Questioner: What do you mean by freedom from the past?
Krishnamurti: The past is all our accumulated memories. These memories act in the present and create our hopes and fears of the future. These hopes and fears are the psychological future: without them there is no future. So the present is the action of the past, and the mind is this movement of the past. The past acting in the present creates what we call the future. This response of the past is involuntary, it is not summoned or invited, it is upon us before we know it.
Questioner: In that case, how are we going to be free of it?
Krishnamurti: To be aware of this movement without choice––because choice again is more of this same movement of the past––is to observe the past in action: such observation is not a movement of the past. To observe without the image of thought is action in which the past has ended. To observe the tree without thought is action without the past. To observe the action of the past is again action without the past. The state of seeing is more important than what is seen. To be aware of the past in that choiceless observation is not only to act differently, but to be different. In this awareness memory acts without impediment, and efficiently. To be religious is to be so choicelessly aware that there is freedom from the known even whilst the known acts wherever it has to.
Questioner: But the known, the past, still sometimes acts even when it should not; it still acts to cause conflict.
Krishnamurti: To be aware of this is also to be in a state of inaction with regard to the past which is acting. So freedom from the known is truly the religious life. That doesn’t mean to wipe out the known but to enter a different dimension altogether from which the known is observed. This action of seeing choicelessly is the action of love. The religious life is this action, and all living is this action, and the religious mind is this action. So religion, and the mind, and life, and love, are one.
J. Krishnamurti, The Urgency of Change, ‘The Religious Life’
When Bruce Lee was bedridden in 1970 with a bad back injury and his martial arts future was in jeopardy he discovered the work of Krishnamurti. He resonated particularly with K’s notion that “you have to be a light to yourself” and with K’s rejection of methods and beliefs. After reading K, Bruce Lee said, “I do not believe in styles anymore” and “where there is a way there lies the limitation.”
Lee’s newfound insights made their way into his acting work as well. In the 1971 television series “Longstreet”, for example, he addressed Mr. Longstreet, who came to him for instruction, as follows: “I don’t believe in systems, Mr. Longstreet, nor in method. And without system, without method, what’s to teach?”
Bruce Lee was inspired by Taoism as well as by Krishnamurti which is evident in what would become his motto: “Using no way as way, having no limitation as limitation.”
This video tells the story of K’s impacton Bruce Lee:
The recent death of Dr Mary Cadogan, the first Secretary of the Krishnamurti Foundation Trust, has come as a great loss. Mary began working with Krishnamurti Writings Inc. in London in 1958; assisting with publications work and organizing public meetings and discussions with Krishnamurti. She became the European representative for the work, and was a key figure in establishing the KFT and Brockwood Park School in the 1960s. It was at Krishnamurti’s request that she became the first Secretary of the KFT; she remained a Trustee of the Trust and a Governor of Brockwood Park School until her recent death. Mary nurtured excellent relationships with the other Krishnamurti Foundations and Committees throughout the world. She edited Krishnamurti’s works, and arranged publication and translation of the books. She helped establish Brockwood Park School and the Krishnamurti Centre, and for over 50 years worked with a succession of Trustees. We shall miss her wise guidance, inspiring energy, affection and humour.
The following interview is the last that Mary gave. It was recorded at Brockwood Park on the 24th August 2014. Mary is interviewed by long-time supporter and friend of Brockwood, Taher Gozel. He asks Mary about the relationship between David Bohm and Krishnamurti, and about what it was like to work so closely with Krishnamurti.
It is 100 hundred years today since the birth of Jonas Salk. In 1948 Jonas assembled a skilled research team and together they discovered and developed the first successful inactivated polio vaccine. It is something we rarely hear of today but until Jonas’ and co’s vaccine, polio was a serious health issue all over the world, resulting in the disabling and deaths of thousands every year, the most famous case being that of American president F.D.Roosevelt.
Upon the discovery of the vaccine Jonas Salk was asked who owned the patent to it and his reply was “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”. Had the vaccine been patented it is estimated to have been worth 7 billion dollars. Instead it was shared for free. Due to Mr Salk’s work there are now just a couple of hundred polio cases per year and that figure is falling fast. The disease shall soon be eradicated entirely.
Jonas was also interested in philosophy and he combined this with his knowledge of science to create what he called “biophilosophy” which he described as the application of a “biological, evolutionary point of view to philosophical, cultural, social and psychological problems”. During his philosophical inquiry he met and spoke at length with J.Krishnamurti and we hope you will enjoy this recording of their discussion.
“Have you ever woken up in the morning and looked out of the window, or gone out on the terrace and looked at the trees and the spring dawn? Live with it. Listen to all the sounds, to the whisper, the slight breeze among the leaves. See the light on that leaf and watch the sun coming over the hill, over the meadow. And the dry river, or that animal grazing and those sheep across the hill–watch them. Look at them with a sense of affection, care, that you do not want to hurt a thing. When you have such communion with nature, then your relationship with another becomes simple, clear, without conflict.”
J. Krishnamurti, Letters to the Schools, 1st November 1983
Photograph: Pavilions student and staff boarding accommodation at Brockwood–taken this morning.
“As most of us seek power in one form or another, the hierarchical principle is established, the novice and the initiate, the pupil and the Master, and even among the Masters there are degrees of spiritual growth. Most of us love to exploit and be exploited, and this system offers the means, whether hidden or open. To exploit is to be exploited. The desire to use others for your psychological necessities makes for dependence, and when you depend you must hold, possess; and what you possess possesses you. Without dependence, subtle or gross, without possessing things, people, and ideas, you are empty, a thing of no importance. You want to be something, and to avoid the gnawing fear of being nothing you belong to this or that organization, to this or that ideology, to this church or that temple; so you are exploited, and you in your turn exploit.”
An exhibition on a different approach to ‘A world in Crisis’ will be shown for the first time in New Zealand from Friday 21st November – Sunday 23rd November 2014. The exhibition contains photo-journalistic material with commentary by J. Krishnamurti. For more details visit:
“Surely, in ending there is renewal, is there not? It’s only in death that a new thing comes into being. I am not giving you comfort. This is not something to be believed or thought about or intellectually examined and accepted, for then you will make it into another comfort, as you now believe in reincarnation or continuity in the hereafter, and so on. But the actual fact is that that which continues has no rebirth, no renewal. Therefore, in dying every day there is renewal, there is a rebirth. That is immortality. In death there is immortality, not the death of which you are afraid, but the death of previous conclusions, memories, experiences, with which you are identified as the ‘me’. In the dying of the ‘me’ every minute there is eternity, there is immortality, there is a thing to be experienced––not to be speculated upon or lectured about, as you do about reincarnation and all that kind of stuff.
When you are no longer afraid, because every minute there is an ending and therefore a renewal, then you are open to the unknown. Reality is the unknown. Death is also the unknown. But to call death beautiful, to say how marvelous it is because we shall continue in the hereafter and all that nonsense, has no reality. What has reality is seeing death as it is, an ending; an ending in which there is renewal, a rebirth, not a continuity. For that which continues decays; and that which has the power to renew itself is eternal.”
Whisper, the Labrador, can be seen in the background and former staff member and head gardener, John Porter, is holding the young oak tree for Krishnamurti as he plants it on the North Lawn, at Brockwood, on a misty autumn day. The year is uncertain, but it was probably in the 1970s. Alongside this is a photo of the same oak tree taken this morning. Krishnamurti had a great love of trees and planted several at Brockwood. As he wrote in 1983 in a document entitled ‘Brockwood Today and In the Future': “Brockwood is a beautiful place with magnificent old trees surrounded by fields, meadows, groves and the quietness of the countryside. It must always be kept that way, for beauty is integrity, goodness and truth.”
“What happens when you do not name? You look at an emotion, at a sensation, more directly and therefore have quite a different relationship to it, just as you have to a flower when you do not name it. You are forced to look at it anew. When you do not name a group of people, you are compelled to look at each individual face and not treat them all as a mass. Therefore youare much more alert, much more observing, more understanding; you have a deeper sense of pity, love; but if you treat them all as the mass, it is over.
If you do not label, you have to regard every feeling as it arises. When you label, is the feeling different from the label? Or does the label awaken the feeling?
If I do not name a feeling, that is to say if thought is not functioning merely because of words or if I do not think in terms of words, images, or symbols, which most of us do, then what happens? Surely the mind then is not merely the observer. When the mind is not thinking in terms of words, symbols, images, there is no thinker separate from the thought, which is the word. Then the mind is quiet, is it not?––not made quiet, it is quiet. When the mind is really quiet, then the feelings which arise can be dealt with immediately. It is only when we give names to feelings and thereby strengthen them that the feelings have continuity; they are stored up in the center, from which we give further labels, either to strengthen or to communicate them.”