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What is the Essence of K's Teaching?

I have been asking myself what is the essential core of Krishnamurti’s teaching? Is it possible to articulate it succinctly, to get at the root of it (because it can take so many forms of expression)? - I realise that Krishnamurti has written a 300 word abbreviation of his teaching already, but what would get at the heart of it in just a couple of sentences?

It occurred to me that it could be stated simply as:

having an insight into the total nature of common consciousness (which is ultimately nothing more than the movement of time-thought).

If we wanted to elaborate slightly, we might say that psychological time and thought has created the common consciousness of human beings (with its contents of nationalism, belief, pleasure, desire, hurt, envy, anger, greed, fear and suffering - together with the self-image: the self or ego or observer).

The self, the me, the observer, is not actually separate from the contents of consciousness - the appearance or feeling that it is separate, is an illusion.

And so the only important thing for a human being is to step out of this stream of human consciousness, completely: to end time (which is becoming) and thought (which is based on memory) - which can only be done through seeing, through choiceless awareness of the contents of consciousness, through observation without an observer (which is attention), and then insight.

Does this sound right? - What do others think or feel might constitute the core of K’s teaching in one or two sentences (if they were willing to share it)?


Only a flash of light can illuminate the complete structure of the self.


Yes - a flash of insight.

Would you add anything further to this - “an insight that illuminates the complete structure of the self” - or do you feel this is sufficient to capture the essence of K’s teaching?

I am reminded of a very succinct way of putting it that K sometimes used:

When the self is not, beauty is

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I think the underlying dilemma both for K and us is that dissection reveals fragments, and a flash of light reveals how the pieces are connected. K tried different ways to communicate the need to participate with more than the intellect.
ie: “understanding not intellectually, not verbally, but actually with your heart”
In our dialogues do we have the intensity in order to explore and participate like that.

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Yes, I think that’s fair. - A participation with the whole heart, mind and nerves, not just with the intellect.

It occurred to me that another way of communicating the essence of K’s teaching, but with this quality of whole-heartedness that you mention, is to ask ourselves whether we can live completely with the psychological what is - with complete attention, without prejudice or choice - and find out whether a flash of insight (connecting everything together) is truly possible for us?

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I don’t know if it is impossible or not, and therein lies the beauty of the exploration. There can be an urgency to explore in order to eliminate everything as we come across it.

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Yes - an urgency to explore (non-accumulatively), but without any direction or motive. Living with what is for its own sake, for what it reveals (the revelation is the elimination).

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Another look into the essence of what K said: There are two seeds in the teachings, one: for god’s sake look at who you are, and two: you don’t know what you are missing.
K gave us two packets , one labeled self and the other love. He said if you plant them in the right soil and nourish them they will grow and flower. You’ll then see what they actually look like, without having to shoot arrows in the night at an imaginary target. If you plant them in your gut, care for them with your heart, and not let your mind deny their existence, then who knows what might come to be.


That’s beautifully put Carl. - Just as an aside, it does seem that the analogy of flowering comes close to capturing the essence of K’s teaching. The flowering of what is, and the flowering of beauty and love.

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Another way of articulating the essence of K’s teaching might be:

The world is in a mess; that mess has been created by human beings - more particularly, by our thinking.

What is thought? Thought is matter, thought is the product of experience and knowledge stored up in the brain as memory, thought is time.

Thought has created all the contents of our consciousness (nationalism, belief, fear, pleasure, sorrow, etc). See it and end it (through insight).

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At the core of any teaching there is first of all oneself as a learner.

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Yes - maybe you could elaborate a little more? It doesn’t sound as though you are attempting to distil the essence of K’s teaching in what you have written (although maybe you are): are you simply saying that aside from any “teaching”, we are all essentially learners?

Yes, we are learners, but learning about what? Are we learning something about ourselves from someone whom we see as a good teacher? Or are we learning directly about ourselves, primarily from what we are seeing in our relationship with the teacher? Then the teachings are a mirror into which we are looking and we are all the while seeing only the truth about ourselves. There is no other truth which the teachings are attempting to convey.

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Yes - the teachings of K are a mirror that we can use to learn about ourselves. There are no abstract truths; only the facts of how we are living.

So then it becomes a matter of finding out how we are looking into this mirror, knowing that any motive will prevent us from seeing the truth about ourselves. Probably this is the most difficult thing of all: to look at and to listen to ourselves without any motive to change what we see or hear.

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Yes - to look at and listen to what we are without judgment. The fact of what we are needs no opposite.


This implies that there is no such thing as self-improvement. That’s quite a shock, isn’t it?

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Well, yes, in a certain respect, I think that is so. But, (in a manner of speech) I just don’t think it says quite enough. In a sense, the fact that “I” exist at all, even as illusion, means that some “thing” is to be attended to. Insofar as there exists “that ‘thing’ which is to be attended to,” does mean that something is to be improved upon.

A question could be, while being clear about the fact of the interconnectedness of everything, What is it to attend?
I’d think that this fact is not even touched by the conditioned besides the facade of intellectualism.

You’ll have to be more clear on what you’re saying.