My disillusionment with Jiddu Krishnamurti

Nigel writes:

what is the nature/cause of your disillusionment with Jiddu Krishnamurti’s teachings?

Good question. I’m not sure I have words yet to describe my disillusionment with Krishnamurti. I tried a bit a few years ago here:

Theosophy and Krishnamurti and (more recently) In the sky there is no distinction of ‘East’ and ‘West’…

In summary: while I feel Krishnamurti’s teachings were exactly what the TS needed at that time, stand alone they offer people (especially kids) in our time enormous risks. From an otherwordly perspective, where making a living and being adapted to society are unessential issues that may seem fine. But I’m not personally convinced it’s a good idea to say (roughly) social issues don’t matter – find the truth for yourself. What happens if a person successfully gets away from the image of society, but doesn’t attain peace of mind or whatever else one is supposed to get from K’s teachings? I’ve seen stuff like that in some young people. They take K at his word, instead of looking beyond the words to the truth he tries to teach (which really isn’t so bad).

The fact is: for theosophists K’s teachings aren’t a risk at all. We come packed with safeguards and K’s teachings are designed to get rid of precisely the risks theosophy as a spiritual path has:

  • Too much reliance on theory
  • Not looking at your life but at an image of your life
  • Arrogance from thinking you are serving imaginary masters (imaginary to you at least as you’ve never met them – if that’s sentence seems to imply I did meet them, that was not my intention 🙂 )

But for non-theosophists his lack of reliance on day to day words and his avoidance of words that don’t seem to work (like Love) brings the reader or listener potentially at a point where there is an emptiness they aren’t ready for. Without the usual religious safeguards like moral precepts etc.

The problem I have with Jiddu Krishnamurti is the same problem I have with a lot of post-modern anti-guru’s. They break down but they don’t build up. For my generation some building up is needed – we grew up in a world full of broken down religions and world views.

This however does not imply I think Krishnamurti‘s teachings are worthless. I obviously do think they have value. However they have their limitations and dangers. But then, what spiritual path doesn’t?

[In reply to some of the comments to this post, I have written ‘Caring for beginners, a mistake?‘]

27 thoughts on “My disillusionment with Jiddu Krishnamurti”

  1. The difficulty with building up is, who is getting built up? Is Krishnamurti, or any other teacher, supposed to shatter one illusion only to replace it with another?
    It seems hard to take the journey alone because we want to be told, and have someone hold our hand. The hand holder is as confused as we are, if they weren’t, they wouldn’t take on the job.
    We want to hang on to the illusions that comfort and lose the painful ones. It doesn’t work that way.
    I do admire you for putting your stuff out there, being open and vulnerable.
    You are nearing the gateof the timeless, step through.

  2. Are you saying it would be healthy if nobody tried explaining their path to anybody else? To just let it be and not care about others? That’s not a path I am capable of taking, and I don’t see that as a problem.

    I didn’t mention building up anybody, did I?

    As for ‘the timeless’ I do feel the timeless (or something that fits that description) as I write this- but so what?

  3. err … I am no authority … but have listened to Krishnamurti … and methinks what he says (at least that is what I understood) is that one has to forget the ‘self’ and all that breeds (?) … comes from (?) the self … and when one achieves this state … of true selflessness one cannot go wrong. So if I see everyone as an extension of myself … or my being, why would I ever hurt anyone?

    And even though some people including children may misunderstand him … it is because we are so conditioned … by our society, culture … self … that we are never going to get it anyway.

  4. Hi Saurabh,

    The problem is: what if Krishnamurti does more harm than good? What if while trying to show people that true selflessness, what he is creating in them is actually more selfishness?

    1. See that is the people’s problems for opening themselves up to listening to what U.G. has to say. He even says there is no advice here. Don’t ask me for anything because there is nothing to get. It is his opinion and he shares that with people. He’s not running any cults or anything like that. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and I think he makes a great point. By people always coming up to look for answers from him he is saying STOP! Like someone said. Trust yourself and those around you a bit better and everything will be alright. 🙂

  5. Whether beginners are practicing virtues or not is their problem not yours. Believe in no teachers, trust your own logic, your own experiences, make your own mistakes, learn and grow. Have a courageous attitude and be inwardly prepared to die.

  6. I do think a spiritual teacher like Jiddu Krishnamurti should take that sort of thing into account. And I care whether it is reasonable to advise his work to people or not – that IS my responsibility.

