One of the complaints that people often make about Krishnamurti’s teachings is that they are too abstract, too intellectual, too impractical.
Added to this is also the fact that some people have made Krishnamurti’s teachings into an ideology, a conceptual grid to impose on anything that other people think or say or do.
So is there a way of understanding what K has said without falling into either one of these traps?
For example, is there an essence to K’s teaching that shortcuts the need for endless analyses of thought, time, self, consciousness, the observer, measurement, etc?
What do others think are the most practical elements of K’s teachings? (I am not asking for - or imputing - a method or a system for what he has taught).
The following extracts* from K reflect what I consider to be his most practical insights, which can be roughly distilled into two elements: no authority and seeing.
In this connection, K often used an analogy of getting lost in a wood, and asked his audience what would be the most intelligent thing to do in that situation. The answer is to stop (which I take here to be synonymous with his rejection of authority) and look (to observe, to see, both outwardly and inwardly).
The whole context for this stopping and looking - as always for Krishnamurti - is our actual relationships with people, ideas, and things (which includes ourselves obviously).
Not what ‘should be’, but ‘what is’…
If one is lost in a wood, what is the first thing one does? One stops, doesn’t one? One stops and looks round… So the first thing, if I may suggest it, is that you completely stop inwardly.
Forget all you know about yourself; forget all you have ever thought about yourself; we are going to start as if we knew nothing.
There is no guide, no teacher, no authority. There is only you - your relationship with others and with the world - there is nothing else.
When you… set up in yourself the authority of another… there is conflict between you and that authority. You feel you must do such and such a thing because you have been told to do it and yet you are incapable of doing it. You have your own particular inclinations, tendencies and pressures which conflict with [what the other has said]… So you will lead a double life… In trying to conform to the ideology, you suppress yourself - whereas what is actually true is not the ideology but what you are.
All authority of any kind, especially in the field of thought and understanding, is the most destructive, evil thing.
What we are now going to do, therefore, is to learn about ourselves, not according to me or to some analyst or philosopher - because if we learn about ourselves according to someone else, we learn about them, not ourselves - we are going to learn what we actually are.
Now where do we begin to understand ourselves? Here am I, and how am I to study myself, observe myself, see what is actually taking place inside myself? I can observe myself only in relationship because all life is relationship… I exist only in relationship to people, things and ideas, and in studying my relationship to outward things and people, as well as to inward things, I begin to understand myself. Every other form of understanding is merely an abstraction and I cannot study myself in abstraction; I am not an abstract entity; therefore I have to study myself in actuality - as I am, not as I wish to be.
To understand anything you must live with it, you must observe it.
If you start by saying, `I know myself’, you have already stopped learning about yourself; or if you say, ‘There is nothing much to learn about myself because I am just a bundle of memories, ideas, experiences and traditions’, then you have also stopped learning about yourself. The moment you have achieved anything you cease to have that quality of innocence and humility; the moment you have a conclusion or start examining from knowledge, you are finished, for then you are translating every living thing in terms of the old. Whereas if you have no foothold, if there is no certainty, no achievement, there is freedom to look.
If you want to understand the beauty of a bird, a fly, or a leaf, or a person with all his complexities, you have to give your whole attention which is awareness. And you can give your whole attention only when you care.
So to understand this living we have to look at it: to come intimately into contact with it, not have the space and time interval between yourself and it… Life is that movement which is active, the doing, the thinking, the feeling, the fears, the guilt, the despair—that is life. And one has to be intimately in contact with it.
Let us begin as though we know nothing about it at all and start from scratch.
We see with our eyes, we perceive with our senses the things about us - the colour of the flower, the humming bird over the flower, the light of this Californian sun, the thousand sounds of different qualities and subtleties, the depth and the height, the shadow of the tree and the tree itself. We feel in the same way our own bodies, which are the instruments of these different kinds of superficial, sensory perceptions… There is no preference, no comparison, no like and dislike, only the thing before us without any psychological involvement.
Is all this superficial sensory perception or awareness quite clear? It can be expanded to the stars, to the depth of the seas, and to the ultimate frontiers of scientific observation, using all the instruments of modern technology… the rose and all the universe and the people in it, your own wife if you have one, the stars, the seas, the mountains, the microbes, the atoms, the neutrons, this room, the door…
Now, the next step; what you think about these things, or what you feel about them, is your psychological response to them. And this we call thought or emotion…
Now can there be an awareness, an observation of the tree, without any judgement, and can there be an observation of the response, the reactions, without any judgement?
Have you ever held fear? Hold it. Not move away from it.
As you want to remain with pleasure, so remain with sorrow, don’t ever move from sorrow.
To be able to look at [all] this seems to me all that is needed, because if we know how to look, then the whole thing becomes very clear, and to look needs no philosophy, no teacher. Nobody need tell you how to look. You just look.
What do others feel are the most practical insights to glean from K’s teachings?
*Sources include Freedom From The Known, The Awakening Of Intelligence, and The Second Krishnamurti Reader.