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The Philosophy of Jiddu Krishnamurti

Department of Philosophy, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, lndia.


Love of Truth

J. Krishnamurti uses the term "Philosophy" in its etymological sense of the 'love' of 'truth'. To him, philosophy is not a series of theories about life, man and the world. It is not a bundle of ideas, opinions and conclusions. Nor is it the academic discipline of conceiving, criticizing and interpreting concepts. Philosophy is not the speculative or the intellectual activity of system-building. It is not a logical analysis of language and meaning. On the contrary, philosophy, according to Krishnamurti,, is the love of truth. Love means the instantaneous perception. It is understanding which is beyond the intellect. Truth means the life which is undetermined by thought. It means the mind which is unconditioned. Philosophy is living life independently of systems, images, ideals als and beliefs. It is living from moment to moment in the total freedom of the mind. It is living in the 'present'. True life is what is happening this instant. It is not what thought or intellect conceives it to be. Philosophy is living inseparably from what is taking place now. It is the art of living life directly and not through theories and words. Direct living is living holistically without the sense of division, conceptual or psychological. lt is not a theoretical exercise of avoiding the actuality of life. "It is exactly what the word philosophy means - the love of truth,

the love of life. It is not something that you go to the university to learn. We are learning the art of living in our daily life"', says Krishnamurti He observes that philosophy is the 'understanding of the truth which is beyond the reality of thought. Philosophy is the ending of the illusion of mistaking reality for truth. It is the realization that reality can never become truth. Philosophy is the actual cessation of the ignorance and the irrationality of approaching truth through reality. It is understanding the finitude of reality and going beyond. Krishnamurti says, "philosophy means love of truth, not love of ideas, not love of speculation... And that means you have to find out for yourself where reality is and that reality cannot become truth. You cannot go through reality to come to truth. You must understand the limitations of reality which is the whole process of thought." 2

Reality and Truth

Krishnamurti distinguishes between reality and truth. Reality is thought which is the movement of the past. It is a psychological-material process. It is necessarily conditioned by a thing or an idea. Thought is always of something, gross or subtle, physical or psychological. It is never independent. Independent thought is a contradiction in teens. Reality is all that is conceived by thought. Reality, as Krishnamurti puts it, "comes from 'res' and that anything that thought operates on, or fabricates or reflects about, is reality" 3 . According to Krishnamurti, the mind or the consciousness with its thought content is reality. The content comprises the factual as well as the psychological knowledge. The factual content is the knowledge which is reasonable and useful for the biological well-being of humankind. It includes the scientific, the technological, the semantic, the numerical and the historical knowledge or information, whereas the psychological content is a messy conglomeration of the irrational and fictitious knowledge. It consists of the illusions - beliefs, hopes, images, symbols - invented by thought as a means of escape from the inward poverty, the psychological insecurity. The psychological content constitutes the mind which is conditioned, fragmented, self-centred, self-contradictory, conflicting, confused, anxious, insecure, jealous, aggressive, corrupt, violent, war-like, crooked and insane. The psychological content of consciousness is the actuality, the fact of human existence. It is with this content that human being has been living for millions of years. Devoid of self-knowing or awareness, the conditioned consciousness determines itself; it generates its own energy; it adds to its content and perpetuates itself to self-destruction. But Krishnamurti does not condemn human reality to its psychological structure which is superficial and acquired. The psychological content is only the name and form and not the true nature of humanity. He points out, "The uniqueness of the individual does not lie in the superficial but in the total freedom from the content of consciousness" 4 . The task of philosophy is to break the continuity of the conditioned consciousness. It is to end the psychological content of the human mind and regenerate it, like the phoenix. 5 Regeneration is the understanding of the truth which is the emptiness of mind. Truth is the mind which does not contain a 'thing' put together by thought. It is freedom which is totally independent of thought. It is the mind which is devoid of the content of division, contradiction, conflict and so on. It is the mind which is whole and sane. Truth is 'nothing'. It is the mind which is no-thing or nothingness. 6

