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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

What is thinking? Thought is the response of memory, memory which is experience, which is knowledge, conditioned by one’s culture. Thought is never free, is always old. Is joy totally different from pleasure? Thought picks it up, reduces it to pleasure and says, "I would like to have that joy again".




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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, New Delhi - 13 December 1970

Most of us do not ask fundamental questions and if we do, we expect others to answer them. We are going this evening, if we may, to consider several problems, and I think they are fundamental ones. One of them is to observe the many fragments of life, the various activities, opposing each other, contradicting and bringing about a great deal of confusion. One asks if there is an action which can cover totally all these divergent, contradictory, fragmentary activities, because one observes in one's own life how we are broken up - politically, religiously, artistically, scientifically, commercially, and so on - all opposing each other, contradicting each other. Is there an action which can respond totally to every demand of life without being contradictory in itself? I do not know if you have ever even asked such a question.

Most of us live in our own particular little activity and try to make the best of it. If you are a politician - and I hope you aren't - then your world is very dependent on votes and you know all the rest of the nonsense that goes on in the name of politics; and if you are a religious person, you will have a number of beliefs, a way of meditation contradicting everything in your daily life; if you are an artist, you live totally apart from all this, absorbed in your own particular fancy, in your own beauty, in your own perception, and so on; and if you are a scientist, you live in the laboratory and just a normal human being outside, rather shoddy, competitive and all the rest of it; so seeing all this with which most of us must be quite familiar, what is the action which can respond totally to every demand and yet remain non-contradictory, whole?

Now, if you put that question to yourself, as we are doing now, what would be your answer? Because as we said the other day when we met here, we are sharing together the problem of our life, not intellectually, not verbally, but actually. And that is the meaning of communication - to consider together the common issue, the common issue being this question: is there an action, a way of living every day which can answer, whether you are an artist, scientist, businessman and so on - the question whether your life can be whole, so that there is no fragmentation and therefore no contradictory action?

If the question is clear, then how shall we find out such an action? By what method, by what system? If we are trying to find a method, a way of living by a system, according to a certain pattern, then that very pattern, that very system is contradictory. Please do understand this clearly. If I follow a particular system in order to bring about an action which will be whole, complete, full, rich and beautiful, such a system, such a method, becomes mechanical. My actions will be mechanical and therefore totally incomplete. Therefore I must set aside all idea of following, of mechanical repetitive activity. And also I must find out whether thought can help to bring about such an action. You understand my question? You live a fragmentary life - you are different in the office and at home, you have private thoughts and public thoughts, and you see this wide gulf, this contradiction, this fragmentation and ask if thought can bridge all these various fragments, if thought can bring about an integration between all these factor? Can it?

So we have to find out what is the nature and the structure of thought. Can thought, the thinking, the intellectual process of reasoning, can such thought bring about a harmonious life? To find out, one has to investigate, examine carefully, the nature and structure of thought, which means we are going together to examine your thinking, not the description or the explanation of the speaker, because the description is never the described, the explanation is not the explained. So don't let us be caught in the explanation or in the description, but together investigate, find out how thought works, and whether thought can really, deeply bring about a way of living that is totally harmonious, non-contradictory, complete in every action. This is very important to find out, because if we want a world that is totally changed, where there is no corruption, a way of living that has significance in itself, we have to ask this question. Not only this but also what sorrow is - and whether sorrow can ever end - what pain, fear, love death is.

We must find out for ourselves the meaning of all this, not according to some book, not what some other person has said. That has no meaning whatsoever. You know knowledge has great meaning, has significance. If you want to go to the moon you must have extraordinary technological knowledge; to do anything efficiently, clearly, you must have a great deal of knowledge. But that very knowledge becomes an impediment when you are trying to find out a way of living that is totally harmonious, because knowledge is of the past. Knowledge is the past and if you live according to the past, obviously there is contradiction, the past in conflict with the present. So one has to be aware of this fact that knowledge is necessary and yet knowledge becomes a great hindrance. Like tradition, it may be useful at a certain level, but tradition, which responds to the present responsibility, brings about confusion, contradiction. So one has to enquire very, very seriously into the nature of thought.

You know it is only the serious people that live, not the others, because the man who is very serious can apply, can consistently pursue, and not drop it when it suits him, pursue it till the very end till he finds out. He will not be distracted, not be carried away by some enthusiasm or some emotional reaction. That is why a serious man lives fully, and enquires into this question of what is thought, whether there is the possibility of ending sorrow, fear, the meaning of death, and life, and also finds out for himself, not according to anybody else, not according to the speaker - least of all according to the speaker. He finds out for himself a way of living that is harmonious, highly intelligent and sensitive and that has the depth of beauty. And to find out, one has to enquire into the nature of thought.

So what is thinking? Please put yourself this question, what is thinking? We must understand the deep significance of thought because we live by thought. Whatever we do is either reasoned out or examined, investigated or we do it mechanically according to yesterday's pattern, the tradition. So one has to be very clear about what the function of thought is. If you observe very carefully in yourself, don't you find that thought is the response of memory, memory which is experience, which is knowledge? If you had no knowledge, no experience, no memory, there would be no thinking. You would live in a state of amnesia. So thought is the response of memory, and memory is conditioned by the culture in which you have lived, according to your education, according to the religious propaganda in which you have been caught. So thought is the response of memory with its knowledge and experience - and you need knowledge, you need memory; otherwise you can't get home, otherwise we couldn't speak to each other. But thought, because it is the response of memory, is never free, is always old. You are following all this?

Editor's note: When K says that experience is a product of thinking, memory, and one's culture and that the truth cannot be experienced, he's speaking of experience in an ordinary sense. The truth, in glimpses, can be experienced, directly accessed, and this is why it's called a "mystical experience," and, of course, this is not ordinary experience as result of thinking.

And to find a way of living which is totally harmonious and clear, a way of life that has no distortion, can thought find a way, thought which is the response of the old, which is memory? And yet we use thought to find a way, thought being - if you are objective - rational, clear, sane. We say "I shall think it over and find a way of living harmoniously". And thought is the response of the past, of our conditioning; therefore, thought cannot possibly find a harmonious way of living. You are following all this? Thought can never find it, and yet we use thought to find it; and yet we know thought is necessary to go home, to earn a livelihood, to do anything; thought at a certain level is absolutely necessary, but thought becomes an impediment to find a way of living which is totally different from the past, which is disharmony.

When you see the truth that thought will not find the way, however reasonable, however logical, however sane or clear, then what is the state of your mind that sees the truth of it? You are following all this? Are you also working as much as the speaker is, or are you merely listening to a few ideas? You understand my question? I hope you are also working as deeply and passionately, otherwise you won't be able to find out, otherwise you will never find out a way of living which is so extraordinarily harmonious and beautiful, and one has to find it in this insane world. So if thought will not bring about a way of life which is totally harmonious, and if you see the truth of it - not the verbal explanation but the truth of it - what is the quality of the mind, your mind, that has seen this? What is the quality of the mind that sees the truth of something? Don't answer me, please.

You see you are too quick with words and explanations, you don't let it soak into you. You don't stay with it, you immediately jump to words, to explain something or other, and you know very well the explanation isn't the real thing.

So we are asking, what is the quality of the mind that sees the necessity of thought and sees also that thought - do what it will - cannot possibly bring about the beauty of a life that is completely, fully harmonious? You see this is one of the most difficult things to convey or talk about, because we have lived all our lives on somebody else's experiences, we have no direct perception, we are afraid to have direct perception, and when you are faced with this challenge, you are apt to escape, escape into words, explanations - and one has to put aside all explanations. So what is the quality of the mind, that is, what is the nature of the mind that sees the truth? We will leave it there for the moment, because we haven't time to go into too many details, because we have to touch so many things. We are coming back to it.

