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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home  >  Meeting Jiddu Krishnmurthy - Truth is a Pathless Land > Text of Talk by Jiddu Krishnamurthy - There is no path to truth, because truth is a living thing, it is not a fixed, static, dead thing.

Truth is a Pathless Land

There is no path to truth, because truth is a living thing,
it is not a fixed, static, dead thing

Text of Talk by Jiddu Krishnamurthy
Bangalore, 31 January 1971

What is important is that we should radically change out lives, not according to any particular plan or ideology, or to fit into some kind of utopia. When we see how extraordinarily violent, brutal and laden with an enormous amount of sorrow the world is, it obviously becomes the responsibility of each one of us to change our lives, the ways of our thinking, the ways of our behaviour, the attitudes and the impulses that we have. We are going to talk over together what actually life is and what love is and what the meaning of death is and find out for ourselves what a religious life is and whether such a religious life is compatible with the modern world. We are also going to talk over together what time and space are, and what meditation is.

There are so many things to talk over, and probably most of you have already acquired a great deal of knowledge about all these things, knowledge that others have given you, what your books, your gurus, your systems, your culture, have imposed upon you. That is not knowledge, that is merely a repetition of what other people have said, whether it is the greatest of teachers or your local guru.And in understanding daily life, we need not have any guru, any authority or teacher. All that we have to do is to observe, to be aware of what we are doing, what we are thinking, what our motives are, and whether it is at all possible totally to change our human ways, beliefs and despairs.

So first let us see actually what our life is - our daily life-because if we do not understand it, if we do not bring order into it, if we merely slur over our daily activities, or escape into some ideology, or are just superficially be satisfied with things as they are, then we have no basis for a life, a way of thinking, a way of action, which will be right, which will be true. Order is virtue. Without order one must live in confusion and without understanding that order, which is virtue, all morality becomes superficial, merely influenced by the environment, by the culture in which one lives.

One must find out for oneself what order is, whether this order is a pattern, a design, a thing that has been put together by man through various forms of compulsion, conformity and imitation, or whether order is a living thing and therefore can never possibly be made into a pattern, into a conformity.

What is our daily living? One can see that in that living there is a great deal of confusion, there is a great deal of conformity and contradiction, with every man at another man, with a business world where you are ready to cut one another's throats. Politically, sociologically and morally there is a great deal of confusion; and when you look at your own life, you see that the moment you are born till you die, it is a series of conflicts. Life has become a battlefield. And not being able to understand it, or resolve it, or go beyond it, we escape from it into some ideology, into the ideology of ancient philosophers, ancient teachers, ancient wisdom and we think by escaping from the actual we have solved everything. And that is why philosophy, ideals, all the various forms of networks of escape, have not in any way resolved our problems. We are just as we were five thousand years ago or more, dull, repetitive, bitter angry, violent, aggressive, with an occasional flash of some beauty or happiness, and always frightened of that one thing which we call death.

Our daily life has no beauty, because again our religious teachers, our books have said, "Do not have any desires, be desireless, do not look at a woman as you might be tempted, and to find God, truth, you must be celibate." But our daily life is contrary to all the sayings of the teachers. We are actually what we are: very petty, small, narrow-minded, frightened human beings. Without changing that, any amount of your seeking truth or talking valiantly or most scholarly or interpreting your Gita and the innumerable books has no value at all. So you might just as well throw away all the sacred books and start all over again, because with their interpreters, their teachers their gurus, they have not brought enlightenment to you. Their authority, their compulsive discipline, their sanctions have no meaning at all. So is it possible to change our lives? Our lives are in disorder, our lives are in fragmentation. We are one thing at the office, another while going to the temple, entirely different in the family, and in front of a big official you become a frightened, sycophantic human being. Without changing our daily life, our asking, what truth is, whether there is a God or not, has no meaning whatsoever. We are fragmented human beings - broken up - and till we are a total human entity, whole, complete. there is no possibility of coming upon that something which is timeless.

