Krishnamurti’s Art of Teaching Without Teaching


A prominent scene in the Bruce Lee film ‘Enter the Dragon’ comes to mind when describing the late enigmatic, spiritual philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti.  The scene in question involved a cocky and brash martial arts expert who challenges Bruce Lee to a fight on a junk boat.  Instead of Bruce taking the bait and letting either machismo or an apparent insult on his honour trigger him into conflict, he instead demonstrated the ‘art of fighting without fighting’, which defeated his opponent whilst at the same time avoiding physical combat.  In other words Bruce beat him peacefully with his mind without resorting to actual violence.  Krishnamurti’s philosophy on the art of teaching is in some ways comparable to the wisdom Bruce Lee used in that scene.

Krishnamurti was a man who had tremendous compassion, intelligence and insight into the huge problems that human beings face in their daily lives.  As observed by Krishnamurti, these very same problems are caused by our minds being imprisoned by generation upon generation of conditioning.   This conditioning has caused psychological divisions that can lead to violent conflict outwardly, and worse still, serious consequences for the planet in general.

Because of this urgent need to liberate the minds of human beings, Krishnamurti sacrificed the majority of his life traveling the world giving talks and lectures discussing all areas of living, as well as addressing the different emotions that affects us inwardly.  The ultimate goal for Krishnamurti was to encourage human beings to liberate their own minds from divisible man-made conditions imposed by an authority in the forms of accepted traditions in their cultural upbringing, and institutions in society.

According to Krishnamurti, for the human race to have any hope of perpetual peace and harmony one must partake in earnest self-observation and self-analysis of the mind so to develop a deep understanding of its workings in respect of the mechanical operation called ‘thought’.  Through this observational analysis comes simultaneous ‘action’ and ‘transformation’ (it must be noted that ‘psychological time’ is the enemy of man which delays right  ‘action’, as stated by Krishnamurti, hence the need to see, act and transform all in one movement) before we can become sensitive, intelligent and conscious beings.  Otherwise, if we cannot understand and change the inner we will be forever in conflict with ourselves and with others.

Krishnamurti enlightened many thousands of human beings worldwide during his lifetime (he died aged 90 in 1986), talking to people from every conceivable social and cultural backgrounds; from rich to poor, young to old, black to white and beggar to prime minister; he did not discriminate.  But the first most important thing Krishnamurti stressed before giving talks was to state to the audience that he was no teacher who can be depended on to carry them out of their ignorance; but for them to look at him as a mirror or a pointer to truth, so they themselves can do the necessary work towards transformation of the self.

Krishnamurti’s attitude to ‘the teacher’ and ‘teaching’ in general is powerfully expressed in the following quote:

“You must understand it, go into it, examine it, and give your heart and your mind, with everything that you have, to find out a way of living differently. That depends on you, and not on someone else, because in this there is no teacher, no pupil; there is no leader; there is no guru; there is no Master, no Saviour. You yourself are the teacher and the pupil; you are the Master; you are the guru; you are the leader; you are everything.”

~ Talks by Jiddu Krishnamurti in U.S.A 1966 p.73

Personally for me, Krishnamurti has had a huge influence on my own thinking and perceptions of life and I owe him a great deal for opening my mind towards learning about myself and overcoming obstacles.  And believe me, I have had to learn to adapt due to changing circumstances in my life ever since meeting my girlfriend four years ago.  Since that time we have moved in together and now have a nine month old kid in tow.  You try finding the time to play happy families, work, and maintain a blog whilst dealing with the other stresses of everyday life!  How wonderful it was to be young, free and single in days gone past.  To be honest with you, I have no room to complain as there are plenty of people out there with tons more problems than I will ever suffer, but still manage to rise above it.

However, just to let you guys know that although Krishnamurti was somewhat of an inspiration for me in life, I in no way worship him or thought him of being some perfect being.  In fact, for a man who was groomed to be a world spiritual teacher and was treated by his peers as a god-like figure, Krishanmurti’s life was filled with nothing but contradictions and unflattering behaviour on his part.  You could even go as far as accusing Krishnamurti for being a hypocrite considering he encouraged others to observe their own desires and impulses (inner energy) so to utilise it in the right direction.

To put Krishnamurti’s apparent flaw of character into context, have you ever heard of the saying ‘do as I say, not as I do’?  Well, the aforementioned saying should have been repeated by Krishnamurti to everyone who he happened to talk with.  Why so, you may well ask?  Well, Krishnamurti was surprisingly found (he actually admitted it in the end) to be having a secret affair with his close friend’s wife which carried on for many years.  My initial reaction to this shocking revelation was, how did Jiddu find the time for this extracurricular activity in-between all the many talks and travelling that he did?  The answer was, I don’t know, and that is still the case even today.   I’m guessing even spiritual men of peace can suffer from uncontrollable sexual urges like the rest of us mere mortals, and would go through hell and high water to satisfy it.  Mind you, I would never recommend one to have an affair with a best friend’s spouse just to relieve a particular desire, but this only goes to demonstrate that Krishnamurti suffered from human weaknesses too.

