The core of Krishnamurti's teachings

"The core of Krishnamurti's teaching is contained in the statement he made in 1929 when he said: 'Truth is a pathless land'. Man cannot come to it through any organisation, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophic knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection. Man has built in himself images as a fence of security - religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these images dominates man's thinking, his relationships and his daily life. These images are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man. His perception of life is shaped by the concepts already established in his mind. The content of his consciousness is his entire existence. This content is common to all humanity. The individuality is the name, the form and superficial culture he acquires from tradition and environment. The uniqueness of man does not lie in the superficial but in complete freedom from the content of his consciousness, which is common to all mankind. So he is not an individual.


Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice. It is man's pretence that because he has choice he is free. Freedom is pure observation without direction, without fear of punishment and reward. Freedom is without motive; freedom is not at the end of the evolution of man but lies in the first step of his existence. In observation one begins to discover the lack of freedom. Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity. Thought is time. Thought is born of experience and knowledge which are inseparable from time and the past. Time is the psychological enemy of man. Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past. Thought is ever-limited and so we live in constant conflict and struggle. There is no psychological evolution.
When man becomes aware of the movement of his own thoughts he will see the division between the thinker and thought, the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experience. He will discover that this division is an illusion. Then only is there pure observation which is insight without any shadow of the past or of time. This timeless insight brings about a deep radical mutation in the mind.
Total negation is the essence of the positive. When there is negation of all those things that thought has brought about psychologically, only then is there love, which is compassion and intelligence."
©1993 The Krishnamurti Foundation Trust Ltd,
Brockwood Park, Bramdean, Hampshire, England.

A conversation with a Jain monk

Is There a Meaning To Life?
"I think we ought to talk over together something that is of fundamental importance, which every human being should be involved in, because it concerns our life, our daily activity, the way we waste our days and years. What is it all about? What is it all for? We are born and we die, and during those years of pain and sorrow, joy and pleasure, there is the everlasting struggle and effort, going to the office or the factory for forty or fifty years, trying to climb the ladder of success, accumulating money, pleasure, experience, knowledge, and at the end death. Some scientists say that through knowledge comes the ascent of man. Is that so? We have an infinite amount of knowledge about many things -- biological, archaeological, historical and so on -- but apparently knowledge has not changed man radically, deeply; the same conflict, struggle, pain, pleasure, the everlasting battle for existence goes on.
Seeing all that continuing in every country and in every climate, what is it all about? It's very easy to reply with an emotional, romantic, neurotic explanation, or with an intellectual, rational explanation. But if you put all these aside as obviously being rather superficial, however intellectual, I think this is a very important question to ask -- important to ask and to find an answer for oneself, not depending on some priest, some guru, or some philosophical concept, not asserting anything, not believing in anything, not having any ideal, but merely observing very deeply. Otherwise we lead a very mechanistic life; part of this brain must be mechanical, necessarily so, in the acquisition of knowledge and the skillful use of that knowledge in every way of life, in every action outwardly, technologically. But this knowledge that one has acquired -- and we can pile up knowledge more and more -- does not answer the fundamental question: what is the meaning, the depth of our life?
One sees that there must be complete unity of mankind, because that is the only way the human race will survive physically, biologically. Politicians are not going to solve that problem -- ever! On the contrary, they will maintain the divisions -- it's very profitable. There must be unity of all mankind, it is essential for existence, but it cannot be brought about through legislation, through bureaucratic dogmas, laws and all the rest of it. So when one observes all this as a human being living in the chaos of a world that has almost gone mad -- the selling of armaments for profit, killing people in the name of ideas, countries, God and so on -- what is one to do? And what is it all for?
Religions have tried to offer the meaning of life -- that is, organized, propagandistic, ritualistic religions. But, in spite of 2,000 or 10,000 years, man has merely asserted certain principles, certain ideals, certain conclusions, all verbal, superficial, non-realistic. So I think it becomes very important to discover a meaning for oneself, if one is at all serious -- and one must be serious, otherwise one does not really live at all, which doesn't mean one never laughs or smiles -- serious in the sense of a total commitment to the whole issue of life. So when we ask what is the meaning of life, we are faced with the fact that our brain is caught in a groove, caught in habit, in tradition, in the conditioning of our education, cultivating only knowledge, information, and so making it more and more mechanical.
If we are to inquire into this very deeply, there must be great doubt. Doubt, scepticism are essential, because they bring a certain quality of freedom of mind through negation of everything that man has put together -- his religions, rituals, dogmas, beliefs which are all the movements of thought. Thought is a material process, as even the scientists accept. But thought has not solved our problems, it has not been able to delve deeply into itself; it has merely, being itself a fragment, broken up all existence into fragments. So there is this quality of the brain which is mechanistic, and necessarily so in certain areas, but inwardly, in the psychological structure of the human mind, there is no freedom. It is conditioned, it is bound by belief, by so-called ideals, by faith. So when one doubts all that, sets all that aside -- not theoretically but factually, meticulously -- then what is left? One is afraid to do that because one says to oneself, 'If I deny everything that thought has put together what is left?' When you realize the nature of thought -- which is a mechanical process of time, measure, the response to memory, a process which brings more and more suffering, agony, anxiety and fear to mankind -- and go beyond, negate it, then what is there?
To find out what there is we must begin with freedom, because freedom is the first and last step. Without freedom -- not the freedom to choose -- man is merely a machine. We think that through choice we are free, but choice exists only when the mind is confused. There is no choice when the mind is clear. When you see things very clearly without any distortion, without any illusions, then there is no choice. A mind that is choiceless is a free mind, but a mind that chooses and therefore establishes a series of conflicts and contradictions is never free because it is in itself confused, divided, broken up.
So to explore in any field there must be freedom, freedom to examine so that in that very examination there is no distortion. When there is distortion there is a motive behind that distortion, a motive to find an answer, a motive to achieve a desire, a solution to our problems, a motive which may be based on past experience, past knowledge -- and all knowledge is the past. Wherever there is a motive there must be distortion. So can our mind be free of distortion. So can our mind be free of distortion? And to examine our mind is to examine our common mind, because the content of our consciousness is the same as that of all human beings, who, wherever they live, go through the same process of fear, agony, torture, anxiety and endless conflict inwardly and outwardly. That's the common consciousness of mankind.
So when you examine your own consciousness, you are looking into the consciousness of man, and therefore it's not a personal, individualistic examination. On the contrary you are looking into the consciousness of the world -- which is you. And this is a fact when you go into it very deeply. To have a mind that is free makes a tremendous demand; it demands that you as a human being are totally committed to the transformation of the content of consciousness, because the content makes the consciousness. And we are concerned with the transformation, with the total psychological revolution of this consciousness. To explore this you need great energy, an energy which comes into being when there is no dissipation of energy. One dissipates energy through trying to overcome 'what is', or to analyse 'what is', because the analyser is the analysed, the analyser is not different from that which he analyses. As we have said during these many talks for many years, this is a fundamental reality.
We are asking what is the meaning and the significance of life, and if there is any meaning at all. If you say there is, you have already committed yourself to something, therefore you cannot examine, you have already started with distortion. In the same way if you say there is no meaning to life, that is another form of distortion. So one must be completely free of both, the positive and the negative assertions. And this is the real beginning of meditation. The mushroom growth of gurus from India who are springing up all over the world has provided a great many meanings to that word. There is the transcendental meditation -- and I wish they hadn't used that lovely word -- which is the repetition of certain words -- given at a certain price! -- three times a day for twenty minutes. Constant repetition of any words will certainly give you a quality of quiet, because you have reduced the brain to a mechanical quietness. But that's no more transcendental than anything else. And through this we think we'll experience something that is beyond the material process of thought.
Man seeks experience other than the ordinary daily experience. We are bored, or fed up with all the experience we have had of life, and we hope to capture some experience which is not the product of thought. The word 'experience' means 'to go through', to go through with anything and end it, not remember it and carry it on. But we don't do that. To recognize an experience you must have already known it; it's not anything new. So a mind that demands experience, other than the mere physical, psychological experience, demands something far greater and above all this, will experience its own projection, and therefore it will still be mechanistic, materialistic, the product of thought. When you do not demand any experience, when you have understood the whole meaning of desire, which, as we have gone into many times, is sensation, plus thought and its image -- then there is no distortion and illusion. Only then can the mind, the whole structure of consciousness being free, be capable of looking at itself without any distorting movement, without effort? Distortion takes place when there is effort -- right? Effort implies 'me' and something I am going to achieve, division between me and that. Division invariably brings conflict. Meditation comes only when there is the complete ending of conflict. Therefore every form of meditation where there is effort, practice, control, has no meaning. Please don't accept what the speaker is saying. We are examining together, therefore it is important not to accept what is being said but to examine it for yourself.
So we must go into the question of control. We are educated from childhood to control -- the whole process of controlling our feelings. In control there is the controller and the controlled, the controller who thinks he is different from that which he desires to control. So he has already divided himself, hence there is always conflict. That is, one fragment of thought says to itself, 'I must control other fragments of thought,' but the thought which says that is itself a part of thought. The controller is the controlled, the experiencer is the experienced, they are not two different entities or movements. The thinker is the thought; there is no thinker if there is no thought. This is very important because when this is realized completely, deeply, not verbally, not theoretically, but actually, then conflict comes to an end. When one realizes this profoundly as the truth, as a law, then all effort comes to an end, and meditation can only come into being when there is no effort of any kind.
It is necessary to meditate to find out if there is any meaning to life. And meditation is also laying the foundation of right conduct, right in the sense of accurate, not according to an ideal, not according to a pattern, not according to any formula, but action which takes place when there is complete observation of that which is going on in oneself. And through meditation we must establish right relationship between human beings, which means relationship without conflict. Conflict exists when there is division between the two images, which we have discussed a great deal, the image which you have of another and another has of you. And in meditation there must be no psychological fear whatsoever, and therefore the ending of sorrow, and there must be what we have previously talked about: compassion and love. That is the basis, the foundation of meditation. Without that you can sit cross-legged under a tree for the rest of your life, breathe properly -- you know all the tricks one plays -- none of these is going to help.
So when you have really, deeply, established a way of life -- which in itself is not an end, but only the beginning -- then we can proceed to find out whether the mind, which is the totality, the brain, the entire consciousness, is quiet without any distortion. It is only when the mind is quiet, still, that you can hear properly. There are different kinds of silence: the silence between two noises, the silence between two thoughts, the silence after a long battle with oneself, the silence between two wars, which you call peace. All those silences are the product of noise. That is not silence. There is a silence which is not produced or cultivated, so that there is no 'me' to observe that silence, but only silence, quietness.
We began with the question: is there any meaning to life or none at all? In that silence you really don't ask that question; we have prepared the field of the mind that is capable of finding out. Yet we must find an answer. Where do we find the answer, and who is going to answer it? Am I, a human being, going to answer it? Or in that very silence is the answer? That is, when there is no distortion through motive, through effort, through a demand for experience, through the division between the observer and the observed, the thinker and the thought, there is no wastage of energy. Now in that silence there is that greater strength to see beyond words. Because the word is not the thing, the description is not the described. To go to the moon, to create an instrument of a million parts, demands tremendous energy and the co-operation of 300,000 people to put the thing together. But that energy is totally different from the energy which we are talking about.
You see, the speaker is very serious about all this. He has spoken for fifty years and more on this, and as most minds are caught in grooves, deep or shallow, one is constantly watching to see if the brain forms a groove and feels secure in that groove and remains there, for if one stays in a groove, however beautiful, however pleasant, however comforting, then the mind becomes mechanical, repetitive, and so loses its depth, its beauty. So we are asking: is the silence mechanistic, a product of thought which says, 'There must be something beyond me, and to find that out I must be silent, I must control myself, I must subjugate everything to find out'? That is still the movement of thought, right? So we must understand the difference between concentration, awareness and attention.
Concentration implies the focusing of one's energy in a particular direction excluding all other directions, building a wall against all other things, resisting. Awareness is fairly simple -- if you don't make it complicated. To be aware of everything around you, just to observe. Then there is attention. Attention implies that there is no centre from which you are attending. The centre is the 'me', and if you are aware from that centre, then your attention is limited. The centre exists when there is choice, and where there is choice there is always the 'me', my experience, my knowledge - me separate from you.
Now, what we are talking about is attention in which there is no centre at all. If you attend in that way now, as you are sitting there, you will see that your attention is vast, there is no boundary, so that your whole mind, everything, is completely attentive, without choice and therefore no centre, no 'me' who says, 'I am attentive.' In that attention there is silence which contains the energy which is no longer dissipated. It is only such a mind that can find the answer, that can discover -- unfortunately, if I describe it, it becomes unreal -- something beyond all this travail, all this misery. If you give your whole energy, time, capacity to this, you no longer lead a shallow, meaningless life. And the whole of this is meditation, from the beginning to the end."