Freedom to Doubt

Part of what it means to be free is the freedom to not accept the authority of other people’s beliefs (in God, in religion, in communism, etc), or of people’s claims to having had special insight. It means freedom to be skeptical, both of one’s own claims to have special knowledge, and of other people’s claims to have special knowledge.

Skepticism means, etymologically “to observe, to view, to look”.

Doubt means, etymologically, to be caught in “two minds”, to be unclear about something (clarity being the direct seeing of it, to be of “one mind” about it).

So skepticism and doubt are concerned with looking at something very very clearly; to see it so clearly for oneself that one is of “one mind” about it. It is a matter of clarification and seeing.

Do we see the value of doubt, of skepticism, and how it is part of what freedom is? - For instance, the freedom not to accept a statement that is ambiguous, a statement that leaves open various implications without making these implications completely explicit, etc.

Which does not mean that we need to create a philosophy of doubt, or doubt everything someone says, becoming unreasonable in one’s skepticism. We are only speaking of rational or reasonable doubt - particularly as it relates to our psychological perceptions of the world.

There is a philosophy of skepticism which doubts the existence of tables and chairs, of an objective world outside one’s mind. This can either be explored through science (atomic physics), or through certain forms of complex Buddhist philosophy, for example. This can be reasonable and rational, but it is not the kind of reasonable doubt we are interested with on Kinfonet. This is because generally this kind of skepticism, if not really understood properly, often leads to solipsism (the belief of a person that only they exist, only they are real, and that the world of others is just a projection of that person’s private imagination). So this is not what is being referred to as rational or reasonable doubt.

A rational or reasonable psychological doubt is to take, for instance, one’s belief in God, and to ask what is involved in that belief, what is one actually talking about? Is God a belief? If God is more than a belief, how does one know God exists? Doesn’t it mean one must have directly experienced God? And if one has experienced something one calls ‘God’, what is involved in the experiencing something, whether it is God or the taste of apple juice?, etc.

Or to doubt one’s belief that one is an individual, with a separate consciousness of one’s own. Or to doubt one’s claim to have had total insight, to be transformed - or, if another person is implicitly or explicitly claiming this, to ask them to make clear what it is they are claiming.

So do we see the necessity of freedom to doubt, to be skeptical, both of our own thinking and experiences, as well as the thinking and experiences of others?

Viswa, some time ago I spent many hours talking and discussing with you, and it never became clear to me what your interests are, what your concerns are.

Mostly this is a language problem. It’s not your fault, but as I don’t speak any Indian languages, we can only communicate in English. And as I do not find your English clear, we never make much progress in a discussion.

Secondly, you seem to me to have an agenda. I could be completely wrong, and I’ve never been able to figure out what your agenda is, but in the past it seemed to involve an adamant rejection of Krishnamurti’s teachings, in favour of some kind of Indian religiousity that was never made explicitly clear. Though, as there is a language issue, I cannot know whether this is fair or not.

Thirdly, I have told you before that I find it difficult to discuss three or more issues at once. I simply don’t have the intellectual bandwidth to do this. And I find that you tend to mix together several separate and distinct matters at the same time, in a single question. I find this confusing.

I will try to respond to one of your questions:

Personally, I am not concerned with “doubting life”, in the sense of asking whether life is worth living, whether there is a meaning to life or if life is meaningless.

However, with respect to the life one leads, one can ask oneself what is involved in that life, what is its actuality - do you see what I mean? That is, for me, to look at life means to look at ‘what is’ (in Krishnamurti’s language): to look at the psychological facts of one’s life. Not to draw a conclusion about it and say it is meaningless, but to find out what it is, and whether it can be transformed or not.

This is how I would approach the question of life.

But my feeling is that you will not read or comprehend this post, due to the language issue, and so we will not make any progress.

The topic of this thread is doubt itself, not about “doubting life”, which is a separate discussion. But seeing as you have asked this question, I will try to respond to it.

It is not a matter of “needing life to be transformed”. Seeing as you mentioned the Buddha, let us take the Buddhist approach as an example.

The Buddha said that life, the way we live it, is full of suffering, conflict, confusion. He also proposed that such a life can be completely transformed.

To find out whether this is true, we first of all need to look at our life as we live it.

Perhaps we will find that even though the way we live life is full of suffering, conflict and confusion, we don’t mind very much continuing to live that way. This is, of course, how most of us actually do live.

Or we may find that living a life which is full of suffering, conflict and confusion is an absurd way to live; in which case we are open to the possibility of transformation. So when someone - such as Krishnamurti or the Buddha - says transformation is possible, we listen, pay attention.

What this transformation is we don’t know. What we know is the life we live. And both the Buddha and Krishnamurti say:

Pay attention to the life you live. Don’t get lost in speculating about transformation or nirvana; but pay close attention to your suffering, your conflict, your confusion, and find out what has brought it about, the cause; and whether the cause can be ended.’

Out of this close attention to the life we actually live we will find out for ourselves whether there is “no problem” with living a life of suffering, conflict and confusion - or if transformation of our lives is truly possible.

This is how I understand the question.

It isn’t clear to me what you’re trying to convey, and I don’t want to guess or speculate. Keep it simple. Use as few words as it takes to make it clear.

Good. My understanding is, the transformation is about exploring a possibility, to find out the full potency humans are capable of by “observing”, but not an escape from ‘what is’. Please correct me if I misunderstood.

My doubt here is, the way Krishnamurti explores is slightly (or partially) different from what Buddha points out, and I point out few of those here which you might already aware of.

The observation which Krishnamurti mentions is only about “psychological thought” and not including practical thought. That is, like, observing the psychological thought choicelessly itself possess the possibility of such transformation.
But, the observation which Buddha pose is that, suffering and conflict is also due to practical thought, and transformation can happen only by observing every thing/thought. The practical thought also has much conditioning in it, like going after money, power, material/sensual pleasures, and so without inclusively observing such thing the transformation is not possible.

I’m not repeating it as a conditioned Indian mindset, but I have practically saw how the threat of money, power, etc. pose physical violence in the way of business, economy, etc. (and caused much war/fight for power, money, sex, etc.), and so negating to observe the sufferings and conflict and physical violence out of such practical thought (which can be observed in most of the living beings), might not be able to provide a holistic observation.

You might be aware of all these, and so my question to you is, just stick to psychological thought and observe it - alone, or to observe the conflict and sufferings and physical violence in all thoughts (both psychological and practical) to find out whether possible to access such transformation or not?

Edit - previously I tried to contact you in fb, but couldn’t reach you, so even though my account gets deleted/removed/silenced, I come back here and cause burden to admin. If possible, please reach me to my mail -, or please share any other place/media which you feel free to communicate.


Thank you. I will try my best.

Viswa, I would rather not do private messaging as I have various family commitments of my own to attend to. But I’m sure we will meet again during the dialogues sometime.

However, I will do my best to respond to your post.

I have slightly corrected your sentence to make its meaning more focussed and to the point: that is, transformation (as I understand it) involves observing, not escaping, ‘what is’. That’s it in a nutshell.

I am only sharing my understanding with you, which may be partial, and which may be wrong.

The observer is the observed. So if there is suffering, or jealousy, or loneliness, or desire, etc, that is ‘what is’. And to observe it in such a way that there is no division between the one observing and the thing being observed (‘what is’), is true observation, as I understand it. Another way of putting the same thing is to observe without the observer. I am only talking psychologically here.

The difficulty of this is just to do it. Because it implies observing with ‘what is’ without avoiding it, running away, rationalising, judging, condemning, justifying, acting on or indulging, suppressing, etc. Choicelessly remaining with ‘what is’.

There is no guarantee that one will be able to do this. Given the way we live, to observe in a such a way can happen in moments only. The challenge is to find out how many such moments are possible for this brain-body; and when the moment has gone, it has gone. One is always starting from zero.

I am talking psychologically. But it’s probably not necessary to spilt thought into practical and psychological. After all, whatever practical thought you need you will have as soon as you want to cook food, catch a train or earn money. And whatever problematic thoughts that arise out of these practical concerns are always psychological. So one always returns to the psychological, like a pendulum always returns to its centre of gravity.

To fuss around with inessentials is a waste of life. The only thoughts that matter are the ones making us suffer, or creating fear, or creating conflict. This is our centre of gravity, psychologically speaking. To pay attention to these feeling states in the manner described earlier is the only thing I understand about Krishnamurti’s teachings.

As I said, the difficulty is only in how difficult our minds find it to remain choicelessly with this centre of gravity (the ‘what is’), how habituated we are to escaping or avoiding or moving away in one form or another. And nothing can make us observe, without escaping, ‘what is’. However, the door to observation is always open.

This is all I know about Krishnamurti (and Buddhist) teaching.

As I said, the difficulty is just to do this in daily life. It’s easy to do in theory! But to actually observe oneself the moment that one feels lonely, hurt, jealous, sensual, etc, without falling out of that observation into some variety of escape: this is the challenge.

Best wishes to you Viswa.

Thank you for the correction.

Okay. I understand.

True. No doubt.

This point is valid. But, I have a doubt/question here.

When you said “the only thoughts that matter are the ones making us suffer, or creating fear, or creating conflict”, you speak about every such thoughts?
Do we observe the sufferings and conflict, and perceive all fear and physical violence, or only partial/selective by negating few others as “healthy/necessary”?

