- Break away from societal, parental, traditional, and religious norms. You don’t need to go to college and get a job. You don’t need to get married and depend on someone for happiness.
- The smartest thing to do is to be fun and caring toward everyone. Care for yourself and others. That matters far more than reading, degrees, or success.
- Society teaches us to be greedy. Ask yourself: why do I need money, status, and power?
- The way to remove ambition: the desire for position and power, we must do what you love: “Whereas, if you really love to be an engineer, or a scientist, or if you can plant a tree, or paint a picture, or write a poem, not to gain recognition but just because you love to do it, then you will find that you never compete with another. I think this is the real key: to love what you do."
- You must read books to be well-rounded. You must also sing, dance, write poems, and suffer.
- “A book can give you only what the author has to tell. But the learning that comes through self-knowledge has no limit, because to learn through your own self-knowledge is to know how to listen, how to observe, and therefore you learn from everything: from music, from what people say and the way they say it, from anger, greed, ambition.”
- The person who merely reads up on a subject, passes an examination, and then drops it, is not a student. The real student is studying, learning, inquiring, exploring, not just until he is twenty or twenty-five, but throughout life.
- As we grow older we seek happiness in possessions, in money, in having a nice house, a sympathetic wife or husband, a good job. When these things no longer satisfy us, we move on to something else.
- There is no such thing as being completely fearless, or never being anxious, or having complete self-knowledge. These are all things that you must continually improve on.
- Be a hypocrite. If you try to stay consistent, it means that you must have found a never changing, fundamental truth. But that is not possible. Even the laws of physics are only laws until we figure out how to break them. You should never force yourself to have the same opinions as your former self.
- Be like a monk for a month to ensure that you do not depend on others for happiness. No people, no cell phone.
- Appreciate the earth. Maybe spend your monk time in the forest.
- Love unconditionally. This requires courage.
- To be unsatisfied with what you are is the very beginning of envy.
- See everything as it is without judging, without condemning, without saying, “This I like and that I don’t like.”
- Understand neuroscience and human nature. (Note: The author would say this is too prescriptive.)
- “The moment you are a student there is no one in particular to teach you, because you are learning from everything.”
- “When the mind is attached to any form of comfort, when it is attached to a habit, to a belief, or to a particular spot which it calls “my home,” it begins to go to sleep.”
Chapter 2: The Problem of Freedom
Freedom means loving everything, appreciating everything, and having no fear (because you have no need for security). You do not fear the unknown because the unknown could be better than the known. It is foolish to fear something that might be better.
The smartest thing to do is to be fun and caring towards everyone. Care for yourself and others. That matters far more than reading or degrees.
Chapter 3: Freedom and Love
“I think it is very important to feel this and to love the earth, not just occasionally on a peaceful morning, but all the time.”
“Do you know what dependence is? You depend on your parents, don’t you? You depend on your teachers, you depend on the cook, on the postman, on the man who brings you milk, and so on. That kind of dependence one can understand fairly easily. But there is a far deeper kind of dependence which one must understand before one can be free: the dependence on another for one’s happiness.”
- You need to revolt. Disconnect from all others for a time and find internal happiness. Any person—guru, lover, parent, or friend—who is the source of you happiness controls you. Go away from other people and disconnect for you phone. Be completely alone to break free.
“We don’t just love and leave it there, but we ask something in return; and in that very asking we become dependent.”
“So freedom and love go together. Love is not a reaction. If I love you because you love me, that is mere trade, a thing to be bought in the market; it is not love. To love is not to ask anything in return, not even to feel that you are giving something—and it is only such love that can know freedom.”
“But, you see, you are not educated for this. You are educated in mathematics, in chemistry, geography, history, and there it ends, because your parents’ only concern is to help you get a good job and be successful in life.”
“To be discontented with what you are is the very beginning of envy.”
“Why must you read? Just listen quietly. You never ask why you must play, why you must eat, why you must look at the river, why you are cruel—do you? You rebel and ask why you must do something when you don’t like to do it. But reading, playing, laughing, being cruel, being good, seeing the river, the clouds—all this is part of life; and if you don’t know how to read, if you don’t know how to walk, if you are unable to appreciate the beauty of a leaf, you are not living. You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand; for all that is life.”
