ON FREEDOM – An introduction to the teachings of J. Krishnamurti

The purpose of this video is to introduce the teachings
of J. Krishnamurti. The video doesn’t cover the
whole of Krishnamurti’s teachings but rather offers a glimpse
of his unique approach to the resolution of many problems
that burden humanity. The following short excerpts
have been taken from some of
Krishnamurti’s public talks. J. Krishnamurti was born
in Madanapalle, north of Madras, India,
on May 12th 1895. He was the eighth child
of a poor Brahmin family and at that time his father worked
for the Theosophical Society, a vast international
spiritual organisation with tens of thousands of members. The Society, whose goal
is the unification of the main world religions, had predicted the coming
of a World Teacher, through whom a revolutionary
spiritual teaching would come into being. Krishnamurti’s
mother died in 1905, leaving the father in charge
of their five surviving children. In 1909 the family
settled in Adyar, close to the
Society’s headquarters. Not long after, Krishnamurti, while playing on the beach
with his brother Nitya, was discovered
by the Theosophists who claimed that his aura
showed extraordinary features and a total absence
of selfishness. From that day on Krishnamurti
was educated with great care to become the World Teacher. He was a shy and vulnerable child,
often aloof, and his educators decided
that his brother Nitya would remain with him
as a caring companion. In 1914
the two brothers were sent to London to complete
their studies. Krishnamurti’s reputation
was spreading rapidly through the Theosophical world and he soon became
the subject of growing worship. However, in 1921 at the age of 26
and at the same time that his responsibilities
within the organisation had increased considerably, he was beginning to have
serious doubts about his role and began to question the basic
Theosophical teachings. In 1924, during a stay
in Ojai, California, Krishnamurti underwent a deep
and revealing spiritual experience which completely transformed him. The following year the unexpected
death of his brother Nitya had a revealing effect on him with regard to the functioning
of the human psyche, which further increased
his doubts about the role the Theosophists
wanted him to play. Nevertheless, Krishnamurti
continued performing his function as World Teacher
with the Theosophists until 1929 when he decided to sever
all links with the organisation. The speech he gave
at the Ommen convention finalised the break and constitutes
the basis of the teachings he would be developing
through the rest of his life. ‘I maintain that truth
is a pathless land and you cannot approach it
by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect’. In his speech, Krishnamurti
develops the notion that truth, being infinite, unconditioned,
cannot be organised, because any organisation
created for this purpose becomes a crutch for those
who use it as a shelter, thereby destroying their freedom. From 1929,
and for the rest of his life, Krishnamurti went on a solitary
crusade throughout the world, developing the various
themes of his teachings and drawing ever larger audiences. As the years passed a number
of activities were created in the wake of Krishnamurti, such as the recording
and publishing of his talks, interviews, conversations,
and writings, as well as several schools
based on his teachings. Foundations and committees
were created in various parts of the world for the sole
purpose of sustaining and protecting these activities and ensuring the integrity
of the teachings. The theme of freedom
can be found throughout
Krishnamurti’s teachings. The following are a few excerpts of what he said on this subject
in his talks, conversations, and dialogues that may illuminate
the real meaning of freedom in one’s own life and also point the way
for one to realise it. For most of us,
we demand freedom politically, or religiously, or to think what we like, and there is the
freedom of choice. Political freedom is all right, and one must have it, but for most of us
we never demand and find out whether it is at all possible
to be free inwardly. Our mind is a slave
to its own projections, to its own demands, to its own desires
and fulfilments; the mind is a slave
to its cravings, to its appetites. And apparently we never ask whether it is at all possible
to be free inwardly, but we are always wanting
freedom outwardly, to go against the society, against a particular
structure of society. What is society? Who created the bally thing? Who is responsible for all this? The church, the temple,
the mosque – you follow? – all the circus
that goes on inside it, who is responsible for all this? Is the society
different from you? Or you have created the society, each one of us, through our ambition,
through our greed, through our envy,
through our violence, through our corruption,
through our fear, wanting our security in the
community, in the nation. You follow? We have created this society, and then blame the society
for what it demands. So this is really a very serious
question one must ask of oneself: whether freedom is from bondage
or from the prison which we have
created for ourselves, away from the prison and therefore it is still
within the area of the prison. If one is in a prison, both physically and inwardly,
subjectively, then physical control, being enclosed
within a certain area, and to escape from that,
one calls freedom. And psychologically one has built a prison for oneself, by one’s own desires,
by one’s own anxieties, loneliness, and so on. And freedom from that is still within the area of that
psychological prison, therefore it is
not freedom at all. So is there a freedom
that is not a reaction – a freedom per se, for itself, not away from something,
or from something? So one must understand
for oneself why we are always
trying to escape, or to rationalise,
or to go beyond that which is. If one understands that which is, understand not merely
intellectually, verbally but see the depth of it,
see the truth of it, the substance of it,
the vitality of it, then perceiving that,
and remaining with that, and explore into that movement, learning, not memorising – from that,
if one goes very deeply, then there is freedom per se. While Krishnamurti’s teaching
points to the way self-centred thought
in search of individual security creates the fear
and mental disorder which block access to freedom, his teachings also emphasise that when there is
a profound understanding of the source and nature
of these thought-created blocks it’s possible for a human being
to end them, and that freedom then
may come uninvited. Regarding fear, Krishnamurti
begins by seeking its causes. So let’s go into this question:
what is the root of fear? Is it thought? Thought being
the accumulated memories born of knowledge,
