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What did Krishnamurti mean by fact?

I’ve never fully understood what Krishnamurti meant by fact.

Could someone help me understand … quotes and examples would be good.


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What do you think ‘K mentions’ Nobody?

I feel that - K mentions only ‘actual experience both inner and outer’ as a ‘fact’. That ‘experience’ is only ‘past’ and K says, that what we perceive really is a ‘fact’.

But personally for me, ‘fact’ is only ‘reality’ agreed by many. We may be programmed (or) in an illusion. When something happened before and experienced by many - as a ‘fact’. Like Earth revolves,we suffer,etc… But these all are ‘past’ - these are not ‘actual/truth’. Whatever might happen ‘now’. So, I cannot say some ‘past experience’ as an ‘actual’.

Viswa, hi. :slight_smile:

So for Krishnamurti any subjective experience is a fact?

So my present experience (now) is NOT a fact, as Krishnamurti used the term?

Some quotes and examples:

2nd Public Talk, Amsterdam, 1981

So a religious mind is a very factual mind, it deals with facts. That is, facts being what is actually happening, with the world outside, and the world inside.

4th Public Discussion, Saanen, 1977

K: What is the relationship of actual facts and truth? … What is the relationship of violence, which is an actual fact, to truth? What is the actual relationship to a recognised, well-known factor in oneself as envy, greed, fear, to truth? Right? What is truth? We will come to that. I daren’t touch it for the moment. But we can go into this question by being aware what is reality. Fact - right? - facts, ‘what is’, reality, truth.

What would we call facts, ‘what is’? What would you say, or describe, or talk about, ‘what is’, actually ‘what is’, not theoretical, not abstracted, not an abstraction, or a supposition. When we say ‘fact’, ‘what is’, what do we mean by those two words? Right? Facts. The fact is that there is war. Right? The fact is that human beings are violent. The fact is there are national divisions, political divisions, religious divisions, ideological divisions. Right? You and me - division, the woman and the man - division. And the fact is, where there is division there is conflict - the Jew, the Arab and so on and so on, the Muslim and the Hindu, and so on. … We said facts, or what actually is - short, tall, broad, brown, white hair, pink and so on, so on, black. Those are facts. The conclusions from those facts - like and dislike - though they are reality as illusions. Right? … I make a gesture, that is without words, but it is a fact. I look at you, friendly, or with antagonism. That’s a fact

Commentaries on Living, Series 1, Chapter 37

The idea is more important to us than the fact; the concept of what one should be has more significance than what one is. The future is always more alluring than the present. The image, the symbol, is of greater worth than the actual; and on the actual we try to superimpose the idea, the pattern. So we create a contradiction between what is and what should be.

2nd Question and Answer Meeting, Ojai, 1980

If one observes the fact of hate and all the responses to that fact, why should one have an opposite? The opposite is created by thought which leads to a constant struggle between hate and non-hate, between fact and thought. How is one to get over one’s hate? If the fact alone remains and not its opposite, then one has the energy to look at it. One has the energy not to do anything about it and the very fact is dissolved.

Thanks, James. :slight_smile:

I’m getting a kind of holographic sense of what Krishnamurti might have meant by fact.

It seems to distill down to something like: A fact is that which is self evidently true. It needs no logical proof, it’s right there in front of us, clearly visible … assuming one bothers to look.


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Yes - I think that’s right. From the quotations above, K clearly links facts to actualities, and also to what he terms ‘what is’ - so we might say that a fact is basically what is actually happening.

In some discussions with David Bohm (I can’t remember which ones off the top of my head) I remember them agreeing that a fact is what has happened or is happening.

Of course, a fact about something that has happened in the past is a little more tricky to pin down - but, very simply, if something has actually happened (in the past), then it means that it is amenable to investigation; it must have left some traces, some evidence of what occurred. It is something that is publicly available to discovery.

For instance: the second world war is a fact that is attested to by film-footage from the time, from countless documents and newspaper articles, from living testimony of those who lived through it, and from all the graves that mark the passing of the people who died during that war. Even though I personally did not experience the second world war, I have no reason to deny that it actually happened. - Right?

There may also be complex facts that are more difficult to discover (or properly know, without a certain amount of training and expertise). Many scientific facts about the world fall into this category - such as evolution, the truths of astronomy or atomic physics, climate change, etc. But there is no reason to doubt - for instance - that the temperature of Mars during winter can get down to minus 120 degrees C at night (from what I was taught)!