When you have one bread and you are starving to death and fearful and suffering, and see many humans in such position, would you give away the full bread to others and reduce their hunger little bit and you yourself remain hungry and starve and die? Or give importance to your survival too?

The above is a practical thought or a psychological thought? Because there is sufferings and conflict and physical violence for that bread in such scarce times. There is also fear of one’s life at those times too.

Not just this, when it comes to earning money, there are much opportunity forgone/lost, and creates stress and sufferings in repayment and timely schedules.

Not just the above, to satisfy the needs of one’s spouse,parents,children is much hard and creates much fear and sufferings and physical violence between them.

So, that psychological thought which you spoke of creating fear, sufferings, etc., includes all the above situations (not just the above but many related practical situations in sensual pleasures, etc.)?

I was trying to be realistic. Of course every thought, every feeling, every reaction is there to be observed, listened to, watched, if one can do it. Attention means attention to everything that is happening, right through life.

But naturally one will not be able to do this, so to make constant attention into a goal becomes silly. It is enough - as far as I understand it - to give attention now to whatever is going on in one’s life.

When one realises that one has lost oneself in inattention again, one can become aware of this fact, and pay attention anew to what is happening now.

(Thinking about our own thinking is not attention).

If there can be a total insight that empties the contents of consciousness, then perhaps the situation will be different. But seeing as this has not happened to me I cannot speak about it.


I observe a slight loop in this thing you speak about, but I don’t know whether you would welcome such observation.

If you wish to, I will share it.

Edit - @James

No. No. No.

It’s not about repeated saying. If it is repeating something, then everyone doing the same in different manner, including Viswa, Inquiry, etc.

But, when I saw in your previous reply here,

I see a loop here.

It may be because I am simply saying in different words the same thing over and over again: for me the only thing that has value is observing, without escaping, ‘what is’.

If this doesn’t communicate to you, or you need more clarification about it, there’s a fellow called Krishnamurti who spoke extensively about all this for decades - I highly recommend reading his books and watching his lectures and conversations on YouTube. :pray:

I don’t know what significance you give to it being a loop, but it is a fact - for me at least - that attention is not something that can be sustained. Nevertheless, one can become aware that one is inattentive.

For example, one is lost in thought, and one becomes aware of this fact. So one has become aware of one’s inattention. Or one has become lost in a reaction, and one becomes aware of this fact.

Is this a loop? Going round and round in circles? If you find this unsatisfactory then you have two choices: you can either use different words to describe the same psychological reality; or you can have an insight that breaks the pattern altogether.

Because I am only speaking for myself, I can only describe what is psychologically actual for myself. Not having had an insight that breaks this pattern altogether, I do not compare myself with another who has. And so for me there is no such choice to make. Either I am attentive or inattentive. I can become aware of myself being inattentive, and then I am attentive. The challenge is to actually do this, and not get lost in endlessly splitting hairs.

The loop is oneself isn’t it? The loop is one’s life, the way we live it. If you find it unsatisfactory then you have to ask yourself: is the one who finds the loop unsatisfactory separate from the loop? Perhaps holistic observation can arise from that.

We are all caught in the same loop, Viswa. We can share an inquiry into it up to a point; but the actual observation of it cannot be done by another. So we each of us have to be a light to ourselves.

I don’t have anything special to share Viswa. I’m also caught in this loop. I don’t think practice can end the loop, because practice is a mechanical repetition, and the loop is alive and different in each moment.

So one has to be alive to the movement of the loop moment by moment.

Can such awareness (to the moment by moment activity of the loop) be sustained? I don’t think it can - at least, not for me.

So for me, as I said previously, there is only attention (when one is awake, alive, aware of the loop), inattention (when one is asleep, unaware of the loop), and becoming aware of one’s inattention (which is a form of attention).

If you want to say that this is just a continuation of the loop, then fine, I will not argue with you. But these are the only three states I am aware of in relation to the loop (the loop being one’s daily life).

There may be a way to end the loop once and for all. This ending may be through insight.

But, as I said before, I haven’t had such an insight (by which I mean a total insight).

I have said all this already. If you have objections to this, I apologise, but this is all I presently know. Maybe there is more to it than this - I make no claim to having special knowledge - but you will have to ask someone else about it if you want a different answer.

My understanding is that insight cannot be manufactured, bought, captured or attained through wishing, wanting, hoping, praying, desiring, longing, pleading, cajoling, suffering, imploring, inventing, inviting, accepting, denying, conniving, bartering, or any other movement of the mind.

And if I may point out: to be in a state of moment by moment attention is not a state of becoming. It is not that through attention one hopes to achieve something. Then it is not attention.

One is aware, attentive, awake - if one is - for itself. Not for any particular purpose or goal. If one is only aware, attentive, because of what one wishes to gain out of being aware and attentive, then one is in a state of inattention.

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