Jiddu Krishnamurti was a philosopher, speaker and writer focusing on the struggles of everyday existence and people’s dealings with their mind.
Krishnamurti was born in India in 1895 and passed away in 1986 in California at the age of 90. His most influential books were The First and Last Freedom and Krishnamurti’s Notebook. He professed not to have allegiance to any nationality, caste, religion or philosophy and spent his life speaking to small and large audiences.
He encouraged us to free ourselves from the burdens of guilt, fear, anxiety, hurt and sorrow. Personally, I find so profound his perspective on why you don’t need a guru to find enlightenment (see below).
Krishnamurti’s work is becoming more widely available as it continues to be transcribed and disseminated by a number of education institutions and foundations he created.
I’ve assembled some of his more well known quotes, dividing them into sections so you can have a basic introduction to Krishnamurti and his key ideas. Once you’ve read these, check out my overview of the impact Krishnamurti has had on my life: Krishnamurti helped me reassess everything I’ve been told about life.
Krishnamurti on how to change yourself
“If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.”
“You can only be afraid of what you think you know.”
“Do it or don’t do it but get on with it…”
“A man who says, ‘I want to change, tell me how to’, seems very earnest, very serious, but he is not. He wants an authority whom he hopes will bring about order in himself. But can authority ever bring about inward order? Order imposed from without must always breed disorder.”
Krishnamurti on not needing a guru
“Do not repeat after me words that you do not understand. Do not merely put on a mask of my ideas, for it will be an illusion and you will thereby deceive yourself.”
“You know, if we understand one question rightly, all questions are answered. But we don’t know how to ask the right question. To ask the right question demands a great deal of intelligence and sensitivity. Here is a question, a fundamental question: is life a torture? It is, as it is; and man has lived in this torture centuries upon centuries, from ancient history to the present day, in agony, in despair, in sorrow; and he doesn’t find a way out of it. Therefore he invents gods, churches, all the rituals, and all that nonsense, or he escapes in different ways. What we are trying to do, during all these discussions and talks here, is to see if we cannot radically bring about a transformation of the mind, not accept things as they are, nor revolt against them. Revolt doesn’t answer a thing. You must understand it, go into it, examine it, 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. And to understand is to transform what is. I think that will be enough, won’t it?”
“I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. … The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth.”
Krishnamurti on society
“Governments want efficient technicians, not human beings, because human beings become dangerous to governments – and to organized religions as well. That is why governments and religious organizations seek to control education.”
“All ideologies are idiotic, whether religious or political, for it is conceptual thinking, the conceptual word, which has so unfortunately divided man.”
Krishnamurti on the mind
“Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay.”
“To understand the immeasurable, the mind must be extraordinarily quiet, still.”
“It is only when the mind is free from the old that it meets everything anew, and in that there is joy.”
“Thought is so cunning, so clever, that it distorts everything for its own convenience.”
Krishnamurti on love coming from our vulnerability
“When I understand myself, I understand you, and out of that understanding comes love. Love is the missing factor; there is a lack of affection, of warmth in relationship; and because we lack that love, that tenderness, that generosity, that mercy in relationship, we escape into mass action which produces further confusion, further misery. We fill our hearts with blueprints for world reform and do not look to that one resolving factor which is love.”
“It is love alone that leads to right action. What brings order in the world is to love and let love do what it will.”
Krishnamurti on how to be happy
“Happiness is strange; it comes when you are not seeking it. When you are not making an effort to be happy, then unexpectedly, mysteriously, happiness is there, born of purity, of a loveliness of being.”
“Do you want to know what my secret is? I don’t mind what happens.”
Krishnamurti on enlightenment
“The ending of sorrow is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge is always within the shadow of ignorance. Meditation is freedom from thought and a movement in the ecstasy of truth. Meditation is explosion of intelligence.”
“To be free of all authority, of your own and that of another, is to die to everything of yesterday, so that your mind is always fresh, always young, innocent, full of vigour and passion. It is only in that state that one learns and observes. And for this, a great deal of awareness is required, actual awareness of what is going on inside yourself, without correcting it or telling it what it should or should not be, because the moment you correct it you have established another authority, a censor.”
“The following of authority is the denial of intelligence. [It] may help us temporarily to cover up our difficulties and problems; but to avoid a problem is only to intensify it, and in the process, self-knowledge and freedom are abandoned.”