So first we must look at our lives. That is, we must observe. Now what does that word "observe" mean? There is the sensory perception with the eye: you see this bougainvillaea. then as you observe that colour, you have an image, you make an image. You have already an image; you have a name for it. You like or dislike it, you have a preference through the image you see. So you do not actually see. We not only look at nature with the eyes that have accumulated knowledge about nature and therefore with an image, but we also look at human beings with our various forms of conclusions, opinions, judgements and values. So when you look, when you observe yourself, your life, you observe it through the image, through the conclusions that you have already formed. You say this is good or this is bad, or this should be and that should not be. You are not actually looking at life. So when you are doing that you are not directly in relationship with what you see. You see that you are looking with your past knowledge, with all the images, the tradition, the accumulation of all human experiences which prevents you from looking. This is a fact which must be realized that actually to observe your life you must look at it afresh, that is, look at it without any condemnation, without any ideal, without any desire to suppress it or change it, just observe. Are you doing this? Are you using the speaker as a mirror in which you are seeing your own life? And because you are seeing it with eyes of conclusions, it prevents you from looking at it directly, being in contact with it. Are you doing it?

Look at the sky, look at that tree, look at the beauty of the light, look at the clouds with their curves, with their delicacy. If you look at them without any image, you have understood your own life. But you are looking at yourself, at your life as an observer and your life as something to be observed, there is a division between the observer and the observed. This division is the essence of all conflict, essence of all the struggle, pain, fear, despair.

Where there is a division between human beings, division of nationalities, division of religion, social division, wherever there is a division, there must be conflict. There is Pakistan on one side and India on the other battling with each other. You are a Brahmin and another is a non-Brahmin, and there is hate, division. Now,that externalized division with all its conflict is the same as the inward division, as the observer the observed.

A mind that is in conflict cannot possibly ever understand what truth is. A mind in conflict is a tortured mind, a twisted mind. How can it be free to observe the beauty of the earth or a child or a beautiful woman or man or the beauty of extreme sensitivity and all that is involved in it?

Now, we are going to find out for ourselves - not from the speaker - whether it is possible to end this division between the observer and the observed. Are you following all this? Please, this is important if you are really to move any further. You are going to go into the question of what love is, what death is, what the beauty of truth is, what meditation is, and a mind that is completely and totally still; and to understand all this, one must begin with the ending of conflict, and this conflict exists wherever there is the observer and the observed.

The next question is: what is this observer, the observer who has separated himself from the observed? We see that when we are angry, at the moment of anger, there is no observer. At the moment of experiencing anything there is no observer. When you look at a sunset, that sunset is something immense, when you look at it, there is no observer saying, "I am seeing the sunset." A second later comes the observer. Supposing you are angry, at the moment of anger there is no observer, no experiencer, there is only a state of anger. A second later comes the observer who says, "I should not have been angry", or "I was justified in getting angry". This is the beginning of division. How does this happen? Why, at the moment of experience, is there a total absence of the observer, and how does it happen that a second later the observer comes into being? When you look at this flower, at the moment you observe it closely, there is no observer, there is only a looking. Then you begin to name the flower. Then you say, "I wish I had it in my garden or in my house," then you have already begun to build an image about that flower. The image and the image-maker are the observer, and the observer is the past, the "me' as the observer is the past, the "me" is the knowledge which I have accumulated, the knowledge of pain, sorrow, agony, suffering, despair, loneliness, jealousy. The observer looks at that flower with the eyes of the past. You do not know how to look without the observer and therefore you bring about conflict.

Now our question is, can you look not only at the flower but at your life, at your agony, at your despair, at your sorrow, without naming it, without saying to yourself, "I must go beyond it, I must suppress it"? Can you look at it without the observer? Take your particular form or particular tendency, or take what most people are: envious. You know what envy is. You are very familiar with that. Envy is comparison, the measurement of thought, a comparing of what you are with what you should be or what you would like to become. When you are envious of your neighbour - he has got a bigger car, a better house and all the rest of it - you certainly feel envy, that is, you compare yourself with him and envy him more. Now can you look at that feeling without saying it is right or wrong, without naming it? Can you look at it without an image? Then you go beyond it. Instead of struggling with envy and trying to suppress it, observe your anger, your envy, without naming it.

The naming is the movement of the past memory while it justifies or condemns. If you can look at it without naming, then you will see you go beyond it.

The moment you know the possibility of going beyond "what is", you are full of energy. The man who does not know how to go beyond "what is", because he does not know how to deal with it, is afraid, he wants to escape. Such a person loses energy. If you have a problem and you can solve it, then you have energy. A man who has a thousand problems and does not know what to do with them, loses his energy. So in the same way, look at your life, in which there is what you call love.

