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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

People speak of finding the truth. To find the basis of truth we must be able to see clearly without any distortion; without resistance, without prejudice, not caught in any formula or system. This quality of freedom allows one to see ‘what is’ and this leads us to the truth, which is reality.




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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, Bombay - 07 February 1971

I think one should have a good look at not only what is going on in the world, but also more rigorously look at ourselves.

To look clearly without any distortion, there must be a quality of perception, a quality of mind that sees, not resisting, not prejudiced, not caught in any particular formula, but which merely observes.

And in perceiving "what is" actually, not theoretically, we shall come upon what is truth.

Therefore it is very important to understand the word "perception", the seeing, because we are going to go into the very complex problem of living, not merely outwardly but inwardly, and one must be very capable of looking at exactly what is going on. To perceive "what is", is the basis of truth, and you cannot possibly perceive or see if you are bigoted, narrow, frightened, or belonging to any particular sect, group or community.

So what we are going to do is together observe, together find out, not only how to bring about a radical revolution in ourselves and therefore in society, but also find out for ourselves a way of living in which there will be no conflict whatsoever. And to understand all this, to understand our sorrows, our confusion, our great many contradictory way of thought and activities, we have to look, we have to see exactly what is going on, not interpret it, not try to translate it, not try to escape from it, nor translate it according to our particular like and dislike, but observe and that is where it is going to be difficult - to see exactly what is going on.

What we are going to talk about during these four meetings here, is not a question of agreement or disagreement. We are both of us, going to observe, understand together the immense problem of living, of existence, which is, understand together your life, your problems, the complex relationship between man and man, because without laying the right foundation in relationship, in our daily relationship with other human beings, without having a right basis, we cannot possibly go beyond.

As men who are really serious, you must inevitably lay the foundation of understanding, of relationship between man and man, not based on an idea or conclusion or the authority of your scriptures or your gurus, but what you yourselves understand as the meaning and the significance of relationship.

Now you know what is happening in the world, not only in the faraway world of America or Russia or China, but also near at home. There are wars, there are riots, there is despair, great sorrow, confusion, a fragmentation which is going on, fragmentation not only nationally, religiously but also inwardly in ourselves.

If you observe yourself, you will see how contradictory you are. You say one thing, you think another, do something else. Nationally, you are divided: the Hindu and the Muslim, Pakistan and India, Germany, Russia and America. You know the division - political, national divisions with all their conflicts, with all their ambitions, competition. If you observe you will see there is the Catholic and Protestant, the Hindu and the Muslim, the Buddhist and somebody else. The world around us is broken up, fragmented socially, morally and ethically. Both outwardly and inwardly we are fragmented people, broken up. And when there is division of any kind, there must be conflict, as between Pakistan and India, the Hindu and the Muslim, between ourselves the observer and ourselves the observed, and between the thinker and the thought. So where there is division there must be conflict. And a mind in conflict must inevitably be distorted, and therefore it cannot possibly see clearly what truth is.

So there is this fact that human beings right throughout the world have created a society, a culture, a morality that is no longer moral, a culture that is corrupt, a society that is disintegrating. Again this is a fact with which you can neither agree or disagree, because it is so. And you observe in this country what is going on: the decadence, the immorality of society, the various divisions - linguistic, tribal, religious. If you observe very closely and clearly, you see you have thousands of gurus, each having his system, his method to truth, to enlightenment, to bliss. If you observe closely again, you see how tradition has distorted your minds, how you accept the religious books as though they were complete truth. Now these are all facts: that there is a division, that the very fact that religion should bring people together has brought about division, separation, conflict, misery.

Now seeing all this, not from the description of the speaker but actually seeing it in your own life, what can you do, what is the right action? There is this great sorrow, misery, poverty in the world. Seeing this, not only outwardly but inwardly, that inwardly we are contradictory, inwardly there is division, there is a struggle, what can one as a human being do? Because you are the world and the world is you. You are the result of your culture, of your society, of your religion; and the society, the culture which you have built, in that you have been nurtured, and therefore you are part of that, you are not separate from the culture, from the society, from the community. Again this is a fact - you or the majority of you probably believe in God. I do not know why, but you do. Because you have been brought up in a society, in a culture that believes in God; and if you are born in Russia or in a communist society, you would not believe in God. There you would be conditioned not to believe, as you are conditioned here to believe. You are following all this?

So you are the result of the society in which you live and that society you have made, your grandfathers, the past generations have made it. So you, as a human being, facing all this, of which you are a part, you must inevitably ask what is one to do and what is the right action.

First of all, can you as a human being follow what another says? You understand the question? We need a total change, a deep, psychological revolution, the inward revolution, without which you cannot possibly create a new society. You are really interested in being told what you should do. You are really interested in finding a safe path, because you have never exercised your own brain to find out how to live rightly. You repeat, and from now on if there is one thing that you can really do, it is never to repeat what you do not know, never to do anything that you do not understand but only what you yourself understand. You know what would happen to you? You would no longer be second-hand human beings. Then you would put aside all the gurus, all the religious books, you would never follow anybody. Because then you would be acting with facts, not with suppositions, not with formulas. Do try it, do it one day, never to repeat anything which you do not understand logically, sanely, never to do something that you yourself have not directly tested. Then you will see that you would be faced with actualities, not with ideals, not with formulas, not with conclusions, but actually with "what is, which is yourself.

So when you see all this, how you a human being living in this country, supposed to be very spiritual because there are so many gurus, when you see all the contradictions in yourselves and in the world, when you observe in yourself the great sorrow that you have, the despair, the agony, the suffering, the loneliness, the utter lack of love, the callousness, the brutality, the violence, then you ask what are you to do. The question what to do is not important at all. What is important is how you observe these facts, how you look at these facts, how you as a human being look at this tremendously complex problem of existence, the complex society, the immorality of this present structure of society.

You cannot act before you have understood, before you have seen. So first you must see, you must observe, you must perceive. Now, how do you perceive? If you look at the world as a Hindu, then you are not looking at the facts, but you are looking with the prejudice of a Hindu, therefore you are incapable of looking. Right? If I look at the world as a communist, I am only looking at the world from a particular point of view, from a particular conclusion. Therefore I am incapable of looking at this immense problem. If I am a Muslim and I look at this extraordinary thing called living from a particular narrow point of view as a Muslim or a Hindu or a Buddhist, I cannot possibly see the extraordinary beauty of life with its complexity. So how do you look at this? Do you look at it from your traditional point of view or do you look at it as a scientist, as an engineer, or a follower of a particular sect, how do you look at it? You see the absurdity of being a Hindu. When the house is burning, the whole world is burning, you want to put the fire out as a Hindu or as a Muslim, Parsee, God knows what else.

So what is most important before you say "What can I do as a human being with regard to this madness that exists in the world?" You must understand what it means to look, to look at the world. In looking at this whole problem of existence, you drop away all division, you are concerned with the understanding of the problem, not as a Hindu. You have understood? If you don't, you are going to remain a Hindu, a Parsee, a Buddhist, a follower of some guru, because in that way you maintain division; therefore you maintain conflict.

Therefore, where there is conflict, there must be pain, suffering and in that there is no love. Right, is this clear? Verbally at least? That is, intellectually you may observe this fact, intellectually, verbally, you may say "I understand that division in any form must bring about misery", but intellectual comprehension does not do anything. Intellectually saying, "I agree with that or disagree with that" has no meaning, but to see the truth that any division must inevitably bring about conflict, if you really see it, then action follows. Then you are concerned to eliminate in yourself and in the society every form of division.

Look, Sir, in you, when you observe yourself, there is the observer and the observed - isn't there? - you the censor and the thing that is condemned or justified. If you look at the world as an observer or look at yourself condemning, justifying, explaining, in that there is division, and therefore conflict, and therefore misery. So, is it possible to observe, to perceive without the observer? You understand my question?

The observer, the thinker, the entity that perceives is the result of the past. You who observe your anger, your jealousy, your ambition, your desire to succeed, and all the rest of it, you who are struggling are the result of the past. The past is the observer, the me. Now, can you look without the observer, that is, without the past? When you are angry, at the moment of anger or jealousy or envy, at that precise moment there is no observer. The observer comes in a little later. Then he either condemns anger or accepts it. So the observer is the past, the observer is the censor.

Now can you look at this vast field of life without the observer? Then only you will see the totality of life. Now I am going to show it to you. We will begin with the simplest thing. When you look at a tree, how do you look at it, how do you see it? You see it, not only with sensory perception, but also you see it with your mind. Your mind has created the image of the tree. You say, "That is a palm tree, that is a mango tree." So your knowledge of the tree, which is the past, interferes from looking at the tree. Right? This is very simple. Knowledge of the tree prevents you from looking at the tree. Looking at the tree means to be in contact with it, not identifying with the tree but to observe it completely and you cannot observe it completely if the past interferes. Do you see that?

The next step is to observe yourself in relation with another. You can observe the tree very easily because it does not interfere with your happiness, with your desires, all the rest of it. It is purely a tree, objective. So if you do not understand how to look at a tree, without naming the tree, without the knowledge of the tree, the botanical knowledge - which is all the past - then you cannot possibly see the beauty, the truth, the wholeness of the tree.

The next step is to look at your wife, your husband or your friend without the observer, that is, without the image that you have created about your wife or your friend. You are following all this? Because all this is going to lead to an action in which there is not a sense of contradiction, to an action that will be total, complete and unless you understand this, your action will inevitably be contradictory and therefore conflicting. So you have an image about your wife and she has an image about your friend and your friend has an image about you. That is obvious.

Now, how are these images formed? What is the mechanism of this image-building? You have an image about your wife or your husband. That image has been built through many years or through one day. You have an image of your wife giving you sexual pleasures, the nagging, the brutality - you know all that goes on between husband and wife - the domination, the bullying, the irritation. You know much better than I do what goes on. How are these images formed? Please observe this within yourself, do not bother with the explanation that the speaker gives, but watch it in yourself, use the speaker as a mirror in which you are seeing yourself.

The brain cells are recording all the time, every incident, every influence. It is a recording machine. When the wife nags you, it is recorded; when you demand something of her and she gets angry, that is recorded. So the brain is a machine that is recording all the time consciously. Right? You do not have to study biology or psychology or any scientific book if you can observe yourself. You have the marvellous book of yourself in which you can learn infinitely. So when you, through years or through days have recorded these memories, these memories are the images. She has her image and you have your image about her. The relationship between these two images is what you call husband and wife. Right? Therefore it is not relationship at all. Relationship means direct contact, direct perception, direct understanding, sharing together. See how the machinery comes into operation, that is, when you get angry with your wife or when she nags you, the image is formed immediately, and that image is stored up, gets stronger and stronger, and that image is the factor of division. Therefore there is conflict between you and her.

Now, can this machinery, the building of the image come to an end, so that you are really in contact with the world, not through an idea? When there is an image about the world or about yourself or about your neighbour, your wife, there must be division. The image is not only anger and nagging, but formulas, concepts, beliefs. When you say, "I am an Indian", that is an image. That image divides when another person says, "I am a Muslim, I am a Pakistani." You follow? This image is not merely between two people but also between these formulas that have created these images. So you see that belief divides people. You believe in God, or you believe in reincarnation and somebody believes quite the opposite - which are all images. So images, formulas, concepts, beliefs, divide people. And that is the basic reason for conflict outwardly and inwardly. Do you understand this - not intellectually up here but in your heart? Then you will do something when it is real, when you see the truth of it, and beauty of it, then you will act entirely differently.

So our question is, how are these images formed and can the image-building come to an end? I have shown you how they are formed, that the brain which has so many other faculties, which is capable of such extraordinary things - going to the moon, inventing extraordinary technological things - this very brain has the quality of recording every instinct, every hurt, every flattery, every nuance of every action. Now, can this recording take place without interfering with action? You have understood this question? See first the logic and you will see the beauty of it afterwards.

You have insulted me or flattered me. The person who has insulted me, I have an image about that person, I do not like him; but the man who has flattered me, I like him, he is my friend, the image has been formed instantly. Now, can this forming of image come to an end instantly? Not afterwards, because once it is formed it is difficult to get rid of it. I am going to go into both: the prevention and the cure.

First of all, the prevention, which is never to form an image about anything. When you insult me, at that moment, to be totally aware - you understand? So one must understand what it means to be totally attentive at the moment of insult, at the moment of flattery. What does it mean to be aware, to be aware of the colours of the various saris, dresses about you objectively, outwardly? When you are aware of blue, red or pink, whatever the colours are, and say, "I do not like it, I like it", you are limiting the awareness. To be aware without limitation of like or dislike, condemning or justifying, is to be aware without any motive, without any choice, so that you are aware of the whole thing. Right? Now when you are insulted or flattered, at that moment if you give complete attention, which is complete awareness, then you will see that there is no image forming at all. Because what takes place then? Attention means there is no observer at all, there is no censor who says "I like, I dislike." You are merely attentive. Right?

Attention is not concentration - I won't go into the whole problem of concentration. When you are so attentive, in which there is no choice, in which there is no observer, then there is no image-making at all. Now, please just listen. Are you attentive totally to what is being said? Are you listening with complete attention, or are you listening partially? Or are you listening completely, with your heart, with your mind, with your nerve, with your whole organism, psychosomatically, completely? Then if you are so listening, you will see you have no image of the speaker at all. You understand? Now when the next time your wife or your friend says something pleasant or unpleasant, give complete attention to it, so prevent the image forming, because the mind then becomes free.

Freedom means seeing things clearly, purely, without any distortion. It is only such a mind that can see the truth, not the images that you have built about truth. So that is one thing you can do instantly.

Then what will you do with all the images. that you have collected about your country, about your leaders - political, religious - about your theories? You know how your mind is burdened with formulas, theories, opinions, judgments. What will you do about them? You see, you have not gone into it, you have not thought about any of these things at all. You will read the Gita, the Upanishads or repeat or go to some meetings where commentaries are made on the Gita and the Upanishads. just think of spending your lives on somebody else's words. Now what will you do with all the collection of images, beliefs, formulas, what will you do with them all? Because that is what you are, you understand?

You are the formula. You think you are great or small, that you are the Atman, or this or that. So you are the past, you understand? The past is directing you, the past images, the past knowledge. So we come upon something very interesting, which is, all knowledge is the past, all technological knowledge is the knowledge of the past. That is a fact. What you know is the past, and the past projects, modified by the present into the future. So you, as an entity, are the past, the past being your memories, your traditions, your experiences. So you, the "me", the "I", the ego, the super-ego, the, super-self, the Atman is still the past. Now knowledge is the past, to which you can add or take away. All scientific knowledge, technological knowledge is the past. Of course you can add more to it, alter it, but the basis is the past. So the knowledge about yourself is the past. You are the past. Therefore being the past, there is division between the past, present and the future - what you have been, what you are, what you will be, all in terms of knowing, which means your God is already known, otherwise you would not have God. Do you see this?

Knowledge is absolutely necessary, otherwise you could not go home, otherwise we could not talk English and understand each other. Knowledge is the past, and knowledge is the memory which the brain has accumulated through centuries, through experiences. So knowledge is necessary and knowledge also becomes an impediment in relationship, in relationship between human beings - you as a Christian, Buddhist, Hindu. You see the problem, the beauty of the problem, that you need knowledge, otherwise you could not function, and you also see how knowledge is the past - the image you have built - prevents relationship.

So we are asking the question, how is it possible that knowledge is absolutely necessary and how is it possible that very knowledge, which the brain has accumulated through centuries, does not interfere with relationships? Because relationship is the most important thing. On that, all our social behaviour, society, morality, everything is based on relationship and there is no relationship if there is no image - which is knowledge. What will you do, knowing that you need knowledge, knowing that knowledge interferes with relationship?

Now if you have come to this point - if you have followed it all along from the very beginning - you will see that your mind has become extraordinarily sensitive, and being sensitive, it has become intelligent. And it is that intelligence that will prevent the image interfering in the relationship, not your decision, not your saying, "I must, I must not." It is the understanding of this whole process, as we have gone into not verbally, not intellectually, but really understanding it with your heart, with your brain, with your whole capacity, that will make you see the truth of it. When you see the truth that knowledge is necessary and that knowledge interferes in relationship, because knowledge is the image, then the mind has become extraordinarily pliable, extraordinarily sensitive, and it is the sensitivity, which is the highest form of intelligence, which will prevent the interference of images as knowledge in relationship. Right, you have got it? Do get this, please, then you will see you will lead quite a different kind of life. Then you will banish away for ever the division that man has brought about between himself and another. So the whole problem of the past, which is knowledge, which is the accumulated experience, is absolutely necessary, and any other image, any other knowledge in relationship becomes totally irrelevant.

Surely love is not an idea, love is not an image, love is not the cultivation of memory of a person whom you think you love. Love is something totally new, every minute, because it is not cultivable, it is not the result of effort, strain, conflict. Look, Sir, if you listen to what is being said attentively, that attention is love. Otherwise there must be a division in this attention, therefore that brings conflict. When there is love, there is no conflict, because love is not a structure of the image-builder.

So a man who would live at peace with himself and with the world must understand this whole structure of knowledge, knowledge about himself and the world, knowledge which is the past, and a mind that lives in the past, is no mind at all. It is a dead, static mind. That is what has happened in this country. You are living on other people's experiences, and the Gita and the Upanishads and your guru are your destroyers. Please do see this, because you have not exercised that marvellous instrument which is the brain. And you use it technologically when you become an engineer, when you are fighting for a job, when you are cheating your neighbour in business, but refuse to use the brain in understanding human relationship, upon which all our social behaviour is based. Unless you do this with your heart, with your whole being, your seeking God, your wanting truth has no meaning whatsoever. You can go hunting after each guru and will never find truth, you will never come across it. For you must learn, you must have a mind that is sensitive, clear, objective, healthy, that has no fear.

Do you want to ask any questions? It is rather late.

Question: What is love?

Krishnamurti: What is love? Love is not something to be described. Now Sir, do listen, do sit down two minutes and I will stop. You know you must ask questions not only of the speaker but of about yourself, which is much more important why you believe, why you have formulas, why you follow your guru, your books, your leaders, why you believe in God, why you have become so dull, find out why you have become callous, indifferent to everything, except your own personal vanity or acquisition of money. Unless you ask questions of yourselves and find the right answer for yourselves, asking the speaker questions has very little meaning. But when you ask the questions of the speaker, share the question with him, go into it. Then whatever understanding comes is not your understanding, it is understanding, not personal understanding. Intelligence is not personal, and that is the beauty of intelligence.



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