Question and Answer Session

25.05.03, P. Krishna

Krishnamurti and the Theosophical Society

Question : We have been seeking truth for so long. Why is it so difficult ?

P.K. :Most of the time we are not seeking the truth. It feels nice to say that I am seeking the truth, but we need to doubt that. The truth may be painful. Am I willing to seek the truth even if it is painful? Or am I seeking satisfaction? Am I seeking some kind of psychological comfort, a temporary peace, a feeling of security? Then you will get it very readily in an illusion and because it is an instinct in us, we must guard against this possibility at all times.

An instinct is a million-year-old habit. The body and the mind have been seeking pleasure and avoiding pain for one million years and so long as you are seeking pleasure, whether physical, psychological or emotional, you can't say that you are seeking the truth, because the truth is not pleasurable. The dogma about the truth is pleasurable, a belief is pleasurable, until it takes you into a war, which is not pleasurable; but immediately it is pleasurable. Because if all of us believe in the same guru and the same idea, it produces an illusion of brotherhood. But it is not brotherhood when it depends on agreement. It's only when your affection is independent of agreement or disagreement that it is real affection. So the believing mind is not a religious mind. The religious mind is essentially a learning mind. It is a mind that poses the truth as the unknown. It may have some ideas about the truth but it doubts all those ideas. It doesn't attach itself to any idea. It knows that ideas and opinions are not the truth and no path has value unless one has a learning mind. Because the path becomes something mechanical and truth is not at the end of something mechanical, because it is something that needs insight, which is creative.

So can I hold all my knowledge lightly and not invest in it ? Not derive status, position, comfort, and security from it. Otherwise, that attachment will prevent the new from being seen and the truth is always new. Beware of the man who says, I know the truth, because truth cannot be known, it can only be perceived and the truth is the same for everyone, that is what the motto of the Theosophical Society says: truth is the highest religion.

So the religious mind is a mind that says, I don't know, I am not sure, I am exploring, I am rediscovering the truth from moment to moment and for that I am not attached to any ideas. Without such a learning mind, it makes no difference whether you are Hindu, or Buddhist, or Christian, or Theosophist or atheist. Because unless you are learning and growing in wisdom, there is no virtue. Virtue is not a new conditioning of the mind, virtue is something that flowers in consciousness with the ending of illusions, which is what we have discussed in the last three days. And it doesn't make any difference which way you end your illusion. The way is not important; the learning mind is important.

The scientific mind also posits the truth as the unknown.The Nobel laureate Richard Feynman said," Science is a body of knowledge, some of which is nearly certain, a lot of which is quite uncertain but nothing that is completely certain." That's the spirit of the true scientific mind. And that's also the spirit of the religious mind. Therefore the scientific mind is contained within the religious mind;but the religious mind is not part of the scientific mind. Because science limits itself only to the study of nature and to that which is measurable. So science is an enquiry into a part of our life, whereas religion is an en enquiry into the whole of life, including consciousness, and therefore it includes the scientific. That's how I see it.

Question: How can we help a child to come upon such a mind ? What has been your experience as a principal of such a school ?

P.K. : As we saw this morning, both religion and science are an enquiry. An enquiry into what is true. Therefore we must help the child to have an enquiring mind. Enquiring about nature, enquiring about society, enquiring about religion, enquiring about our emotions, our thoughts, just enquiring across the board. Don't limit that enquiry and specialise, which is what we are doing now. We are cultivating an enquiring mind only for science.Even the scientist is objective and enquiring only in his laboratory, but not so in his life !

So, don't lay down the law for the children, which doesn't mean you have no rules in the school, but it means every rule can be questioned.The children must also understand why we need that rule. Don't just tell them, this is right, that is wrong. You must tell them also why we think that is right or wrong, and be willing to change.If we detect that it is not based on something true, we'll change it tomorrow; then they grow up with an open mind. And when you transfer knowledge, you also point out the limitations of knowledge, so that you don't create a human being who grows up with a lot of answers, but you create a mind which is living with questions and a mind that knows that it does not know.

