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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986


a survey of the major concepts of the Krishnamurti lectures; with my own commentary




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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.




It occurred to me that a survey of Krishnamurti's work might be profitable, to myself, and to others.

truth is a living thing:

Truth, according to K, is a living thing; but, we learn, he thinks it’s a mortal life. It was not always so for him. As a young man, in his “dissolution speech,” he spoke of,

“Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized… you have the idea that only certain people hold the key to the Kingdom of Happiness. No one holds it. No one has the authority to hold that key. That key is your own self, and in the development and the purification and in the incorruptibility of that self alone is the Kingdom of Eternity.”

And yet, in his older age, he seems to never again use the word “eternity” in reference to the self, nor to anything. Gone was some of the youthful idealism as, later in life, we find him denying the concept of survival of consciousness. In one of his last lectures, he specifically abjures a notion of living on after physical death.

This strikes me as odd, especially as he might have been privy to the mountain of scientific evidence for the afterlife. He, of all people, with his perceptions of the inner life, ought to have sensed the indestructibility of “truth as a living thing.” However, as we learn of his private affairs after his death, he would have had his own reasons, and fears, of what might happen later.

Denying survival was his way, as is the way of millions, of escaping certain consequences.

ego images:

A great insight by K, the images created by the false self concerning people, places, things, and life itself, represent an effort on the part of the ego to protect itself. The images help the ego to feel superior, safe, or otherwise enhanced.

subject, object; observer, observed

If I had to choose, this may be the best insight of K’s career; certainly, within the top five. The ego insists on maintaining a status of “subject and object,” thereby preserving its own image as “separate” and detached. While pathological on one level, it’s also part of the sacred individuation process, the primary reason we came to planet Earth.

space between subject and object:

This concept of “space” doesn’t sound like much, but, when it’s experienced, it is life-shattering. It is an existential “distance” between subject and object which keeps the ego separate from all things in the universe. In my article on “the mystical experience” I explained that this wonder occurs when “distance” is reduced to zero. Further, in my “Omega” article, Kairissi and Elenchus speak of the highest heights of romantic intimacy achieved when the “distance” is finally eliminated between lovers. When this happens, they “become each other.”


Another high-water mark of insight by K. This is a much abused word as the essence of it is not controlling the mind, as such, but “simply noticing” the inner disorder. What this suggests to me is that “truth as a living thing,” the mind of God within, is ever pressing against our spirits to “break through” into our awareness. We don’t have to work hard to achieve this, or really do anything, but only to “simple notice” the state of one’s own mind. Natural processes take over from there, like a naturally germinating seed when the conditions are right. See more discussion on this “pressure” of God’s mind in the “mystical experience” writing.

conditioned mind:

In the unenlightened state, virtually all, maybe all, of one’s thoughts are linked to the past – in terms of victimhood or regret – or to the future which is deemed to be where the ego’s salvation lies. All this is illusion. Essential wholeness can be achieved only in the sacred “now”. The conditioned mind, a product of one’s culture, education, and particular zeitgeist, creates for each person a sense of right and wrong; but these are geographically determined, a result of the part of the world into which one was born -- See Herodotus' "nomos". K said, “one can be conditioned to believe anything.” Absolutely.

accessing knowledge instantly:

In the West, we highly honor the scientific method, and rightly so, as it’s allowed us to escape the dark-ages stultifying heavy hand of Big Religion’s superstitions. All this acknowledged, the loftiest forms of knowledge must be accessed mystically, intuitively – which is a realm of knowledge acquisition quite separate from the materialist scientific domain.

belief is disorder:

People latch onto belief systems, and won’t let go, in order to manufacture a sense of safety and security, a certitude, to cope with their underlying fear of death and annihilation. Ironically, this clinging to dogma, to Dear Leader’s “infallible” sayings, this ill-conceived quest for security and mental order, achieves more mental disorder, more fear, more glassy-eyed sensibility, an underlying perception that one has drifted even farther afield. The deeper self is not hoodwinked into accepting a verdict that all is better now.

“Watch the mind. Don't correct it. Don't say, 'This thought is good, that is not good,' just watch it. Then you will see a watcher and the watched. There is a division.”

All this can sound like double-talk to the uninitiated, but it all becomes quite clear the moment you experience the existence of the false self.

