Observing from a Quiet Mind – Krishnamurti

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Dear Friends,

This following text of Krishnamurti is a chapter from one of my favorite books of his:This Light In Oneself

The selections in this book present the core of Krishnamurti’s teaching on meditation, taken from discussions with small groups, as well as from public talks to large audiences. His main theme is the essential need to look inward, to know ourselves, in order really to understand our own—and the world’s—conflicts. We are the world, says Krishnamurti, and it is our individual chaos that creates social disorder. He offers timeless insights into the source of true freedom and wisdom.

Observing from a Quiet Mind

To discover what it means to love, mustn’t one be free of possession, attachment, jealousy, anger, hatred, anxiety, fear? Free of attachment—let’s take that for the moment. When you are attached, what are you attached to? Suppose one is attached to a table, what does that attachment imply? Pleasure, a sense of possession, appreciation of the utility of it, the feeling that it is a marvelous table, and so on, and so on.

When a human being is attached to another, what is going on? When someone is attached to you, what is the feeling of the other who is attached to you? In that attachment there is pride of possession, a sense of domination, fear of losing that person, therefore jealousy, and therefore greater attachment, greater possessiveness, anxiety.

Now, if there is no attachment, does it mean no love, no responsibility? For most of us love means this terrible conflict between human beings, and so relationship becomes a perpetual anxiety. You know all this, I don’t have to tell you. And that, we call love. And to escape from this terrible strain of what we call love, we have all kinds of entertainment—from television to religion. We quarrel and go off to church, or to the temple, and come back and begin again. This is going on all the time.

Can a man or woman be free of all this, or is that impossible? If it is not possible, then our life is a perpetual state of anxiety, and from that all kinds of neurotic attitudes, beliefs, actions, take place. Is it possible to be free of attachment? That implies a great deal. Is it possible for a human being to be free of attachment and yet feel responsible?

Now to be free of attachment doesn’t mean its opposite, detachment. It is very important to understand this. When we are attached, we know the pain of attachment, the anxiety of it, and we say, “For God’s sake, I must detach myself from all this horror.” So the battle of detachment begins, the conflict. If you are aware of the word and the fact—the word attachment and freedom from that word, which is the feeling—then you observe that feeling without any judgement. Then you will see that out of that total observation there is quite a different movement taking place, which is neither attachment or detachment.

Are you doing it as we are talking, or are you just listening to a lot of words? You know you are tremendously attached to a house, to a belief, to a prejudice, to a conclusion, to a person, to some ideal. Attachment gives great security, which is an illusion, isn’t it? It is an illusion to be attached to something because that something may go away. So what you are attached to is the image that you have built about the thing. Can you be free of attachment so that there is a responsibility that is not a duty?

Then what is love when there is no attachment? If you are attached to a nationality, you worship the isolation of nationality, which is a form of glorified tribalism. What does that do? It separates, doesn’t it? If I am tremendously attached to my nationality as a Hindu, and you are attached to Germany, France, Italy, England, we are separate—and the wars, and all the complexity of all that goes on. Now if you have no attachment, what takes place? Is that love?

So attachment separates. I am attached to my belief, and you are attached to your belief, therefore there is separation. Just see the consequences of it, the implications of it. Where there is attachment there is separation, and therefore there is conflict. Where there is conflict there cannot possibly be love. And what is the relationship of one person to another when there is freedom from attachment and all the implications of it? Is that the beginning—I am just using the word beginning, don’t jump on it—is that the beginning of compassion? When there is no nationality and there is no attachment to any belief whatsoever, to any conclusion, to any ideal, then a human being is a free human being, and his relationship with another is out of freedom, out of love, out of compassion.

You see, all this is a part of awareness. Now, must you analyze as we have done to see what attachment means, with all the implications of it, or can you observe the totality of it instantly and then analyze? Not the other way round. We are used to analysis, part of our education is to analyze, and so we spend a lot of time on that. We are proposing something quite different: to observe, see the totality, and then analyze. Then it becomes very simple. But if you analyze and try to reach the totality, you may go wrong; you generally do. But to observe the totality of something, which means having no direction, then analysis becomes either important or unimportant, you can analyze or not analyze.

Now I would like to go into something else from this. Is there something sacred in life, which is part of all this? Is there something sacred in your life, holy? Remove the word, separate the word, the image, the symbol—which is very dangerous—and when you do that, ask yourself, “Is there anything really sacred in my life, or is everything superficial, is everything put together by thought?” Thought is not sacred, is it? Do you think thought and the things that thought has put together are sacred? We have been conditioned to that; as a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Christian, we are conditioned to worship, adore, pray to things that thought has put together. And that we call sacred.

One has to find out, because if you do not find out if there is something really sacred that is not put together by thought, life becomes more and more superficial, more and more mechanical, and the end of one’s life is utterly meaningless. You know, we are so attached to thinking and the whole process of thinking, and we worship the things that thought has put together. An image, a symbol, a sculpture, whether made by the hand or by the mind, is the process of thought. And thought is memory, experience, knowledge, which is past. And the past becomes the tradition, and the tradition becomes the most sacred thing.


So are we worshiping the tradition? Is there something that has nothing to do with thought and tradition, with rituals, with all the circus that goes on? One has to find out. How do you find out? Not a method; when I use the word how, I am not suggesting a method. Is there something sacred in life? There is a whole bloc of humanity that says, “There is absolutely nothing. You are the result of environment, and you can change the environment, so never talk about anything sacred. You will be a mechanical, happy individual.” But, if one is very, very serious about this matter—and one has to be really profoundly serious—you don’t belong to a materialist bloc or a religious one, which is also based on thought. Then you have to find out. You don’t assert anything. Then you begin to inquire.

Now what does it mean to inquire into oneself so as to find out if there is anything deeply sacred, holy, in one’s life—in life, not in one’s life—in living? Is there something marvelously, supremely, sacred? Or is there nothing at all?

It is necessary to have a very quiet mind, because it is only in that freedom that you can find out. There must be freedom to look, but if you say, “Well, I like my belief, I’ll stick to that,” you are not free. Or if you say, “Everything is materialistic,” which is a movement of thought, then also you are not free.

So to observe there must be freedom from the imposition of civilizations, personal desires, personal hopes, prejudices, longings, fears. You can only observe when the mind is completely still. Can the mind be completely without movement? Because if there is movement there is distortion. One finds it terribly difficult, because thought comes in immediately, so one says, “I must control thought.” But the controller is the controlled. When you see that, that the thinker is the thought, the controller is the controlled, the observer is the observed, then there is no movement.

One realizes anger is part of the observer who says, “I am angry,” so anger and the observer are the same. That is clear, that is simple. In the same way, the thinker who wants to control thought is still thought. When one realizes that, the movement of thought stops.


When there is no movement of any kind in the mind, then naturally the mind is still, without effort, without compulsion, without will. It is naturally still; it is not cultivated stillness because that is mechanical, which is not stillness but just an illusion of stillness. So there is freedom. Freedom implies all that we have talked about, and in that freedom there is silence, which means no movement.

Then you can observe—then there is observation, then there is only observation, not the observer observing. So there is only observation out of total silence, complete stillness of mind. Then what takes place?

If you have gone that far—which is freedom from one’s conditioning, and therefore no movement, and complete silence, quietness—then there is the operation of intelligence, isn’t there? To see the nature of attachment and all its implications, to have an insight into it, is intelligence. Only when you come to that point, which is to be free, with the operation of intelligence going with it, do you have a quiet, healthy, sane mind. And in that quietness you will find out if there is something really sacred, or nothing at all.

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31 thoughts on “Observing from a Quiet Mind – Krishnamurti

  1. Pingback: What Osho said about J. Krishnamurti and his work on his death

  2. Pingback: To Be Aware

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