The truly educated mind, let's say like that of Einstein, says, all that I know is but one pebble on the seashores of the world. But the student who has just taken his masters degree in physics thinks he knows all about Einstein's theory and about space and matter ! That feeling of pride is based on ignorance.So don't create a knowing, arrogant mind. Create a mind that has humility, that knows that it does not know. It is not so important to teach children as it is to awaken their intelligence, so that they can learn for themselves, both in academics and in life.What is wrong in education is our vision of education. It's is not so much the methods and the techniques, because the methods and techniques are decided on the basis of the vision that you have. And we are very clever at devising methods and techniques but that has very little significance if your vision itself is wrong.


You asked about my experience with this kind of education.I have been the principal of a Krishnamurti school for the last 17 years.It is very difficult to create this kind of education because the teachers themselves come out of the universities and they have been educated wrongly. They have been educated with competition, with reward and punishment, with fear. They themselves have not regarded education as a happy experience but as something you have to struggle with in order to achieve.Their own childhood has not been a joyous experience. So when they come and join such a school they accept all this as a policy of the school but it is not something like a policy which you can decide to practise. It needs a transformation of the heart; it needs a different approach. So the difficulty can only be overcome if we regard that the teachers are also learning along with the students. Because it is only in the field of knowledge that the teacher knows more than the student does. But in life we have the same problems as children have. We have the problems of desire, of fear, of ambition, of greed, of worry, of boredom, of conflict, of sorrow and the child has it too.So in this area we can only learn along with the child.

What we can do is to create and encourage enquiry at the level the child is capable of at that age. Create an enquiring mind in him. With an eight-year-old you would not talk about science and religion but you can talk to him about what is right and what is wrong. And you can talk about vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism. And you can talk about why we shouldn't steal. Which means you also need to understand why we accept all these do's and don'ts. And when a human being or a child understands why a rule exists it is much easier for him to follow it than when it is just laid down as an authority for him to be obeyed. And as children grow older and come to teen-age, you can discuss love, attachment, desire, with them in terms of their own daily life, not as something philosophic, far-away, unconnected with their daily life. Then they see the relevance of it. Otherwise it will look like your particular religious propaganda. It doesn't matter whether it is Christian propaganda or Hindu propaganda or communist propaganda if it has nothing to do with his daily life.

So it's something that really needs to be seriously attempted in education.I asked Krishnamurti once," Sir, if we bring up children the way you have described, will they grow up to be free? You know what he said?
He said," That question cannot be answered because it has never been tried !" Don't speculate. First try it, then you will know the answer. That's a very scientific answer.

Question : Should this not also be a concern of psychology ?

P.K. : It should be, but the moment they call it a science, they limit themselves only to that, which is provable, measurable, which can be shown to everybody and that limits the enquiry in psychology. The point is, the religious truths cannot be demonstrated like scientific truths. You can't really do an experiment outside of yourself, which you can show to everybody and convince them. But that doesn't mean that the religious truth does not exist or that it cannot be perceived. It just means that it cannot be demonstrated in that way.

So each one of us has to perceive that for himself. But if, as and when you do perceive it, you will discover for yourself that truth. And the sages in all cultures have spoken of the same truth. It is spoken in somewhat different language; they may be living somewhat differently, depending on the culture and the period of history in which they were located. But if you explore deeply, you will find that the same truths have been expressed, because in this field, all that was needed was a mind and a capacity to see.So people 2,000 years ago were as capable of seeing it as you and I. In the scientific field, it changes with time because you have more ability, you have better microscopes, etc. With religious truth there is nothing new that you are discovering for the first time, but it is new for you when you discover it. It has no meaning to ask who was the first person to discover that truth. Only in science that is given tremendous importance, because you may get the Nobel Prize out of it ! But it's the same truth in the Veda's, in the Upanishads, in Patanjali's sutras, in Krishnamurti, in Jesus. But their words don't give you the truth; it doesn't matter which words you are reading. The truth has to be perceived for yourself.

Theosophy is the quest for wisdom, not merely knowledge. You may read any book, but the book itself doesn't bring any wisdom. But you can pick up a question from the book and what you do with it and how you relate with the question and how deeply you explore it determines how much you will learn from it. To have this capacity to learn is more essential than to have books. Otherwise you just acquire a lot of knowledge and not wisdom.

Question: What did Krishnamurti mean when he spoke of authenticity?