experience. And thought born of knowledge, and knowledge being limited, so thought is limited. Is fear, subjectively first,
inwardly first, is that fear born of thought ? Thinking about tomorrow, thinking about
what might happen – one’s wife may run away. Thinking in terms of
not the actual present but in terms of
the future or the past. Is that the cause of fear
– thought? If it is the cause of fear – which the speaker says is,
and please don’t accept it – then what will you do
with thought? And then one asks: is there another cause of fear? Time. Time is a movement,
a series of movements. And time, which is tomorrow – I might lose my job, I might become blind,
all the rest of it – tomorrow. So time is a factor of fear. Right? So time and thought
are the roots of fear. Krishnamurti shows
how the root of human insecurity,
fear and violence, is found in self-centred
psychological thought. Krishnamurti also points
to the useful role of thought in one’s daily activities
and its necessary role in creating and
organising technology, and science, and so on. Thought has created the most
marvellous world technologically – right? – the incredible things
thought has done, in the world of medicine,
surgery, in homeopathy – all right? – in producing
instruments of war, and so on
– the computer. We will talk about the computer
a little later. Great fun, that! And thought also has created
a division between you and me, my wife and me
– you follow? – this whole process of division
is going on throughout life. Is thought the cause of it? Please look at it carefully,
let’s find out. If thought is the cause
of this divisive process then we will have
to ask a question which is much more serious: whether thought can ever
function in one area completely, in the physical world,
in the daily world, but completely end
in the psychological world. For Krishnamurti this character
of psychological thought with its division
and resulting fragmentation can only lead to conflict. So what is our responsibility – we’ll come very near home – what is our responsibility
when you see this thing going on? If I belong to a certain tribe, called nationalism, a certain religious sect, which brings about division
and therefore conflict, I either accept that conflict and follow
the usual traditional path or I no longer belong
to any country, actually not belong
to any country, to any tribe, to any group, to any sect
or to any religion, because they are
the factors of division and therefore conflict. According to Krishnamurti, true understanding
of human psychological blocks may take place only
when one sees oneself with an eye that is choicelessly aware, with a perception
wherein the observer is seen to be not different
from the observed. Therefore it is very
important, imperative, that one understand
oneself deeply, understand all the responses, the conditioning, the various temperaments, characteristics, tendencies – just to watch
without the observer. We are meeting now? To observe without the observer. And that is the act of learning. And so
that is the action. One of Krishnamurti’s
priorities is education. He replied as follows to a question
put to him on this subject. Apparently this is a question that is asked
by every parent in the world: children, and how can we
help them to be intelligent, and free, and responsible
human beings in today’s world? Are the parents
intelligent and free? Are the teachers intelligent,
and free, and responsible? Is the society, the educational
system helping them to be free, and responsible,
and intelligent? So, education means a holistic approach to life, cultivating the brain
technologically and also cultivating the brain to be free of its own
petty little self. That requires teachers
who understand this, who are committed,
who are responsible. And the parents,
they must love their children. Krishnamurti approaches
the question of death from a new point of view. Notwithstanding physical death,
which is fairly obvious, he relates the phrase
‘the death of the ego’ to the end of attachments. Time is contained
– the past, the future is now. So death is now. That means
if I am attached to my wife, to my something or other,
to my furniture – aren’t you attached
to something? – and death comes and says:
‘That is the end of it’ – cuts it. So can you be free
of the attachment? Therefore you are living then,
living and dying at the same time. You understand this?
Oh, no! (Laughter) Do it, sir, you will see what
an extraordinary thing it is then. If you are attached to your
memories, to your experience, to your failure,
to your ambition, all that is going
to come to an end. So can you live with death,
which is to end your ambition now? And to live without ambition
means tremendous energy – not to do more mischief. So death and life
always march together. Then you will see… then there is that sense
of absolute freedom, from the little travail of myself. And that is necessary to understand
that which is timeless, if there is such thing
as eternity. We will talk about it
another time, but to see all this as
a movement of life, dying and living. Therefore in that sense
things become… you will never kill another, never deliberately hurt another. The outcome
of this search is freedom, which is realised
in ongoing meditation and leads to
the discovery of love, a discovery of
the true religious mind. And to understand what love is
– not understand, you know, have the depth of it,
the greatness of it, the flame of it,
the beauty of it – how can there be jealousy, how can there be ambition, aggression, violence? And can there be… can one be free completely
of all these things? Please do ask this question. Where there is love
then there is… do what you will,
it will be right action, it will never bring conflict
in one’s life. So it is important to see that jealousy, antagonism,
conflict, and all the pain of relationship
has no place in love, where there is love. And can one be free of all that, not tomorrow, now? Now, to find out
what is the religious mind, what is the truth of religion, one must be free from all
authority, of all belief, faith, not belong to a thing! Right? There must be a sense
of total… being free. So meditation is something…
to be totally free, from all bondage, from all
measurement, from all conflict, so the brain becomes
quiet, utterly still. And that silence, stillness
has its own beauty, its own truth,
its absolute sense of… immeasurable thing. So meditation is not a reward, is not something that you
get illumined by practising, which is all so childish. So truth is something
which is not to be measured and it has no path to it. And that is beauty,
that is love. Krishnamurti pursued
his activities until the very end of his life. He died in February 1986,
and to this day Krishnamurti foundations
and schools continue his teachings.

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