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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

When you are angry, a second later the observer comes and says, "I have been angry". He has separated himself from anger. He has named it, named the feeling as anger. Why do we separate ourselves from the anger and why do we name it?




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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, Madras - 10 January 1971

THIS evening I think we ought to go into many problems, such as the importance for a human being to change himself when the environment, the society, the culture is so corrupt, so disintegrating. One sees the necessity of changing the environment - the environment being the society, the religion, the culture and so on - and what importance that has when the whole social structure, the community, the world about us, when that cannot be changed by an individual, by one human being. What significance has one individual, one human being transforming himself when around him there is so much chaos, so much misery, such confusion, such madness?

I think that question is wrong because the human being is the result of the culture in which he lives. He has built the culture, the society, the environment, and in changing himself is changing the environment. He is the world and the world around him is himself. There is no division between himself and the world.


Editor's note: It seems that K did not perceive a deeper sacred true self. One of the channeled afterlife reporters stated that if the soul could be corrupted, then it could be destroyed; which would countermand the reality of immortality and the survival of consciousness. But K did not believe in survival. And the sacred soul remains untouched by our foibles at the surface of personahood. It's interesting that K reminded us that "character" literally means an "etching," that is, a change at the surface of life; in that, one can change one's character. And some afterlife writers, too, speak of the purpose of our trip to the Earth in terms of growing in character and love. But, this is not accurate. A change of character and growing in love is not the problem, both of which change and improve very quickly once one's metaparadigm changes; which transformation is linked to a commencement of living life from the true self as opposed to the false. It is incredibly ironic that K is famous for instruction toward a certain measure of "going within." Word Gems features him in this regard. And yet K's brand of "going within" is limited to a perception of thought as division between analyzer and object analyzed. This is vital, but does not take us all the way to center of being.


I think one must clearly understand, right from the beginning, that there is no division, as between the individual and the community. The word "individual" means an entity who in himself is indivisible. Most human beings are divisible, are fragmented, which is partly the result of society, and the culture in which they live.

So I think it is important that we understand this fact that human beings are the result of the environment in which they live. You are born in this country, you are a Hindu or a Muslim, this or that. If you are born abroad in the West, you are a Christian, a Catholic, Protestant, and all the divisions of Catholicism or Protestantism. Now one may logically, intellectually accept this as an idea, as something which appeals to reason, but there it stops, because we seem to be incapable of really putting that fact into action. And we are going, if we can this evening, not only to discuss the conflict in man and therefore in the world, the conflict within himself and in his relationship with the world, the conflict between the various factors of fragmentation - each fragment in opposition to the other fragment of which the human being is made up - but also whether it is possible for the human mind to be totally free from all conflict, because then only is it possible to know what it means to love and also then perhaps we shall comprehend the full meaning of death and what living is. So first it is necessary that we should understand what conflict does to the human mind.

Human beings right throughout the world, are in conflict and themselves, with their neighbours, with the world, with the environment of which they are part. And until we understand this problem and find out for ourselves whether there is a possibility of completely ending conflict - totally - we shall never be able to live at peace with ourselves and also with society.

It is only a mind that is completely peaceful, not asleep, which does not mesmerize itself into a state of what it considers peace but which actually lives at peace, it is only such a mind that can find what truth is, what it means to live, what it means to die, what is the depth and width of love.

We are going first to enquire together why man lives in conflict, why you live in conflict. I do not know if you are aware of it, first within yourself, how you are fragmented, broken up. You are a businessman and house-holder. You are an artist and at the same time as a human being you are greedy, envious, seeking power, prestige, fame. You are a scientist and an ordinary, rather shoddy little human being. As human beings we are fragmented, broken up in ourselves, and unless you are aware that you are actually fragmented, unless that is totally understood, your minds are incapable of perception.

Editor's note: The scientist as "shoddy little human being" may be most disturbing to us. We'd like to think that we can expect more from those in white labcoats who pursue truth, the essence of reality, for a living. And yet, as we've seen on the "evolution" and "quantum" pages, scientists are not immune, at all, from all the "games that people play."