Truth is a Pathless Land

The core of Krishnamurti's philosophy is contained in his statement that truth is a pathless land. It consists in his concern of setting man unconditionally and absolutely free. To him, the understanding of truth is independent of religious institutions and methods. Conforming to spiritual organisations is an impediment to the understanding of truth. Truth cannot be perceived by professing a particular faith. Truth is not a fixed thing. It does not have a predetermined path. Nor does it have a direction. Truth is neither in the past nor in the future. Truth is in the living 'present', the 'now'. And the understanding of it is immediate and direct. Paths or systems involve time. They only condition the mind according to their pet and patent ideas. They programme and 'industrialise' the individual. They can never liberate the mind completely. Total and ultimate liberation is possible only when the mind is entirely independent of all paths. Krishnamurti says, "I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect... If an organisation be created for this purpose, it becomes a crutch, a weakness, a bondage, and must cripple the individual, and prevent him from growing, from establishing his uniqueness, which lies in his discovery for himself of that absolute, unconditioned Truth". 7

The direct discovery of truth requires freedom not only form the paths and methods but also from the teachers, the leaders of the spiritual organisations. Attachment to 'gurus' is a barrier to the direct perception of truth. Dependence on them keeps the seeker in perpetual ignorance. Following implies faith without understanding. Spiritual teachers are generally regarded as the removers of the ignorance of their followers. The classical meaning of the word 'guru' is the dispeller of darkness. But Krishnamurti holds that a 'guru', however much enlightened he may be, cannot put an end to another's ignorance. Because, basically, one alleviating the ignorance of another is out of the question. The very idea is irrational. Each one has to dispel his or her ignorance by oneself. Krishnamurti declares, "You are all depending for your spirituality on some one else... no man from outside can make you free" 8 . Nevertheless, the 'gurus' have a little role to play in the communication of truth. A really enlightened person may point out the truth to others. But his indication has little significance if the seeker is not prepared to 'see' the truth. In understanding truth, the intensity of the seeker's passion for truth is of paramount importance. Mere pointing out is not sufficient. It has as little importance as a signpost pointing the way to a particular destiny. Speaking to a spiritual teacher Krishnamurti said, "You might point out the door and say, 'look, go through the door' but each man has to do the work entirely himself" 9 .

Communication of truth is not a matter of one giving to another. The division and the image as the one who knows and the one who does not know preclude communication. Communication of truth is possible only when the speaker and the listener meet on the same level at the same time and with the same intensity. It requires a mind which really says, 'I don't know'. A mind with knowledge - ideas, opinions, conclusion can neither understand nor communicate the truth. Truth cannot be monopolised. It cannot be possessed and bartered. Truth can only be shared. Dialogue is the best means of communication. Krishnamurti says, "I think the idea of the teaching and the taught is basically wrong, at least for me. I think it is a matter of sharing rather than being taught, partaking rather than giving and taking" 10 .

Choiceless Observation

Choiceless observation or awareness is the crux of Krishnamurti's philosophy of life. To him, choiceless observation is the only 'way', the direct and 'intelligent' way of understanding the truth of 'what is'. It alone can transform the fact, the actuality by revealing its true nature. It is only 'through' it that consciousness can be emptied of its content. Krishnamurti maintains that excepting choiceless awareness, there is no other way of regenerating the human mind and the world irreversibly and instantaneously. Choiceless observation is the observation of 'what is', the fact or the actuality without the movement of thought which is knowledge or past. It is the observation devoid of the observer, the centre, the censor, the 'me' or the thinker which is thought. It is the awareness without the division as the observer and the observed. It is a holistic observation in which the observer 'is' the observed. In it there in no reaction, resistance, justification and condemnation. It is a pure observation sans remembrance, recollection, recognition and naming. It is free from ideas, ideals and opinions. It is observation without prejudice, likes and dislikes. It is without a motive and an end in view. 11

