ceases to understand; he is no longer a man of truth.

So the past, which is the censor, which is the analyser, examines. So the past creates the division. And also, analysis implies time. It involves time, that is, you will take days, months, years in analysing, examining, and therefore there is no complete action. Please do understand this - a mind that is introspective, a mind that merely follows, a mind that functions according to the past, the analyser, his action is always incomplete and therefore always confusing and therefore bringing misery. So, you see for yourself the truth that analysis is not the way, that it is introspective, finding out the cause-all that implies time, taking many days, many months. And before you know where you are, you are already dead.

So if you see the truth of it, that analysis is not the way for freedom, for a mind to become completely free of its conditioning, then you will drop the analytical process completely. If you see the danger of analysis as you see the danger of a serpent, actually see the danger of it, then you will never touch it. The mind is free from the idea of analysis. Therefore it has already a different quality, it is capable then of looking in another direction, because the old direction, the old tradition, the methods, the systems that you have, that the gurus offer and the books offer is this gradual process which is a form of analysis. When you see the truth of it, you are completely out of that. Therefore your mind has become much sharper, much clearer.

Truth is not something far away. It is there, only you must know how to look. A mind that is prejudiced, a mind that is burdened with conclusions, with beliefs, cannot possibly see, and one of our great prejudices is this analytical process. You see, and therefore you drop it. Then if you have dropped it, it no longer captures you; you are no longer thinking in terms of advancement, of suppression, resistance, because all that is implied in analysis.

Then if analysis is not the way to bring about a radical, psychological revolution, then is there another way, that is, is there another method, another system by which the conditioning can be put aside totally so that the mind is free? The mind can never be free as long as there is any kind of effort, because all our lives we are used to making effort - "I must be this, I shall be that, I shall achieve, I shall become" - and in that process tremendous effort is involved. Effort implies either suppression or adjustment or resistance. Are you following all this?

That is, we are slaves to the verb "to be". I do not know if you have noticed it in yourself, how you think that you will be something, that you will achieve, that you will be free. That verb "to be" conditions the mind, you follow? That is, the verb "to be" implies the past, the present and the future - "having been", "will be" or "I am". Watch it in yourself, please - that is one of our major conditionings. Now can the mind be free of that whole movement, because psychologically, is there a tomorrow? You understand my question? You understand there is tomorrow by the watch, but is there a tomorrow inwardly, psychologically and actually, not the thought which creates tomorrow psychologically? There is a tomorrow which is "I will be" psychologically only when there is this conditioning of the mind caught in the trap of becoming.

You know, one of our miseries in this country is that we have stopped thinking, reasoning. We've been fed by others, we have become second-hand human beings and that is why it is so difficult to talk freely to somebody. This needs clear thinking on both our parts, because this is a tremendous problem which we must resolve, that is, as long as there is this movement of becoming, the movement of - "I will be good, I will be noble, I will become non-violent, I will achieve" as long as there is this conditioning of becoming, there must be conflict. That is a fact, isn't it? So in becoming, there is conflict, isn't there? So conflict distorts the mind. Every form of conflict must inevitably twist the mind, and can the mind function healthily, sanely, with great expanse, with great beauty, with great intelligence without any effort? Do you understand my question?

Look, Sir, your mind, now, if I may point out not critically, not in any way derogatorily, your mind, if you watch it carefully, is all the time thinking in terms of the future or the past, what it will become. As in an office, you think of becoming the manager - climbing, climbing till you reach - the director. In the same way, you think inwardly, that is, you will eventually be perfect, eventually become non-violent, eventually live at perfect peace. That is your habit, that is your tradition, that is what you have been brought up on. And you are being challenged now to look at it entirely differently, and you will find it very difficult.

You say to yourself, how can I possibly live in this mad world without effort? How can I live with myself, in myself, without the least movement of effort? Don't you ask that? Isn't that your life - this constant battle not only outwardly for security and all the rest of it but inwardly also this battle going on to become, to be, to change, to achieve? And where there is any form of effort there must be distortion, mustn't there?

So we are going to find out whether it is possible for the mind to live without effort at all and yet function, not vegetate. You have understood my question? You are putting this question to yourself, I am not putting it to you. All that you have known is effort, resistance, suppression, or following somebody - that is all you have known. And we are asking whether the mind that has accepted this system, this tradition, this way of living, can that mind cease to make effort altogether? Please understand, examine it together - you are not learning from me. You are not learning it from the speaker at all, you are learning through observation, therefore it is yours, not mine. Is that clear?

Effort exists when there is duality. Duality means contradiction - "I am, I should be" - contradictory desires, contradictory purposes, contradictory ideas. Most human beings are violent. Now they have brought about the idea of not being violent, so that there is a contradiction - the fact and the ideal. Right? The fact is that human beings are violent, and the non-fact is the idea of non-violence. If there was no ideal at all, then you would deal with the fact, wouldn't you? Can you put away the ideal altogether and face "what is"? Can you be aware of your convictions, your formulas, your ideals and your hopes? Because, they prevent you from observing what is, which is violence. We do not know what to do with violence, therefore we have ideals. Now, as we are speaking, have you put away your ideals? No, you haven't; you have your convictions, which means you live on ideas and words. When a man says "I am convinced of something", he is really not facing facts, he is not observing "what is", and if a man would change radically he must observe "what is." You see, that is one of the reasons why you have no energy, why you have no flame, because you are living in some vague abstraction.

