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Paris 1950

Paris 5th Public Talk 7th May 1950

We seem to think that by pursuing a particular course of philosophy, or a belief, or a system of thought, we shall be able to clear up the confusion not only in ourselves, but also about us. We have innumerable beliefs, doctrines, and hopes; and in trying to follow them, in trying to be sincere in regard to our ideals, we hope to clear the path to happiness, or the path to knowledge and comprehension. Surely, there is a difference between sincerity and earnestness. One can be faithful to an idea; to a hope, to a doctrine, to a particular system; but merely copying, pursuing an idea, or conforming oneself to a particular doctrine - all of which may be called sincerity - , will surely not help us to clear up the confusion in ourselves, and so the confusion about us.

So, it seems to me that what is necessary is earnestness - not the earnestness that comes from merely following a particular tendency, a particular path but that earnestness which is essential in the understanding of ourselves. To understand ourselves, there need be no particular system, no particular idea. One is sincere only in regard to a thing, to a particular attitude, to a particular belief, but such sincerity cannot help us; because, we can be sincere and yet be confused, foolish and ignorant. Sincerity is a hindrance when it is mere copying, trying to follow a particular ideal; but earnestness is quite a different thing. To be earnest is essential - not in the pursuit of anything, but in the understanding of the process of ourselves. In the understanding of the process of ourselves there need be no belief, no doctrine no particular philosophy. On the contrary, if we have a philosophy a doctrine, it will become an impediment to the understanding of ourselves.

The understanding of ourselves has nothing to do with following a doctrine, a philosophy, a formula, or trying to imitate a particular ideal. Surely, all that is the process of the `me', the `I'. And in the understanding of our various conditioning's, sincerity is not necessary - but it is essential to be earnest, which is quite different. Earnestness does not depend on a mood, it is the beginning of the understanding of ourselves. Because, without being earnest, without being really serious, one cannot go very far. But our seriousness our earnestness, is generally applied to the following of a particular idea a particular belief or hope; and what is important is to understand ourselves. The understanding of ourselves does not demand imitation, copy, the approximation to an ideal. On the contrary, we have to understand ourselves as we are from moment to moment, whatever it be; and for that there must be earnestness which does not depend on any particular mood or tendency.

Now, it is clear that we cannot resolve any human problem, either external or inward, without understanding ourselves; and the understanding of ourselves is possible only when we do not condemn or justify that of which we are aware. To be aware, without condemnation, justification, or comparison, of every thought, of every mood, of every reaction, does not demand the approximation to an idea. What it does require is earnestness - a sense of going into it fully, completely. But most of us do not want to understand any problem deeply, fully; we would rather escape from it through an idea, through approximation, through comparison or condemnation - and thereby we never solve the particular issue in front of us.

So, it is important, is it not?, in order to understand ourselves, that we be aware of every reaction, every feeling, as it arises; and awareness does not depend on any formula, on any doctrine or belief - which are merely self-projected escapes. To understand every mood every sense of reaction, surely one must be aware without choice; because, the moment we choose, we set into motion a process of conflict. That is, when we choose, there is resistance, and in resistance there is no understanding. Choice is merely fixing the mind on a particular interest and resisting other interests, other demands, other pursuits; and obviously, such choice will not help us to resolve or understand the whole process of ourselves. Each one of us is made up of many entities, conscious as well as unconscious; and to choose one particular entity, one particular desire, and pursue that is surely an impediment to the understanding of ourselves.

So, seeing the whole process of ourselves is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is not something that can be bought in books, that can be learned through another, that can be gathered even through experience. Experience is merely memory; and the accumulation of memory or knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is surely the experiencing of each moment without condemnation or justification; it is understanding each particular experience or reaction, fully, completely, so that the mind comes to every problem anew. After all, the `me' is the centre of recognition; and if we do not understand that centre, but merely recognize every experience or reaction and give it a name, a term, it does not mean that we have understood that particular reaction or experience; on the contrary, when we name, or recognise a particular experience, we only strengthen the `me' - that isolated consciousness which is the centre of recognition. So, merely recognizing every experience, every reaction, is not the understanding of oneself. The understanding of oneself comes only when we are aware of the process of recognition, and allow a gap between experience and recognition - which means, a state of mind in which there is stillness.

Surely, if we would understand anything, any problem, there must be quietness of mind, must there not? But the mind cannot be forced to be quiet; and silence that is cultivated is mere resistance, isolation. The mind is spontaneously quiet only when it sees the necessity, the truth of being quiet, and therefore begins to understand the process of recognition, which is the whole consciousness of the `me'. Without understanding oneself, obviously there is no basis for thought; and without knowing 30 oneself, merely to know the outward problems, to acquire external knowledge, will only lead us to further confusion and misery. But the more we know ourselves, both the conscious and the unconscious, the more we see the whole process of the `me', the more we are able to understand and resolve our problems, and therefore bring about a better society, a different world. So, we must begin with ourselves. You may say that to begin with oneself is a very small affair; but if we would tackle great things, we must begin very near. The world's problem is our problem; and without understanding ourselves, any problem with which we come face to face in the world will never be resolved. So, the beginning of wisdom is self-knowledge; and without self-knowledge we cannot resolve any human problem.

Before I answer some of these questions, may I suggest that when listening to the answers, you and I should both experience what is being said. That is, let us take a journey together in understanding these problems, which I am going to try to explain verbally. So, please do not remain on the verbal level or merely try to understand intellectually - whatever that word may mean. Because, the intellect cannot understand: it can only project its own particular accumulations. It can accept, deny, or resist, which is the process of recognition and verbalization; but the intellect cannot understand any human problem - it can only make it more confusing, more conflicting, more sorrowful. If, instead of trying to understand merely on the verbal level, we go beyond the intellect, then perhaps we shall be able to see the truth of these questions. To go beyond the intellect is not to become sentimental, emotional, which would be the opposite; and in the conflict of the opposites there is no comprehension, obviously. But if we can see that the process of the intellect, of the mind, can only bring about further argumentation's, further conflict - if we can see the truth of that, then perhaps we shall discover the truth of every question, of every human problem, that confronts us. Question: Beyond all superficial fears there is a deep anguish, which eludes me. It seems to be the very fear of life - or perhaps of death. Or is it the vast emptiness of life?

Krishnamurti: I think most of us feel this; most of us feel a great sense of emptiness, a great sense of loneliness. We try to avoid it, we try to run away from it, we try to find security, permanency, away from this anguish. Or, we try to be free of it by analyzing the various dreams, the various reactions. But it is always there, eluding us, and not to be resolved so easily and so superficially. Most of us are aware of this emptiness, of this loneliness, of this anguish. And, being afraid of it, we seek security, a sense of permanency, in things or property, in people or relationship, or in ideas, beliefs, dogmas, in name, position, and power. But can this emptiness be banished by merely running away from ourselves? And is not this running away from ourselves one of the causes of confusion, pain, misery, in our relationships and therefore in the world?

So this is a question not to be brushed aside as being bourgeois, or stupid, or merely for those who are not active socially, religiously. We must examine it very carefully and go into it fully. As I said, most of us are aware of this emptiness, and we try to run away from it. In running away from it, we establish certain securities; and then those securities become all-important to us, because they are the means of escape from our particular loneliness, emptiness or anguish. Your escape may be a Master, it may be thinking yourself very important, it may be giving all your love, your wealth, jewels, everything to your wife, to your family; or it may be social or philanthropic activity. Any form of escape from this inward emptiness becomes all-important, and therefore we cling to it desperately. Those who are religiously-minded cling to their belief in God, which covers up their emptiness, their anguish; and so their belief, their dogma, becomes essential - and for these they are willing to fight, to destroy each other.

Obviously, then, any escape from this anguish, from this loneliness, will not solve the problem. On the contrary, it merely increases the problem, and brings about further confusion. So, one must first realize the escapes. All escapes are on the same level; there are no superior or inferior escapes, there are no spiritual escapes apart from the mundane. All escapes are essentially similar; and if we recognise that the mind is constantly escaping from the central problem of anguish, of emptiness, then we are capable of looking at emptiness without condemning it or being afraid of it. As long as I am escaping from a fact, I am afraid of that fact; and when there is fear, I can have no communication with it. So, to understand the fact of emptiness, there must be no fear. Fear comes only when I am trying to escape from it; because, in escaping, I can never look at it directly. But the moment I cease to escape, I am left with the fact, I can look at it without fear; and then I am able to deal with the fact.

So, that is the first step to face the fact, which means not to escape through money, through amusement, through the radio, through beliefs, through assertions, or through any other means. Because, that emptiness cannot be filled by words, by activities, by beliefs. Do what we will, that anguish cannot be wiped away by any tricks of the mind; and whatever the mind does with regard to it, will only be an avoidance. But when there is no avoidance of any kind, then the fact is there; and the understanding of the fact does not depend on the inventions on the projections or calculations of the mind. When one is confronted with the fact of loneliness, with that immense anguish, the vast emptiness of existence, then one will see whether that emptiness is a reality - or merely the result of naming, of terming, of self-projection. Because, by giving it a term, we have condemned it, have we not? We say it is emptiness, it is loneliness, it is death, and these words - death, loneliness, emptiness - imply a condemnation, a resistance; and through resistance, through condemnation, we do not understand the fact.

To understand the fact which we call emptiness, there must be no condemnation, no naming, of that fact. After all, the recognition of the fact creates the centre of the `me; and the `me' is empty, the `me' is only words. When I do not name the fact, give it a term, when I do not recognize it as this or that, is there loneliness? After all, loneliness is a process of isolation, is it not? Surely in all our relationships, in all our efforts in life, we are always isolating ourselves. That process of isolation must obviously lead to emptiness; and without understanding the whole process of isolation, we shall not be able to resolve this emptiness, this loneliness. But when we understand the process of isolation, we shall see that emptiness is merely a thing of words, mere recognition; and the moment there is no recognition, no naming of it, and hence no fear, emptiness becomes something else, it goes beyond itself. Then it is not emptiness, it is aloneness - something much vaster than the process of isolation.

Now, must we not be alone? At present we are not alone - we are merely a bundle of influences. We are the result of all kinds of influences - social, religious, economic. hereditary, climatic. Through all those influences, we try to find something beyond; and if we cannot find it, we invent it, and cling to our inventions. But when we understand the whole process of influence at all the different levels of our consciousness, then, by becoming free of it, there is an aloneness which is uninfluenced; that is, the mind and heart are no longer shaped by outward events or inward experiences. It is only when there is this aloneness that there is a possibility of finding the real. But a mind that is merely isolating itself through fear, can have only anguish; and such a mind can never go beyond itself.

With most of us, the difficulty is that we are unaware of our escapes. We are so conditioned, so accustomed to our escapes, that we take them as realities. But if we will look more deeply into our selves, we will see how extraordinarily lonely, how extraordinarily empty we are under the superficial covering of our escapes. Being aware of that emptiness, we are constantly covering it up with various activities, whether artistic, social, religious or political. But emptiness can never finally be covered: it must be understood. To understand it, we must be aware of these escapes; and when we understand the escapes, then we shall be able to face our emptiness. Then we shall see that the emptiness is not different from ourselves, that the observer is the observed. In that experience, in that integration of the thinker and the thought, this loneliness, this anguish, disappears.

Question: Is it possible for westerners to meditate?

Krishnamurti: I think this is one of the romantic ideas of westerners - that only easterners can meditate. So, let us find out, not how to meditate, but what we mean by meditation. Let us experiment together to find out what meditation means what are the implications of meditation. Merely to learn how to meditate, to acquire a technique, is obviously not meditation. Going to a yogi, a swami, reading about meditation in books, and trying to imitate, sitting in certain postures with your eyes closed, breathing in a certain way, repeating words - surely, all that is not meditation; it is merely pursuing a pattern of conformity, making the mind repetitive, habitual. The mere cultivation of a habit, whether noble or trivial, is not meditation. This practice of cultivating a particular habit is known both in the east and in the west, and we think that it is a process of meditation.

Now, let us find out what is meditation. Is concentration meditation? Concentration on a particular interest chosen from among many other interests, focusing the mind on an object or an entity - is that meditation? in the process of concentration, obviously there is resistance to other forms of interest; therefore, concentration is a process of exclusion, is it not? I do not know if you have tried to meditate, tried to fix your mind on a particular thought. When you do that, other thoughts come pouring in, because you are also interested in those other thoughts, not only in the particular thought you have chosen. You have chosen one particular thought, thinking it is noble, spiritual, and that you should concentrate on it and resist other thoughts. But the very resistance creates conflict between the thought that you have chosen to think about, and other interests; so you spend your time concentrating on one thought and keeping off the others, and this battle between thoughts is considered meditation. If you can succeed in completely identifying yourself with one thought and resisting all others, you think you have learned how to meditate. Now, such concentration is a process of exclusion, and therefore a process of gratification, is it not? You have chosen a particular interest that you think will ultimately give you satisfaction, and you go after it by repeating a phrase, by concentrating upon an image, by breathing, and so on. That whole process implies advancement, becoming something, achieving a result. That is what we are all interested in: we want to be successful in meditation. And the more successful we are, the more we think we have advanced. So obviously, such forms of concentration which we call meditation, are mere gratification; they are not meditation at all. So, mere concentration on an idea is not meditation.