Choiceless awareness is an understanding in which the previous experience is totally absent. It is 'experiencing' 'what is' without the experiences. It is a 'negative' approach to the fact. It is an awareness in which the psychological past is totally negated. It is the denial of knowledge in understanding. It is a 'passive' awareness without effort. It is a 'silent' observation without the activity of thought. It is 'silence' with which thought does not interfere in any form. According to Krishnamurti, the negative and the passive approach is the most active and positive one. It alone leads to the absolute certainty which is truth. Scepticism is the basis of true spirituality. Choiceless awareness is not understanding the fact from a particular point of view. It is not moulding it according to a preconceived conclusion. It is not fitting 'what is' into the framework of a system. It does not involve intellectualisation, interpretation, explanation or theorisation. Nor does it warrant analysis or introspection. Choiceless awareness is 'perceiving' the fact without translating it to knowledge. This awareness is not evolutionary. It is not a 'progressive' or a gradual understanding of 'what is' by accumulating knowledge about it. It is not movement from the past to the future, but it is 'seeing' the fact without distorting and dividing it. It is 'remaining with' 'what is' without moving away from it. It is the complete attention of holding the totality of 'what is', like a vessel holding water. Total attention generates the energy that regenerates 'what is' 12 .

Choiceless observation is an experimental approach of allowing 'what is' to reveal itself as it exactly and essentially is. It is an unpremeditated art of 'looking' at 'what is' directly and wholly. It is a non-verbal and non-conceptual understanding. It is an acausal and a timeless 'insight' into 'what is'. Insight is the comprehension of the truth of 'what is', in a 'flash'. "The insight is not analysis, time, remembrance, all that. It is the immediate perception of something" 13 . It is an absolute observation of allowing the 'what is' to 'flower' freely and fully. The spontaneous and total flowering of the 'what is' is the ending of its bondage. "Truth is when there is the realisation that the observer is the observed. Then, in that realisation, which is truth, the conditioning disappears" 14 .

The Ending of Sorrow

The understanding of the truth, viz., the 'nothingness' of oneself is the ending of sorrow. Human being has been suffering for millions of years. Human consciousness is a stream of sorrow, since it is ridden with division, conflict, fear, anxiety, etc. Suffering is universal and not individualistic. Individual is a part of the humanity which is caught in the net of suffering. Individual consciousness is not different from the consciousness of humanity. Krishnamurti says, "My consciousness is the consciousness of man; it is the consciousness of humanity because man suffers, he is proud, cruel, anxious, unkind, this is the common ground ... That is the psychological structure of man" 15 .

Fundamentally, suffering is due to the ignorance of oneself, one's true nature, viz., the 'emptiness'. There are other kinds of suffering which are the outcome of the ignorance of not knowing oneself fundamentally and irrevocably. There is the sorrow of poetry, attachment, detachment, insecurity, responsibility, abandonment, decease and death. Krishnamurti says that sorrow can be ended by being aware of it totally. Sorrow is to be faced without explaining it away by theories. It can be resolved by perceiving the enormous sorrow of the humanity without being caught in one's own little sorrow. Personal sorrow of losing one's kith or kin involves loneliness and self pity. Getting caught in it is an impediment to the awareness of sorrow as such. Observing human sorrow without choice and remaining 'with' it without any movement of thought puts an end to suffering as a whole. 16


Freedom is not choice which is the movement of thought. The free and intelligent mind does not choose. Only the conditioned and confused one chooses. Freedom is not an abstraction. It is action devoid of conditioning and contradiction. Freedom is the same as the truth. It is the nothingness of the mind It is the mind which is empty of its psychological content, the 'known', which is put together by thought. It is the cessation of the messy -and the chaotic consciousness which is self-centred, self-contradictory and the source of sorrow. Freedom is the mind which is the 'Unknown'. 17 The free mind is devoid of the centre, the 'me' and the circumference, the limitation. It is without boundaries. It is infinite, eternal, global and holistic. It is absolutely stable and orderly. Its order and stability are not determined by thought. The free mind is one with the Cosmos. Cosmos means stability and order. The free mind is a meditative mind. Meditation is not the process of thought. It is not a concentration on a fixed goal. It is not a means to an end. Meditation is the movement of the mind in the stability and the order of the Universe. 18 The free mind is truly religious. It is truly secular as well. It does not belong to any religion or nation. Truth is its 'spirit'. World is its home. The free mind is full of love. Love is compassion. Compassion is passion for all. To love is to be 'alone'. Alone means all are one. To be alone is to be one with all.