Chapter 4: Listening
“Listening to find out has quite a different significance from listening merely to hear that which will confirm what you think. If you are here merely to have confirmation, to be encouraged in your own thinking, then your listening has very little meaning. But, if you are listening to find out, then your mind is free, not committed to anything; it is very acute, sharp, alive, inquiring, curious, and therefore capable of discovery.”
“As we grow older we seek happiness in possessions, in money, in having a nice house, a sympathetic wife or husband, a good job. When these things no longer satisfy us, we move onto something else.”
“As long as you are afraid of anyone or anything, there can be no happiness. There can be no happiness as long as you are afraid of your parents, your teachers, afraid of not passing examinations, afraid of not making progress, of not getting nearer to the Master, nearer to truth, or of not being approved of, patted on the back. But if you are really not afraid of anything, then you will find—when you wake up of a morning, or when you are walking alone—that suddenly a strange thing happens: uninvited, unsolicited, unlooked for, that which may be called love, truth, happiness, is suddenly there.”
“What we now call education is not education at all, because nobody talks to you about all these things. Your teachers prepare you to pass examinations, but they do not talk to you about living, which is most important; because very few know how to live.”
“As you spend day after day studying certain subjects—mathematics, history, geography—so also you should spend a great deal of time talking about these deeper matters, because this makes for richness of life.”
“True education is to learn how to think, not what to think. If you know how to think, if you really have that capacity, then you are a free human being—free of dogmas, superstitions, ceremonies.”
“We have seen that ceremonies are not religion, that going to a temple is not religion, and that belief is not religion. Belief divides people. The Christians have beliefs and so are divided both from those of other beliefs and among themselves; the Hindus are everlastingly full of enmity because they believe themselves to be brahmans or non-brahmans, this or that. So belief brings enmity, division, destruction, and that is obviously not religion.”
Chapter 5: Creative Discontent
“Have you ever really looked anybody in the face? Have you ever looked into the face of your teacher, of your parent, of the big official, of the servant, the poor coolie, and seen what happens? Most of us are afraid to look directly into the face of another; and others don’t want us to look at them in that way, because they also are frightened.”
Remove your prejudices, beliefs, and fears to think clearly.
Understand neuroscience and human nature. Note: The author would say this is too prescriptive.
- This is how he puts it: “When you look into the mirror you see yourself as you are, don’t you? You may wish your head were a different shape, with a little more hair, and your face a little less ugly; but the fact is there, clearly reflected in the mirror, and you can’t push it aside and say, “How beautiful I am!” Now, if you can look into the mirror of relationship exactly as you look into the ordinary mirror, then there is no end to self-knowledge.”
“Most of us want to reach an end, we want to be able to say, “I have arrived at self-knowledge and I am happy”; but it is not like that at all. If you can look at yourself without condemning what you see, without comparing yourself with somebody else, without wishing to be more beautiful or more virtuous; if you can just observe what you are and move with it, then you will find that it is possible to go infinitely far. Then there is no end to the journey, and that is the mystery, the beauty of it.”
There is no such thing as being completely fearless, or never being anxious, or having complete self-knowledge. These are all things that you must continually improve on.
“This ceaseless round of going to an office, working at something in which you have no vital interest, quarrelling, being envious, bearing children, gossiping with your neighbour, uttering useless words—you want to know if there is something more than all this.”
Chapter 6: The Wholeness of Life
“See everything as it is without judging, without condemning, without saying, “This I like and that I don’t like”
“If you don’t begin to understand life while you are young, you will grow up inwardly hideous; you will be dull, empty inside, though outwardly you may have money, ride in expensive cars, put on airs.”
You need to understand life but you cannot do that unless you have love—not bodily love or divine love, but just love; which is to love the birds, the trees, the flowers, your teachers, your parents, and beyond your parents, humanity.
“You want to be famous because everybody around you in this society wants to be famous.”