So, can the mind be free of the future, the future being what you will be? The future is the verb "to be". So if you put away the future, you are then concerned with "what is". Then the problem arises, how to observe "what is"? Then your mind is clear to look. Your mind is not clear to look when you are looking somewhere in the future. Right? So the idealists are the most hypocritical people in the world. If I want to change, I must face "what is", not be concerned with what I should be; I mustn't be crippled with conclusions, convictions, formulas, systems; I must know "what is" and how to deal with it.

Now arises the question, how am I to observe "what is?" You understand? You see, 'what should be' becomes the authority. The mind that is free of 'what should be' has no authority, therefore it is free from any kind of supposition which breeds authority, therefore the mind is free to observe actually "what is."

Now how does it observe? What is the relationship between the observer and the thing it observes? You see the mind is now free from all ideals, from all conclusions, from all authority. Authority exists when there is a becoming, when the guru says to you or the book says to you "You will achieve, if you follow this system; do this and you will get that" - always in the future - avoidance of the present in contrast to the mind that is free from authority, free from every kind of concept.

And then the question arises, how is the mind to observe actually "what is"? What is, is that human beings are violent. We can explain, give causes, find out the causes why human beings have become violent. That's fairly simple, and one can easily observe it. We can see it in the animal, and as we have come from the animal, and so on, we are aggressive, we are violent, partly by the culture in which we live, for which we are responsible. So we are in fact violent.

Now how does the mind observe this fact which is violence? How do you observe it? You are angry, you are jealous, you are envious, brutal, how do you observe that fact? Do you observe it as an observer and the thing observed? If you do, that is division. Is there an observer observing violence? How do you observe it, or is your observation a complete unitary process? That is, a process in which there is no division between the observer and the observed. What is it? Do you observe the fact that you are violent or greedy, envious, whatever it is, separating yourself from the fact of fear, anger, and the observer saying "I am different from the thing observed?" Or do you see that the anger, jealousy or violence is part of the observer also? Therefore the observer is the observed. Do you see that? If you see that there is no division between the thing observed and the observer; that anger or jealousy is part of the observer, the observer is jealousy, if you see that without the division, conflict comes to an end.

Conflict exists as long as there is division - when you are a Hindu and there is another as a Muslim. When you are a Christian, there is Catholic and there is Protestant; when you are an Indian nationalist and somebody else is of another nation. When there is division of any kind between you and another there must be conflict, and that outward division also goes inward. There is the division between me and my activity, me that observes, "me" that says "I will become". So in that division there is conflict. A mind in conflict is never free, a mind in conflict is always distorted.

When you use the word "understand", not intellectually, since that has no value at all, but actually, you know you are with it completely; now that is part of meditation. This is meditation - to discover a way of living in which there is no conflict, no escape, no effort to go off to some fantastic mystical experiences but actually find out in daily life, the way of living in which the mind has never been touched by conflict; and that can only be when you understand, actually see, with your heart, with your mind, with your reason, with everything that you have, see that as long as there is a division inwardly in the psyche, which must exist when you try to become something, when you are trying to become noble, when you are trying to become better, there must be conflict which prevents you from looking at "what is".

You know, goodness can never "become" something else. You cannot become better in goodness. You understand this? Goodness is now, it flowers now, not in the future.

So is it possible for the mind which is so conditioned by the past, by culture, to radically change when the mind completely sees the truth and the falseness of ideologies, sees the falseness of following, obeying? You obey in order to achieve. Right? So you put away altogether all authority. To understand this question of authority deeply, you have to understand, haven't you, not only the authority of law but the authority which comes inwardly through obedience. The word "obedience" comes from Latin, which means to hear. Now when you hear over and over again that you must have a guru - otherwise you can't possibly understand life or achieve enlightenment - you must follow somebody. When you hear that constantly repeated, you inevitably obey. So obedience implies following, which means authority, and a mind that is ridden with authority as yours is, can never live in freedom and therefore without any effort.

Question: You, are using the words "you" and "your mind." Are they synonymous?

Krishnamurti: Now, is that the question? You and your mind, aren't they one? You, are you separate from your mind, are you the super-soul which is using the mind, are you the Atman using the mind? Now if you are the Atman, that is one of your conditionings, because in the New World they do not believe in any of that, they have been brought up not to believe in all that, you have been brought up to believe in the Atman. That is all. You have been brought up to believe in God, and there are millions of people conditioned not to believe in God. Both are conditioned, you who believe in God, and the men who don't believe in God. You are conditioned, you can never find out what truth is if you are conditioned. You must drop your belief to find out. So the question is, are you your mind? Aren't you what you think you are, when you think you are a Sikh, a Buddhist, a Catholic, Communist? When you think that you will achieve heaven, that is your idea of what you are. So why do you separate yourself from what you are?