It is only a mind that is not tortured, that is not distorted, that is very clear, that has no markings of any kind of conflict, it is only such a mind that can see what truth is, and therefore can live. Now one must be aware of this issue not only within oneself but socially - the wars, the demand for peace, the way of the politician, the way of the saints, this diversified conflict. What is the root cause of all this? Is it the fault of the environment, the education that one has, the culture in which one lives - which is the environment? Is it the fault of the environment that you are constantly in conflict not only during the day but also when you sleep, from the moment you are born till you die? If you are really aware of it, if you are aware that in yourself you are fragmented, are broken up, contradictory, then you must have asked why does man live in this state.

And it is you who have created the environment, society in which you live, the religions and gods which you have accepted. Your gods are your projections [of fear]. So you are responsible for the conflict and for the environment and for the society in which you live, the beliefs, the dogmas, the rituals. You are completely, utterly responsible for the environment and for the society in which you live. So when you are aware of it, that is, aware intensely, passionately, not just verbally, when you actually feel it, that you are the world and the world is you, then what happens?

I do not know if you have asked this question of why conflict exists in man, in yourself. If you have, what is your answer? Do you refer to what somebody has said about why you live in conflict - Sankara or the Buddha - do you refer to some authority? Do you do that when you ask yourself this question why you, as a human being, responsible for the whole structure of the environment in which you live and of which you are a part, why there is this conflict in you? Can anybody answer this question for you? If they do answer it, it will be merely a description, an explanation. But the explanation and the description are not the explained nor the described.

So you have to totally disregard authority. You have to find out why you are in conflict. Now to find out you need energy. You need a great deal of energy to find out for yourself the cause why man, you, live in conflict.

Now when you enquire into the cause of it, you are using the intellect as an instrument of analysis, aren't you? You are using intellect as an instrument of analysis with which you hope to find the cause. The intellect is partial, is a fragment of the total. You hope to find the cause of a tremendous question, why man is in conflict, through a fragmentary thing called the intellect, which is the only instrument you have. So when you begin to enquire into the cause through the intellect, your answer will be partial, because your intellect is partial, and therefore, that is not the instrument. Which means you must now discard the instrument and find out a different kind of instrument.

Up to now we have used the intellect as an analytical means to find out why man suffers, why man is in conflict; and the intellect is a fragment of the total. Man is not just his intellect. There is all his nervous organism, the emotions - the whole structure - and you take one part of it and try to use that one part to find the cause. When you examine through a partial instrument, your understanding will always be partial and therefore incomplete.

And you have to see that you need energy, don't you? Now, the energy we have is divided, is again fragmented. There is the energy of fragmentation. In these fragments there is energy, just as in heat there is energy; and in the control of that energy, there is also energy. So we have divided energy into fragments, whereas human energy, cosmic energy, every kind of energy is a unitary movement. So one has to have energy to understand the structure and the nature of conflict and the ending of conflict. You must have intense energy and not fragmented energy, the fragmented energy is that which says, "I must get rid of conflict".

Who is the "I" that says I must get rid of conflict or suppress it? It is one part of energy describing another part of energy. So energies are in conflict. We are asking what is the reason of this conflict. One can observe it very simply as the observer and the observed. There is in you the observer, the observer watches that tree with all his knowledge, his past conditioning, and he looks at that tree as something separate from himself.

The observer says, "Do this, do not do that." The observer has certain values, certain judgements, he is really the censor, who is always watching, denying, controlling, separating himself from that which he is watching. When you are angry or jealous or not generous, if you observe it very closely, there is the observer who says "I am jealous, I am angry" The naming of the reaction, which he calls anger, separates him from anger.

Can you look at that tree without naming, without the interference of thought which is the response of memory, but just observe? We talked about it briefly the other day, which is, you look at that tree through the image which you have about that tree, which means you are not really looking at that tree. In the same way, when you have an image about your wife or your husband or a friend, you are looking at the friend through the image you have. So there is duality. This division between the observer and the observed is the very essence of conflict, of division.

When I am angry, at the moment of anger, there is no observer. Please follow this, I am going to go into it step by step. Follow it by observing yourself and not what the speaker is pointing out. Observe what takes place yourself, in yourself. When you are angry, at the moment of experiencing that anger or any other experience, in that second, there is no observer; a second later the observer comes and says, "I have been angry". He has separated himself from anger. He has named it, named the feeling as anger. He has named it, in order to strengthen his memory.

Editor’s note: I think this is one of the minutia in which K goes wrong. The ego does not label or separate itself from anger in order strengthen memory; at least not as primary objective. It separates itself from anger, from the object of anger, to create a sense of “other”; in that, as if to say, “You are the cause of my anger. You are the problem, not me.” And in this differentiation, a sense of self and individuality is strengthened, which is what we’re really doing, as first-priority mission, here on planet Earth.

