The Core of the Teachings :: Freedom

This is the Freedom teaching from Krishnamurti’s The Core of the Teachings. The full set is: Truth, Images, Freedom, Thought, Negation.

The Core of the Teachings :: Freedom

Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not choice. It is man’s pretence that because he has choice he is free. Freedom is pure observation without direction, without fear of punishment and reward. Freedom is without motive; freedom is not at the end of the evolution of man but lies in the first step of his existence. In observation one begins to discover the lack of freedom. Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.


Krishnamurti begins by stating what freedom is not:

Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not choice. It is man’s pretence that because he has choice he is free.

Krishnamurti used the term ‘reaction’ to mean conditioned response to external and internal events and situations. Reactions are not free, though they might appear free since they feel like second nature, effortless, spontaneous. They are constrained and driven by conditioning.

Choice, which is one of the hallmarks of conventional freedom, is in Krishnamurti’s view the illusion of freedom, a consequence once again of conditioning, which can never be free.

Both reaction and choice emerge from (are dependent on) psychological time, which Krishnamurti saw as the ‘enemy of man,’ the source of suffering and conflict. Perhaps we can say that freedom, Krishnamurti-wise, is absence of or non-attachment to psychological time?

Normally we think of freedom as the ability/permission to do whatever we want whenever we want, within the boundaries of the law and moral-ethical decentness. Right? Then dis guy comes along and turns this entire notion on its head! The ‘freedom to choose’ is seen as being non-freedom. The ego-I throws up its hands and thinks: WTF?!!

Does he present a convincing rationale for saying choice limits rather than fosters freedom?

After saying what freedom is not (reaction, choice), Krishnamurti says what freedom is:

But even when he speaks of what freedom is, he works mainly with negatives, which goes along with his general tendency to inquire via negation: Freedom is without direction, without fear, punishment, reward, without motive, without choice, not at the end of the evolution of man.

There are however some positive affirmations here too: Freedom is pure observation, freedom is in the first step of our existence, it is found in choiceless awareness of our daily existence.

Let us take a closer look at these.

This statement represents a radical departure from the conventional view of freedom. We usually think freedom is the liberty/permission/ability to do, to act, to exercise agency. But Krishnamurti says freedom is, rather, pure observation. The ‘pure’ means without motive, agenda, goal, bias, fear, comparison, judgement, without any psychological conditioning. Pure observation is seeing things as they are, undistorted, without the filter of conditioning. This is a hint that Krishnamurti viewed freedom and truth as intimately intertwined, perhaps two aspects of the same thing. Again, this is a strong departure from the conventional view of freedom.

So freedom is pure observation and choiceless awareness.

Seems that is what Krishnamurti was saying.

It is very interesting. Where do you find this words?

The full text is at The Core of the Teachings.


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What does Krishnamurti mean by ‘pure observation’? It’s directionless, like the pathlessness of truth. It’s free of fear-driven movement away from punishment or towards rewards. It’s without motive, agenda, goal, intention. These are presented as negations: no direction, fear, motive. Krishnamurti also presents them as positive affirmations:

True freedom is inherent, we are born with it, it is our birthright. It is choiceless awareness of everyday life, the seeing of whatever arises, of what-is.

And the appropriate (right) responses to the events-situations of what-is emerge from choiceless awareness effortlessly, naturally.