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As One Is | To Free The Mind From All Conditioning by Jiddu Krishnamurti

20 September, 2022 - 13 min read


I. Brief Summary

Krishnamurti gave a series of 8 talks in Ojai, California in 1955 on human conditioning. These thoughts are still as fresh today as they were 70 years ago. He confronts the idea of productivity and self-improvement. He goes deep into why there is suffering due to how society is governed. He argues the apparent progress of the self which is not progress toward freedom, but an illusion. Krishnamurti asserts knowing one's mind, through diligent self-observation which is the only way to freedom.

II. Big Ideas

  • The moment you stop seeking, you'll know the truth.
  • Want freedom from human conditioning? Try

    • No judgement
    • No opinions
    • No foreknowledge
    • No rituals
    • No dogma
    • No concept
    • No condemnation
    • No competition
    • No ego
    • No demands
    • No greed
    • No ambition
    • No control
    • No domination
  • Big ideas from each talk:

    • Talk 1: When the mind is free from all conditioning, then you will find that there comes the creativity of reality, of God, or what you will, and it is only such a mind, a mind which is constantly experiencing this creativity, that can bring about a different outlook, different values, a different world.
    • Talk 2: Everywhere society is conditioning the individual, and this conditioning takes the form of self-improvement, which is really the perpetuation of the 'me', the ego, in different forms. Self-improvement may be gross, or it may be very, very refined when it becomes the practice of virtue, goodness, the so-called love of one's neighbor, but essentially it is the continuance of the 'me', which is a product of the conditioning influences of society. All your endeavor has gone into becoming something, either here, if you can make it, or if not, in another world; but it is the same urge, the same drive to maintain and continue the self?'
    • Talk 3: Our problem is to be good without trying to be good. I think there is a vast difference between the two... A person who tries to be humble obviously has not the least understanding of what humility is. ... Is it possible to have the sense of humility without the cultivation of humility?
    • Talk 4: If we want to understand the problem of sorrow and perhaps put an end to it, then we cannot possibly think in terms of progress because a man who thinks in terms of progress, of time, saying that he will be happy tomorrow, is living in sorrow. AND. Self-improvement is progress in sorrow, not the cessation of sorrow.
    • Talk 5: Cultures create religions but not the religious man. The religious man comes into being only when the mind rejects culture, which is the background, and is therefore free to find out what is true. ... Such a person is not an American, an Englishman, or a Hindu but a human being; he does not belong to any particular group, race, or culture and is therefore free to find out what is true, what is God. No culture helps man to find out what is true. Cultures only create organizations which bind man.
    • Talk 6: If one is capable of studying, watching oneself, one begins to discover how cumulative memory is acting on everything one sees; one is forever evaluating, discarding or accepting, condemning or justifying, so one's experience is always within the field of the known, of the conditioned. But without cumulative memory as a directive, most of us feel lost, we feel frightened, and so we are incapable of observing ourselves as we are. When there is the accumulative process, which is the cultivation of memory, our observation of ourselves becomes very superficial. Memory is helpful in directing, improving oneself, but in self-improvement there can never be a revolution, a radical transformation. It is only when the sense of self-improvement completely ceases, but not by volition, that there is a possibility of something transcendental, something totally new coming into being.
    • Talk 7: If we can discover from what the sense of domination springs, that discovery may answer the question of why we are violent.
    • Talk 8: Being free of society implies not being ambitious, not being covetous, not being competitive; it implies being nothing in relation to that society which is striving to be something. But you see, it is very difficult to accept that because you may be trodden on, you may be pushed aside; you will have nothing. In that nothingness there is sanity, not in the other... As long as one wants to be part of this society, one must breed insanity, wars, destruction, and misery; but to free oneself from this society-the society of violence, of wealth, of position, of success-requires patience, inquiry, discovery, not the reading of books, the chasing after teachers, psychologists, and all the rest of it.

III. Quotes

  • Is it possible to teach your children without conditioning them?
  • An artist who is concerned with his name, with his greatness, with comparison, with fulfilling his ambition, has ceased to be an artist; he is merely a technician like everybody else. Which means, really, that to love something there must be a total cessation of all ambition, of all desire for the recognition of society, which is rotten anyhow.
  • If you are examining, understanding the ways of your own mind without seeking a reward, an end, without the motivation of gain, then there is self-knowledge, and you will see an astonishing thing come out of it.
  • A man who lives never asks, "What is living?" and he has no theories about living. It is only the half-alive who talk about the purpose of life.
  • To stand alone is to be uncorrupted, innocent, free of all tradition, of dogma, of opinion, of what another says, and so on. Such a mind does not seek because there is nothing to seek; being free, such a mind is completely still without a want, without movement. But this state is not to be achieved; it isn't a thing that you buy through discipline; it doesn't come into being by giving up sex, or practicing a certain yoga. To stand alone is to be uncorrupted, innocent, free of all tradition, of dogma, of opinion, of what another says, and so on. Such a mind does not seek because there is nothing to seek; being free, such a mind is completely still without a want, without movement. But this state is not to be achieved; it isn't a thing that you buy through discipline; it doesn't come into being by giving up sex, or practicing a certain yoga. It comes into being only when there is understanding of the ways of the self, the 'me', which shows itself through the conscious mind in everyday activity, and also in the unconscious. What matters is to understand for oneself, not through the direction of others, the total content of consciousness, which is conditioned, which is the result of society, of religion, of various impacts, impressions, memories - to understand all that conditioning and be free of it. But there is no "how" to be free. If you ask how to be free, you are not listening.
  • Our culture is based on will—the will to be, to become, to achieve, to fulfill—therefore, in each one of us there is always the entity who is trying to change, control, alter that which he observes. But is there a difference between that which he observes and himself, or are they one? This is a thing that cannot be merely accepted. It must be thought of, gone into with tremendous patience, gentleness, hesitancy, so that the mind is no longer separated from that which it thinks, so that the observer and the observed are psychologically one. As long as I am psychologically separate from that which I perceive in myself as envy, I try to overcome envy; but is that ‘I’, the maker of effort to overcome envy, different from envy? Or are they both the same, only the ‘I’ has separated himself from envy in order to overcome it because he feels envy is painful, and for various other reasons? But that very separation is the cause of envy. Perhaps you are not used to this way of thinking, and it is a little bit too abstract. But a mind that is envious can never be tranquil because it is always comparing, always trying to become something which it is not; and if one really goes into this problem of envy radically, profoundly, deeply, one must inevitably come upon this problem—whether the entity that wishes to be rid of envy is not envy itself. When one realizes that it is envy itself that wants to get rid of envy, then the mind is aware of that feeling called envy without any sense of condemning or trying to get rid of it. Then from that the problem arises: Is there a feeling if there is no verbalization? Because the very word envy is condemnatory, is it not? Am I saying too much all at once? Is there a feeling of envy if I don’t name that feeling? By the very naming of it, am I not maintaining that feeling? The feeling and the naming are almost simultaneous, are they not? And is it possible to separate them so that there is only a sense of reaction without naming? If you really go into it, you will find that when there is no naming of that feeling, envy totally ceases—not.
  • So the question now is: Why does the mind think in terms of habit, the habit of relationship, the habit of ideas, the habit of beliefs, and so on? Why? Because essentially it is seeking to be secure, to be safe, to be permanent, is it not? The mind hates to be uncertain, so it must have habits as a means of security. A mind that is secure can never be free from habit, but only the mind that is completely insecure -- which doesn't mean ending up in an asylum or a mental hospital. The mind that is completely insecure, that is uncertain, inquiring, perpetually finding out, that is dying to every experience, to everything it has acquired, and is therefore in a state of not-knowing -- only such a mind can be free of habit, and that is the highest form of thinking.
  • To understand oneself requires, not impetuous urges, conclusions, but great patience. One must go slowly, millimeter by millimeter, never missing a step - which doesn't mean that you must everlastingly keep awake. You can't. It does imply that you must watch and drop what you have watched, let it go and pick it up again, so that the mind does not become a mere accumulation of what it has learned but is capable of watching each thing anew.
  • Is it possible, then, to be in a state of experiencing without the experiencer? Do you understand? Can the mind experience ugliness, beauty, or what you will, without the entity who says, 'I have experienced'? Because that which is Truth, that which is God, that which is immeasurable, can never be experienced as long as there is an experiencer. The experiencer is the entity of recognition; and if I am capable of recognizing that which is truth, then I have already experienced it, I already know it; therefore, it is not truth. That is the beauty of truth; it remains timelessly the unknown, and a mind that is the result of the known can never grasp it.
  • Sorrow may be controlled, disciplined, subjugated, rationalized, super-refined, but the potential quality of sorrow is still there; and to be free from sorrow, there must be freedom from this potentiality, from this seed of the ‘I’, the self, from the whole process of becoming.
  • For beauty there must be austerity and a total abandonment, and there cannot be abandonment if there is any sense of ambition expressing itself as an achievement. When there is austerity, there is simplicity, and only the mind that is simple can abandon itself, and out of this abandonment comes love. Such a state is beauty. But of that we are totally unaware. Our civilization, our culture, is based on arrogance, on the sense of achievement, and in society we are at each other's throats, violently competing to achieve, to acquire, to dominate, to become somebody. These are obvious psychological facts.
  • We are human beings, not Asiatics and Americans, Russians and Germans, communists and capitalists. We all have the same human problems.
  • This whole problem of naming a feeling, of giving it a term, is part of the problem of consciousness. Take a word like 'love'. How immediately your mind rejoices in that word! It has such significance, such beauty, ease, and all the rest of it. And the word 'hate' immediately has quite another significance, something to be avoided, to be got rid of, to be shunned, and so on. So words have an extraordinary psychological effect on the mind, whether we are conscious of it or not. Now, to go beyond, to transcend all that, requires tremendous attention. This total attention, in which there is no choice, no sense of becoming, of changing, altering, wholly frees the mind from the process of self-consciousness; there is then no experiencer who is accumulating, and it is only then that the mind can be truly said to be free from sorrow. It is the accumulation that is the cause of sorrow.
  • In attention there is no focusing, no choice; there is complete awareness without any interpretation. And if we can listen so attentively, completely, to what is being said, then that very attention brings about the miracle of change within the mind itself.
  • But when you are completely attentive with that attention in which there is no object because there is no process of acquiring, no cultivation of the will to achieve a result, then you will find that the mind is extraordinarily steady, inwardly still—and it is only the still mind that is free to discover or let that reality come into being.
  • In the moment of attention the self, the ‘me’, is absent, and it is that moment of attention that is good, that is love.
  • What is confusion? Confusion exists only when there is the fact plus what I think about the fact: my opinion about the fact, my disregard of the fact, my evasion of the fact, my evaluation of the fact, and so on. If I can look at the fact without the additive quality, then there is no confusion.
  • Anything I fight, I am giving life to. If I fight an idea, I am giving life to that idea; if I fight you, I am giving you life to fight me.
  • The mind hates to be uncertain, so it must have habits as a means of security.
  • There is progress in self-improvement—I can be better tomorrow, more kind, more generous, less envious, less ambitious. But does self-improvement bring about a complete change in one’s thinking? Or is there no change at all, but only progress?
  • Only the mind that is not occupied with desire can understand desire.