Love is 'intelligence'. Intelligence means reading between the lines. It uses the physical or the factual knowledge for strictly the biological well-being of humanity. It understands the limitations of thought. It does not allow thought to enter the realm where it has no place. Intelligence guides thought and not vice versa. Thought is essentially a physical and chemical process. Intelligence is truth which is truly spiritual. It is sacred and holy. Intelligence is creative while thought is mechanical. Being limited, thought must inevitably create the problems. And it cannot solve the problems it creates. Intelligence is the freedom which is not the product of time and environment. It alone solves the plight brought about by thought and knowledge - the conditioned consciousness. 19

The Only Revolution

Regression of the mind is the regeneration of the society. The society we live in is not different from the nature of our mind and the quality of life. It cannot be different from the individuals who constitute it. As is the mind so is the individual. As is the individual so is the society. Society is the relationship of the individuals. Mind is the basis of the relationships. The psychological structure of the individuals constitutes the society. Society is the spectacular manifestation of the mind. It is the outward expression of the individuals' inner being. The mind and the society constitute a single movement, like the ebb and flow of the wave. The actual content of them is one and the same. The crisis in the society is the crisis in consciousness. The separation between the two is an illusion. Because consciousness is divided, the society is ridden with the problems like endless division, conflict, violence and war. Poverty, over-population, environmental degradation, nuclear holocaust are the result of the crisis in the mind. Therefore the real change of the society absolutely requires the change of the mind. Krishnamurti says, "You and the world are not two different entities. You 'are' the world, not as an ideal, but actually... As the world is yourself, in the transformation of yourself you produce a transformation in society" 20 .

Radical change in the society cannot be brought about by any other way except by the absolute change in the mind. The mind is the centre of the society. Unless there is change at the centre, there will be no change at the periphery. Social change is not possible through ideologies, - economic, political or religious. It is not possible through the change of the governments. It does not come after a planning or a blueprint. Governmental change is no change at all. Social change cannot be effected through philanthropy either. Neither humanism nor humanitarianism can change the society radically. The timeless transformation of the mind 'through' choiceless awareness is the only way of changing the society. The realisation of the feet that there is no other way of changing the society except by changing oneself, one's mind, brings about the change in the mind. Insight into the fact that "I am the world and the world is 'me' regenerates the mind. Choiceless awareness of the quality of the relationships empties the mind of its psychological content. Freedom of the mind should be the foundation of a sane society. As already mentioned, the free mind is truth. Truth is love. Love alone transforms men and his society. Love is without the 'centre', the 'me'. It is 'nothingness'. For it, far is near. There is no division as mine and shine. Love is the only panacea for all the ills of the society. Krishnamurti says, "There is only one fundamental revolution. This revolution is not of idea; it is not based on any pattern of action. The revolution comes into being when the need for using another ceases. This transformation is not an abstraction, a thing to be wished for, but an actuality which can be experienced as we begin to understand the way of our relationship. This fundamental revolution may be called love; it is the only creative factor in bringing about transformation in ourselves and so in soeicty" 21 .

In Listening is Transformation

Krishnamurti does not have philosophical tradition. He does not have a philosophical predecessor. He did not identify himself with any thinker or any school of thought. Just as truth, he was an 'anonymous' and a 'free' thinker. He learned about life by direct observation. He studied the book of life as a whole; 'within' and 'without' - mind, man and Nature. He said, "I am not a Vedantist, a Buddhist, a Muslim. And I watch, I observe what is happening around me. I observe what is happening inside me" 22 .