The incessant chattering in the head is the false self. People think that all the inner dialogue is “the real me” but it’s not. The real you is the one that can mentally step back to witness the chattering in the head. This real you is the soul, is the “watcher.” The real you is the part of you that knows that you are thinking, knows that there’s chattering in the head.

How to shut down all the “monkey mind” gibberish? Don’t condemn it. Don’t judge it. Just watch it. “The watched” doesn’t like to be watched, it much preferred duping you into believing that it was the real you. When you “watch” you begin to rob it of its power over you. If you judge and condemn it, you will further identify with it and lend more energy to its ploys. Starve it to death by simply watching, in a detached way.

Why do we have all this "chattering in the head"? It helps to create a sense of "I," the individualized person. But there comes a time to put away these "training wheels" and transfer one's primary sense of self to the "watcher."

listen without any conclusion:

The false self makes it virtually impossible to think about anything without the filter of belief system. Everything it hears, it immediately translates into a version which conforms to current sentiment; or, if not, it immediately judges it as “other” and condemns.

To truly listen, without the ego’s baggage, is a very high order of existential development. Unless we can learn to do this – and we do it by silencing the ego – we will never be recipient to the truly creative ideas which Universal Consciousness seeks to impart, but cannot due to “static on the line.”


"the word 'author' means the one who has originated something [such as] the author of an idea, a concept, a way of life, of what should not be, of what is right and what is wrong; and according to the sanctions of that inward authority, man has formed a pattern of behaviour. And, being afraid, we have become followers; it is fear ... that makes us obey."

Root idea "author," that is, a source, the central initiator; that to which one ascribes primary deference. "Dictatorship is a retrogression, but strangely enough we do not object to the religious dictatorship. We accept the priest, the dogma, the tradition, the saviours... that is, we are frightened so we accept authority."

Some, generally in charge of their own lives, surrender autonomy to a Blackrobe Dear Leader. Why is this? - they are frightened, terrorized by death, and so they submit to one claiming to save them from the horrors of "the big good-bye."

"When the mind is confused, at a loss, not knowing what to do, then out of fear it turns to some kind of authority - the authority of a priest, or a new society, the authority of a new guru or a new theological concept. So it is absolutely imperative that one understands this whole complex problem of fear, because a mind that is afraid cannot think straight."


Another profound concept by K. What does it mean “there is no tomorrow at all”? Some years ago now, when I first learned of Summerland, I found myself uneasy with the prospect of the endless perfect summer day; there is no day-and-night there (however, you can go to areas to experience what you like, including, not just eventide but, rain, snow, etc.). This concept of unending day and “no tomorrow” still bothers me at times.

But why should this be so? As I examine my associated subliminal fear I begin to see. “Tomorrow,” apart from the ready definition of future duration of time, is actually a psychological construct. The ego, ever judging itself to be needy, sees the future as a refuge, a place of salvation, as it wants more time to enhance itself: “I might not have it all together right now, but my ship will come in – tomorrow.”

What a great insight by K! If we learn to become present to the “inner riches” and therefore live in the present moment, a sense of “tomorrow” disappears. In order to properly deal with the “terror of living forever,” we must learn to “live as the gods.” Simply importing one’s old mortal mindset into Summerland is not going to cut it for us. 


"Belief is the result of fear. Whether you believe in God or don't believe in God, there's very little difference; they are both the result of your conditioning. You are conditioned to believe in God and the Communist is conditioned not to believe."

The content of belief doesn't matter. What we want is to manufacture certainty. We want to believe because a sense of certainty will save us from our fears of death.

mind constantly renewing itself:

"how frightened you are to have a mind that is constantly renewing itself"

We renew the mind by remaining present to the ego, washing ourselves of its impurities, by maintaining awareness of its attempts to identify with external power-figures, and then to release them. This frightens the ego. It wants those crutches to bolster itself.

the ego craves more experience:

"We think experience is necessary. I wonder if it is... After so many experiences, have we learnt anything? Is the mind chaste, virgin? Technologically, scientifically, we may learn from experience, but psychologically it doesn't teach us a thing.

"So only a mind which is free from the known, dying every day and therefore renewing itself, can possibly understand this whole business of time, fear, pleasure and sorrow. And it is only such a mind that can see what is truth."