    1. You don’t understand that it is no one’s responsibility in changing the world. That is where the problems arise.

  7. I was reading K’s books when I was 15. I took him quite litteraly back then. But he struck a chord somewhere very deep. I forgot about him for about 20 years or so. But then I was touched so profoundly, that it will not ever leave me again.
    Misunderstanding is in the nature of words, and to communicate also K uses words, though in a rather peculiar way.
    Why worry for others mistakes. If we are really responsible, there is only one way: enquire your mind. Not talk about what others have written or said. And that’s not always a pleasant journey…

    I am not disapointed in K, I say thank you Sir! Your life was a statement.
    I will study you and go ahead, working hard day by day.

  8. I have never found a person to be clearer than K. K left the Theosophist Society for a reason, he said “Truth is pathless for a reason” I have yet to read among the thousands of responses to K’s writings or teachings anything as clear in words, yet people naturally question it and they should. His teaching is poison to some who do not understand. It is very easy to misunderstand his teaching. I still do. When that very rare soul actually speaks truth very very few if anyone else understands, not fully. He’s talking about a complete revolution in our thinking that is needed, about having to have an extraordinary courage to not only look serious but to actually see, not just see, be what is. Actually we already are but not fully of the mind. He doesn’t say don’t be you, I, ego, he says to step behind that thinking and see you, I and the rest at once. But if he can’t convince anyone of truth, no one can, and he essentially says that too. Don’t look at him or his teaching, look to self, look within and look beyond but look seriously. This is quite a challenge. Till we stop fighting it, it wont happen.


    1. He even admits that he uses words in a peculiar way, and he says some people think he is angry and he questions whether they look deep enough into how he is using the words and the way he is saying those words. You have to really look deep and will realize that he looks past the ego and the illusions of our world.

  9. To have disillusionment with k is to have it with self, for it’s just another separation between self and what is.

  10. I have read the story of the relationship between Krishnamurti and David Bohm (whom I admire and studied). Bohm was apparently infatuated by Krishnamurti who in turn treated Bohm like a snotty schoolboy is being treated by an menopausal headmaster.
    Actions speak volumes and I have decided, not on the basis of the core teaching of Krishnamurti, but how he treated another human being is that he is not worth listening to.

  11. Hello,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your disillusionment with Krishnamurti. I am also one of those who went gung-ho on Krishnamurti’s teachings, leaving everything connected with society – degree, career, money, power, position- and attempting to lead a life of goodness and sensitivity – but right now I am stranded in the midst of complete misery. On one hand, I have to still deal with the problems of society, such as earning money, meeting people, relating with my family members, having a family and am in no way better off in mind or body from any other normal people. I dedicated eight years of my life to a quest into nothingness by being a teacher but ended up with bad memories of teaching and life in complete disarray. K gave the hope of liberation as he was against authority but finally became an authority from which I had to rescue myself. I am basically trying to be more earthy and being in touch with problems however messy they are.

    1. I think you misunderstood a couple things J. Krishnamurti was talking about. He didn’t talk about escaping the world but talked about remaining in the world and having “awareness in relationship”. i.e., in relationship to the world.

      Also he talked about getting rid of all authority including himself.

      In other words choicelessly observe your thoughts and you can notice how you defer to authorities rather than look and decide things for yourself. While he talks about seeing being action and being instantaneous, the falling away of our conditioned dependence on authority will happen gradually as we see each dependency. We might not immediately see that we can see things on our own. We might re-actively run to another authority.

      As you get rid of conflict in the mind you will have more energy to see more. Losing dependence on authority frees energy. Look at your values. These are just internalized authority.

      This meditation can all be done while living a normal but more aware life.

  12. Sorry to hear it. Of course Krishnamurti can’t be blamed for you not facing your problems – as I think one of the main points of his teachings is that one has to face problems. Teaching is the kind of career not everybody is suited for. I tried it myself, but failed miserably (though I did not stick to it for eight years like you did).

    I like that phrase ‘quest into nothingness’ – I guess that’s my main concern: taken too seriously, Krishnamurti’s teachings can certainly be that. And because he avoided the stereotypical advice given in the traditional spiritual traditions, there is no safeguard for people who do go to extremes – like you apparently did.

  13. My disillusionment with Krishnamurti is not total. Ultimately, its I who is to be ” blamed” for my choices and actions. Here “blame” is not in the traditional sense but in a more reflective way. My disillusionment with K , if I keep myself out of it and looking at it in an objective way, is that there are points in the teachings that are very inspiring and truthful but which are difficult to find roots in the contemporary societal context. What K represents is a beautiful insight into contemporary problems . Having gone through my experiences, I am willing to sharpen it through reflection to see how the insights can help people to meet society without the friction. So, all has not been a waste, though it is a failure, but it will remain a marvellous pathbreaking effort. Now, the insights are mine and not K’s.

  14. Much of the bellyaching by those ‘disillusioned’ with JK comes from an utterly inadequate understanding of his messages. Very very few indeed in the history of human thought have quite gone into the depths of the ‘human condition’ the way JK has. But I suppose it is difficult for Westerners to quite understand the core of his teaching since they are still caught in the question-answer (‘problem’-solving) stage. And of course there is the ‘intellectual understanding’ of his messages, which is, as JK himself used to say, no understanding at all.

    1. Perhaps the problem is something else too: in the West authority is eroding to such an extent that K read superficially can be quite harmful: making young people disrespect authority to a dangerous extent.

      The world has changed. When Jiddu Krishnamurti started, authority was eroding already. K and Nietzsche have that in common: at the time it was the thing that needed to be said, that in matters of personal and spiritual truth, authority is not to be trusted.

      Now that message has become, in the West at least, perfectly commonplace.

      I’m not denying that there is a deeper level to K, just that the way to get there for Westerners is not directly to Krishnamurti. I’d advise Western youth to start with Theosophy or Buddhism first, Jiddu Krishnamurti later. I’d also not advise anybody to limit themselves to K. Then again, Krishnamurti himself would agree on that. 😉

      What the situation is in other countries, like say India, I cannot tell. My trip to India may change that. Right now I’m writing from a Western perspective.

      As for the ‘intellectual understanding’ – I don’t think Jiddu Krishnamurti was in practice quite so pessimistic. He did advise Professor P. Krishna as a leader in his schools, didn’t he? This was based on the fact that the latter had at least an intellectual understanding, which was better than nothing.

  15. It seems that you are equating Krishnamurti’s teachings to a “spiritual path” in your last sentence, but Jiddu K’s teachings were based on truth as “a pathless land.” I understand your concern towards his lack of ethical teachings, but he held firm for the last 65 years of his life that when one labels something as either good or bad, there can be no complete understanding of that which is being labeled. So when we say that we should or shouldn’t do certain things, we are simply reacting based on our conditioning, constantly altering what is into what we think it ought to be, thereby creating ever more conflict. By searching for solutions to our problems, we never fully understand them. They are therefore merely reformed into more problems and as a result, we are never free from them. Only when the mind doesn’t label circumstances as either good or bad can there be that stillness which is necessary to observe the totality of life. This stillness involves a choiceless awareness, and if he were to say that we should or shouldn’t do certain things, he would be speaking from the fragmented realm of choice. My problem with ethics is that I don’t know the future of things to come and can therefore never be sure what is best. I may think that it is morally wrong to let a child starve, but what if the child were to grow up and kill thousands of people? What if having less people on the planet is actually a good thing? The point is that nothing is good or bad in and of itself. We only know it to be good or bad based on what others have told us, which may be lies. We are all of us violent. The fact is that we cannot survive without another organisms dying. Eating is violent and if we don’t eat, we are violent towards ourselves. We create the ideal of nonviolence which is just an escape from the fact that each one of us is violent. If it weren’t for the fact that we are selfish, insecure, envious and angry, we could never be joyful, compassionate, sympathetic or loving.
    In 1912, a 17 year old Jiddu K. wrote the short book “Educaton as a Service,” which I highly recommend if you are looking for his takes on ethics.

  16. “The problem I have with Jiddu Krishnamurti is the same problem I have with a lot of post-modern anti-guru’s. They break down but they don’t build up…”

    No one can build anything for anyone because there is nothing to build. What he broke down for us was just an exercise to demonstrate how our misdirected beliefs and actions are muddying the very waters that we need to be able to see through clearly to become aware of the intelligence that operates within. A feeling of emptiness because of this is nothing but the temporary feeling of letting go of what we held on to for so long. The satisfaction of knowing us through ourselves easily fill every such void.


    1. I found what you said about the temporary feeling of emptiness when letting go very insightful. I think growing and therefore changing always has a certain amount of discomfort that comes with the experience. I believe that ultimately this change will provide comfort on a much deeper level.

      Thank you.

  17. Amazing comments, it makes me very happy to know that there are out there a lot of people with such a beautiful and strong consciousness, (just to put some adjectives on consciousness, but of course we all know, that consciousness itself is the best there is in a human level of clarity). I cannot express with words the joyous experience you make me feel with such truthful comments. The ´disillusionment´ was well expressed because without it we would not have expressed that in fact there is no disillusionment, per say. (Unless of course we let our minds make us believe there is). I know for a fact we are all one. Any attempts to break from that it´s just the ego trying to express itself. I say this because this conversation is a conversation of humanity itself. I went into this quest for nothingness and it’s the most amazing experience that has happened to me. I welcome poverty or misery as another part of me called it. And welcome the trouble that comes with it. All expectations of my society and family are just that, expectations. But it is impossible to fulfill everyone else’s expectations of me. So I have no problem living in this nothingness, because now I know for sure what is to be rich. What it is to love and be loved. What it is to know. -On the part about “teachers” (I put quote on quote because nobody teaches us, we teach our selves through the application of someone showing us something), it is time as K. said to stop treading humanity as children and let them become their on teachers, their on messiahs. If they are to make mistakes perhaps it’s the best way for them to learn.

  18. I’m surprise that most of you have a hard time comprehending what Jiddu Krishnamurti was sayings to his teachings. I’d just discovered him months ago surfing in the internet and I was stunned. Stunned because here is a man, who is exactly and precisely telling something that I already know long ago inside my head. I was suddenly in that moment of seeing how everything is related and connected to one another. That and how I was finally able to have a confirmation that there is someone out that had the similar realization and thoughts of the reason of the things that is happening around us. It was like facing my inner voices and where you finally have no where to go but instead face it.

    He was telling how everything that is happening around our external reality is the result of the reflection of the collective internal state of humanity. If we change ourselves then we change the world. Like how when you are in front of a mirror, you don’t try to make your reflection in the mirror to smile. That is absolutely impossible… unless you smile first.

    He was also talking about how when we suddenly have a discovery or a realization of truth, it isn’t because of the external physical scriptures that you read or anything that is externally physical you have read in the matter. Truth is a stillness that you cannot have if you look in the past, the future or to anything and even to anyone that you gave attention to but it is precisely in the moment of the present that you should give attention. Truth comes when you drop all your preconceived notions, ideas and belief system of what reality and truth should be and should not be. It is when you stop the insistence of the what is and simply let it happened. It is a state of the mind like emotions. It is something we have been doing naturally since our birth. It is like how you are suddenly have an idea from nothing. The absoluteness of it, like how we naturally process words through our mouth without even thinking of it. Because it is spontaneous, instantaneous and a natural thing to do! That is also what enlightenment and truth is. But when you force yourself to think and not let it simply happen, you would be in a state of what writers calls the “writer’s block”. You could still form ideas and thoughts but it is like a loading screen that doesn’t instantaneously load through the end. You could still connect dots but you are not seeing the wholeness of the picture. Because you are forcing it and not letting it happened. The same thing happens when you have a lot of thoughts inside your head and then you force yourself to not think. The key though this problem is meditation itself, and meditation is simply another word for awareness, and the very essence of awareness is attention.

    There is some confusion that others think that meditation is about not having any thoughts inside your head. No it’s NOT! It’s about the conscious ability of being able to shift from attention to another attention and when to give attention and not to give attention or what to give attention and what to not give attention to. It’s like how there are a lot of catalogues or documents in your room. You only have to choose which document you want to give attention to. Or like a glass water, it needs to first be empty and only then would you be able to refill. Another example would be a television set. Thoughts are the channels and you are the one making the channels shift from channel to channel. But there is actually no emptiness, you are always are giving attention to something. It can be phrase in another form of how the glass of water is filled with emptiness. The sentence is differently structured but means the same thing from the former one. Another more example is like how you are in a wave of ocean and simply let it take you to the depths of unknown — which is the reason why most of us don’t let it happen because we are afraid of what we do not know. To what might happen to us. Resisting the waves of current is not suppose to be, it is suppose to be just absolutely resistant and just taking what the current of the ocean is taking you. And the next thing is where you should now be starting to guide the waves of ocean and which direction should it take and which direction it should not take. The key here is that some are trying to control and even change the wave and not letting it as should be, when they should be guiding them not the other way around. This is what Krishnamurti had been talking about. Meditation is about having the awareness of why you think what you think, why you do not think what you do not think and do what you do. It is about giving yourself attention, or awareness to yourself, to every action and thought, and to be non-resistant. The rest is history. By disciplining the mind, everything that you are would be in harmony with yourself.

    I think the problem that most of you are having is that you all seem to be looking at the word for word, of every text that you read and every video that you hear and see and not the contextual structure of the words and the meaning that it wants to give. You should look beyond your senses, to do nothing or to simply let your thoughts to generate inside your head and that is when you would hear it, see it, feel it, and understand the very essence of the message itself.

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