Krishnamurti. If you’re read any of his books, you’ll know it’s hard to call him anything. He’s not really a philosopher or teacher... and certainly he would strongly reject the claim to be a guru.
This week I’d like to share what I learnt in my stay at The Krishnamurti Centre in Hampshire, UK. This is a centre he helped to create. It’s a space designed to reflect on his teachings in a natural environment, free from any coercion, timetable or pressure.
I first came across K when I was around 21 years old. I read the book Freedom from the Known (the link contains extracts), and I was hooked. In fact, I went to observe the school that Krishnamurti developed called Brockwood Park School, and almost ended up becoming a teacher there.
After studying K for about a year or so, I found myself a little stuck. I spent far more time watching his videos and reading his books, than actually spending time in silence or going for walks. So I decided to let the theory go and ended up following my own path.
Krishnamurti has a fascinating biography. Born in a very poor family, he was spotted on a beach and identified as having a very pure ‘aura’ that showed not even a hint of selfishness.
He was then trained to be a world teacher by the Theosophical Society, a ‘star from the east’. But after a few years, he rejected that role and spent the rest of his life on his mission to ‘set human beings completely and unconditionally free’.
I won’t attempt to summarise K’s teachings. Instead, this is what is commonly quoted as a summary of his teachings. I’d love to hear what you think of it:
The Core of the Teachings
Written by J. Krishnamurti, 1980.
Truth is a pathless land. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophical 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. 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 humanity. So he is not an individual.
Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not 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.
This quote is copyright © 1980 Krishnamurti Foundation Trust Ltd
And here's one of Krishnamurti's most popular videos on Fear:
Have you studied J. Krishnamurti? What are your experiences with his teachings? Let me know in the comments below, if you have a few moments and want to share. Thank you!