← Back to Kinfonet

Choiceless awareness, Krishnamurti-style

The notion of choiceless awareness has been around, in different forms, for a long time. But Krishnamurti’s take on it is (afaik) unique. It is also at the hub of his worldview, that from which the inner human revolution (awakening of intelligence) emerges.

I find Krishnamurti’s choiceless awareness (simply ‘choiceless awareness’ from here on) to be one of those things that, on the surface, is simple: It can be explained quite clearly it in a few sentences to a newbie. But each time I revisit it, I see something new. (Emptiness is like that for me in Buddhism, brahman in Advaita, wu-wei in Taoism.)

Since choiceless awareness is so foundational in Krishnamurti’s teachings, and since it’s so easily misunderstood or half-understood, I thought it would be useful (and fun!) to explore it, as if for the first time.

To kick things off, let’s agree on what we’re talking about:

What did Krishnamurti mean by choiceless awareness?

“Understanding the surrounding environment without any choice is called choiceless awareness”, which is what I think. :grinning:

I do not know what Krishnamurthy thought about.

What is your thought on choiceless awareness?

Where is this quote from?

I said directly.

Why it appeared like that for you?

Because it was in quotes!

My first thought is that it is like a koan:

How do you arrive at a certain place (choiceless awareness) without intending in any way (path, method, goal) to get there?

Where ?

can you share the link?

The moment I read your question, I got the answer instantly. Maybe I have read it previously.

We cannot arrive at a certain place without intention. Meanwhile, we may face obstacles in reaching our destination. The way we reach the point is more important than just reaching the point, I think.

In your original posting, you put those words in a quote, so I thought you were quoting someone.

If this is true, then choiceless awareness is either 1) not a place, or 2) it is a place but one cannot go to it. (By place I mean: state of mind, mode of being, etc. Not a physical place.)

Which is true for you: 1 or 2?

Okay, I understood the point.

One may arrive the desired state, I think. But I do not know what it takes to reach the destination, it depends on the person.

I don’t know what he meant. For me it is a ‘leap’ or a ‘jump’…there is an awareness of yourself doing something, thinking, talking, etc and the whole picture comes into view. This ‘state of observation ‘ can last for seconds or minutes. There is no feeling of ‘identification ‘ with what is being seen. There is no ‘holding on’ to this state because there is no one to do the holding. It’s a living state, the memory of it is a dead thing. It can happen at any moment.

Do you feel you have ever been choicelessly aware in the Krishnamurti sense? (If this is too personal, please ignore, I don’t want to pry.)

This suggests intention to me as in “I make the leap/jump” … is that what you meant?

No, not in the sense of Krishnamurthy. I am aware of my limitations and never felt what he said. As far as I know choice less awareness means,

“Understanding the surrounding environment without any choice is called choiceless awareness”

It is just my point of view, I do not know what Krishnamurthy meant.

No not at all. The leap probably takes place through (is) the 'insight ’ that you are asleep. The insight is the ‘leap’ or ‘jump’ out of , call it , the ‘normal’ or waking sleep mode.

Once the brain experiences this state, there seems to be an ‘allowance’ of it to take place more and more. Why? Probably because of the ‘freedom’ it senses? It sees clearly that the ‘thinker is the thought’ for example. It’s not theoretical. In any case, it is always ‘transformative’ in the moment.

Awareness is more choiceless than breathing, but the conditioned mind reacts to elements of awareness that it “chooses” to support its conditioning. For instance, I am listening to the birds and I hear a particular birdcall that I believe is a harbinger of drought or flood or fire, etc., and I’m overwhelmed with dread. Or, I’m delighted because it signifies peace and prosperity. Regardless of what significance I’m conditioned to give to what I’m aware of, my conditioning distorts awareness and affects my behavior, and Krishnamurti calls this distortion “choice” because it is imposed by human will.

In such a situation, a flood relief worker will respond in a completely different way. It is true that conditioning will affect the behavior of the mind in a given situation. A mind with some sort of detachment and skepticism may perceive the situation more closer to reality, I guess.

How the mind can be aware of stereotypes that happened in a group of people?

What is the role of expectations in our awareness?

Please share your view :slight_smile:

I dunno … to say that every situation, every moment calls for one action that comes from full awareness of the moment, and that any choice in the matter derives from confusion … that just sounds way reductive to me, a missing of the complexity and subtlety of how things unfold.

Was Picasso confused when he chose a color from his palette, or when he painted over something in a different color? (I know this analogy doesn’t hold 100%, but go with it.) I don’t think so, I think he was playing, interacting, dancing with the world.

If choiceless awareness is based on the idea that choice means confusion and choicelessness clarity, then I dunno if I buy it, it sounds fishy. Of course it’s very possible I’m misunderstanding Krishnamurti’s intended meaning of choice and choiceless.

Choice implies that the mind isn’t free to observe, examine, discover, etc., because it is limited to what it knows and believes within the context of what-should/should-not-be.

A free mind isn’t bound by words, images, ideas, hopes, beliefs, etc., so it is free to act without choosing a course of action.

Krishnamurthy said that, if there is choice then mind is not aware of what it wants. I think, it applies to most of situation we face in our of life.

If i might, I think you are more than a bit hung up on this idea of “what he meant”. Why don’t you just do it? Look at yourself without choosing what to look at, what to see, what to hear, what to feel… You can go on for years about what he ‘meant’, but when you do it yourself, perhaps, you’ll see what he meant. As he was fond of saying, “just do it sir!.”

1 Like