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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

Can one listen without any conclusion, as you would listen to music, to something which you really feel that you love? Then you not only listen with your mind, your intellect, but also you listen with your heart, listen with care, objectively, sanely, listen with attention to find out.




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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, Madras - 6 January 1971

FIRST of all, I would like to say how important it is to find out for oneself what learning is. It is quite an art, because most of us have our own opinions, conclusions, points of view, dogmatic beliefs and assertions; we have our own peculiar little experiences, our knowledge which will obviously prevent us from actually listening to each other, because all these opinions and judgements, all this information will crowd in and hinder the act of listening.

Can one listen without any conclusion, without any comparison and judgement, just listen, as you would listen to music, to something which you really feel that you love? Then you not only listen with your mind, your intellect, but also you listen with your heart, listen with care, objectively, sanely, listen with attention to find out. You know what you think, you have your own experiences, your own conclusion, your own knowledge. For the moment at least put them aside. Otherwise we cannot investigate, learn together; and we are going to learn together, because, after all, the word "communication" means to have something in common with which we can co-operate, think over together, share together, create together, understand together, not the speaker explaining and you merely listening. Together we must understand this whole question of what truth is, what living is, this complex problem of daily activity, of what is actually going on, both outwardly in the world and inwardly.

To investigate and learn together implies that there is no authority. When you perceive what actually is, then you can do something about it, but if you observe "what is" with a series of conclusions, a series of opinions, judgements, formula, you will never understand "what is". If you observe the world as a Hindu or as a Muslim or as a Christian, then obviously you cannot see clearly; and we have to see together, very clearly, objectively, sanely. So, if one can observe very clearly - which in itself is a form of discipline - what is happening inwardly and what is happening outwardly, one can see that this is a unitary movement, not a separate movement.

What is actually happening outwardly, not only in this country, but all over the world? This is a simple, obvious fact: sociologically, economically, culturally, there is disintegration. Politicians have not been able to solve any problem. On the contrary, they are increasing them. Countries are divided as affluent societies and the so-called undeveloped countries. There is poverty, war, conflict of every kind. There is no morality. That is gone too. All the religious organizations with their beliefs, with their rituals, with their dogmas, are really separating people. If you are a Hindu and I am a Muslim we must be against each other. We may tolerate each other for a few days outwardly, but basically, inwardly, we are against each other. So while there is division, there must be conflict, not only outwardly but inwardly.

So our problem is, can all this be radically changed? Can there be an inward and therefore an outward, psychological revolution? We cannot possibly go on with our old habits, with our old traditions, with our old ways of thinking. Our very structure of thought must change, our very brain cells themselves must undergo a transformation to bring about order, not only within ourselves but inwardly.

The mind has been put together through time. The brain cells which have evolved through millennia, through centuries upon centuries, put together, have acquired tremendous knowledge, experience, have collected a great deal of scientific, objective knowledge. These brain cells which are the result of time have produced this monstrous world, this world of war, injustice, poverty, the appalling misery that is going on in the world, the division of people, racially, culturally, religiously: and all this has been produced by the intellect, by thought; and any reconstruction by thought is still within the same field.

First of all, thought has produced this division among people for economic, social and cultural reasons, both linguistically and ideologically. Do follow this. If you observe, you will see for yourself very clearly that the intellect, with all its cunning reason, both objective and non-objective, that thought has brought about this condition, this state, both inwardly and outwardly. You are conditioned by the past, and you think along these lines - and that very same thought tries to find a way out of this confusion; and that confusion has been created by thought. This is not what I say, what the speaker says, it is what you have discovered for yourselves.

Are you listening with passion to find out? We have got to change. We cannot go on as we are, lazily, satisfied with little things, accepting certain doctrines as truths, believing in something about which we know absolutely nothing, following somebody, hoping that he will lead us to enlightenment. All this has been produced by thought; and thought is the response of memory. If you had no memory, you could not think. Memory is knowledge, memory is gathered experience, and thought is the response of the past. And we are trying to solve an immense, complex problem of human relationship in terms of the past, which is thought. Do you get this?

So the question is how can thought, which has brought about this culture, whether the Hindu, Christian, communist, or what you will - and that thought which is the response of memory, which is knowledge, and that thought which has created such confusion, misery, sorrow in the world - how can thought, the very brain cells which contain the memory, undergo a radical mutation? Knowledge is necessary, otherwise you cannot go home, otherwise you could not write a letter. Scientific knowledge, technological knowledge, is absolutely necessary for us to function. One must have knowledge, which is the accumulation and the product of thought. So there is a contradiction in the very functioning of thought. On the one side it divides, separates, psychologically as well as outwardly, and on the other, thought has gathered extraordinary knowledge, created knowledge.

So the question is, can thought, though it must function within the field of knowledge, can that very thought cease to create separation? Basically, fundamentally, that is the problem. Thought is old, because memory is of yesterday. Thought is never free, because it can only function within the field of knowledge. This thought is the response of memory, and that memory is within the very structure of the brain cells.

Now is there a perception in which the very seeing is the acting?

