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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

No book can teach you about yourself; no 'holy' scripture, no professor, no philosopher. What they teach is what they think you are and should be; their opinion, not yours. For centuries, you accepted the authority of others. When a mind is afraid, it cannot see what truth is, becomes dull, incapable of thinking rationally.




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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, Bangalore - 30 January 1971

We have so many problems, such complex issues, that in order to understand them completely, one has to take a journey over the whole earth, see the various cultures objectively, sanely, rationally, and consider seriously the many conflicts: what actually is going on in the world, not only in the far world but also in this country. We must see actually, not theoretically, what is going on. We must see these conflicts as they are, not through the eyes of a Hindu, a communist or an extreme Maoist, we must be able to observe very clearly facts, not ideals, not what you think should be or what ought to be, but actually what is going on.

One has to observe what is happening in the world, the division, the conflict, the injustice, the wars, the national, linguistic, religious divisions, violence and immense sorrow. This is a fact, this one can observe, how religions have divided people, as the Hindu with his beliefs, the Christian with his doctrines, the Muslims with their faith.

One can observe how religions, which are organized beliefs, propaganda, with their rituals, with their sacred books, with their teachers and saviours, have separated and brought about fragmentation in the human mind.

Then there is division of nationality, the Indian, the Pakistani, the German, the Russian, Vietnamese, and so on; and there is the revolt of the young against the established order. In this country it has not taken a very violent form, but in other countries it is rampant there is a great deal of social injustice in this country, there is poverty, there is brutality, violence. And when we observe all this rationally, without any prejudice. without coming to any conclusion, but just observing it, we see very clearly that human beings have created this monstrous, decadent, corrupt society, not only in this country but in the rest of the world. That again is a fact.

You are the world, the world is you. You are the society, the culture in which you have been born and brought up. That culture, that society is the result of your efforts, of your greed, your brutality, your violence. So you are the world, you are the community, you are the society, the culture. Do please realize that in this country where there is so much corruption, disorder, callousness, brutality, total indifference, you are responsible, each one, because you are India. You have brought about, put together through time the social structure with its divisions, you have put together the religions, the beliefs, the innumerable gods, and you have built this society. So the world is you and you are the world. Do realize this deeply, feel it with your heart, not with your petty little, cunning, insensitive mind, because that is the fact, and that fact is not a theory, is not an idea. The explanation is not the explained, the description is not what is described.

To bring about a vast, radical revolution - and that radical revolution is necessary not merely outwardly but in oneself unless you change, unless you cease completely to be a Hindu or a Buddhist or a Christian a Communist, merely bringing about a superficial reformation - altering a few patterns here and there, is not going to bring about peace to man at all. So it is your responsibility: it is the way you lead your life, the way you think, your activity, your daily corrupting ways, unless there is a psychological, inward revolution in that, there is no possibility of really deep, profound, social changes.

One may, as one observes again, see what is happening - violence: though every religion has said, "Do not kill", "don't go to war", "don't hurt another", "be kind, generous, be tender, open your heart to another". The books have said it, but they have had no value at all. What is relevant is what you are. The world, the community, the society, the culture in which you have been brought up, are built through time by man. You are the result of that, and to bring about a change in the outward structure of the established, corrupt order, you must change yourself inwardly, completely. This is a logical, sane, observable fact.

Violence is considered as a means of changing society. It appears that through violence a quick change can be brought and therefore violence in certain parts of the world, as in this country, is justified. One can see that violence may bring about a superficial change in the social order, but that revolution, physical revolution, either invariably ends in dictatorship or bureaucracy or chaos, which in turn brings about tyranny. Again that is an observable fact.

So a man who is aware of all these facts takes only one resolution, which is that he, as a human being, who is the result of time, result of his environment, to bring about a change, must himself radically, deeply change.

So the question is, can this inward revolution, this psychological mutation actually take place now, and not in some distant future? We are going to investigate and see if there is a possibility of a total change in the very brain structure itself; and for this one must share together the investigation, the enquiry. Communication means sharing together, thinking together, learning together, not agreeing or disagreeing. Both of us, both you and the speaker have to take the journey together. And communication means having something common between you and the speaker. That communication is not merely verbal. Of course, there must be a verbal understanding, that is, you understand English and the speaker understands English. But communication also means sharing, and you cannot possibly share if you remain with your particular prejudices, beliefs, dogmas, conclusions. So we are taking a journey together into the very complex problem of existence. We are going to enquire into human relationship. We are going to examine together this whole question of violence, understand together fear, pleasure, whether sorrow can ever end, what it means to love and what it means to die, and the beauty and truth of meditation, the quality of a mind that is truly religious. A mind that is crowded with the authority of others' experience is not a religious mind. A mind that is filled with the knowledge of what others have said is not a religious mind. The mind with beliefs, the mind that has dogmas, conclusions, that plays with rituals, is not a religious mind.