What, then, is meditation? Is prayer meditation? Is devotion meditation? Is the cultivation of a virtue meditation? The cultivation of a virtue only strengthens the `me', does it not? It is I who am becoming virtuous, Can the `I', the `me', ever become virtuous? That is, can the centre of resistance, of recognition, which is a process of isolation, can that ever be virtuous? Surely, there is virtue only when there is freedom from the `I', from the `me; so, the cultivation of virtue through meditation is obviously a false process. But it is a very convenient process, because it strengthens the `me; and as long as I am strengthening the `me', I think I am advancing, becoming successful spiritually. But obviously, that is not meditation, is it? Nor is prayer - prayer being mere supplication, petition, which is again a demand of the self, a projection of the self towards greater and wider satisfaction. Nor is meditation the immolation of oneself to an image, to an idea, which we call devotion; because, we always choose the image, the formula, the ideal, according to our own satisfaction. What we choose may be beautiful, but we are still seeking gratification.

So, none of these processes - concentration, repeating certain phrases, breathing in a special manner, and all the rest of it - can really help us to understand what meditation is. They are very popular, because they always produce results; but they are all obviously foolish ways of trying to meditate.

Now, what is meditation? The under standing of the ways of the mind is meditation, is it not? Meditation is the understanding of myself, it is being aware of every reaction, conscious as well as unconscious - which is self-knowledge. Without self-knowledge, how can there be meditation? Surely, meditation is the beginning of self-knowledge; because, if I do not know myself whatever I do must be merely an escape from myself. If I do not know the structure the ways of my own thinking, feeling, reacting of what value is it to imitate, to try to concentrate, to learn how to breathe in a particular way, or to lose myself in devotion? Surely, in that way I will never understand myself; on the contrary, I am merely escaping from myself.

Meditation, then, is the beginning of self-knowledge. In that there is no suc- cess, there are no spectacular processes. It is most arduous. As we do not want to know ourselves, but only to find an escape, we turn to Masters, religious books, prayers, yogis, and all the rest of it; and then we think we have learned how to meditate. Only in understanding ourselves does the mind become quiet; and without understanding ourselves, the tranquillity of the mind is not possible. When the mind is quiet, not made quiet through discipline; when the mind is not controlled, not encased in condemnation and resistance, but is spontaneously still - only then is it possible to find out what is true and what is beyond the projections of the mind.

Surely, if I want to know if there is reality, God, or what you will, my mind must be absolutely quiet, must it not? Because whatever the mind seeks out will not be real - it will merely be the projection of its own memories, of the things it has accumulated; and the projection of memory is obviously not reality or God. So, the mind must be still, but not made still; it must be naturally, easily, spontaneously still. Only then is it possible for the mind to discover something beyond itself.

Question: Is truth absolute?

Krishnamurti: Is truth something final, absolute, fixed? We would like it to be absolute, because then we could take shelter in it. We would like it to be permanent, because then we could hold on to it, find happiness in it. But is truth absolute, continuous, to be experienced over and over again? The repetition of experience is the mere cultivation of memory is it not? In moments of quietness, I may experience a certain truth; but if I cling to that experience through memory and make it absolute, fixed - is that truth? Is truth the continuation, the cultivation of memory? Or, is truth to be found only when the mind is utterly still? When the mind is not caught in memories, not cultivating memory as the centre of recognition, but is aware of everything I am saying, everything I am doing in my relationships, in my activities, seeing the truth of everything as it is from moment to moment - surely, that is the way of meditation, is it not? There is comprehension only when the mind is still; and the mind cannot be still as long as it is ignorant of itself. That ignorance is not dispelled through any form of discipline, through pursuing any authority ancient or modern. Belief only creates resistance, isolation; and where there is isolation, there is no possibility of tranquillity. Tranquillity comes only when I understand the whole process of myself - the various entities, in conflict with each other, which compose the `me'. As that is an arduous task, we turn to others to learn various tricks which we call meditation. The tricks of the mind are not meditation. Meditation is the beginning of self-knowledge; and without meditation, there is no self-knowledge. Meditation is watching observing being aware of oneself, not only at one particular hour of the day but all the time when we are walking, eating, talking reading in relationship - all that is the process in which we discover the ways of the `me'.

When I understand myself then there is quietness, then there is stillness of the mind. In that stillness, reality can come to me. That stillness is not stagnation, it is not a denial of action. On the contrary, it is the highest form of action. In that stillness there is creation - not the mere expression of a particular creative activity, but the feeling of creation itself.

So, meditation is the beginning of self-knowledge; and merely to cling to formulas, to repetitions, to words, does not reveal the process of the self. It is only when the mind is not agitated, not compelled, not forced, that there is a spontaneous stillness in which truth can come into being.

May 7, 1950


Paris 1950

Paris 5th Public Talk 7th May 1950

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