Have you understood my question? You see, you are not used to investigating, you are not used to observing yourself, you are accustomed to reading what other people say and repeating whether it be Sankara, Buddha, whoever it is. You know it would be marvellous if you never said a word that was not your own discovery. Never say anything that you yourself do not know, which means, you will put away all your gurus, your sacred books, religious books, theories, what the philosophers have said, though of course you will have to keep your scientific, technological books. Never say anything that you do not understand, that you have not discovered yourself. And you will see then the whole activity of the mind undergoes a tremendous change. Now we are second-hand human beings and we are trying to find out a way of living which is really timeless, because thought is time, because time is putting things together - a process - and process implies time.

To get from here to there requires time, because you have to cover space. Thought thinks in terms of time, thinks of life as a process - getting from here to there. Now we are enquiring whether there is a way of living in which time does not exist at all. What we are concerned with is change, a revolution, a total mutation of the very structure of the brain cells; otherwise you cannot produce a new culture, a new way of living, a living in a different dimension altogether. So is there an action of perception in which thought does not enter except technologically?

Look, one has lived in the same old pattern, in a corner of this vast field of life, in a small corner, and in that corner there is extraordinary division, that very corner creates division, and we are living in that state. One observes this, not through books, not through newspapers, not through what somebody else says. One actually observes this fact and one asks if this can be radically changed. We think of change in terms of time - "I will be different tomorrow." We are caught in the verb "to be" - "I have been" "I am", "I shall be" - caught in the trap of that word "to be". The word "to be" is time.

Time does not seem to bring about radical change. "I will be tomorrow what I have been" - modified, slightly different - but it is the same movement of what has been and that is a process in time, and in that there is no mutation, there is no transformation, and how is this mutation to take place from which there will be a different way of living, a different culture, a different creation altogether? That is the question, you understand - to perceive and act, not perception and later on action.

I see in myself a great deal of suffering, a great deal of confusion, ambition, anger, brutality, violence. All the things that man has put together are in me, are in you - the sexual pleasures, the ideological pleasures, the fears, the agonies, the competitive drive, aggression - that is what we are. Can that be changed instantly? We think we know a way of bringing about a radical change in that through time - gradually I will evolve, gradually I will get rid of my anger and all the rest of it - that means time. And one sees time does not change at all. It may modify but radically it does not change, because you perceive yourself as you are and you say "I will be that, I should be that". In that interval between what you are - what is - and what should be, is space, is time; and when you are moving from "what is" to what should be, there are other factors coming in and therefore you will never come to what you should be.

I am violent and I say to myself, "I must not be violent." The "must not be violent" implies time, and between now and next week I am sowing the seeds of violence. Therefore I have not stopped being violent. Therefore I ask myself, is there a way, is there a perception which is free from time and therefore involves instant action? Is there a perception of violence which will end that violence instantly? I want to see if violence can end instantly and not gradually, because when you say "gradually", it will never end. Do you see that?

Therefore, is it possible to perceive with a perception that is itself action? Shall we go on from there? Now what prevents this perception? To perceive - perception as action - as when you see a snake you act instantly. There is no saying, "I will act next week". There is immediate response, because there is danger. Now what prevents the mind, and therefore the brain, from this instant action of perception?

What do you think prevents it? Why do you not see that time is a barrier, time does not bring freedom because time as thought is putting things horizontally and vertically together; and that time will not bring about a different perception of life in a different dimension? So what is it that prevents perception? Why do you not see things clearly and act instantly? Why do you not see this division, the psychological division of you as a Parsee, a Hindu, a communist, a socialist, a Muslim? That division creates tremendous conflict - do you see that? How do you see it, verbally, or as an actual fact of danger? Do you see that as long as you are a Hindu, a communist, the very fact must bring about division, and division is conflict. Intellectually, I recognise it, I say "Yes, that is so." And there I stop. But action does not come from it. I do not completely cease to be a Hindu, which means all the tradition, all the conditioning, the culture; that does not cease, because I am intellectually hearing the words without relating the words to perception.

Why is there no perception of the sort there is in danger when you perceive and act instantly? Because you say you know what is happening in the world - black against white, communist against capitalist, labour against somebody, the Catholic against the Protestant, though both worship what they call Jesus Christ, and so on.

Here too there is division, linguistic, national, cultural. You have your guru and I have my little guru, I have my guru's system, my system to Nirvana, to heaven, and you have yours. So there is division, there is conflict, and out of this conflict there is war, both inwardly and outwardly. A man who is really serious, who wants to find a way of living where there is no conflict at all at the very root of his being, has to find out not merely intellectually, not verbally, but actually find out for himself if there is an action which is not of time. Now I will go into it.

Now we begin at the very objective level, whether you can see anything, to see a tree without the image, without the knowledge, without thought coming in between the observer and the observed and saying, "That is a mango tree". Have you ever done it? You have always observed, through an image, haven't you?

Now you must see without verbalization. The verbalization is the process of thinking. Can you observe a tree, your neighbour, your wife or your boy or girl friend without the image, can you? You can't, can you? Can you observe your wife, which is a little more difficult than observing a tree?