Part of investigation together is to listen together; but you cannot possibly listen if you are comparing what is being said with what you already know; you cannot possibly listen if you are agreeing or disagreeing. If you are merely listening to the words and not relating the words to the fact of yourself and if you are listening with your conclusions, with your hopes, with your problems, with your sorrows, with your agonies, then you are not listening. Only by listening together shall we be able to solve all our problems completely, totally. So the mind that is capable of listening, not only to what the speaker is saying but also listening to the reactions, to the responses, to your own mutterings, will then share it, together. We are going to understand these immense, complex human problems, not how to change your government or how immediately to feed the poor, not how immediately to stop this appalling callousness and corruption, but by seeing the totality of the problem.

Life is not only going to the office but understanding yourself, your wife, your family, understanding this extraordinary thing called sex and human conflict, both within and without. It is understanding together whether it is at all possible to live at peace in this world, not in retirement, not by becoming a monk or a sannyasi, but how to live in this marvellous world which is ours.

No book can teach you about yourself, no Gita, no Upanishad, none of the professors, philosophers can teach you about yourself. What they can teach you is what they think you are or what they think you should be, that is, their opinion, which is not yours. You have for centuries upon centuries accepted the authority of others, of your guru, or your tradition, what other people have said and that is why you have no energy, that is why you are so dull, insensitive, that is why you are second-hand human beings.

So we are going to observe together what actually we have become, not what we should be, because there is no ideal, there is no goal, there is no purpose, but only "what is". If you have a goal, a purpose, an end, you are not capable of seeing actually what is going on. When you have an ideal of what you should be or what you should become, or what you must be, then you create conflict between what you are and what you should be. It leads to hypocrisy and those who have ideals become hypocrites. You are hypocrites because you say one thing, do another, think another, and you talk everlastingly about ideals. So you have to put away from your mind totally this dualistic attitude of what you are and what you should be. The very essence of conflict is the division between the observer and the observed. A man who is concerned with truth has no ideals; for truth is "what is" and going beyond it. So we must understand "what is", what we are.

What are we? What are you: Not according to any book, any authority, or any psychologist. If you say what you are according to them, you are repeating what they say, but you are not learning, you are not observing yourself. When you do observe yourself, when you are aware of yourself, you see that man throughout the world is caught up in pleasure and in fear.

You can observe that our religious, social structure and morality are all based on pleasure and fear. The fact is you are greedy, envious, acquisitive, fearful, ambitious, with an occasional flair of what you call love. One has to understand basically these two issues, fear and pleasure.

To understand means to be free, to be free to look, to observe what pleasure means, where it has led us, what is involved in it, how it has brought about the extraordinary division between the observer and the observed, the division into religions, into nationalities and so on, and to observe the fragmentation which has been brought about through pleasure. And also one must understand deeply, not verbally, not theoretically, the whole complex question of fear. Where a mind is afraid, it cannot possibly see what truth is. It lives in darkness. Haven't you noticed for yourselves when you are afraid of your neighbour, of your government, of your wife, husband or the policeman, how dull your mind becomes, how incapable of thinking rationally the mind becomes? So, to understand fear and pleasure, one has to observe it in oneself.

We are together going to investigate these two issues upon which all our actions are based. They may be superficial actions, hidden actions, conscious or unconscious actions but all our motives are based on these two fundamental principles of pleasure and fear. When you say you are seeking truth, what you are seeking is the permanent establishment of the thing you call pleasure.

Observe it in your own life when the mind is frightened. Fear divides people. It makes people violent, disorderly.

They may discipline themselves endlessly, but if there is fear, there is distortion, there is corruption, there is violence, there is mischief. The house is burning - not your particular little house - but the fire is in the world. There is destruction in the world, there is murder, chaos, and that house is burning.

So, when we are really profoundly serious, we are not concerned with how to avoid fear, run away from fear, suppress fear or overcome fear; not how to further pleasure or expand pleasure but understand them. To understand them you need a sensitive, observing, delicate mind, capable of looking; not coming to any conclusions, because a mind that has conclusions cannot function sanely.

Why has pleasure become so extraordinarily important? You know it expresses itself in so many subtle ways: self-importance, prestige, fame, success, knowledge, erudition, all that lies along the path of pleasure. Though you may go to temples and hear all the temple bells ringing, what you really worship is pleasure and money.

What is fear? Fear doesn't exist by itself. It exists in relation to something, to public opinion, what people might say about you. There is fear of death, there is fear of the unknown, there is fear of the known, fear of insecurity, fear of losing a job, fear of your wife who may do something which you oppose. Fear breeds violence. In a country that is becoming overpopulated, with every year more and more millions added, naturally there must be a growth of fear because of unemployment, lack of food, the insoluble poverty, the corrupt government. When you see all this, you are bound to be afraid not only for your own security but also for the security of the coming generations, your sons and your daughters. Somebody has hurt you and there is again fear in that hurt, and fear breeds violence. So unless you are really free of fear, you are bound to create chaos in the world, and fear cannot be suppressed by an ideal, by the ideal of courage.

You are afraid, and you have an idea that by developing courage you can get rid of fear, which is avoiding "what is", and hoping through courage to get rid of fear. So you have an ideal that acts as an impediment to the understanding of "what is". You as a human being are violent, aggressive. That is a fact and specially in this country for the last centuries upon centuries, you have had the ideal of non-violence. You are pursuing the ideal and in the meantime you are sowing the seeds of violence. You say, "I am trying to be non-violent; I'll one day achieve a state in which there is non-violence, and therefore become a hypocrite. All idealists are essentially hypocrites. We are not dealing with the ideal of courage or how to get rid of fear or how to suppress it, but how to understand it. The moment you understand something, you are free of it.

Freedom does not come through ideals. Freedom and the beauty of freedom come when you understand actually "what is", when you really understand your own confusion, your own callousness, your own brutality. Out of that awareness, with care, with real attention, comes the beauty of that freedom.

So, what we need to do is to observe and learn and be aware of our own fear. We can only do that when it occurs; perhaps we can take a thing like attachment and observe.

You are all attached to your family, to your jobs, to your conclusions, aren't you? Watch what you are attached to, may be your wife, may be your children, or the things you have invented as gods. When you are attached to something, in that there is the desire to dominate, to hold, to possess, either the wife, the husband, the child, or an opinion or a judgement. So where there is attachment, there must be uncertainty. The attachment may die, or the person to whom you are attached may turn to another and there will be jealousy. Where there is attachment there must be fear. And being attached you say, "I must get detached", and you pursue detachment, and then you ask yourself, "how am I to be detached?" Then that becomes a problem. They will tell you, don't do this, do that, meditate and gradually get detached, become a saint. Whereas, if you understood, observed the implications of attachment, you would see that there is fear. But instead of understanding fear, you cultivate detachment, which is deadly. When you cultivate detachment what takes place? You become callous, you become indifferent, you withdraw, you resist. You never look at the beauty of a tree or the sky or the lovely sunset because all that means attachment. So by your philosophy by your detachment you have become an ugly human being.

Look at your fear yourself, learn about it, the fact, not the cause of fear. What is fear? One is afraid of death. Let us take that as an instance. What is that fear of suddenly coming to an end, suddenly getting detached from your moorings. What causes fear? What is the process of fear? You had physical pain last year. You think about that pain, hoping that it won't come back again. Thinking about a past event, which has caused physical pain, results in not wanting it now or tomorrow. So thought is responsible for the continuity of fear.

I have done something wrong. It happened, let us say, yesterday or two weeks ago, and I am afraid that you might get to know it, So thought - thinking about the pain and thinking about what has happened - gives a continuity to fear. It is not a question of how to end fear but what gives continuity to fear. What happened two weeks ago is over, but the brain has recorded that pain, and thinking about it, is afraid that it might happen again.

One can easily observe and learn without being a specialist or a psychologist that thought, which is the response of memory, of an incident, physical or psychological, is recorded in the brain cells. The brain cells hold this memory and therefore the brain cells say, "Be careful, do not have pain any more." Thought does not want it; therefore thought breeds fear.

