Kinfonet Editorial July 2020

This editorial explores a Quote of the Day and was sent as part of the Kinfonet July 2020 newsletter. 
By Kinfonet staff 04 July 2020
In his talks and writings, Krishnamurti uses everyday words like freedom, love, and beauty to describe that extraordinary state of mind that he insists is within the reach of every human being. As we will explore below, he cleanses and expands on the original meaning of these words - so much so that they end up referencing a singular phenomenon viewed from different angles.

The following close reading of a recent Quote of the Day is intended to give you an opportunity to engage with Krishamurti's teachings as we attempt to follow and decipher for ourselves what he is saying . We hope you find this opportunity this exchange of value and invite you to continue the discussion by sharing your thoughts and understandings below.

To understand the quality of the mind and its immensity, there must be freedom - freedom from all conditioning, from all conclusions - because it is only such a mind that is a young mind. And it is only the young mind that can move freely, investigate, be innocent.

We all want the freedom to pursue our desires, inclinations, ideas, and so on. This, though, is not the kind of freedom that Krishnamurti is referring to. He is using the word in a much more holistic manner. When he talks about freedom from "all conditioning" and "all conclusions" he is referring to the very same desires, inclinations, and ideas that we feel compelled to give expression to. To Krishnamurti, our intuitive sense of freedom is nothing but an unconscious enslavement to our particular set of personal values. Real freedom, to him, is to be free from the bundle of thoughts, memories, and ideas with which we identify.

Then, it seems to me, beyond freedom is the sense of appreciation of beauty. So few of us are aware of the things about us. The beauty of the night, the beauty of a face, of a smile, the beauty of the river and of the cloud radiant at sunset, the beauty of moonlight on water; we are so little aware of this extraordinary beauty because we are so insensitive. To be free, sensitivity is essential. But you cannot be free if you are crowded with knowledge. No mind is sensitive if it is burdened with knowledge.

Conditioning and conclusions do not just come into play with regard to creating personal identity. They also inform our view of the environment. In fact, one could say that our entire field of experience is born of "knowledge". Like freedom, to Krishnamurti the inherent beauty of existence is only accessible to a mind that is free from the known.

It is important to note, that although Krishnamurti uses familiar examples of beauty - a smile, a river, the night, etc. - the depth of appreciation does not have its origins in comparison or personal preference.

In the paragraph above, Krishnamurti also introduces "sensitivity". On the one hand, he says that sensitivity is essential for a mind to free itself from the known. Then, on the other, he says that a mind steeped in knowledge cannot be sensitive. Viewed logically, this is confusing: do we need to be free first in order to become sensitive, or is freedom only possible when there is sensitivity?

Our minds are accustomed to thinking linearly, in terms of cause and effect. However, there is no clear sequence of events in Krishnamurti's description. This is a hallmark signature of the teachings: it is almost as if time comes to a stop and freedom, sensitivity and beauty, though interdependent, all come into being simultaneously.

And I think the other thing beyond freedom is - to use a word which unfortunately is connected with such absurd sentiment and wishy-washiness - love.

Love has nothing to do with sentiment. Love is hard, in the sense that it is crystal clear and what is clear can be hard. Love is not what you think of as love. That merely becomes a sentiment.

The word love is perhaps the one that Krishnamurti most cleanses of its conventional meaning. His take on love has nothing to do with personal feelings of affection. He even says it outright: "Love is not what you think of as love." In a surprising turn of phrase, he likens love to a crystal which is both "clear" and "hard." One could say then that love is the act of perceiving reality exactly as it is, through a clear lens, and unpolluted by sentiment, or personal bias.

To summarize Krishnamurti's perspective, it is "knowledge" that imparts a sense of who we are and determines our perception of the world around us. And it is this insidious movement of the known that prevents the manifestation of the state of mind he calls freedom, beauty, and love. To Krishnamurti this is not some mystical state of bliss but the natural way things are were there to be no distortion. The inability to see things as they are causes the conflict and confusion that is so rampant in ourselves, in our relationships, and in society.

The question now naturally arises: how do we see clearly, how do we discern where and when "knowledge" is a corrupting factor?

If we could understand, feel our way into this, we should see that freedom, beauty and love are the very essentials for discovery not knowledge, not experience, not belief, not belonging to any organization. Not being anything is the beginning of freedom. So if you are capable of feeling, of going into this you will find, as you become aware, that you are not free, that you are bound to very many different things and that at the same time the mind hopes to be free. And you can see that the two are contradictory. So the mind has to investigate why it clings to anything. All this implies hard work. It is much more arduous than going to an office, than any physical labour, than all the sciences put together. Because the humble, intelligent mind is concerned with itself without being self-centred; therefore it has to be extraordinarily alert, aware, and that means real hard work every day, every hour, every minute.

Going further into freedom from the known, Krishnamurti here states that the task is not only "arduous" but needs to be carried out "every day, every hour, every minute."  This seems to contradict his usual insistence that there is no progression in understanding, that it is instantaneous and effortless - not something that can be cultivated.

However, he is not using the term "hard work" to mean struggling towards a desired outcome. To Krishnamurti, freedom/love/beauty are not an outcome but rather something that needs to be present right at the outset. Seeing that knowledge is the distorting factor, it follows that we cannot rely on it to "discover" what is actually taking place. This implies that freedom/love/beauty must be, as he often puts it, the first and the last step.

Here we find ourselves at an impasse. How do we begin with something that is currently inaccessible to us? When confronted with a problem, we are accustomed to falling back on our existing arsenal of knowledge to solve it. If that proves insufficient, we acquire additional information to come up with solutions. This is an iterative process that requires time and effort.

In this instance, the "problem" we are faced with is to find out what it means to be free from the known. This problem is unlike any other that we've ever encountered. The usual process of using our assessment of the given situation to advance towards a resolution falls short since that itself is the movement of knowledge in action. Since knowledge is the only investigative tool we have at our disposal, the dilemma is, how do we proceed without it?

Krishnamurti suggests that should we have a complete, visceral, and non-verbal realization that any move we make, any direction we take is coming from knowledge, the only thing we can do is to stop moving, to remain absolutely still and just look. This stillness is a direct action born of the insight that knowledge has to be ended, not reasoned about. As Krishnamurti puts it in the quote above, "Not being anything is the beginning of freedom."

Unlike knowledge, which is encapsulated in memory and has continuity, insight does not carry forward and must be rediscovered at every moment. This, perhaps, is what Krishnamurti means by the "hard work" that needs to be continuously done. To be in a vibrant state of perpetual discovery. To be aware of "what is" throughout the day rather than falling back on our natural tendency of interpreting the world through knowledge.