His memory says "you have been angry". The memory is the censor, the memory says, "You should not have been angry", "be kind, don't hit him back, turn the other cheek." So the response of memory as thought becomes the observer and so there is a division between the observer and the observed, when he says "I am angry, I am jealous; I am envious.

Then the conflict begins, because he wants to suppress envy or enlarge it, take delight in it. So where there is the observer and the observed, there is the root of conflict.

Now is there an observation of anger without the observer? That is the next question. At the moment of anger or pleasure there is no observer, then a second later comes the observer, the observer is the censor, is the recorder, is the memory, is the brain cells in which these memories are held, and hence that observer says, "I should not or I should, I want more, I want less." So one asks then, can there be an observation without the observer? You understand? This is a tremendous question. We are conditioned to this conflict which arises when there is an observer different from the thing observed. That is our tradition, that is our condition, that is the result of our culture. And when we function from habit, it is a waste of energy. And when we immediately respond, that is, when the observer immediately responds to an emotion or a reaction, the response is always the old, it is the old brain which responds. So we are asking whether there is an observation without the observer. To end any habit, any tradition, without conflict, needs energy.

Look, let us make it simple. I am angry; at the moment of anger there is no observer as "I" who says I am angry. A second later, the entity as the observer comes into being. He is the censor, who says "I must not be angry." The response of the observer is tradition, is the habit, is the old brain responding, and that response of the old brain is a waste of energy, and you need energy totally to observe without the observer. Are you following this?

Let us put the question differently. What is your life, the daily life, not the ideological life, not the life you would like to lead, not the life you hope to have, but the actual daily "what is"? What is your life? It is a battle, is it not, with occasional flashes of pleasure, whether it be sexual or other forms of sensuous pleasure? Your life is a constant battle.

Editor’s note: This issue of “what is my life?” is very finely nuanced. Living in this world, unavoidably, will bring one into contact with all manner of opposition. And yet, once we discover the sacred life within, which brings a sense of proportion of “this against that,” then the real life, "the calm," deep below versus the chaos at the “surface of the ocean,” becomes the primary reality. In this receipt of this "knowing," one will no longer answer the question “what is life?” in terms of the conflict as it will seem much more insignificant in the comparison.

Think of the ocean’s surface during a storm. It’s constant change and motion with the waves and the wind. But, if you go down a few hundred feet, it’s all quiet, dead-silent, the picture of repose. It is my judgment that K, having offered much wisdom, begins to drift into unreality the more he insists, overtly and by implication, that there is no sacred life within, no survival of consciousness.


Can that battle end? Now, to end that battle, you must look at the whole field of existence, not partially but totally - "total" meaning the sorrows, the physical pain, the insults, the fears, the hopes, the anxieties, the ambitions, the regrets, the competitive, aggressive, brutal existence - see the whole of it. We are used to seeing parts of it, not taking the whole field and looking. We are not capable, as we are, of observing the whole field as one, because we have divided life into business life, family life, religious life and so on, and each division has its own activity of energy, and therefore each fragment is against the other fragment, and these fragmentary energies are wasting our total energy.

Is it possible to look at this whole field, this complex existence, the economic side, the social side, the family side, the personal, the communal - the whole of it as one - to perceive it totally? To perceive it totally, you must have a mind that is non-fragmented.

How do you come by that? How does a mind that is so fragmented throw away all the fragments and have a perception that is total? Have you understood my question? I cannot see the whole complex existence through a little hole which I call the intellect. I cannot see it, because the intellect is a part and you cannot use the part to understand the whole. That is a simple fact. There must be a different kind of perception, and that quality of perception exists only when the observer is absent, when you can look at that tree without the image, when you can look at your wife or your husband without any image whatsoever, when you can look at a Muslim, and a Muslim can look at you without the image. These images are produced by the observer, and if you see the truth of it, not merely the logical sequence of it, but see the fact of it, the truth of it - as you would see the danger of a snake and you act instantly. So when you see the truth that conflict exists as long as there is an observer - and the observer is the producer of images, he is the tradition, he is the conditioned being, he is the censor, - if you see that, not as an idea but actually, then you will observe without the observer, then you will see the totality of existence.