All of us know what sorrow is, physical pain and psychological grief. All of us know this. If you are a Hindu, you will explain it away through karma, if you are a Christian, you have various forms of rationalization. Please follow all this, not the speaker, but yourself, watch your own sorrow. We are asking whether that sorrow can ever end, and we are going to find out. Either you explain it away in your own way, according to the particular culture in which you have been brought up, that is, the pain, the sorrow, the sorrow of loneliness, the sorrow of isolation, the sorrow of not achieving something or other, the sorrow of losing somebody whom you think you love - the sorrow not personal, but the sorrow of the world that has lived for so many millennia, that goes on killing, destroying its own species, with man being appalling towards man. When you see all that, the man walking across the park, lonely, with torn clothes, dirty and no happiness - he can never be Prime Minister, he can never enjoy life - when you see all that, there is great sorrow, not for yourself, but that such human beings exist in the world. You understand all this, and that society has brought about such conditions. And then there is the sorrow of one's own loss, neurological pain, and in the face of it, one escapes, one doesn't know what to do. So words, theories, explanations and beliefs act as a way of escape. Have you noticed this? Do please watch it in yourself.

If my son dies, I have a dozen explanations. I escape through my fear of loneliness. So what happens? I go back to sleep again, because sorrow is a way of challenge, asking "Look, what has happened to you, observe." And we don't, we run away. Now, when you remain with sorrow without running away, without escaping, without verbalizing, completely remain with it, without any outward or inward movement, what happens?

Have you ever done this - remained with the sorrow, not resisting, not trying to run away from it, not trifling with it but seeing what has happened? If you remain with it completely, what takes place? When you remain completely with it, without any movement of thought you recognise the whole structure of what sorrow is; then what takes place? Out of that sorrow comes passion. The meaning of that word "passion" has its root in suffering. You see the connection? If you remain with the fact of anything, specially with the fact of sorrow and don't let thought wander away or explain it away, but you identify yourself with it, completely with it, then there is tremendous energy, and out of that energy there is the flame of passion.

Sorrow brings passion, not lust, and passion you need to find out. So there is an ending of sorrow, which doesn't mean that you become indifferent, callous. There is an ending of sorrow when there is no escape from it and that very sorrow becomes the flame of passion, and passion is compassion. Compassion means passion for all. You can only find out through this flame of sorrow. Then with that intensity, with that passion, one can find out what is the quality of the mind that sees truth. Because then you have passion, you have intensity, you have energy.

Then also you have to find out for yourself whether fear can come to an end, not only fear of physical pain but also the psychological, inward fears that one has. Find the truth of it - not just the verbal explanation. Find out for yourself passionately and therefore seriously to the very end, so that the mind is free from fear. So one has to ask what fear is. Is it the product of thought? Obviously it is the product of thought - that is, you think about something that has given you pain, physical or otherwise, that happened last year or yesterday, you think about it. That very thought sustains and continues that fear. Right? And thought also projects that fear into the future - I may lose my job, I may lose my position, my prestige, my fame - you follow? Thinking about the past or about the future brings fear. So one asks, can thought come to an end?

And also one can see how thought sustains pleasure: the marvellous sunset, what happened yesterday, that which was so beautiful, so lovely, so exciting, so sensuous, so sexual, and all the rest of it; and you think about it, and thought sustains that pleasure. So there is sorrow, fear, pleasure and joy.

Is joy totally different from pleasure? I do not know if it has happened to you. It happens. Joy comes suddenly. You don't know why, but thought picks it up, thinks about it, reduces it to pleasure and says, "I would like to have that joy again". So thought sustains and nourishes pleasure, fear, and the very avoidance of sorrow is the continuity of sorrow. You see all this? Then there is the fear of death, which is the ultimate fear which man has. We will deal with that presently.

So there it is. Pain, grief, sorrow and whether they can end at all, and fear, not only the superficial fears but the deep unconscious fears that are embedded in the recesses of one's own mind, of which one is not aware. How is one to bring all that out so that one is totally, completely free of all fear?

Now after putting all these questions, what is the quality of the mind that sees the truth of all this, the truth that thought perpetuates pleasure and fear - the truth, not the explanation - the truth that the avoidance of fear through various forms of escape does distort the mind and therefore renders it incapable of comprehending fear totally, completely. What is the quality of the mind that doesn't invite joy, and when the joy happens, it happens and leaves it alone? So what is the quality of the mind that is aware when thought is necessary, when thought must be employed logically, objectively, sanely, and also sees that thought, which is the response of knowledge, which is the past, becomes a hindrance, blocks a way of living which is non-contradictory? What is the quality of your mind when you say "I understand something"? Your mind is completely empty and silent. You understand? Isn't it? You can only see something very clearly when there is no choice. When there is choice, there is confusion; it is only the confused mind that chooses, that discriminates between the essential and the non-essential, but the man who sees very clearly has no choice. There it is.

So there is an action which comes when the mind is completely empty of any movement of thought except the movement of thought which is necessary when it has to function. Now, can such a mind deal with the everyday facts of life? Which means, can it function if you are a Muslim, a Sikh, a Hindu, a Buddhist, can it ever function when there is conditioning of the mind, which is, can such a mind function through a Hindu who is conditioned according to his background? Obviously not. Therefore, if you see the truth of this, you will not be a Hindu, you will not be a Muslim, Sikh, Christian. You will be something entirely different.

Now do you see the truth of this, and do you cease to be a Hindu, Sikh, Muslim? Not at some future time, but actually at the moment, completely emptied of all the nonsense that goes into this. Otherwise you will never see what truth is. You may talk endlessly about it, read all the books in the world, but you will never come upon the beauty and the vitality and the passion of it. So a mind that is enquiring, putting fundamental questions, also questions whether society can be radically, fundamentally, changed, not the economic but the psychological structure. Because if the psyche is not changed inwardly, what you produce outwardly will be the same, only modified and continuing in the same pattern.

So one has to ask this fundamental question, and there is nobody to answer except yourself. You cannot possibly rely on any one. Therefore you have to observe, learn to watch, which means, can the mind be completely awake, observant, to see the actual truth of anything because when you see the truth you will act. It is like seeing danger. When you see danger, you act instantly. So in the same way, when you see the truth of something completely, there is complete action.

Question: What happens to the mind after the body disintegrates ?

Krishnamurti: Why do you dissociate the body from the mind? Is there something separate as the mind apart from the body? Psychosomatically, is there a division? Look, Sir, you have been brought up in this country, in this culture, as a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, or God knows what else. Your conditioning is the result of the society in which you live, which you have created, the society is not different from you. You have created it, your parents have created it, and the rest of the past have created the culture in which you live and you are part of that. Now can you divide yourself from that culture? You can only divide yourself, break away from that culture when you are not of that culture. Right? Isn't that simple? In the same way, why do you divide? I am not going to ask this question, but we will go into it. Why do you divide the body and the mind? Because you have been told - the Atman, the higher self, the soul - do you know anything about it, or do you repeat what other people have said? How do you know that what others have said is true? It doesn't matter who it is. How do you know? So why do you accept?

So to find out whether the mind is something totally different from the organism, to find out, you have to have a mind that sees very clearly, a mind that has no distortion, a mind that is not confused, a mind that is not conforming. Have you got such a mind, a mind that is not conforming? Which means, when you conform, when you compare, when you compare yourself with somebody, you are conforming. To find out whether you can live without conforming is to find out whether you can live without comparison. Comparing yourself with what you were yesterday or what you will be tomorrow, or comparing yourself with the rich man, the poor man, with the saint, with your hero, the ideal, comparing, which means measuring yourself with somebody or with an idea. Find out what it means to have no comparison. Then you are free, then the mind is completely free of its conditioning.

Question: The fundamental question in philosophy is whether mind and body are separate or not.

Krishnamurti: I have no philosophy.

Question: I want your opinion.

Krishnamurti: I have no opinion.

Question: I want to be enlightened.

Krishnamurti: You are going to be enlightened, Sir, if you listen. Sir, to find the truth of this matter, we must not follow anybody. Philosophy means the love of truth, not the love of theories, not the love of speculations, not the love beliefs, but the love of truth, and truth isn't yours or mine, and therefore you cannot follow anybody. When once you realize this basic fact that truth cannot be found through another, but you have to have eyes to see it, it may be there with a dead leaf, but you have to see it. And to offer an opinion about it, is ridiculous. Only fools offer opinions.

We are not dealing with opinions, we are concerned with this fact, which is, whether the mind has a quality, has a state or an inwardness which is not touched by the physical. Do you understand my question? Which is the question you are putting me - whether the mind is independent of the body, whether the mind is beyond all the petty, nationalistic, religious limitations? To find that out, you have to be extraordinarily alert and watchful. You have to become aware, sensitive. If you are very sensitive, which means intelligent, you will find out if you go into it very, very deeply, that there is something which is never touched by thought or by the past.

You know thought is matter, thought is the response of memory, memory is in the brain cells themselves, it is matter, and whether the brain cells can be so completely quiet, then only you will find out; but to say that there is or there is not, has no meaning. But to find out, to give your life to this, as you give your life to earning a livelihood - and here, where you need tremendous energy, a great passion to find out, you drink at other people's fountains which are dry. Therefore you have to be a light to yourself, therefore in that there is freedom.

Question: Do you believe in evolution?

Krishnamurti: It is very simple, Sir, I will answer. There is the evolution from the bullock cart to the jet. Going to the moon is evolution.

Probably human beings have reached their height biologically but is there an inward evolution? You are following my question? Will I evolve, become marvellous?

Now before you put that question "Will I evolve?". You have to find out what the "I" is, not say "I will evolve". That has no meaning. But what is the "I"? The "I" is your furniture, your house, the books that you have collected, the memories that you have had, the remembrance of pleasure, pain - the "I" is a bundle of memories. Is there anything more than the "I"? You say the "I" is spiritual, the "I" has a spiritual quality in it. How do you know? Is that an invention of thought? Therefore you have to enquire why thought invents such things. Don't accept a thing, including your own self, because to find truth the mind must be free of the self, not the higher self. The higher self is part of the lower self, that is just another invention of duality. So you have to find out, Sir, if there is evolution.

There is obviously evolution, biologically ; but we are talking psychologically, inwardly, the thing that is continually striving to become and to find out what it is that is becoming.

Question: How can the lower mind find the higher mind?

Krishnamurti: How can the lower mind find the higher mind? Apparently at the end of an hour and a quarter we are still talking about fragmentation, we have talked about the higher self and the lower self which is part of this division. We have talked for about an hour, and still you get up and say, "what is the lower mind and the higher mind?"

Question: I mean there is the parent element....

Krishnamurti: See what the gentleman says. You have translated what you have said into your own Sanskrit terminology, and therefore you are stuck. But you have to say "I know nothing, I want to find out". Don't you want to find out a way of living that is really beautiful, without any pain, without any fear, that is completely harmonious, don't you? And if you do it, Sir, you have to drop all your slogans, what other people have said, you have to find out. This means you have to have tremendous energy ; and you waste your energy by repeating words that have no meaning except for those who have invented them.

Question: What is the relationship between the "me", the "I" and ego, and the mind that sees truth.

Krishnamurti: What is the relationship between the "me", the ego, and a mind that sees, that is empty, that is whole, that perceives truth? What is the relationship between the two? What is the self, the "you"? What is the "you"? When you say "I" - I am a politician, I am a saint, I am this or that, what does that mean? You identify yourself, don't you, with your family, with your furniture, with your book, with your money, with your position, with your prestige, your memories. Isn't the "I" all that? The "I" is also the higher self, the Atman. But the identification with the higher self is still part of thinking, that thought which says there must be something permanent, because life must be permanent. Is there anything permanent?

You are asking what is the relationship between the "I" and that marvellous state of perception that is true. None whatsoever. There is no relationship between the two. The one is the result of conflict, misery, agony, pain, and the other is empty of all this.



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