Krishnamurti's teachings are not reactions to any school of philosophy. They are not a modified version of any theory. Nor are they an integrated system of several other religious, philosophical and psychological theories. They are not a propaganda of any idea. They are not meant to convince anybody of anything. Their aim is not to pursuade anybody to accept a particular point of view. Krishnamurti's teachings are neither disputatious nor didactic. They are not the intellectual understanding of life. To him intellectual understanding is no understanding. His teachings are the outcome of his direct perception of truth. They are the expressions of the truth he realised independently. They are 'commentaries' on living. Krishnamurti says, "I have merely attempted to put into words that manner of realisation" 23 .

Krishnamurti's philosophy is not a consistent system. He has not presented it in the form of a treatise. Truth eludes systems and treatises. Consistency is not its measure. Krishnamurti has offered his philosophy in the form of talks, dialogues and discourses he had with people of all walks of life - intellectuals, scientists, politicians, psychologists, philosophers and the common man. His talks, dialogues and discourses are the inward journeys into the actuality and the truth of oneself and the world. Through them he merely pointed out the truth to others. 24 He never considered himself a 'guru'. He did not act as an authority. IIe rejected following and devotion from people. Believing truth without understanding leads to misery. He asked those who wanted to understand him or the truth to be free from him. He advised to use him as a 'crutch'. To him, listening is more important than teaching. Attentive listening without the image about oneself and the speaker is necessary for understanding the truth. Listening to Krishnamurti, without choice, brings about a radical change in the mind, in the brain cells. Transformation is possible in the very act of listening. IIe said, "If you listen to me, that is your transformation. That listening is listening to truth" 25 .


Krishnamurti was born at Madanapalli in south India in 1895. The Theosophists adopted him and proclaimed him to be the Messiah, the World Teacher. An Organisation was founded with him as its head. He had a large following all over the world. In 1922 he underwent a 'process'- a deep 'spiritual' transformation. He realised truth. In 1929 he disbanded the Organisation and declared, "Truth is a pathless land". He severed his relations with the Theosophy. Since then he regularly went round the world and spread the truth. He devoted his life to the awakening of 'intelligence' and the transformation of society. He passed away in 1986. He was a seer who walked alone.


  1. J. Krishnamurti, The Letter to the Schools, Krishnamurti Foundation India, Madras, 1981, p.72
  2. J. Krishnamurti, Truth and Actuality, Krishnamurti Foundation India, Madras, 1992, p. 60
  3. Ibid., p. 15
  4. Mary Lutyens, The Years of Fulfilment, Avon Books, New York, 1983, p. 204.
  5. J. Krishnamurti, The Way of lntelligence, Krishnamurti Foundation India, Madras, 1993, p. 144.
  6. J. Krishnamurti, Truth and Actuality, p. 37
  7. Mary Lutyens, Op. cit., p. 15
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid., pp.189-90
  10. Ibid., p. 204
  11. J. Krishnamurti, The Ending of Time, Krishnamurti Foundation India, Madras, 1992, p. 85.
  12. J. Krishnamurti, The way of Intelligence, pp. 90-93.
  13. J. Krishnamurti, The Ending of Time, p. 90.
  14. J. Krishnamurti, Truth and Actuality, p. 34.
  15. J. Krishnamurti, The Way of Intelligence, p. 41.
  16. Ibid., pp. 45-46
  17. Ibid., pp.201 -2.

  18. J. Krishnamurti, The Ending of Time, pp. 217-18.

  19. J. Krishnamurti, The Way of Intelligence, pp. 210-11.

  20. Mary Lutyens, Op. cit., p. 74.

  21. lbid.,p.76.

  22. Ibid., p.31.

  23. J. Krishnamurti, The Way of Intelligence, p. 42.

  24. J. Krishnamurti, The Network of Thought, Krishnamurti Foundation India, Madras, 1982, p.29.
  25. J. Krishnamurti, The Way of Intelligence,, p. 58.


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