Therefore, a mind that sees this has tremendous energy, because energy then is not dissipated. We dissipate energy through control. Have you ever watched a sannyasi or a monk who has taken vows of celibacy, poverty? What tortures he goes through, because he has got the image that truth, or whatever that sublime thing is, can be found only if he is celibate, because he says that otherwise there is a wastage of energy, sexual wastage of energy. You must have complete energy to find reality; but in himself he is in battle. Right, you have understood this? So he has an image that he should be a celibate, and that image creates a division between himself and actually "what is".

Now if you can observe actually "what is" without a censor, there is a transformation of "what is". One is violent - that is apparently the normal human condition - to be violent. I am violent. At the moment of violence there is no observer, then a few seconds later the observer comes into being. He says "I should not be violent" because he has an image of non- violence, an ideal of non-violence which prevents him from observing violence. So he says, I say to myself "I will be every day less and less violent, I will ultimately reach a state of non-violence day by day." Now what is implied in that simple fact that I am violent and I will be no-violent one day? First there is the observer and the observed, second he is sowing the seeds of violence in the meantime, before he arrives at the state of non-violence. Then there is the factor of time before he can be completely non-violent, that is, the space between violence and non-violence; in that myself "I will be every day less and less violent, I will ultimately reach a state of non-violence day by day." Now what is implied in that simple fact that I am violent and I will be no-violent one day? First there is the observer and the observed, second he is sowing the seeds of violence in the meantime, before he arrives at the state of non-violence. Then there is the factor of time before he can be completely non-violent, that is, the space between violence and non-violence; in that observe "what is". Now, how do you observe "what is"? Do you observe it with your conditioned mind, saying "I must not be violent" with the image which you have about violence? Or is there an observation without the word, without the image? To observe without the image requires tremendous energy. Then you are not wasting energy by suppressing violence or transforming violence or pursuing an ideal of non-violence. That is all wastage of energy.

Now in the same way, let us look at this whole problem of what is called love. We have looked at what we consider living, which is a shoddy affair, a battle, and by investigating we have seen that it is possible - not intellectually-actually to be free of that conflict. Now let us enquire deeply into this question of what love is - not your opinion, somebody's opinion or conclusion - but what actually it is now. What is love? Is it pleasure, is it desire, is it sex, is it jealousy, possessiveness, domination, dependency? If you depend, then you are caught in fear. Right? If I depend on my wife, because she gives me pleasure sexually, if I depend on her for comfort, companionship, that dependency breeds fear, that dependency breeds jealousy, hatred, antagonism, possessiveness, the desire to dominate. Is all that love? Question, go into it, find out. And is pleasure associated with sex, is it love?

And why has sex become so extremely important in life? Why, Sirs, why in the modern world and also in the ancient world, why have we made sex into such a colossal affair? Why have we said that you cannot possibly attain reality, enlightenment, if you are sexual? Let us find out.


Editor's note: Love is none of these. See the "Omega" writing on "freedom from illusion."


First of all, you have to enquire into what is pleasure. You see a beautiful tree, a lovely cloud, the face of a child that is enchanting, the face of a man or woman that is beautiful. You see it, then what takes place? You see the lovely moonlight on the water, sparkling with such beauty, you perceive it. Then, at that moment of tremendous experience, thought comes along and says, "How lovely that was, I want to repeat it tomorrow." Are you following all this? Thought, which is the response of memory, which has the experience of seeing that moonlight on the water, the beauty of it, that thought says, "I must repeat that thing again." At the moment of perception of that light on the water there was nothing, there was neither pleasure nor the demand that it must happen tomorrow. There was absolute realization of that beauty. Then thought comes and says, "Let us repeat it; go tomorrow and look at that water again."

So that is pleasure - the repetition of an event which thought has reduced to pleasure and so thought can continue and give strength to pleasure. You have to understand this. There has been physical pain, a bad toothache last week. You are frightened that it will come back again tomorrow, next week, which is the action of thought. Thought sustains both pleasure and fear. So thought has built this whole structure round love as pleasure. And therefore all the saints, religions say, "Do not look at a woman, suppress, control", which is what takes place. That is a battle. Therefore, you are wasting energy. So what is love? Is it pleasure, fear? Fear is jealousy, violence. When you possess your wife as "my wife" is that not violence, and is that love?

