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About the Author
Robert Epstein, a licensed psychologist and published haiku poet, has been drawn to iconoclastic thinkers since first being introduced to Henry D. Thoreau and Lao Tzu nearly 40 years ago. Robert has been reading and studying J. Krishnamurti's writings for more than thirty years. With Sherry Phillips, he co-edited a book of selected quotations by Henry Thoreau, The Natural Man, published by Quest, which is still in print. He co-authored with Stacy Taylor a self-help book called, Living Well with a Hidden Disability, and another, on facing chronic illness and pain from a spiritual perspective, Suffering Buddha: The Zen Way beyond Health and Illness. Robert edited a collection of recovery-oriented haiku entitled, The Breath of Surrender, published in 2009. Robert is currently working on a book of death awareness haiku, Checkout Time is Noon, and is editing an anthology of death awareness poems by international poets, Dreams Wander On. Robert lives with his partner Stacy Taylor in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Read an Excerpt
The Quotable Krishnamurti
By Robert Epstein
Theosophical Publishing HouseCopyright © 2011 Robert Epstein
All rights reserved.
* Acceptance *
Acceptance implies that there is an entity who accepts, does it not? And is not this acceptance also a form of effort in order to gain, to experience further?
* Acquisitiveness *
The mind is not quiet when it is acquiring or becoming. All acquisition is conflict.
Every acquisition is a form of boredom, weariness. We want a change of toys; as soon as we lose interest in one, we turn to another.
Does not acquisition dull the mind? Acquisition, positive or negative, is a burden. As soon as you acquire, you lose interest.
* Action *
Action is always in the present, and is therefore immediate.
Any action which is not comprehensive, total, must inevitably lead to sorrow. There is only total human action, not political action, religious action, or Indian action.
Action based on authority is no action at all; it is mere imitation, repetition.
Unified or integrated action cannot take place as long as there's conflict between opposing parts of the mind.
* Aloneness *
It is strange how we are never alone, never strictly alone. We are always with something, with a problem, with a book, with a person; and when we are alone, our thoughts are with us.
To be alone, in the highest sense, is essential.
Isolation can never give birth to aloneness; the one has to cease for the other to be. Aloneness is indivisible and loneliness is separation.
To the alone, life is eternal; to the alone there is no death.
One is alone, like the fire, like the flower, but one is not aware of its purity and of its immensity. One can truly communicate only when there is aloneness.
There is an aloneness which is not this loneliness, this sense of isolation. That state of aloneness is not a remembrance or a recognition; it is untouched by the mind, by the word, by society, by tradition. It is a benediction.
* Ambition *
Why are we clever and ambitious? Is not ambition an urge to avoid what is? ... Why are we so frightened of what is? What is the good of running away if whatever we are is always there?
Where there is ambition, there is no love; and action without love has no meaning.
Ambition breeds mediocrity, for ambition is the fulfillment of the self through action, through the group, through idea.
* Anger *
Anger cannot be got rid of by the action of will, for will is part of violence.
To be free from violence, which is not the cultivation of nonviolence, there must be the understanding of desire.
* Animals *
In the West we think that animals exist for the sake of our stomachs, or for the pleasure of killing, or for their fur. In the East it has been taught for centuries and repeated by every parent: do not kill, be pitiful, be compassionate.
Killing for so-called sport, for food, for one's country, for peace—there is not much different in all this. Justification is not the answer. There is only: do not kill.
If your motive is not that of really helping the animals, then you are using them as a means to your self- aggrandizement, which is what the bullock-cart driver is doing.
* Arrogance *
Surely, to know, to be certain, is the way of vanity, arrogance. As long as one knows ... there is only continuity; and what has continuity can never be in that state of creation which is the timeless.
* The Aescetic *
Our living is always partial, never whole, and thereby we make ourselves insensitive. Through suppression of desire, through mere control of the mind, through denial of his bodily needs, the ascetic makes himself insensitive.
Is it necessary to lead a hermit's life in order to abnegate the self? You see, we have a concept of the selfless life, and it is this concept which prevents the understanding of a life in which the self is not.
* Attachment *
Conditioning is attachment: attachment to work, to tradition, to property, to people, to ideas, and so on. If there were no attachment, would there be conditioning? Of course not.
To cultivate detachment is another form of escape, of isolation; it is attachment to an abstraction, to an ideal called detachment.
Attachment has no nobility.... Attachment is self-absorption, whether at the lowest or at the highest level.
Attachment implies fear, does it not? ... As long as you are occupied with the pleasure of attachment, fear is hidden, locked away, but unfortunately it is always there.
* Attention *
Attention frees the mind from habit.
To start with facts, and not with assumptions, we need close attention; and every form of thinking not originating from the actual is a distraction.
Do we ever listen to anything with attention, or do our thoughts, our interpretations, and so on, interfere with our listening?
Surely, attention has no motive, no object, no toy, no struggle, no verbalization. This is true attention, is it not? Where there is attention, reality is.
When the mind is on the flight of discovery, imagination is a dangerous thing.... Speculation and imagination are the enemies of attention.
If you want to understand, you will have to give your attention, and there's no attention when one part of your mind is concerned with results, and the other with understanding. In this way you get neither.
What fluctuates is not attention. Only inattention fluctuates.
(Ravindra, Two Birds, 69)
* Austerity *
Austerity is the simplicity of inward aloneness, the simplicity of a mind that is purged of all conflict, that is not caught in the fire of desire, even the desire for the highest. Without this austerity, there can be no love, and beauty is of love.
* Authority *
The worship of authority, whether in big or little things, is evil, the more so in religious matters.
Authority engenders power, and power always becomes centralized and therefore utterly corrupting.
You accept authority, as the guru also does, in order to be safe, to be certain, in order to be comforted, to succeed, to reach the other shore.
Authority corrupts, whether in high places or among the thoughtless. The thoughtless are not made thoughtful by following another, however great or noble he may be.
No authority knows; and he who knows cannot tell.
The very questioning of authority is the end of authority.
* Awareness *
Thought cannot come to an end save through passive watchfulness of every thought. In this awareness there is no watcher and no censor; without the censor, there is only experiencing.
Awareness, without any choice, of the ways of the mind, which is the breeder of illusion, is the beginning of meditation.
The mind can be aware of its own bondage, and in that very awareness it is learning.
Being aware of the truth and the falseness of seeking, the mind is no longer caught in the machinery of seeking.
* Balance *
Balance is nonacquisitiveness.
* Beauty *
If beauty is merely an opposite, it is not beauty.
Meditation is the way of life, it is part of daily existence, and the fullness and beauty of life can only be understood through meditation.
It was a beautiful evening. The sky was flaming red behind the rice fields, and the tall, slender palms were swaying in the breeze.
Beyond the woods was the lovely, curving river.... The water was deep and cool, and always flowing. It was a beautiful thing to watch, so alive and rich.
She was carrying a large basket on her head, holding it in place with one hand; it must have been quite heavy, but the swing of her walk was not altered by the weight. She was beautifully poised, her walk easy and rhythmical.
In a small house, a woman with a clear voice was singing; it brought tears to your eyes, not from nostalgic remembrance, but from the sheer beauty of the sound. You sat under a tree, and the earth and the heavens entered your being.
Pick up a piece of shell. Can you look at it, wonder at its delicate beauty, without saying how pretty it is, or what animal made it? ... If you can, then you will discover an extraordinary thing, a movement beyond the measure of time, a spring that knows no summer.
Over the palm trees could be seen a great stretch of pale blue sky, which the clouds were rushing to cover. Among the people, along the noisy streets, and in the gardens of the well-to-do, there was great beauty; it was there everlastingly, but few cared to look.
* Becoming *
Becoming is the continuation of time, of sorrow. Becoming does not contain being.
Becoming and being are two widely different states, and you cannot go from one to the other; but with the ending of becoming, the other is.
* Being *
There is no being if there is a struggle to be.
Being is always in the present, and being is the highest form of transformation.
* Beliefs *
Belief, religious or political, sets man against man. So-called religions have divided people, and still do. Organized belief, which is called religion, is, like any other ideology, a thing of the mind and therefore separative.
The other name for belief is faith, and faith is also the refuge of desire.
Belief conditions experience, and experience then strengthens belief. What you believe, you experience.
One of the curses of ideologies and organized beliefs is the comfort, the deadly gratification they offer. They put us to sleep.
* Bliss *
There is great bliss in meditation.
Search is born of conflict, and with the cessation of conflict there is no need to seek. Then there is bliss.
* Bondage *
Suppression and conformity are not the steps that lead to freedom. The first step toward freedom is the understanding of bondage.
Freedom from something is not freedom; it's only a reaction, the opposite of bondage. Freedom is when bondage is understood.
Meditation is the breaking of all bondage; it is a state of freedom, but not from anything.
[Self-]realization is possible only when the mind is no longer in bondage to time.
* Boredom *
Interest, curiosity, is the beginning of acquisition, which soon becomes boredom; and the urge to be free from boredom is another form of possession.
* The Brain *
Compassion can never exist where the brain is conditioned or has an anchorage.
(Ravindra, Two Birds, xvii)
The brain can function effectively, naturally, and easily, only when there is harmony, noncontradiction, and complete stability, that is, only when there is real order.
(Krishnamurti at Rajghat, 81)
* Buddha *
The Buddha comes closer to the basic truths and facts of life than any other.... Although I am not myself a Buddhist, of course.
(Weeraperuma, Living and Dying, 108)
To the Buddhist, the word Buddha, the impression, the image, creates great reverence, great feeling, devotion; he seeks refuge in the image which thought has created. And as the thought is limited, because all knowledge is always limited, that very image brings about conflict.
(Total Freedom, 145)
* Cause and Effect *
There is no freedom within the network of cause [and] effect.
All cause [and] effect is within the sphere of self-centered activity.
Is there a state without cause? Is not love such a state?
* Certainty *
This very desire to be certain, to be secure, is the beginning of bondage.
* Change *
Can there be change through an act of will? Is not will concentrated desire? ... Desire cannot bring about fundamental change.... As long as the mind, or desire, seeks to change itself from this to that, all change is superficial and trivial.
Change within the pattern [of society] is no change at all; it is mere modification, reformation. Only by breaking away from the social pattern without building another can you "help" society.
Haven't you noticed that when you say, "I will try to change," you have no intention of changing at all? You either change, or you don't; trying to change has actually very little significance.
Be simple with the fact that you don't want to change. The realization of this truth is in itself sufficient.
* Chastity *
Chastity is not a thing of the mind; chastity is the very nature of love.
* Choiceless Awareness *
What is important, surely, is to be aware without choice, because choice brings about conflict. The chooser is in confusion, therefore he chooses; if he is not in confusion, there is no choice.
(First and Last Freedom, 97)
* City Life *
Life in a city is strangely cut off from the universe; man-made buildings have taken the place of valleys and mountains, and the roar of traffic has been substituted for that of the boisterous streams.
As with all cities, there was an atmosphere of depression and unnameable sorrow in contrast to the light of the evening.... We seem to have forgotten what it is to be natural, to smile freely; our faces are so closed with worry and anxiety.
The streets were like canyons between the tall buildings, and there were no trees. It was noisy; there was the strange restlessness of a people who had everything and yet nothing.
* Civilization *
Civilizations may vary according to climate, environment, food, and so on, but culture throughout the world is fundamentally the same: to be compassionate, to shun evil, to be generous, not to be envious, to forgive, and so on. Without this fundamental culture, any civilization, whether here or there, will disintegrate or be destroyed.
* Clarity *
Clarity cannot be given by another.
* Communion *
Relationship implies communion with another on different levels; and is there communion with another when he is only a tool, a means of my happiness?
* Comparison *
There are so many ways of escaping from ourselves, and comparison is one of them.
When you compare yourself with others, it is to justify or condemn what you do, and then you are not thinking at all.
Comparison does not bring about understanding; comparison is another form of distraction, as judgment is evasion.
* Compassion *
The compassionate man knows right action.
Compassion is not hard to come by when the heart is not filled with the cunning things of the mind.
* Concentration *
Concentration implies a dual process, a choice, an effort, does it not? There is the maker of effort and the end toward which effort is made. So concentration strengthens the "I," the self, the ego as the maker of effort, the conqueror, the virtuous one.
Concentration is the way of desire.
Concentration in meditation is a form of self-centered improvement; it emphasizes action within the boundaries of the self, the ego, the "me."
* Conclusions *
Setting out with a conclusion, or looking for a preconceived answer, puts an end to right thinking; in fact, there is then no thinking at all.
We always want to get a result in return for doing something. This desire for a result, which is another form of conclusion-seeking, prevents understanding.
To think from a conclusion is not to think at all. It's because the mind starts from a conclusion, from a belief, from experience, from knowledge, that it gets caught in routine, in the net of habit.
* Conditioning *
There is no noble or better conditioning; all conditioning is pain.
* Conflict *
Conflict exists only in exploitation and not in relationship.
The understanding of conflict is the understanding of desire.
* Confusion *
When one is confused one seeks guidance, but that which one finds will invariably be the outcome of one's own confusion.
* Consciousness *
The whole movement of consciousness is the response of the past.
Consciousness as the experiencer, the observer, the chooser, the censor, the will, must come to an end, voluntarily and happily, without any hope of reward. The seeker ceases. This is meditation.
The urge to interpret must cease before there can be the understanding of the whole process of consciousness.
Excerpted from The Quotable Krishnamurti by Robert Epstein. Copyright © 2011 Robert Epstein. Excerpted by permission of Theosophical Publishing House.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
A Brief Note on the Text,
Suggested Further Reading,
About the Compiler,