Despite that slight misdemeanour (depending on where your moral standing lies) by Krishnamurti, in my opinion it has in no way detracted or tarnished his legacy regarding his efforts toward revolutionising the human psyche.  With his unselfish wisdom, pinpoint insight and phenomenal self-knowledge Krishnamurti has guided (and continues to guide through the many books, audio, and DVDs available today) us to the path of freedom which has allowed us to take the precarious steps towards learning how to become wise, peaceful and loving beings.  I for one will not forget the lessons learned from him.

I’m hoping that you too can learn a great deal from Krishnamurti’s teachings, if we are indeed to achieve peace in this troubled world.

You can learn more about Jiddu Krishnamurti’s life by reading his biography.  Also, watch out for more from Krishnamurti in the future, as I will be posting book recommendations and the odd video or two.


  1. Mr Blobby says:

    Very interesting article, CooperMan…

    How very encouraging it is, that ALL of our great (so-called) heroes are to some degree HYPOCRITES & to a very large degree FALLIBLE.

    Fortunately, the HUMAN CONDITION applies to all humans!

    Perhaps, K was testing himself & his BEST FRIEND with his own ideas of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE (both internalized & externalized)? It is easy to LOVE a friend that gives… but, try loving a friend that is having sex with your wife!

    Also, do we know what sort of relationship his friend had, with his wife? A loveless marriage is a very sad thing… So, who am i (any of us) to deny a human being a few fleeting moments of passion & tenderness? i think CooperMan understands this…

  2. Jason Cooper says:

    Thank you, Mr Blobby,

    None of us are perfect and I try not to judge another person’s actions that may seemingly go against convention.

    Krishnamurti however, was an extraordinary man who was human like the rest of us.

    Before Krishnamurti died he made sure to tell his friends that he had no wish for a funeral…”burn or do whatever you want to my body. Forget me the person, but don’t forget the teachings.”

    So despite the so-called immoral things he may or may not have done, the most important thing was his enlightening message to the rest of us, which will stand the test of time.

    Cheers Blobby!

  3. David N says:


    I can answer your questions if you’ll allow me by adopting a Krishnamurtian method of trying to get you to observe your own inner thinking about the questions you posed and the conclusions you’ve derived. Let’s begin…

    You assert a ‘flaw’ in his character and that he was a hypocrite. Your evidence for this is what exactly? The only thing you cite is that he had a physical affair, but in what way does that contradict his teachings? If you read Mary Lutyens book ‘Krishnamurti and the Rajagopals’, which was a response to the trashy biography written by Radha Rajagopal Sloss, then you will find that your argument crumbles. K never made out that sex was a bad thing and he often spoke out against this institute of marriage because it implies ownership and restriction. Marriage is EXclusive, whereas love – as defined by K – is INclusive. Surely your objection to this part of Krishnamurti’s life is down to your own mental hang ups about what defines ‘proper character’ and behaviour, because it in no way goes against what he said.

    Also, just to clear up this point for you: “how did Jiddu find the time for this extracurricular activity in-between all the many talks and travelling that he did? The answer was, I don’t know, and that is still the case even today.” – well, this is actually a lot simpler than you might at first think. While it is on record that Krishnamurti travelled more than any man in history, the affair started during the second world war years and at that time he did no travelling whatsoever. He was stuck in Ojai with the Rajagopals for several years and shared the same house! Rajagopal was a workaholic with a separate office, so K and Rosalind were alone for most of the time together. I hope this helps piece things together for you.

    All the best,
    David N

  4. Jason Cooper says:

    Hi David,

    Let my argument crumble then, as I wasn’t arguing to begin with. And I certainly do not have any mental hangups although I am prone to the odd error or two like any other human being (call it old age).

    Although re-reading the part you mentioned, I may have been a tad harsh about K’s choice of behavior. I in no way was attempting to criticise a man who has helped me more than most in liberating my mind and learning about myself. I just wanted to give an objective view of K, good or bad.

    Admittedly, whatever K chose to do in his spare time was up to him and does not detract from the teachings themselves. Believe me, I’m no moralist – but obviously some people (with mental hangups as you like to call it) looking at his life with a conventional point of view will think K was somewhat hypocritical and wrong for sleeping with his best friend’s wife. But who am I to judge, I’m no angel myself, nor ever wish to be.

    As for: “how did Jiddu find the time for this extracurricular activity in-between all the many talks and traveling that he did? The answer was, I don’t know, and that is still the case even today.” I was mostly speaking with tongue-in-cheek and with a bit of humor (excuse me if that wasn’t obvious), especially with as you said, that Krishnamurti perhaps traveled more-so than any man in history yet still found the time to relieve his sexual desires.

    K wasn’t’ the first man to have an affair and he certainly won’t be the last. As feminists would say, “He is a man after all!”

    Thank you for your insights anyway, my friend, and have a good day 🙂

  5. Shaka says:

    Between 1938 to 1947 Krishnamurti was living in Ojai with his friend and his friend’s wife and he did not travel in that period because of the war. Between these years, he was not a enlightened man at all. Probably there was a fight between him and the couple after the “affair” and he left the home and made a house in Ojai’s Forest. There he lives for long years and comes very close to total enlightment. Krishnamurti’s close friends say that on those years K was gone under severes transformations but only in 1949 he had the “final” experience that freed his mind forever.
    I think there was two Krishnamurtis one before the period of enlightment(1938-1949) and the OTHER.
    In one of his talks in 1980’s he said to the people that he never had sex. He also said that he never read buddha’s teaching nor the sacred books of India. But it was not true, when he was a child in the theosophy it was part of his education to read all religius books. But he refuse to say that he had read any of them. Because when he develop the New Mind all things that he done in life before 1938 has not vallue to him. It’s not a question of hipocrisy but his feeling was that he had no past.
    His teaching says that a freeman is free from sexual desires and from everything that exists in human’s mind actually. Freedom is the very seeing that all the things that one can think, all ideas are one’s misery and ALL kinds of desires are include in this.

    I don’t know if this text is correct because I never study english grammatical rules in my life. (laughts)
    Because of my very little knowledge on english I hope you don’t dislikes terms like “total enlightment”. try to interpret this, I don’t know how to express somethings.

    Shaka V

  6. Jason Cooper says:

    Hi Shaka,

    Thank you for your insightful comment on the life of K.

    Hypocrite or not, the teachings of K is what matters, which we’ll do well to learn from and to apply to our conflict-ridden lives.

    I can think of quite a few other so-called great teachers and spiritual leaders who led contradictory lives that would make even K look like a saint.

  7. I V RAMA RAJU says:

    Never and ever we equally shared material things on this very earth with those ever radiating rays of that shiny sun,
    but mentally; by all could be shared the very living in its full depth with its meaning by his teachings(Krishnaji)and ‘he is only the gifted one’

  8. Jason Cooper says:

    Hi Rama,

    Thank you for your affectionate comment regarding K.

  9. I V RAMA RAJU says:

    The life lived by KRISHNAMURTI still in his ever new tasty teachings;
    A rarest in human history, ‘a Rajahamsa’ with ever flying wings.
    Fortunate ‘those’ touched his artful, heart-full and nectar-full pot;
    Even Ambanis and Bill gates could not get it with their business thought.
    Wondering when his lively essence flows to all human senses!
    To have their lives ever enjoyable with their own innovative verses.
    Just with no sound Ram G varma’ success with ever resound;
    The art with no heart only at Holly-Bollywood’s’ surround?
    More magic BABAs from sky suddenly falling and finally failing;
    Arresting their followers as those innocent Lions in a circus ring.
    Then why this lively Ganges “K” still stationary as a line of drawing paper?
    May drench from the Himalayas all our rigid hearts with its pure flowing water!
    The teachings ‘ever fresh’ of JIDDU KRISHNAMURTI
    Once ignited me; hence –‘ A SPARK FROM THE SKY’.
    It is not a matter of any outside formal influence;
    But your very own spirits to release from your conditional sentence.
    “K “ is not a routine philosopher ;he is none,
    The one in all and only one as that daily sun.
    Sure; we all find again Adam and Eve times’ innocent earth,
    Generations may gently move only with their inner mirth.
    May we lead lives ‘ a fresh’ as a common lovely family;
    Just like our spinning planets together tied in our solar family?
    I.V. RAMA RAJU,(mail-
    AUTHOR OF ‘A SPARK FROM THE SKY’. Published by Frog books,Mumbai,INDIA

  10. Did Krishnamurti actually teach that celibacy was a requisite of spiritual enlightenment (I know he did claim to be enlightened, because I heard him say it).

  11. BJ says:

    It’s not so simple. The source of the affair story was the daughter who had/has an axe to grind given the financial disputes that later surfaced. So can we really be sure if there was an affair, or if there was- the extent of it, etc etc. Second, the relationship had been “over” for years. so was it really an “affair”? or a love between an ex-wife separated all but legally. Third, was it just sex, or was he in love with her? Fourth, K never preached asceticism. He said “kill desire and you kill life”. The issue the obsession with desire, craving and lust. Was he obsessed? It doesn’t sound like it. Fifth, K’s views on marriage are that 99% of marriages are economic trading contracts, i scratch your back, you scratch mine, you are so lovely today honey, etc etc- all based on possession, attachment, anything but love. In the context of his powerful attack on modern relationship and the people in them, his “affair” makes a lot of sense and sounds very human to me. Sixth,of all the so called prophets he is the last one who ever should be called a hyocrite-for over 50 years he told people he was no saviour, no guru, no leader, no teacher. He was simply trying to make us question ourselves.

  12. Yuri says:

    Did you guys know Bruce was actually read up on Krishnamurti? He also felt very close to Krishnamurti’s views