But - for Krishnamurti - the important facts are the “self-evident” actualities of psychological experience: our inward states of anger, pleasure, joy, suffering etc; and the outward way that this same human consciousness expresses itself in society - as national divisions, religious divisions, consumerism, war, poverty, pollution, etc.

A psychological fact can also be changed or dissolved - according to K.

The strength of using ‘fact’ this way seems to be its pragmatic real-life simplicity. Though we can analyze fear into oblivion, we all experience it, its existence is a fact for us. Its weakness: different people might well see different facts resulting in a Tower of Fact-ual Babel.

Strengths/weaknesses aside, we should all understand what Krishnamurti meant by ‘fact.’

Could you give an example?

Sitting in front of a group of people, Krishnamurti might have said: “It is a fact that we are inquiring together into X.” A member of that group might have said: “It is a fact that you are speaking to us about X.” That might seem like a trivial difference, but I think it’s actually very significant.

Basically, ‘facts’ depend on point of view. To stay with only those facts that everyone in an inquiry sees from the same (or similar enough) point of view is going to limit the scope of those facts quite strongly, don’t you think?

Which doesn’t mean it’s not a fertile approach to exploring something. Just that … it’s tricky. One needs to either find very likeminded souls or be willing to move ever so slowly. I’d love to try!

Yes, I agree that it is tricky! - There are very few people who are willing to slow down enough to move in this way, from fact to fact. In most of the dialogues I have attended the people are either too different from each other, too impatient, too evasive, too stupid, too this, that and the other, to really move carefully from fact to fact. That’s why it doesn’t generally happen much. - But it can and does happen.

And - honestly - what’s the alternative? To move from idea to speculative idea? We do that anyway, and then argue about whose speculations are closer to the truth :slightly_smiling_face: (the Buddhist speculations or the Advaitin speculations, or the K folk, etc).

But a fact has no opposite - it is not a matter of argument (at least, not once it has been seen). If you and I were crazy enough to want to find out what is actually on top of Mount Everest (and we distrusted satellite technology, drone images, or the testimony of others), then we would have to climb Everest. If - by some miracle! - we survived to the top in good health, and were not suffering altitude sickness, then we would see the same scene, and be able to say to each other: so this is what is on top of Everest. - There would be no argument. The contrarian need to find a loophole in this fact would be undercut by the more practical reality that it would have taken weeks and weeks of preparation, expense, and perspiration to reach the top and see what there was to be seen. Friends don’t argue about trivialities.

So a fact creates no controversy, no disagreements, no division.

If we could hop from fact to fact - like a frog on a lilly-pad - then there need not be at any point any persuasion or dissent. But the people in the dialogue must be willing to move like that without creating unnecessary defences.

The fact is what is clear, with no intermediary, no observer. But mostly we talk about the distractions, the conditioning, the way of thinking, and our approach to the question, because we are not seeing clearly. We will be trying to clarify all this using our thinking process, and this is not carefully looking, openly and freely. Now we will be thinking about investigating and substantiating what someone has said about not seeing clearly. Again using a thought process wanting to be right. Now we will want to know why someone thinks they are right. And on and on.

Rupert Spira and the Neo-Advaita Direct Path teachers often use a form of fact leap-frogging by staying within the realm of experience. When I listen to their teachings, I often agree with each leap/fact from beginning to end. But I’m always left with the sense that the path they take and the conclusion they reach is just one path/conclusion out of a vast set of possibilities.

@nobody Thanks for the question! I needed it verbalized apparently.

Never saw the value of K’s approach towards freeing the mind as much as now.

First, It is hinted and, if necessary, shown that what is believed could actually be not a fact.

Then I ask, if it is not, then what is?

The reply would: be look and observe, all day. whenever belief, desire, thought rises up.

Reserving the energy for looking rather than answering, otherwise belief is there even if it was K’s words which now are my own words.

@James I’d say that, for now, this is the essence of K’s teachings for me. Don’t know how you would articulate it - Truly questioning one’s reality is enough. Seeking answers destroys the process.

To the conditioned: Fact is belief.
To the unconditioned: Fact is the immeasurable… (I don’t mean God)

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I don’t know if you heard the recent Immeasurable Podcast interview with Rupert Spira? (the Immeasurable is a podcast run by the KFA). Even though the podcast interview wasn’t without its weaknesses, it did bring out explicitly how Spira’s “positive” approach clashes with K’s “negative” approach.

