The world

When K says “you are the world” or in another instance he says" I am the world " what is the significance of his statement? (According to your opinion)

At one level what Krishnamurti means by I am the world is that each one of us is not separate from society.

‘Society’ as such is really an abstraction, because society is simply the outward expression of each person’s behaviour, each person’s consciousness. Without you, me, and another - and what is going on inside our minds - there is no society. So ‘I am society’ means society does not exist apart from me, you, and another.

But Krishnamurti also goes further than this. He says that our consciousness - each person’s consciousness - is the consciousness of the whole of humanity (‘the world’). That is: my suffering, my jealousy, my fear, my pleasure, is not fundamentally different from another’s suffering, jealousy, fear, pleasure. The contents of each person’s consciousness are similar, whatever part of the world we may come from.

And so - according to Krishnamurti - this implies that our consciousness is one indivisible whole. The perception that we are individuals is really a misperception of the fact that our consciousness is one indivisible whole.

@O7007 (According to your opinion.) Love does not flow through an opinionated self. But since you asked, “You are the world.” sounds delusional, and “I am the world”, grandiose. But it was part of Krishnamurti’s brand, stemming from a profound, dissociative experience he had in the 20s, which possibly recurred throughout his lifetime. It seems foundational to the teachings and could be used to motivate change in the individual.

I don’t know if you are merely being cynical DeNiro, but in case you think this kind of view is limited to people you regard as cranks, or with amateur self-diagnosed “dissociative disorders”, I think it is worth pointing out that this and similar views have been shared (aside from Krishnamurti) by people of outstanding quality and merit:

A human being is a part of the whole called by us ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.


Krishnamurti has said many lovely things over the years, that I have no way of proving, but would like to believe; for example, “With the wholeness of attention and immensity comes into being.”. He said it in this video with Dr. Anderson, J. Krishnamurti - San Diego 1974 - Conversation 11 - Being hurt and hurting others - YouTube But, he also lied to Dr. Anderson when he said he had never read the Bible. Just this week, I read Krishnamurit tell a group in 1927 (on page 22) of The Kingdom of Happiness that he was reading the Bible the day before. K also made statements to Dr. Anderson that he did not have an image of himself and that he had never been hurt. That indeed sounds self-delusional. So, when K says that with attention, hurt can be wiped away, (promising relief for trauma victims), it sounds like a good experiment, but how will we ever know for sure? We can try it for ourselves, but will we ever be able to trust Krishnamurti and all the “insightful” dogma he promulgated through the decades? Does it really matter if K sometimes lied and sometimes was self-deluded? Maybe, we can just pick the best of K, and let go of the rest? That’s what I tend to do, because K did give us many beautiful notions.

You’re such a cynic DeNiro. Krishnamurti said on many occasions that he used to read parts of the Old Testament (particularly Song of Songs) for its poetry - but when talking with a scholar like Anderson who has studied the Bible as part of his discipline K was simply indicating that he hadn’t studied the Bible in that manner. He was neither a biblical scholar, nor a devoted reader of the Bible. This is what I understood him to mean.

He also read the Dhammapada when he was young, for its language. But when he was with Buddhist scholars he made it clear that he had never studied Buddhist scriptures, because for a Buddhist scholar the study of scripture is an incredible commitment, and implies reading multiple texts, as well as analysing them with a view to having specific opinions or ideas about them - something that K clearly didn’t have.

It is not a matter of trusting Krishnamurti, or accepting what he said as “dogma”. It is about testing out what he said for ourselves.

I really do wonder about the people who regularly post on Kinfonet: almost nobody is actually interested in trying to understand what K has said. Most people merely want to spread their own dogmatism, or be cynical, or try to undermine Krishnamurti’s statements without trying to understand them, or else - like you - pick up on trivial side issues and turn them into ‘gotchas’.

If Krishnamurti is so untrustworthy, don’t bother with him.

It’s not you James, it’s me. I appreciate all you have brought to Kinfonet. I struggle with being a stickler for honesty. I see too much fraud and dishonesty in every nook and cranny. It’s a real ordeal for me at times. That K and Anderson video triggered me. (You might be interested in the part where K talks about what shows up in the business of religion–the explainers, the interpreters, the exploiters.) I’m not going to toss what K said, because I have a hang-up about honesty. I will adapt.

Doubt is the powerful force against dogma’s and conclusions the force to stop the flow.

All language is context dependent. So when looking at isolated statements abstracted from their context, one has to be at least notionally aware of what the context is.

First of all, it wasn’t a secret that Krishnamurti read parts of the King James Old Testament for its poetry. Mary Lutyens’ biography relates that Emily Lutyens used to read Keats, Shelley and the Song of Solomon to Krishnamurti and his brother Nitya when they were young boys, partly on the instruction of Annie Besant who commended it for its literary quality, to help Krishnamurti improve his English. At one point Krishnamurti was able to recite the Song of Songs almost by heart.

Krishnamurti also told Bohm and others that he read parts of the Old Testament - Isaiah, the Psalms, and the Song of Songs - for their poetic, literary value. So he didn’t hide this fact. He also enjoyed chanting in Sanskrit, in particular a famous chant written by Shankara. But it is clear to those around him that Krishnamurti was not a scholar. He probably never read the Upanishads or the Bhagavad Gita. He didn’t read religious texts with a view to finding out truth through them or grappling with their meaning in the way that serious students and religious devotees do. As I said previously, perhaps the only religious work he read seriously as a young man was the Dhammapada, a poetic work in the Buddhist canon of scripture that contains almost nothing by way of formal Buddhist doctrine or Buddhist analysis.

The context for Krishnamurti’s conversation with Anderson was, first of all, that Anderson is a scholar of religion. His whole metier is religious books and books about religion. And their discussion has to do with religion (at least, to begin with). That is, Krishnamurti is wanting to communicate his specific meaning of the word “religion”, which has to do with “gathering together all energy, at all levels, physical, moral, spiritual, at all levels, gathering all this energy which will bring about a great attention.” And to distinguish this from what “religion” means generally:

Religion has become a vast superstition, a great propaganda, incredible beliefs and superstitions, worship of images made by the hand or by the mind. So when we talk about religion I would like, if I may, to be quite clear that we are both of us using the word ‘religion’ in the real sense of that word, not either in the Christian, or the Hindu, or the Muslim, or the Buddhist, or all the stupid things that are going on in this country in the name of religion.

They then go on to talk about the impact that priests had on the mind of human beings from early times, who became the intermediaries between the individual person and ‘truth’, and it is in this context that Krishnamurti asks whether, rather than accept the mediation of a religious belief or faith,

Can the mind be so attentive in the total sense that the unnameable comes into being?

And it is then he says:

You see, personally I have never read any of these things, Vedas, Bhagavad-Gita, Upanishads, the Bible, all the rest of it, or any philosophy. But I questioned everything… Not questioned only, but observe[d].

And I - one sees the absolute necessity of a mind that is completely quiet. Because it’s only out of quietness you perceive what is happening.

So the major context is Krishnamurti’s concern with re-defining religion as essentially an act of pure attention. Rather than a belief system, a series of ideas and dogmas, religion, Krishnamurti is saying, is a gathering of all one’s energy to be completely attentive, to be in a state of total attention.

The references to religious texts that he makes in passing imply that Krishnamurti has not relied on these texts for the discovery of truth, and that he has not personally read them in the way that a seeker of revealed truth reads them.

For me, this re-evaluation of the nature of religion - as total attention - is the central factor, not whether Krishnamurti was claiming never to have read parts of the Old Testament for their literary value.

The other factor you mention, of Krishnamurti’s claim never to had a self-image, and so never to have been hurt, is something that we can naturally not verify. But there is no reason why - if one takes Krishnamurti’s teaching seriously - a human mind must, of necessity, create a self-image. And it may be that Krishnamurti as a boy never really created a self-image of the kind we are used to. So to call it a “lie” when Krishnamurti makes this claim is going too far. It is an unverifiable claim. - Although, according to the teaching, there is a possibility of verifying this claim for ourselves, if we can cease to have a self-image ourselves.

1 Like

Your post was restorative for me. Thank you, James, for pulling the transcript of the Anderson video, giving time to explain your detailed perspective and for mentioning the

  1. “The fragrance of holiness travels even against the wind. The influence of the holy ones extends everywhere.” “The fragrance of virtue travels even against the wind, as far as the ends of the world.” (4:11)
1 Like

Yes. I especially like the Thomas Byron translation (for all its flaws) of the Dhammapada. It brings out its poetry more than the other versions.

These are some of my favourite verses:

How sweetly the lotus grows

In the litter of the wayside.

Its pure fragrance delights the heart.

By watching and working

The master makes for himself an island

Which the flood cannot overwhelm.

By watching Indra became the chief of the gods.

How wonderful it is to watch

How foolish to sleep.

Like the Himalayas

Good men shine from afar.

But bad men move unseen

Like arrows in the night.

How long the night to the watchman,

How long the road to the weary traveler,

How long the wandering of many lives

To the fool who misses the way.

You are as the yellow leaf.

The messengers of death are at hand.

You are to travel far away. What will you take with you?

You are the lamp to lighten the way.

Then hurry, hurry.

The world is on fire! And are you laughing?

You are deep in the dark. Will you not ask for light?

If you cannot find

Friend or master to go with you,

Travel on alone -

Like a king who has given away his kingdom,

Like an elephant in the forest.

As the moon slips from behind a cloud

And shines,

So the master comes out from behind his ignorance

And shines.

Swans rise and fly toward the sun.

What magic!

So do the pure conquer the armies of illusion

And rise and fly.

The seeker who sets out upon the way

Shines bright over the world.

Like the moon,

Come out from behind the clouds!


Not sure what you’re saying here.