“Let us think this out together. Why do people want to be famous? First of all, it is profitable to be famous; and it gives you a great deal of pleasure, does it not? If you are known all over the world you feel very important, it gives you a sense of immortality. You want to be famous, you want to be known and talked about in the world because inside yourself you are nobody. Inwardly there is no richness, there is nothing there at all, therefore you want to be known in the world outside; but, if you are inwardly rich, then it does not matter to you whether you are known or unknown.”
“To be inwardly rich the mind has to understand and put away the things that are not important, like wanting to be famous. Inward richness implies standing alone; but the man who wants to be famous is afraid to stand alone because he depends on people’s flattery and good opinion.”
Not wanting to be famous requires a self-confidence. They don’t need flattery from others.
“One of the most difficult things in life is not to be bound by an idea; being bound is called being consistent.”
“A mind which says, “I have taken a vow to be something and I am going to be that for the rest of my life” is called consistent; but it is really a most stupid mind, because it has come to a conclusion and it is living according to that conclusion. It is like a man building a wall around himself and letting life go by.”
“Have you ever written a poem or painted a picture, and then shown it to a friend? If your friend says it is a lovely poem or a marvellous picture, don’t you feel very pleased? When you have done something which somebody says is excellent, you feel a sense of pleasure, and that is all right, that is nice; but what happens the next time you paint a picture, or write a poem, or clean a room? You expect someone to come along and say what a wonderful boy you are; and, if no one comes, you no longer bother about painting, or writing, or cleaning. So you come to depend on the pleasure which others give you by their approbation.”
The author does not say who his mentors were. He says that it doesn’t matter. What you get from him is what he believes.
“We never want to discover for ourselves the content of the picture irrespective of the identity of the artist. It is only when you know who the poet is that you say the poem is lovely.”
Chapter 7: Ambition
“When you go outside the school with your parents, when you read the newspapers or talk to people, you must have noticed that almost everybody wants to bring about a change in the world. And have you not also noticed that these very people are always in conflict with each other over something or other—over ideas, property, race, caste or religion? Your parents, your neighbours, the ministers and bureaucrats—are they not all ambitious, struggling for a better position, and therefore always in conflict with somebody? Surely, it is only when all this competitiveness is removed that there will be a peaceful society in which all of us can live happily, creatively.”
The way to remove ambition: the desire for position and power, we must do what you love: “Whereas, if you really love to be an engineer, or a scientist, or if you can plant a tree, or paint a picture, or write a poem, not to gain recognition but just because you love to do it, then you will find that you never compete with another. I think this is the real key: to love what you do."
“But when you are young it is often very difficult to know what you love to do, because you want to do so many things. You want to be an engineer, a locomotive driver, an airplane pilot zooming along in the blue skies; or perhaps you want to be a famous orator or politician. You may want to be an artist, a chemist, a poet or a carpenter. You may want to work with your head, or do something with your hands. Is any of these things what you really love to do, or is your interest in them merely a reaction to social pressures? How can you find out? And is not the true purpose of education to help you to find out, so that as you grow up you can begin to give your whole mind, heart and body to that which you really love to do?”
“To find out what you love to do demands a great deal of intelligence; because, if you are afraid of not being able to earn a livelihood, or of not fitting into this rotten society, then you will never find out. But, if you are not frightened, if you refuse to be pushed into the groove of tradition by your parents, by your teachers, by the superficial demands of society, then there is a possibility of discovering what it is you really love to do. So, to discover, there must be no fear of not surviving.”
“But most of us are afraid of not surviving, we say, “What will happen to me if I don’t do as my parents say, if I don’t fit into this society?” Being frightened, we do as we are told, and in that there is no love, there is only contradiction; and this inner contradiction is one of the factors that bring about destructive ambition [competitiveness, a drive to position and power].”
“So, it is a basic function of education to help you to find out what you really love to do, so that you can give your whole mind and heart to it, because that creates human dignity, that sweeps away mediocrity, the petty bourgeois mentality.”
“But many people don’t care what field of work they enter as long as they are earning some money.”