I discussed this with some others at the time - but with Rupert you have to go along with his affirmation of a transcendent “I” (Atman) that is supposed to exist behind all experience; a transcendent “Observer” (with a capital “O”) who is different from the observed. Our thoughts, feelings, sensations are not who we really are, in Rupert’s approach. Rather, who we are is this transcendent “I” (which he also calls “presence” or “awareness”) - and so the audience has to accept an affirmation, a “positive” belief, in this “I”.

With K, on the other hand, you do not begin with any belief or positive affirmation. You begin with ‘what is’: with the actuality of our confusion, our conflict, our loneliness, pleasure, hurt - thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc - just as they are.

There is no transcendent “I” separate from ‘what is’ to have faith in, because that “I” is the invention of thought. So in K’s teaching Spira’s transcendent Ego is an invention of thought sanctioned by tradition to help the actual ego escape full transparency.

In K’s approach, we begin with the experience of everyday life. And in ordinary everyday life there are simultaneously the observed contents of experience (pleasure, fear, hurt, etc), and an observer looking at those contents from the past (and reacting, judging, etc) - experienced as being separate from the observed. The point is then to find out whether this apparent separation is actual - or, the observer is the observed (the hurt is me, etc).

In Rupert Spira’s approach, on the other hand, we are asked to become aware of the awareness itself - the awareness, for instance, in which we notice there is an observer separate from the contents of experience. And the next step for Spira - in contrast to K - is to now identity this “new-found” awareness with the artist previously known as the observer (now the Observer with a capital “O”), and to suggest that this Observer (the I, the me) has always been there behind all the changes of content of experience (the observed). This gives us the feeling that we are situated in a privileged box-seat overlooking the ordinary human drama of other people - from which we are now separate. We are now Universal Consciousness (according to Spira).

But for K, this is a slight of hand trick, an illusion created by the observer (with a small “o”) to inflate itself - because the observer is not separate from the observed and so is still part of thought. So in K’s language, actual observation only takes place when the observer is absent - a situation that cannot arise so long as I am actively (and indulgently) identifying myself with the observer and thinking it to be something special and spiritual.

That is - in K’s approach the observer is never separate from ‘what is’ (the observed); they are the same movement of thought which has become divided through inattention. But if there is complete attention (which is “insight”), then the self - the “I”, the observer, etc - is completely dissolved: there is nothing.

Yet, for K, it is only when there is this no-thingness that there is a chance for an intelligence which is not part of thought or ego to come into being. This is the negative approach.

So, even though I’ve listened to or watched a number of Rupert Spira talks, I’ve always had the sense that he was a very refined, rather posh salesman of the I AM CONSCIOUSNESS view. For me at least he’s too sugary, too dependent on the audience being primed for the Advaita belief system (of I AM), and too willing to indulge his audience in their own “spiritual” mystique (of I AM).

What do you think?

I don’t have any objection to this. Although K did often say that it is greedy to strive to be aware constantly, “all day”. He said to just experiment with being aware (and looking), without making it into a goal, a problem, or an effort.

In so many other occasions he did say: if you don’t do it all the time then there is no point to it. Because one would accumulate from this point of awareness to the next.

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Only when K was talking about love or insight (which either exist completely or do not exist at all).

But when K spoke about being aware, he usually invited people to experiment with it, play with it, find out if one can look for a while at some ants crossing a path, or watching one’s thoughts, etc. To strive for a state of constant awareness is to create a goal that can’t be achieved - together with effort, time, the future and all the illusion that goes with that.

To be aware of what is happening at this moment is all that is necessary - not awareness “all the time” (which is an illusion, a mere what “should be”).

Who is striving here?

Ayham - this is not an intellectual puzzle!

You said - and I was in full agreement with this aspect of what you said - that the essence of K’s teaching for you was to simply

look and observe… whenever belief, desire, thought rises up

What I questioned was not the looking and observing (of whatever arises), but the part of your statement where you said

all day

That “all day” seems very innocent and acceptable, but it introduces an implicit ideal into the watching: I have to observe “all day”, I have to make an effort to observe “all day”, it’s not real observation if it’s not “all day”, etc. The “all day” is not an actuality - it is a projection of what should be.

It is this should be that creates the striving. Doesn’t it make sense to you to just drop what should be (the “all day”) and simply look at and observe whatever is arising? (which is what you had already said was for you the essence).