Question: You say when the mind ceases, nothing remains.

Krishnamurti: The speaker is supposed to have said that when the mind ceases nothing remains. Did the speaker say that? I am afraid he did not say that.

Question: Do you believe if there is anything beyond man?

Krishnamurti: You know the speaker has been saying, "Don't believe, find out, examine, discover for yourself" and at the end of an hour and a quarter, you ask the speaker, "Do you believe?" You want beliefs and you think you have solved the problem by having beliefs. You believe that there is something beyond. You don't know a thing about it, but you believe. You assume something as being real, accept something as being real, about which you know absolutely nothing. How can a confused mind, a mind in sorrow, a mind which is bitter, angry, how can such a mind find out if there is something beyond? But you believe readily, because that is one of your escapes about which you can quarrel endlessly.

Question: Would you share with us what you call reality?

Krishnamurti: What I call reality? Sir, reality is not an opinion. It is not through opinions that you come to reality, it is not through beliefs that you come to reality. The mind must be completely empty to discover what reality is, and you cannot share when your mind is not equally intense, passionate, free to look. How can you share something of which you know nothing? But what we do know together is confusion, is sorrow, is our petty lives. Instead of understanding that, freeing ourselves from all that, you want to know what truth is. The truth is where you are, which is, when the mind is free from conflict. It is there for you to see it.

Question: I see that my mind is fragmented. I see very clearly that there is a division, there is the observer and the observed and there is conflict. I can't see how these two can come together.

Krishnamurti: Now we are going to share this question together. How do you observe a tree? How do you observe it? Do you see it through an image, the image being your knowledge of a particular tree, that is a mango or whatever it is? Do you look at that tree with an image that you have about the tree, which is the knowledge that you have? You understand my question? Do you look at your neighbour or at your wife or husband with the knowledge that you have, with the image that you have? You do, don't you? Someone looks at a communist because he has an idea, an image of what a communist is, or he looks at a Protestant with Catholic eyes or a Hindu with Hindu eyes at a Muslim; that is he looks through an image. So the image divides. If I am married and I have loved my wife or a friend for twenty years, naturally I have an image about that person built up - nagging, friendship, companionship, sex, pleasure, all that is involved - and that becomes the image through which I look. So the image divides. Now the observer and the observed: the observer is the image, is the knowledge of the past, and he looks with that image at the thing he is observing. Therefore, there is a division. Now, can the mind be free of that image? Of all images?

You understand my question - can the mind which is in the habit of building images, can that mind be free of image-building? That is, the machinery which builds the image, can that come to an end? Now what is that machinery. Please, we are sharing the problem together. I am not instructing you. We are asking each other. What is this image, how is this image produced and what is it that sustains this image? Now the machinery that builds the image is inattention. You understand, Sir?

You insult me or flatter me. When you insult me, I react and that reaction builds the image. The reaction comes about when there is no attention. You follow? When I am not attending completely to your insult, this inattention breeds the image. When you call me an idiot, I react, which is, I am not fully attentive to what you are saying, and therefore the image is formed. But when I am completely attentive to what you are saying, there is no image forming. When you flatter me, I listen completely, with complete attention, which is to attend without any choice, to be aware without any choice, then there is no image-forming at all.

After all, image-forming is a way of not getting hurt. We won't go into that, because that leads to something else. So when somebody flatters or insults, you give complete attention at that moment, then you will see that there is no image, and having no image there is then no division between the observer and the observed.

Question: When there is anger there is no observer nor the observed, there is only that reaction of anger, and when I use the word "anger" that very verbal description of that feeling brings about the observer who is different from the observed.

Krishnamurti: Right, you see all this? Or are you getting tired? When you are angry, at that second, there is neither the observer nor the observed, "I must not be angry" or "I am not justified in being angry." Then there is the division between the observer and the observed but not at the moment of anger.

Now at the moment of any crisis there is neither the observer nor the observed, because the thing is demanding and we cannot live at that heightened intensity all the time. Therefore we resort to the observer and the observed.

From that arises a whole question, which is, can a mind live without any challenge whatsoever; most of us need challenges, otherwise we would go to sleep. Challenge means you are asked, pushed, demanded. So can you find out whether a man can live without any challenge at all, that is to have a mind that is completely awake?

Question: When you are attentive, then you form images, it is only when you are inattentive, you have no images.

Krishnamurti: Look, Sir, [let's say] you insult me. I react to your insult. When you say I am an idiot, I say you are another - what takes place? You have left, by your insult, a mark on my mind, a mark, memory. When next time I meet you, you are not my friend. Right? It has left a mark. If you flatter me, that has also left a mark, and next time I meet you, you are my friend. That is, any imprint on the mind is the formation of an image, and we are pointing out that when the mind is crowded with images, it is not free, and therefore must live in conflict.



Editor's last word: