Jiddu Krishnamurti


Indian Philosopher, Holy Man

Author Quotes

I am afraid of anyone who disturbs them. Thus my fear is of the known, I am afraid of the accumulations, physical or psychological, that I have gathered as a means of warding off pain or preventing sorrow. Knowledge also helps to prevent pain. As medical knowledge helps to prevent physical pain, so beliefs help to prevent psychological pain, and that is why I am afraid of losing my beliefs, though I have no perfect knowledge or concrete proof of the reality of such beliefs.

Fear must exist as long as there is an urge to be or to become, which is the pursuit of success, with all its frustrations and tortuous contradictions. You can teach concentration, but attention cannot be taught, just as you cannot possibly teach freedom from fear, and in understanding these causes there is the elimination of fear.

You know what fear is? Each one has his own particular form of fear - not one, but multiple fears. A mind that has any form of fear cannot obviously have the quality of love, sympathy, tenderness. Fear is the destructive energy in man. It withers the mind, it distorts thought, it leads to all kinds of extraordinarily clever and subtle theories, absurd superstitions, dogmas, and beliefs. If you see that fear is destructive, then how do you proceed to wipe the mind clean?

What is fear? Fear can exist only in relation to something, not in isolation. How can I be afraid of death, how can I be afraid of something I do not know? I can be afraid only of what I know. When I say I am afraid of death, am I really afraid of the unknown, which is death, or am I afraid of losing what I have known? My fear is not of death but of losing my association with things belonging to me. My fear is always in relation to the known, not to the unknown.

Can we ever live without exploitation? I say we can. There must be exploitation as long as there is the struggle for self-protection; as long as the mind is seeking security, comfort - through family, religion, authority, or tradition - there must be exploitation. And exploitation ceases only when the mind discerns the falseness of security and is no longer ensnared by its own power of creating illusions. If you will experiment with what I say, you will then understand that I am not destroying desire, but that you can live in this world richly, sanely, a life without limitations, without suffering. You can discover this only by experimenting, not by denying, not through resignation, nor by merely imitating. Where intelligence is functioning - and intelligence ceases to function when there is fear and the desire for security - there can be no exploitation.

If you voluntarily and intelligently put aside this craving to possess, then you will create a society not based on compulsion and exploitation.

With acquisition there must ever be exploitation; the craving for acquisition must inevitably bring about exploitation. Acquisition is always psychological. When emphasis is laid on you as an acquiring entity, the individual or the collective, there will be always exploitation. This does not mean that we should not organize for the physical welfare of man, but if the organizer uses the organization as a means of acquisition, then he and the organization will become the means of exploitation.

To pursue more than what you need becomes exploitation. You need food, clothes, and shelter, but when they become the means of personal aggrandizement, then exploitation begins. To use another to gain power and position, authority and domination, is exploitation. Exploitation is the problem and not who exploits. The capitalist, the ruler, the zamindar are like you; if you had the chance you would become like them. You would lose your generosity, your love, the moment you climb the ladder of success, of gain.

When one uses another for psychological purposes, then exploitation begins. All exploitation is based on psychological poverty of being. There will be no exploitation of man by man when this poverty of being is understood. Exploitation will not cease through mere legislation. There will be exploitation in different forms - at home, in public - as long as this psychological emptiness exists. You will be content with little, with the necessities of life, when you are inwardly rich.

When the teacher regards each student as a unique individual and therefore not to be compared with any other, he is then not concerned with system or method. His sole concern is with `helping' the student to understand the conditioning influences about him and within himself, so that he can face intelligently without fear, the complex process of living and not add more problems to the already existing mess.

What is important is what you are, not what the ideal is, not the ideal student or his qualifications. You are important, not an ideal. In understanding yourself, you will find out how false these ideals are. Ideals are the inventions of the mind which runs away from what the thing is.

The function of education, then, is to help you from childhood not to imitate anybody, but to be yourself all the time. And this is a most difficult thing to do: whether you are ugly or beautiful, whether you are envious or jealous, always to be what you are, but understand it. To be yourself is very difficult, because you think that what you are is ignoble, and that if you could only change what you are into something noble it would be marvellous; but that never happens.

An educator is not merely a giver of information; he is one who points the way to wisdom, to truth. Truth is far more important than the teacher. The search for truth is religion, and truth is of no country, of no creed, it is not to be found in any temple, church or mosque. Without the search for truth, society soon decays.

Right education should help the student, not only to develop his capacities, but to understand his own highest interest.

Education is the cultivation of the mind so that action is not self-centred; it is learning throughout life to break down the walls which the mind builds in order to be secure, and from which arises fear with all its complexities. To be rightly educated, you have to study hard and not be lazy. Be good at games, not to beat another, but to amuse yourself. Eat the right food, and keep physically fit. Let the mind be alert and capable of dealing with the problems of life, not as a Hindu, a Communist, or a Christian, but as a human being. To be rightly educated, you have to understand yourself; you have to keep on learning about yourself. When you stop learning, life becomes ugly and sorrowful. Without goodness and love, you are not rightly educated.

Education has no meaning unless it helps you to understand the vast expanse of life with all its subtleties, with its extraordinary beauty, its sorrows and joys. You may earn degrees, you may have a series of letters after your name and land a very good job; but then what? What is the point of it all if in the process your mind becomes dull, weary, stupid? So, while you are young, must you not seek to find out what life is all about? And is it not the true function of education to cultivate in you the intelligence which will try to find the answer to all these problems?

The purpose of education is to cultivate right relationship, not only between individuals, but also between the individual and society; and that is why it is essential that education should, above all, help the individual to understand his own psychological process. Intelligence lies in understanding oneself and going above and beyond oneself; but there cannot be intelligence as long as there is fear.

The right kind of education is concerned with individual freedom, which alone can bring true cooperation with the whole, with the many; but this freedom is not achieved through the pursuit of one's own aggrandizement and success. Freedom comes with self-knowledge, when the mind goes above and beyond the hindrances it has created for itself through craving its own security.

In self-awareness there is no need for confession, for self-awareness creates the mirror in which all things are reflected without distortion. Every thought- feeling is thrown, as it were, on the screen of awareness to be observed, studied and understood; but this flow of understanding is blocked when there is condemnation or acceptance, judgment or identification. The more the screen is watched and understood—not as a duty or enforced practice, but because pain and sorrow have created the insatiable interest that brings its own discipline—the greater the intensity of awareness, and this in turn brings heightened understanding.

When you are hoping for something positively or negatively, you are projecting your own desire; you will succeed in your desire, but that is only another substitution, and so the battle is on again. This desire to gain or to avoid is still within the field of opposition, is it not? See the false as the false, then the truth is. You don’t have to look for it. What you seek you will find, but it will not be truth. It is like a suspicious man finding what he suspects, which is comparatively easy and stupid. Just be passively aware of this total thought process, and also of the desire to be free of it.

Awareness is that state of mind which observes something without any condemnation or acceptance, which merely faces the thing as it is. When you look at a flower nonbotanically, then you see the totality of the flower; but if your mind is completely taken up with the botanical knowledge of what the flower is, you are not totally looking at the flower. Though you may have knowledge of the flower, if that knowledge takes the whole ground of your mind, the whole field of your mind, then you are not looking totally at the flower.

Awareness is that state of mind which takes in everything—the crows flying across the sky, the flowers on the trees, the people sitting in front, the colors they are wearing— being extensively aware, which needs watching, observing, taking in the shape of the leaf, the shape of the trunk, the shape of the head of another, what he is doing.

In awareness there is only the present—that is, being aware, you see the past process of influence which controls the present and modifies the future. Awareness is an integral process, not a process of division.

The phenomenon of the observer and the observed is not a dual process, but a single one; and only in experiencing the fact of this unitary process is there freedom from desire, from conflict. The question of how to experience this fact should never arise. It must happen; and it happens only when there is alertness and passive awareness. You cannot know the actual experience of meeting a poisonous snake by imagining or speculating about it while sitting comfortably in your room. To meet the snake you must venture out beyond the paved streets and artificial lights.

In awareness there is no becoming, there is no end to be gained. There is silent observation without choice and condemnation, from which there comes understanding. In this process when thought and feeling unfold themselves, which is only possible when there is neither acquisition nor acceptance, then there comes an extensional awareness, all the hidden layers and their significance are revealed.

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Indian Philosopher, Holy Man