P.K. : I don't know. I would have to read the particular passage before I can comment on it. But what that word means to me, I can say. To me authenticity means: I have perceived that first-hand, for myself. But when I have not perceived the truth of that for myself, it is second hand. That's what knowledge is. That is why Krishnamurti said he was not interested in philosophy, because he said, it is talks about other people's talks, it is not the truth. The truth we are talking about comes into being only when there is a consciousness, which is perceiving the fact without any distortion. Otherwise my mind is colouring my perception and so it picks up what it wants to pick up; it doesn't see the truth. So that is not the truth. It's not only when another person speaks about Krishnamurti or about Jesus that he's interpreting. When I read Krishnamurti's book, also my mind is interpreting. So do not take that interpretation to be the truth. Take it as a question and investigate it to find out what it means.

There is a dialogue on video in which Krishnamurti is talking to students in Brockwood. He points out to them that the words of the Buddha and Jesus are illusions for you, because you have not perceived the truth of that for yourself. So a student asked him," Aren't your words also illusions for us, sir?" And he says, "Yes, if you accept them !" So do not accept any statement and read all statements anonymously. It makes no difference who made that statement. Find out, in your own life, through your own observation, if that is true. You learn only out of your own investigation. You don't learn out of interpreting the meaning. So use books only to get questions, not to get answers. The intellectual answer is not the truth, because it doesn't act on your consciousness. The learned, so-called educated man is not very different from your gardener. In his consciousness he is not very different. But he has lots of theories and words to hide his ignorance. I am myself that educated man, sir, I am not laughing at others.

Question: Is there a difference between the teachings of Krishnamurti and the Advaita-Vedanta philosophy?

P.K. : You know, sir,with these ancient scriptures we don't know how much is authentic. People have added things to it and the authorship is not known. With Krishnamurti it is well documented, it is recorded, we know exactly what he said and what he didn't say. But the deeper point is that even if it is known exactly what somebody said, and it is precisely defined, you still don't get the truth, you only get the intellectual meaning. So the gap between the intellectual understanding of the truth and the realisation of the truth still remains. That is the portion that is pathless. There is no method, no technique to make that jump. There is a method and a path to come upon the knowledge but not to come upon the truth of that in your consciousness. That work one has to do for oneself. And that's the difficulty of this religious quest. It's also the beauty of this quest.

Now if I may point out something, which concerns the Theosophical Society. You know, people have created such a big division between what they call theosophy and what is Krishnamurti's teaching. All division is born out of a narrow-mindedness. The Hindu and the Jew and the Christian are divided because they are narrow-minded. If your understanding is not superficial and you go to the essence of what Jesus meant and what Krishnamurti meant and what Buddha meant, you will see that there is no division, because the truth is the same. So the division comes from minds which have not seen the truth but are dividing because they are giving importance to the paraphernalia. To my mind there is no division between Krishnamurti's teaching and theosophy, or between theosophy and what Socrates said, or what Jesus said, because theosophy is the quest for truth. It is not a body of knowledge to be propagated. There may be a body of knowledge, because various theosophists have written what their interest was, but that is not the essence of theosophy. Believing in that and repeating that is not theosophy. Theosophy is not knowledge. The essence of Theosophy is the enquiry into what is true and what is false. It is also the essence of Christianity or of Buddhism, because without wisdom there is no virtue and no religion.

Krishnamurti and the Theosophical Society


Question: I can no longer ask Krishnamurti, but why did he end his membership of the T.S.?

P.K. : I can tell you what I have personally heard from him. Because there is a lot of illusion about all this. In the first meeting of the Indian Foundation, which I attended, somebody was saying to Krishnamurti, "Sir, when you walked out of the TS... " and Krishnamurti immediately interrupted that man and said, "Just a minute, sir. Let me make it very clear. I never walked out of the TS. They didn't want me there." I was present, so I know this first hand, but you can verify it from the foundation tapes. That is what he said. At that time, in 1933, there were tensions, which we do not understand. Krishnamurti was not the well-known figure he is today. They couldn't understand him and the break came for political reasons. But he was in quest of truth. That's what the theosophists had assigned him to do and he did that, all his life. The other conversation I want to tell you is when he gave me charge of Rajghat. He asked me, "Have you read Mrs. Besant, sir?" And I said, "Well, I have read her autobiography, but not much else, because I have been studying science." And he said, "You must read what she has written. She was an extraordinary woman". And I said, "All right sir, I'll read."