What is love? We are not discussing the theories of what love should be. We are observing what we call love. Is love pleasure? Is love jealousy? Can a man who is ambitious, love? Can a man who is competitive love? - and you are all competitive. You want a better job, better position, better house, an image of yourself. Can you love when you go through all this tyranny, when you dominate your husband, your wife, your children? When you are seeking power, is there a possibility of love?

In negating what is not love, there is love, You have to negate everything which is not love, that is, no ambition, no competition, no aggression, no violence either in speech, in act or in thought. When you negate that which is not love, then you know what love is. And love is something that is intense, that you feel strongly, love is not pleasure. Therefore one must understand pleasure, and not attempt to love somebody.

When you see what your life is, there is no love in it, there is no beauty, there is no freedom, and actually how barren your life is, you ought to shed tears.

This barren life is the result of your culture, of your sacred books, because they have said, "Do not look at the sky because there is beauty, and that beauty might be transferred to the woman. If you are to be a religious man, withdraw from the world, deny the world, the world is a Maya, an illusion, escape from it", and you have escaped from it because your life shows it.

If you observe your life, you can find out for yourself what love is, because in that lies great passion. The root meaning of that word "passion" is sorrow. Do you know what it means to suffer, not how to escape from suffering, or what to do about suffering, but to suffer, to have great pain inwardly? When there is no movement of escape from that sorrow, out of that comes great passion, which is compassion.

You must also find out what death is, not at the last minute, not when you are sick, unconscious, diseased, incapable of clarity - that happens to everybody: old age, disease and death - but while you are young, fresh, active, while you are going to an office every day returning to your particular little prison of a family.

The organism could last longer, depending on the kind of life one leads. If one's life is a battlefield from the moment one is born till one dies, then one's body is worn out quicker. The heart goes through tension. This is an established fact. To find out what death is there must be no fear, and most of us are frightened of death, frightened of leaving the things that we have known, frightened of leaving our family, frightened of letting go the things that we have accumulated, of leaving our knowledge, our books. Not knowing what is going to happen when we die, the mind - that is thought - says there must be a different kind of life. Life must continue somehow, your individual life. Then you have the whole structure of belief - reincarnation. What is it that is to be reborn in the next life, all the accumulations of your knowledge, all your thoughts, all the activities, all the goodness or the evil or the ugly things that you have done? If you really believe in all this karma, then what matters is what you do now, how you behave now, because in your next life you are going to pay for it.

So if you are really caught in the network of this belief, then you must pay complete attention to your life now. To find out what it means to die, not physically - that is inevitable but to die to everything that is known, to die to your family, to your attachment, to all the things that you have accumulated, the known pleasures, the known fears, every minute, will show you a mind made young, fresh, and therefore innocent. So there is incarnation of the next life the next day. To incarnate the next day is far more important than in the future. This will give you a mind that is astonishingly innocent. The word "innocence, means a mind that is incapable of being hurt. Therefore, a mind that is being hurt must die to the hurt every day, so that it comes the next morning with a fresh, clear, unspotted mind which has no scar. That is the way to live.

A mind that is without effort - you have understood how effort comes into being when there is conflict, conflict between the observer and the observed - such a mind brings order. Order comes when you have understood what disorder is. When you understand it, not intellectually but actually, out of that comes order, and that order is virtue, that order is rectitude, that order is a living thing.

A man who is vain tries-to become humble, to have humility. In that attempt to become humble there is a conflict, whereas if I face the fact that I am vain - and to understand that and go beyond it, there must be understanding of oneself completely - there must be this order which is not habit, which is not practice, which is not the cultivation of some virtue.

Virtue comes into being like a flower of goodness, when you understand. Then you can begin to enquire what it is that man has sought throughout the centuries. He has been asking for it, trying to discover it. You cannot possibly understand it or come upon it if you have not laid the foundation in your daily life. And then we can ask what meditation is, not how to meditate or what steps to take to meditate, or what systems and methods to follow to meditate. All systems, all methods make the mind mechanical. If I follow a particular system, however carefully worked out by the greatest guru you can possibly imagine, that system, that method makes the mind mechanical, and a mechanical mind is a dead mind.