Experience is a product of time, and the ego wants unlimited more time to enhance its needy self. Further, the ego sees only what its conditioned to see, conditioned by past failings and by future hopes of salvation-in-time. Our way forward, however, is to be found not in time but in one timeless moment of cosmic clarity.

relationship and ego-image:

"every relationship, whether it is with your wife, your husband, your friend, your boss or with anybody depends on the image which you have created. Obviously there is an image between you and your wife; she has an image of you and you have an image about her which has been built up through many years of pleasure and pain, anger and irritation. The self-centred activity of each one in this relationship has produced an image, and these two images have a relationship, but nothing else."

meditation is not mindlessly repeating words, mantras, or prayers:

"Meditation is the silence of the mind, but in that silence, in that intensity, in that total alertness, the mind is no longer the seat of thought, because thought is time, thought is memory, thought is knowledge. And when it is completely quiet and highly sensitive, the mind can take a voyage which is timeless, limitless. That is meditation, not all this stupid nonsense of repeating words which is what they are doing. In India it is a well known trick, repeating a word and thereby getting oneself into a peculiar state, and thinking that is meditation. You can repeat the words Coca Cola ten thousand times and you will have the most marvellous experience because you have hypnotized yourself, but that is not reality. Hypnosis, whether it is done by yourself or by another, can only project your own conditioning, your own anxieties and fears; it has no value."

man's relationship to reality:

"That reality may be named as God - and the name is really of very little importance - because the name the word, the symbol, is never the actual...

"To understand it, one must obviously be free of all dogma, of all belief... It is only in freedom that you can discover what is the real, not through beliefs and dogmas...

"What is important is to have a mind that has never been tortured, never been forced into a certain pattern...

"What is necessary is a mind that is untortured, a mind that is very clear... to observe, to look: to look at anything without the image of that thing, to look at a cloud without the previous associations with regard to that cloud, to see a flower without the image, the memories, the associations, concerning that flower. Because these associations, these images and memories, create distance between the observer and the observed. And in that distance, the division between the seer and the thing seen, in that division the whole conflict of man exists...

"So one must learn the art of looking, not only at the clouds and the flowers, at the movement of a tree in the wind, but actually looking at ourselves as we are, not saying, 'It is ugly', 'It is beautiful, or 'Is that all?' - all the verbal assertions that one has with regard to oneself. When we can look at ourselves clearly, without the image, then perhaps we shall be able to discover what is true for ourselves. And that truth is not in the realm of thought but of direct perception, in which there is no separation between the observer and the observed. One of the fundamental questions is man's relationship to the ultimate, to the nameless, to what is beyond all words."

Editor's note: This is very interesting, the levels of relationship:

(1) man's relationship to "the ultimate"

(2) man's relationship to "the self"

(3) man's relationship to others

In all these, in each case, we tend to erect symbols, images, with which we interact and, in so doing, never approach the reality of the thing in itself. This "distance" between observer and observed, K says, is the root of world conflict.

the universal pursuit of pleasure:

"there is the question of love and death. Again the thing which we call love has really lost its meaning. When one says, 'I love you' there is an abundance of pleasure in this... when love is hedged about with greed, with jealousy, hate, envy, as it is with most of us - is this love? When love is divided as the divine and ordinary, sensuous love - is it love? Or is not love something that is not touched by pleasure?

"One has to go into this question of what pleasure is. Why is everything based on pleasure? The search for what you call 'God' is based on pleasure. One derives pleasure from having possessions, prestige, position, power, domination."

What we call "pleasure" is the brain's reaction to certain stimuli which evoke positive sensation. Humans are hard-wired to recognize, as pleasure, particular stimulus-reaction sequences -- guided by morphic fields -- meaning, other organisms, a goose, for example, will not "raise an eyebrow" at these sensory awakenings.

Krishnamurti says that pleasure is one thing, but it becomes something else when thought gets involved. Thought is like a parasite to the process. When we think about pleasure, he says, invariably fear becomes entangled with the perception; either we say “I wish I had pleasure and fear I won’t get it,” or “I have pleasure and fear that I’ll lose it.”

This fear creates, what he calls, a mental "image", and our relationship with pleasure is filtered through this image. The needy ego gets involved and colors everything with its assessment of “I don’t have enough” because “I am not enough.”








Editor's last word: