Jiddu Krishnamurti was born on 11th May 1895 in Madanapalle, a town in south India, the eighth child in a middle-class family. At an early age he was adopted by Annie Besant, then the President of the Theosophical Society, with its headquarters in Madras. She took Krishnamurti and his brother Nitya to England where she had them educated privately.
On Krishnamurti’s return to India while still in his teens, Theosophists proclaimed him to be the world teacher whose coming they had been awaiting. They built a large and rich order round him, with many thousands of followers, but in 1929 Krishnamurti disbanded the organisation, returned the estates and monies that had been given to him and declared that his only purpose was to set human beings unconditionally free from psychological limitations. From that time he travelled throughout most parts of the world almost ceaselessly speaking to large numbers of people, until his death on 17th February 1986.
Krishnamurti is regarded globally as one of the greatest religious teachers of all time. He did not expound any philosophy or religion, but spoke of the everyday matters that concern all human beings the problems of living in modern society with violence and corruption, the individual’s search for meaning, security and happiness; and our need to free ourselves from the inner burdens of fear, anger, hurt and sorrow. He talked of the need to have a deeply meditative and religious quality in our daily life.
Krishnamurti belonged to no religion, sect or country, nor did he subscribe to any school of political or ideological thought. Instead, he stated that these are the very factors that divide us from one another and bring about personal and social conflict and ultimately war. His talks and discussions were not based on any authority of tradition or academic knowledge, but arose out of his own insights into the human mind and his own relation with the sacred. He consistently communicated a sense of freshness and directness with his audiences, although his message remained basically unchanged over the years.
Krishnamurti is unique in having left authentic written and recorded materials of his public talks and discussions and his conversations with scientists, philosophers, educators, children, businessmen and “ordinary” people. Many of these have appeared in books and on audio and videotapes and discs. His teachings are best approached directly and not through any interpreters or commentators.
The Core of the Teachings
The core of Krishnamurti’s teaching is contained in the statement he made in 1929 when he said: ‘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 philosophic 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. This content is common to all humanity. 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 mankind. So he is not an individual.
Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a 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.”