"Tell me how to meditate", that is your first question, "because if you will tell me, I will practice it and do it day after day, I will get up early morning, and repeat, repeat." You know what kind of mind you will have at the end of a year - a dull, stupid mind, a mind that can escape, that can hypnotize itself. And that is not meditation.

Meditation is a marvellous thing, if you know the meaning of a mind that is "in meditation", and not "how to meditate". We will see what meditation is not, then we will know what meditation is. Through negation you come upon the positive, but if you pursue the positive, it leads you to a dead end. We say meditation is not the practice of any system. Machines can do that. So systems cannot reveal the beauty and the depth and the marvellous thing called meditation.

Nor is meditation concentration. When you concentrate or attempt to concentrate, in that concentration there is the observer and the observed, there is the one who says, "I must concentrate, I must force myself to concentrate", and concentration becomes conflict. When you do learn to concentrate like a schoolboy, that concentration becomes a process of exclusion, a building of walls against thought and movement of thoughts.

There must be complete self-knowledge. So there must be no system, no method, no concentration - and a mind that has understood all this through negation, such a mind then becomes naturally very quiet. In this, there is no observer who has achieved some kind of silence. In this silence there is the emptying of the mind of all the past. Unless you do this in your daily life, you won't understand the marvellous beauty, the subtlety of it.

When the mind has complete order, mathematical order, and when that order has come into being naturally, through the understanding of the disorder in your daily life, then the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet. This quiet has vast space, not the quiet of a little room. It is not the quiet or the silence of the ending of noise. A mind that has understood the whole problem of existence - love, death, living, beauty - when you have understood all this, then you will know what happens in that silence. Nobody can describe it. Anybody who describes it does not know what it is. It is for you to find out.

It is right to ask questions. You must ask questions, not only of the speaker but of yourselves. It is far more important to ask yourselves why you believe, why you follow, why you accept authority, why you are corrupt, why you get angry, jealous. Question those, and find out the answer.

Sirs, you have to stand alone, completely alone, which does not mean you become isolated. If you are alone, then you will know what it means to live purely. Therefore you must ask questions endlessly of yourselves. The more you ask yourselves, not find an answer but to ask and look, the more you understand. When you ask there must be care, love in your asking; and do not beat yourselves with questions.

Question: When you say "The one who says he knows does not know", what do you mean by that? Must you not know yourself to say that? Krishnamurti: You have to find out what the word know, means, what is involved in the word "know". When you say "I know" my wife or my husband, what do you mean by that word? Do you know her, or do you know him, or do you know the image that you have about her? The image you have about her is the past. So to know is to know something that is over, something that is gone, something that you have experienced. Now when you say "I know", you are looking at the present with the knowledge of the past.

Now I want to know myself, understand myself, myself which is a very living thing. It is not a static thing, it is changing all the time, adding, subtracting, taking on, putting off......I must come to it each time as though I am learning about it for the first time. I look at myself, and in looking at myself I find I am ugly, or extraordinarily sensitive, or this or that. And translating what I am looking at becomes the knowledge, and with that knowledge I look at myself next minute. So what I see will not be fresh, it will be with the eyes of the known. So to learn about myself there must be the ending of knowing myself each time, so that each time I am learning, there is a learning about myself afresh.

Now the one who says he knows does not know. Have you understood now? The man who says, "I have experienced God; I know what it means to be enlightened", means simply, "I know the way to the station", because the station is a fixed place. There are many paths to the station, there are many gurus for each path and they all say, "We know, we have experienced" - which means what? They have known something, and hold on to something that has been experienced, dead.

There is no path to truth, because truth is a living thing, it is not a fixed, static, dead thing. Like you, Sir, what are you? Are you static? Aren't you changing every day, for worse or better? So I can never say I know you. It is a most stupid form of saying "I know". It is a kind of consolation, it is a kind of security for myself.

When you understand this one question completely, you have understood so many things. So distrust any man who says "I know", any man who says, "I will lead you to enlighten- ment; do these things and you will achieve." Have nothing to do with such people, they are dead people, because they are living in the past, with things they do not know - enlightenment, truth. Truth is a timeless state, you cannot come by it through time.