And we are asking, why is it human beings have made sex into an extraordinary affair? Have you ever thought about it? Have you observed why, in your own life, that has become of such significant importance? Have you noticed how your life is mechanical - going to the office every day, repeat, repeat. How extraordinarily mechanical you are, when you quote your religious books, the rituals, when you call yourself a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian, a communist, and God knows what else. It is a mechanical habit, a repetition. When you name yourself as a bureaucrat, as a politician, as a sociologist, and so on, it is a habit, a mechanical acquisition of knowledge which you can repeat.

So you have only one thing which is not competitive, non-repetitive, which you can reduce to repetitiveness, which is sex. So that becomes your relief from the mechanical life. You have made love into a mechanical, pleasurable affair. And is that love?

You know, to find out what it is, you have to deny completely what it is not. You have to deny - the denial is the understanding of what pleasure, fear is. The understanding of it, not the saying of "I must not have pleasure", which is like a man saying "I must have no desire" - that is what you are trained to, that is what you accept by your tradition, that desire is completely wrong, that you must go beyond it.

You know, when you look at a tree, the beauty of a leaf, the shadow, the movement of the leaf, to look at it is a delight. What is wrong with it? Because you have denied beauty, your life has become mechanical. You never look at a tree, on the contrary, you are cutting down trees; you never look at the sky, the clouds, the beauty of the land, because you have an idea at the back of your mind that, to be a really religious man, you must never look at anything beautiful, because beauty might remind you of a woman. And that is what you call religion, and that is the way you are going to find God. It is such infantilism, because you torture the mind to find God. To find reality, you must have a free mind, not a tortured mind, there must be this sense of love, not with all its jealousies, fears. You do not know what it means to love, the beauty of it, because you do not know what it means to live a beautiful live, a life without conflict; you only know a life which is committed to some pattern or another, and therefore broken up. You have broken up living from dying.

See what is involved in it.

There is death far away. You may put it away from you, but you know it is going to come one of these days, so you invent theories - reincarnation. Is there a next life? If you really believed in reincarnation, really believed in it, that is, that you will be born next life according to what you do in this life, then this life matters much more than the next life, which means what you do now matters, how you behave now matters. But you really do not believe in it. It means absolutely nothing; it is just a theory because it gives you a temporary comfort. But if you really believed in it, then every minute of the day would count, every action would have significance. Therefore, now is the moment of righteousness, not next life. I do not know if you understand all this. And you have got innumerable theories about death. And you have never faced it.

So, find out the nature of death, while living, full of vitality, energy, not when you are diseased, unconscious, in pain, misery. Then that is not the moment to find out what death is - but while you are capable of looking, walking, observing being aware of the world, outside and inside, when you have understood what living is and what it means to love.

So what is death? The old people put this question out of fear because they are going to die. The old generation offers you nothing but theories about death. They have nothing to offer you either traditionally or actually. What have they offered you culturally, socially, economically? Do look at it, Sir, what have they given you - a social structure that is so corrupt, so full of injustice, a structure that breeds war, nationalism and all the rest. And any intelligent man discards it totally, including their morality. So what have they to offer you, the older generation who are frightened of death? Nothing except a lot of words and fear. So do not accept what another man says about death. Let us find out what it means.

What does it mean to die, not of old age, crippled and diseased or by an accident, but sitting here, conscious, aware, listening with a mind that is really serious? Now we are asking what it is to die, having no fear. You know only what it means to end, not what it means to die, that is, the ending of what you know, your accumulated knowledge, your insults, your hopes, your family, your wife, your children, whom you think you love. If you really loved your children, you would have a different world. So what does it mean to die? You are afraid of the ending of the known, you are not afraid of death, because of that you know nothing.

So what is it that you are frightened of, frightened of ending the known, and what is the known? All your memories, the collection of your worries, the furniture, the house, the accumulated insults and worries and conflicts and sorrows, and you hold on to that and say, "Please, I do not want to die". Is that what you are afraid of - afraid of letting go the known - not of death? Now let go of the known, let go of some memory that you have, let go, completely, of the pleasures that you have, the accumulated memories, the regrets, the anxieties, die to it, completely so that your mind is totally fresh. That is what it means to die, so that you don't carry over all the memories, the shoddy experiences or the pleasurable experiences. Live each day without accumulation, and you will know what it means to die so completely that your mind is fresh tomorrow, young and innocent and full of that energy. Without that, do what you will, without love, without the understanding of the beauty of this dying, you will never come near to that which is un-nameable.



Editor's last word: