Krishnamurti on Discontent

“All our religious books, all our gurus, all political systems pacify the mind, quieten the mind, influence the mind to subside, to put aside discontent and wallow in some form of contentment. Is it not essential to be discontented in order to find what is true?”

The Book of Life

“the very way of the self, the `me’, is this constant process of discontent directed towards a fulfilment; that is all we know.”

London, 1955

According to K, no matter who/what I think I am, I am discontent. Whatever contentment or satisfaction I achieve is only temporary, a respite from my determination to bring what I call “my discontent” to an end, even though there is no me, no I, separate from the discontent I am.

I say discontent drives me, but I am discontent itself, lost, separated, alone in a world built on lies and comforting beliefs. I am a human being so profoundly influenced and conditioned by everything believed to be true that all I truly know is that I am discontent.

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I am discontent and ashamed to reveal that to others. Discontent is contagious and I don’t want others to feel uncomfortable. When things don’t go my way, I am discontent, but when they do go my way, I feel self-fulfilled (content). I can be annoying or obnoxious when I am discontent, but I have learned to spare others, most of the time. Discontent usually brings about change.

Discontent is a double-edged sword. For most of us, rather than precipitating the “abandonment of all hope”, it either strengthens our resolve to find a solution out of our predicament or else mires us in the throes of despair. To be partially sensitive is to invite hell.

There is a world of difference between being discontent and being discontented. Another example of K’s absolutism. Where the self is, the other is not.

When discontent has no object to be content with then discontent becomes energy, a flame without a smoke.

There is the discontent of unfullfilled desires. And there is the discontent that refuses any fulfilment.

Why would we not accept fulfilment as a the resolution of discontent?

What do you mean by “the discontent that refuses any fulfilment”?

If I’m thirsty I must to find water. The same applies to food, shelter, and respite from discontent. What kind of brain is obstinately discontent?

There are plenty of reasons a brain would hold onto its feeling of discontentment. For example, say you identify with being discontent, it’s one of the first things that leap to mind when you think about yourself, losing it would mean losing a big chunk of your self identity, and the fear of that drives you to keep returning to discontentment, which provides the comfort of the known.

Sorry rick, I wasn’t describing our usual confusion - it was to do with something K said

I think there is a difference between the attention which is given to an object, and attention without object. We can concentrate on a particular idea, belief, object, - which is an exclusive process; and there is also an attention, an awareness, which is not exclusive. Similarly, there is a discontent which has no motive, which is not the outcome of some frustration, which cannot be canalized, which cannot accept any fulfilment. Perhaps I may not be using the right word for it, but I think that that extraordinary discontent is the essential. Without that, every other form of discontent merely becomes a way to satisfaction.
K, London, 1955

And what about a consciousness with no objects?

Yes, perhaps…

In zen we use the word great doubt. I mean in terms of doubt that accepts no conditioned, intellectual conclusions. That accepts no fulfilment from the source of suffering.

Roger that. Apparently I’ve attained unconditional freedom from context?

You were addressing @Inquiry’s question - and it was probably an accurate description of the usual human schenanigans - I’m just shamelessly trying to pull the inquiry in a different direction

Acceptance, resolution, etc,. imply a separate observer looking out, understanding, judging and responding to what it sees. Choice-ful awareness. As long as we believe - as we do - that we exist (psychologically speaking, of course), the brain will demand a resolution to discontent, it is built that way as @Inquiry has pointed out. and “every form of discontent becomes a way to satisfaction”. Even if I say I doubt I exist, there is an I that sets itself apart from what it perceives. All understanding leads to conclusion and further strengthens our conviction that we exist apart from our conditioning.

The only way that extraordinary discontent can come into being is if there is total freedom, which is not a perspective. That is how I understand Krishnamurti’s message anyway.

Discontent is inevitable as long as there is a self that requires certain favorable conditions to prevail. Simple awareness of the drama that is our reality - the conflict-ridden interplay of the observer and the observed, which we see as distinct, separate entities but which may be one, mere manifestations from a singular repository of memory/learning/knowledge.

From the vantage point of no observer, awareness would perceive the ‘extraordinary’ discontent of the observer clamoring for equilibrium in its unpredictable, self-created environment, extraordinary because unlike the ordinary there is no urge to influence or alter what is perceived. Choiceless awareness is simply that, an awareness of life as it is, nothing less, nothing more.

Choiceless awareness would require us to be more interested in freedom than resolution, a tall order seeing that we conceive ourselves as in control, imbued with free will.

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Isn’t choiceless awareness freedom from the illusion of choosing?

I can’t be choicelessly aware, can I?

The way I understand it, the “I” is comprised entirely of choice; take away the choices and the self ceases to exist. By that definition it would be an oxymoron to say that I can be choicelessly aware. We cannot see or perceive anything outside the virtual world of choice: the symbol/language/imagery/meaning that forms the basis of human experience - which includes my sense of myself.

The question is whether the mind - as in sensory, neutral awareness - can be privy to the process of choosing as it happens, or does the very fact of choosing, having personal preferences, - that is, the activation of the psychological self - overwhelm basic, common awareness to such a degree that the overarching truth of what is actually transpiring is rendered irrelevant, uninteresting, unimportant, of no value, boring. Krishnamurti appeared to have been able to prevent this from happening. For such individuals, life must not be solely about barter, about maximizing return, self-gratification, whether conscious or unconscious. He may have been an anomaly though and probably was mistaken in his assumption that because his mind/brain could see through the pinocchio illusion, any brain had the potential to do so as well.

That said, the realization that I cannot be choicelessly aware might very well be the catalyst required to unravel the enigma of human consciousness. Choiceless awareness must by necessity lie outside the field of what can be experienced. Outside, not in the spatial sense but rather in the sense of not beholden to, not constrained by.

At least we know how and where not to look. There is no how however much we want there to be.


Great Doubt (or Unfulfillable Discontent) is obviously not total freedom, but rather an inability to accept (a negation of) the “self-created environment”

Once we have seen the source of suffering, how could we be interested in resolution?

I wonder whether (in normal humans) this neutral sensory awareness ever occurs?

Does the brain project the things into our consciousness in a neutral manner first, then project our emotional relationship onto the things?
I first see my child, then establish my feelings towards her? Or by naming the thing, is my knowledge of its value included automatically in the thing?

I think there is a difference between the attention which is given to an object, and attention without object. K, London 1955

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Why is negation of the “self-created environment” obviously not total freedom?

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Mainly because it is still mechanically provoking a state of mind.

It used to be (for some hypothetical person) that fulfilment of the desired goal was felt to be the only worthwhile outcome, now for some reason, we are no longer able to accept any solution to our discontent.

The discomfort is usually because we are still under some authority. For example, a teaching, some intellectual understanding, some world view, some important emotional turmoil

For example we might be in a strong emotional relationship with words like : freedom, self, awareness. suffering

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Thanks for the reminder.

To be as ‘nothing’ is to have no emotional relationship to anything…even ‘nothingness’?