Knowledge is time. So, as we said, die to every knowledge that you have every day. Die, and be fresh next morning. Such a mind never says "I know", because it is always flowering, it is always new.

Question: You do not want us to read Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the great epics. What is wrong with them? Why are you so hostile towards our great saints?

Krishnamurti: First of all, I do not know your great saints. I do not want to know them. I do not see the point of knowing them. They are probably conditioned by their culture, by their society, by the religion they are born in. If I want to know, I want to learn about myself, not about them. A Christian saint is not accepted here as a saint. Will you as a Hindu, accept a Christian saint as your saint? Of course not. Your saints are conditioned by the culture in which they have lived. I am not hostile to them. I am just stating facts. They are tortured human beings, they detach themselves, or they are tremendously devoted to God (whatever that word may mean), to their visions, to their own ideas, to their own culture which has brought them to believe in God. If they were born in Communist Russia, they won't believe. There they would be no saints, they will be Marxists.

Now, Sir, I do not read Mahabharata, Ramayana and Gita, I do not read these books. Why do you read them? Do you read them for literature, for the beauty of the language, or do you read them as sacred thing, to be read in order to achieve Nirvana or heaven or whatever it is? Why do you read them?

Question: Mahatma Gandhi read the Gita, and he was a great man.

Krishnamurti: The gentleman says Mahatma Gandhi, and the greatest men have read the Gita, and so on. I do not know why you call them great. Because they have read the Gita? You call them great because they fit into your pattern.

Question: No, for the love of mankind.

Krishnamurti: For the love of mankind? They loved mankind and therefore you love them? Which means you love mankind? No, Sir, be honest about all these things.

If you read the book of yourself - you understand, Sir? - the book of yourself, that is far more important than any other book, because your book, the book which is you, contains the whole of mankind - all the agonies it has been through, the misery, the love, the pain, the joy, the suffering, the anxiety. There is a book in you, and you go and waste your time reading somebody else's book. And that you call love of mankind.

Question: What is the reason for the grievances that sex has brought to the world in spite of the fact that it is the greatest energy of man.

Krishnamurti: Have you noticed throughout the world, and therefore in your own life, how sex has become extraordinarily important? Have you noticed it? You are all very strangely silent. Talk about Ramayana and Gita, and you burst with energy. Talk about your daily life, you subside. Why has sex - the act, the pleasure - why has that become such a colossal thing in your life? - not only in your life but the life of everybody? In the west they put it out, open. Here they all hide it, they are ashamed of it. You are embarrassed, you are shy, you are nervous, guilty - which all shows that it has become tremendously important in your life. Why?

Intellectually you have no energy, because you repeat what others have said, you are prisoners to theories, to speculations, and therefore you have no capacity to reason, to observe. You have got mechanical minds, you go to schools where you mug up facts and repeat the facts. And your life, the daily life, going to the office day after day is a mechanical life.

So there is no intellectual freedom; and freedom means energy, vitality, intensity, because that gives you a tremendous energy. And that you deny totally because you accept authority, not only the authority of the professor but the authority of your spiritual leaders, and they are not spiritual when they become your leaders. So you are not free intellectually; and emotionally you are sentimental, devoted to some god, some person. That does not give you energy, because in that there is fear. Energy comes only when you completely lose yourself, when there is total absence of yourself, and that takes place when you have sex. For a second everything ends. And you have the pleasure of it. Then thought picks it up, images - wanting it more and more - repetition. Therefore, that becomes the extraordinarily important factor in your life, because you have nothing else. You are confused, miserable, unhappy human beings. You are not intense, you have no passion, intellectually, to stand alone, to see clearly and stand by it. You are frightened; and what have you left? - sex.

All your religions say do not have sex. So you battle. "To find God you must not have sex." And you try not to be sexual. Full of sex, you battle with yourself. The more you battle, the more important it becomes.

So you see your life, what it is. You have no love, but pleasure. And when you have pleasure, you are frightened of losing it. Therefore, you are never free, though you may write volumes about freedom. So, when you understand all this - not intellectually, but daily in your life - you will see what you have reduced mankind to through your Mahabharatas, Gitas and gurus. You will see that you have reduced yourself to a mechanical entity, an unhappy, shoddy little entity; and with this little mind you want to capture the vast timeless space of truth.

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