“Apart from propaganda and what other people say, what is the truth concerning the profession of a soldier? If a man becomes a soldier it means that he must fight to protect his country, he must discipline his mind not to think but to obey. He must be prepared to kill or be killed—for what? For an idea that certain people, great or petty, have said is right. So you become a soldier in order to sacrifice yourself and to kill others. Is that a right profession? Don’t ask somebody else, but find out for yourself the truth of the matter.”
“Do you think that killing is a right profession, whether it be for your country or for some organized religion? Is killing ever right at all?”
“Surely, the person who merely reads up on a subject, passes an examination, and then drops it, is not a student. The real student is studying, learning, inquiring, exploring, not just until he is twenty or twenty-five, but throughout life.”
“The moment you are a student there is no one in particular to teach you, because you are learning from everything.”
“The leaf that is blown by the wind, the murmur of the waters on the banks of a river, the flight of a bird high in the air, the poor man as he walks by with a heavy load, the people who think they know everything about life—you are learning from them all, therefore there is no teacher and you are not a follower.”
“A book can give you only what the author has to tell. But the learning that comes through self-knowledge has no limit, because to learn through your own self-knowledge is to know how to listen, how to observe, and therefore you learn from everything: from music, from what people say and the way they say it, from anger, greed, ambition.”
“When a prominent man comes around, a minister or a governor, have you noticed how everybody salutes him? You call that respect, don’t you? But such respect is phony, because behind it there is fear, greed. You want something out of the poor devil, so you put a garland around his neck. That is not respect, it is merely the coin with which you buy and sell in the market. You don’t feel respect for your servant or the villager, but only for those from whom you hope to get something. That kind of respect is really fear; it is not respect at all, it has no meaning. But if you really have love in your heart, then to you the governor, the teacher, your servant and the villager are all the same; then you have respect, a feeling for them all, because love does not ask anything in return.”
Chapter 8: Orderly Thinking
“Do you know what I mean by order? It is to sit quietly without pressure, to eat elegantly without rush, to be leisurely and yet precise, to be clear in one’s thinking and yet expansive.”
“Being virtuous has very little meaning in itself; but because you are virtuous there is precision in your thought, order in your whole being, and that is the function of virtue.”
“You see, the effort to be orderly or tidy has such a narrowing influence. If I deliberately try to be orderly in my room, if I am careful to put everything in its place, if I am always watching myself, where I put my feet, and so on, what happens? I become an intolerable bore to myself and to others. It is a tiresome person who is always trying to be something, whose thoughts are very carefully arranged, who chooses one thought in preference to another. Such a person may be very tidy, clear, he may use words precisely, he may be very attentive and considerate, but he has lost the creative joy of living.”
“That is why you should have very strong feelings—feelings of passion, anger—and watch them, play with them, find out the truth of them; for if you merely suppress them, if you say, “I must not get angry, I must not feel passionate, because it is wrong,” you will find that your mind is gradually being encased in an idea and thereby becomes very shallow.”
“It is very important for you to understand all these things while you are young, because then, when you grow up, you will be real revolutionaries—revolutionaries, not according to some ideology, theory or book, but revolutionaries in the total sense of the word, right through as integrated human beings, so that there is not a spot left in you which is contaminated by the old. Then your mind is fresh, innocent, and is therefore capable of extraordinary creativeness. But if you miss the significance of all this, your life will become very drab, for you will be overwhelmed by society, by your family, by your wife or husband, by theories, by religious or political organizations.”
“When somebody slaps you, you feel hurt, humiliated, and you don’t like that feeling. If the person who hurts you is big and powerful so that you can’t hit back, you in turn hurt somebody else, you take it out on your brother, your sister, or your servant if you have one. So the play of anger is kept going.”
“First of all, it is a natural response to avoid being hurt. Why should anybody exploit you? So, in order not to be hurt, you protect yourself, you begin to develop a defence, a barrier. Inwardly you build a wall around yourself by not being open, receptive; therefore you are incapable of exploration, of expansive feeling. You say anger is very bad and you condemn it, as you condemn various other feelings; so gradually you become arid, empty, you have no strong feelings at all.”
“Don’t battle against hate, don’t say how terrible it is to hate people, but see hate for what it is and let it drop away; brush it aside, it is not important. What is important is not to let hate take root in your mind.”