So I know first-hand that he had tremendous affection and respect for her. And I am not going to believe all those people who think that there was a division between them and that she was upset with him. In my view, it was not a relation like that. You know, when you really love your son, you want him to be himself. You don't want him to be your supporter. And I think Mrs. Besant understood that. She never forbade him. And she was probably the only one who really believed in the prophecy that he was the world teacher because I have learnt that she told the people in the TS much before, that when the world teacher appears, he may say something which is completely different from what we are saying, and we must be prepared to listen to that, because all world teachers have broken away from their past. The Buddha broke away from the Hindus, Jesus broke away from the Jew philosophy and Mrs. Besant understood that. And that's why, when Krishnamurti was saying something totally different, she said, I will sit at your feet and listen to you.

So I am not sure our interpretations of their relationship which people talk about are correct. They were deeply religious people and I am not sure that the interpretation, which people give, that Mrs. Besant was disappointed in him, could be true. And I have brought with me a passage that Mrs. Besant wrote before Krishnamurti came on the scene and I want to read it to you. And you will see in it the seeds of Krishnamurti's teaching. So what Krishnamurti is pointing out is not new to theosophy. But he discovered that for himself. And some of the leaders at that time couldn't understand him, which is all right. A man like that doesn't belong to any society or any particular religion. Socrates doesn't belong to Greece or to Europe; Socrates is of the whole world. So our assigning people to a particular group and so on is all part of that narrow-mindedness. Krishnamurti is not the property of the Krishnamurti Foundation nor of the TS. A wise man is a wise man. He belongs to the whole world. But to conclude the seminar, I want to read this passage from Mrs. Besant. It concerns this question that we have just been discussing.

"All students should understand something about our investigations in order that they may avoid the blind credulity, which accepts all, on the one side, and the equally blind incredulity, which rejects all, on the other....

Our one great danger, as HPB recognised, is the danger of getting into a groove and so becoming fossilised, in the forms of belief that many hold today...
The Society is intended, always has been intended, to be a living body and not a fossil and a living body grows and develops, adapting itself to new conditions.... Nothing could be more fatal to a Society like ours than to hallmark as true, special forms of belief, and look askance at anyone challenging them.... If the Society is to live far into the future, as I believe it will, it must be prepared to recognise now, quite frankly and freely, that our knowledge is fragmentary, that it is partial, that it is liable to very great modifications as we learn more and understand better.... We are not dealing with theories or flights of fancy, or a mixture of the two, but with records of observation....

To proclaim one person as an infallible authority on a subject unknown to the proclaimer, is to show fanaticism rather than reason. I would ask my own friends not to do that with me.... It is interesting to notice that matters on which considerable differences of opinion arise are matters which do not do not bear on life and conduct ...

Very few people analyse the complexity of what seems to them to be the very simple act of sight. In most acts of vision there is little real sight and great deal of memory. What we call "sight" is a complex,compacted of the translation of the impression just made on the retina and the memory of the whole of the past impressions made by the same or by similar objects....

Only well-trained and experienced seers will avoid the errors of looking at facts through a veil of their own thought-forms.

...Generations far into the future, ourselves in new bodies, will still be extending the limits of the unknown: we do not want our limbs to be fettered then by appeals to our presentresearches, exalted into scriptures, used as walls to bar our onward progress then."

She wrote this in 1913, in Adyar pamphlet number 36. I see no difference between this and Krishnamurti's teaching. So what are we quarrelling about? The quarrel always comes from stupidity. It's always lack of understanding, absence of wisdom. There can be no division in truth; truth is the same. But my language is different from your language and my idea is different from your idea. Don't align yourself with any idea and don't join any group which says you must believe in an idea. Otherwise you will create a new division in the world. We already have more than enough division in the world.

The quest for truth is not divided.

There is only one religious mind. It is wrong to think that it is Christian or Hindu or whatever. It is the mind that has come upon the truth, that has love, compassion and wisdom. Don't give importance to the label. That is like the coat you are wearing.


Back to the lecture these questions were asked about
Back to the first lecture