Now what is pleasure? You see a beautiful tree or a lovely sunset with marvellous colours. You see on that pond the light of an evening or the morning, the beauty of it, the stillness of it, the extraordinary depth of light and shade - it happens, you are there - and you say how marvellous it is. The brain cells have recorded it, and the thought says, "I wish I could have that experience again tomorrow, it was so lovely, so beautiful, so enchanting." Thought gives continuity to an incident of a sunset and wants it repeated.

Yesterday you had sexual pleasure. That has been recorded and thought goes over it, thinks about it, chews the cud, builds images and thought says I must have it again.

So thought breeds fear, and thought gives continuity to pleasure.

You must not have detachment from pleasure, not desirelessness. If you are seeking desirelessness as a way to truth, then you have a mind that is tortured, fighting your own instincts, your own demands, your own longings. Your mind becomes twisted, and a mind that is twisted cannot possibly see what truth is.

Then one asks what the function of thought is, knowing that fear and pleasure are the two sides of the same coin. What is thinking? Surely, thinking is a response of your collected experience, which is knowledge. If you had no knowledge at all, you could not think. If you had no knowledge of your name, or of language, you couldn't speak, you would be in a state of amnesia. So thinking is the response of collected memory, both of the particular human being and collective human beings, the tradition, accumulated knowledge from which every thought is a response.

Then what is the function of thinking or thought? You must have knowledge: scientific, psychological, human knowledge, knowledge that is the accumulated experience of man, science, the experience of using words, how to play a piano and so on. You must have complete knowledge, you cannot do without technical knowledge.

And you also see what knowledge has done. You have accumulated knowledge as an experience of the thing that happened yesterday. You want that experience repeated and it may not happen, therefore there is pain. Knowledge is necessary in one direction, and knowledge breeds fear and pain in the other.

When you had that experience of sunset yesterday, it was new, fresh, full of joy, something incredible. The light, the texture, the feel of it that has been recorded, that has become knowledge, and therefore, that is already old. The old says "I must have new experience", and the new experience is translated in terms of pleasure.

So you see what thought does, that thought must function logically, sanely, effectively, objectively, in the technological world, and you also see the danger of thought.

The question arises: what is the entity that holds the thought, the thought as pleasure, as pain? What is it that holds this memory as a centre from which it operates? Have you observed that there is in you an observer and the thing observed? The observer is the censor, is the accumulated knowledge as a Christian, as a Hindu, as a Communist, and so on. The observer is the centre, he is the ego, the "me". That "me", that ego, invents a super-ego, the atman, but it is still part of thought. So there is a duality in you as the observer and the observed, the "me" and the "you", we the Hindus and they, the Muslims. This division is the cause of all conflicts.

The observer is the holder of all memory from which all thought arise, so thought is never new. It is never free. It can think or invent freedom.

How does one observe without the observer, the observer being the past, the observer being the image? You have built up an image about your wife or husband through time - forty or ten years or one month or one day - that image has been built up. The image-maker is the observer, and we are asking, whether you can observe your wife, the tree, or the husband, without the image, without the observed. To find that out, you must find out the machinery of image-building. What is it that creates images? If you understand that, you will never create an image and you can observe the observer.

We are asking whether the image-maker, the machinery of this image-making, can ever come to an end. I will show you how it comes to an end.

First of all, you have to enquire what is awareness, what it is to be aware, aware of the trees, of your neighbour, of the shape of the hall, aware of the colour of the various saris, shirts, aware outwardly and aware inwardly, to be aware choicelessly. You insult me, and at that moment of insult, if there is total awareness, there is no recording, I do not want to hit you back. I do not want to call you a name, I am passively aware of the insult or the flattery and therefore there is no image-making. Next time somebody insults you or flatters you, be totally aware, then you will see that the old structure of the brain becomes quiet, doesn't instantly operate. The recording does not record, because you are totally aware.

Please see this when you go out next time, look at a tree, just observe it, see the beauty of it, the branches of it, the strength of the trunk, the curve of the branch, the delicate leaves, the shape of it, without the image, the image being the previous knowledge of your having seen that tree.

So you look at it without the observer, look at your wife or your husband, as though you are seeing her for the first time, that is, without the image. This seeing is true relationship, not the relationship between image and image.

Therefore a mind that is capable of observing so clearly is capable of observing what truth is.



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