“Happiness comes uninvited; and the moment you are conscious that you are happy, you are no longer happy.”
- That’s why you can look back on times in life and only realize you were happy after.
Chapter 9: An Open Mind
“And even when you observe something for the first time, what happens? You automatically translate what you see according to your prejudices, don’t you? You experience it according to your conditioning as a communist, a socialist, a capitalist, or some other “ist.”
“If you have no prejudice, no bias, if you are open, then everything around you becomes extraordinarily interesting, tremendously alive.”
“Be aware of the boat on the river, watch the train go by, see the peasant carrying a heavy burden, observe the insolence of the rich, the pride of the ministers, of the big people, of those who think they know a lot—just watch them, don’t criticize. The moment you criticize, you are not in relationship, you already have a barrier between yourself and them; but if you merely observe, then you will have a direct relationship with people and with things.”
“If you can observe alertly, keenly, but without judging, without concluding, you will find that your thinking becomes astonishingly acute. Then you are learning all the time.”
“Most people are unhappy; and they are unhappy because there is no love in their hearts. Love will arise in your heart when you have no barrier between yourself and another, when you meet and observe people without judging them, when you just see the sailboat on the river and enjoy the beauty of it.”
- That’s so much like Carl Rogers—not judging people.
“What do you mean by luxury? Having clean clothes, keeping your body clean, eating good food—do you call that luxury? It may seem to be luxury to the man who is starving, clothed in rags, and who can’t take a bath every day. So luxury varies according to one’s desires; it is a matter of degree.
Now, do you know what happens to you if you are fond of luxury, if you are attached to comfort and always want to sit on a sofa or in an overstuffed chair? Your mind goes to sleep. It is good to have a little bodily comfort; but to emphasize comfort, to give it great importance, is to have a sleepy mind. Have you noticed how happy most fat people are? Nothing seems to disturb them through their many layers of fat. That is a physical condition, but the mind also puts on layers of fat; it does not want to be questioned or otherwise disturbed, and such a mind gradually goes to sleep. What we now call education generally puts the student to sleep, because if he asks really sharp, penetrating questions, the teacher gets very disturbed and says, “Let us get on with our lesson.”
“So, when the mind is attached to any form of comfort, when it is attached to a habit, to a belief, or to a particular spot which it calls “my home,” it begins to go to sleep.”
Chapter 10: Inward Beauty
Think if skill acquisition as creative work, not as a technique that you learn. For example, think of coding as an art. Think of writing a program like painting. Don’t think of it as a technical skill that you learn.
“You see, technicians are not creators; and there are more and more technicians in the world, people who know what to do and how to do it, but who are not creators.”
“But machines can never be creators—and human beings are becoming more and more like machines.”
- People who can code or do math like a robot have technical skill, but they are not creative. They don’t understand what makes them human, what makes them unique—their creativity.
Creativity comes from doing something for its own sake, not because it will make you money or give you a certain position.
“Questioner: Does the soul survive after death?
KRISHNAMURTI: If you really want to know, how are you going to find out? By reading what Shankara, Buddha or Christ has said about it? By listening to your own particular leader or saint? They may all be totally wrong.”
“You want to know if there is survival after death; but, you see, that question is not important. The important question is: can you know death while you are living? What significance has it if someone tells you that there is or is not survival after death? You still do not know.”
“This is also part of education. To be educated is not only to be proficient in mathematics, history or geography, it is also to have the ability to understand this extraordinary thing called death—not when you are physically dying, but while you are living, while you are laughing, while you are climbing a tree, while you are sailing a boat or swimming. Death is the unknown, and what matters is to know of the unknown while you are living.”
- Death symbolizes the unknown. If you want to figure out what death is like, go do something you have never done before.
“Most parents are at least partly concerned to look after their children, care for them, but when they worry and worry it indicates that they are more concerned about themselves than about their children.”
“You see, property, land, name, wealth and family are the means of one’s own continuity, which is also called immortality; and when something happens to their children parents are horrified, driven to great sorrow, because they are primarily concerned about themselves.”