You can observe a tree fairly easily without the image, without the word, without thought. When you observe the tree without the whole mechanism of thought coming into operation, then the space between you and the tree which is time - disappears. This does not mean that you become the tree or you identify yourself with the tree. You see the tree completely, not partially. There is only the tree without the observer. You understand this? You have never done it. Do it, not try to do it, do it. That is, observe a flower, the cloud, the bird, the light on the water, the movement of the breeze among the leaves, just watch it, without any image. Then you will see there is a relationship which has never existed before between what is observed and the observer, because then the observer comes totally to an end.

Now observe your wife or your friend without the image. Do it. You have the image of your wife, haven't you? - or the husband or somebody? That image has been built through time. You have lived with her sexually, she has nagged you, you have bullied her - you know all these things that happen in family life. You have built up through years images about her and she about you; and you look at each other through those images, don't you? Now that image separates people, the image of you as a Hindu and a Muslim. That image prevents, divides, and if I have an image about my wife, the image that she has and the one that I have obviously must divide.

Now, how is this image to come to an end, the image as a Hindu, as a Muslim, as a communist, as a socialist, the image that one has built about oneself and the image that one has built about another? If that image disappears, then there is a totally different kind of relationship. This is because the image is the past, the image is the memory, the memory is the various markings on the brain cells which have taken place through a number of years - such as the conditioning of the brain cells as a Hindu - and that image remains. Now the question is, can that image come to an end, not through time, not gradually but instantly? To answer that question, one has to go into what the machinery is that builds images.

Are you also working, or are you merely learning from the speaker? Don't learn from the speaker, because the speaker has nothing to teach you. He has absolutely nothing to teach you, because he does not accept the teacher-disciple relationship because that breeds authority; and where there is authority there is division - the one who knows and the one who does not know. And the man who says he knows, does not know. So you are not learning from me, from the speaker. You are learning by observing yourself, by watching. Therefore you are free to learn. Therefore freedom is absolutely necessary to learning.

So learn from observing; and you are observing yourself, you are observing that you have your own image about another, that you have an image of yourself as a Hindu, as a Buddhist, communist, Christian, Protestant, as a hippy, and so on and on. You see that image in yourself. Now you say to yourself, "I know how that image has come into being, because I have been brought up as a Christian, as a Hindu, as a Muslim. I am born there, I am conditioned, and that image remains and that image divides people." Where there is division there must be conflict, outwardly and inwardly. Then you are learning from your own observation; you are asking yourself, "Can this image come to an end?" When you ask that question, you are also asking the question, "What is the machinery that builds this image?"

Now what is the machinery that puts together this image? Just observe it, don't try to translate it and act upon it; just observe what the speaker is saying, listen to it, and observe the action of perception on yourself. You tell me I am a fool. The word with its associations has set in operation memory in the brain cells. The word "fool" has its associations, which is the memory, which is the old brain. The old brain says, "You are another; you call me a fool and I call you another". So the response is the response of the old memory. Now the machinery operates as you observe when the wife or husband nags, when at the moment of nagging there is no attention. When there is attention at the moment of nagging there is no operation of the machine.

Do you see this? You call me an idiot. If I am completely aware at that moment, then the machinery has no fuel to act. Right?

At the moment of inattention, when there is no attention, then the machinery is in operation. You can see this yourself. At the moment of attention, you can say what you like. The machinery does not function. At the moment when you are completely aware, and you call yourself a Hindu, you see all the significance, all the meaning - division, conflict, battle, separation. That perception takes place only when you are completely attentive. At that moment the machinery of Hinduism, which is the conditioning, comes to an end.

Then the next question arises, how can this mind keep so attentive all the time? Is that the question you are asking? You see, at the moment of attention all the conditioning disappears, all the image-building comes to an end; it is only when you are not attentive that the whole thing begins - you are a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, communist. And then the next question is, can this attention be sustained, which means, can this attention continue? Please follow this. Can this attention continue all the time, which means, can this attention endure? That involves time, does it not?

You are putting a wrong question, when you say, "Can this attention endure, can I keep this attention all the time, what is the system what is the method to sustain this attention?" The moment you ask, "How is it to continue?", you are inviting time, therefore time is inattention. When you are completely attentive, there is no time, and when there is this attention and you have perceived and acted, it is over. Do not say "I must carry it with me".

Do you understand, do you follow this? That is, at the moment of attention you have seen and acted - perception, action - but thought says, "How extraordinary: I wish I could continue that attention all the time, as I see in it a way of acting without all this conflict". And so thought wants to cultivate attention. Any form of cultivation implies time. So attention cannot be cultivated through time. Therefore, perception, action and end there, forget it, begin again, so that the mind, the brain cells, are fresh each time, not burdened with yesterday's perception. Have you got it?

So the mind then is always fresh and young and innocent, not carrying all the burdens of yesterday, and the word "innocence" means a mind that can never be hurt. A mind that has no markings of ever being hurt, that is real innocence. And most of us are hurt from childhood, we are beaten, we are crippled, we are tortured, we have scars on the brain, and we are struggling through these scars to find some state of mind in which there is no hurt. An innocent mind is a mind that has never been hurt, that means a mind that never carries the hurt over to the next day. So there is neither forgiveness, nor remembrance.



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