Krishnamurti: how am I to be free, free to live happily?



The following is written by Jiddu Krishnamurti, taken from BULLETIN 6, 1970

…the centre says to itself: how am I to be free, free to live happily, completely, openly, and act without sorrow or remorse? But it is still the centre asking the question. The centre is the past. The centre is the ‘me’ with its selfish activities which knows action only in terms of reward and punishment, achievement or failure, and its motives, causes and effects. It is caught in this chain and the chain is the centre and the prison.

There is another action which comes when there is a space without a centre, a dimension in which there is no cause and effect. From this, living is action. Here, having no centre, whatever is done is free, joyous, without pain or pleasure. This space and freedom is not a result of effort and achievement, but when the centre ends the other is.

But we will ask how can the centre end, what am I to do to end it, what disciplines, what sacrifices, what great efforts am I to make? None. Only see without choice the activities of the centre, not as an observer, not as an outsider looking inward, but just observe without the censor. Then you may say: I cannot do it, I am always looking with the eyes of the past. Be aware, then, of looking with the eyes of the past, and remain with that. Don’t try to do anything about it; be simple and know that whatever you try to do will only strengthen the centre and is a response of your own desire to escape.

So there is no escape, no effort and no despair. Then you can see the full meaning of the centre and the immense danger of it, and that is enough.


Many ways to Freedom

There are many ways that can lead an apparent individual person to freedom, a freedom that is already totally here and present and yet not always recognised or acknowledged.  There is the method of direct pointing, the path or understanding or knowledge, the path of devotion or surrender or love, the path of mindfulness, or through meditation. These are just some of the many ways, and eventually they all converge and are seen to be the same One Path (if taught correctly).

There are paths that require no belief and no faith, and others that are faith based. Some paths delve into the esoteric whereas others do not venture away from normal, direct, everyday experience. Some ways rely heavily on words, concepts and thought, (which are hopefully later dismantled) and others transmit  the teachings non-verbally.  Some (most) paths initially seem to reinforce the sense of a separate ‘I’ whereas others vehemently deny this appearance of separation from the outset.

There are countless other adjuncts that can also be useful, such as prayer, chanting, physical exercises and other ritualistic and more formal practices.

Or perhaps none of the above are required.

My view is that all these teachings and paths (including those that deny any teaching, path or way) can often play a valuable role in the journey of a seeker, and the exact shape of a seekers path varies considerably and is ultimately unique. However there are some general trends that generally apply, and understanding these tends to quicken the path as well as make it considerably easier. I summarise these trends in this article here.

In today’s spiritual market place, many teachings are available and the seeker can often find themselves somewhat confused and disillusioned with the teaching, teacher or path that was meant to lead them home, but for some reason didn’t live up to expectation. Many teachers only teach in the way that worked for them, and sometimes they denigrate other ways that are, superficially at least, contrary to what worked for them.

When I was seeking, my journey lead me to explore quite a lot of spiritual teachings, both traditional and non-traditional, and I began to see how they all potentially fitted together. I especially explored Yoga, Vedanta and Buddhist teachings, and have been studying each of these teachings for over 20 years now. My sense is this understanding of how this realisation can be shared in a number of different ways is particularly valuable in a world of plurality where seekers come from many different backgrounds with many different experiences and there are many seemingly contradictory teachings on offer. The result is the seeker is often left in confusion and perhaps even disillusionment about how to go forwards, and there is often a sense of isolation as how best to proceed.

I humbly offer you what I have learnt in order to facilitate your Jouney Back To Your-Self, to the Here/Now, in order to recognise this Freedom that already is here. My plea is that you approach what I have to offer with kindness and an open heart, be willing to look beyond the words I use and be open to what they may be pointing to, and also to be open to the non-verbal aspects of the teaching and transmission. This plea is not for my sake, but I think you will find that this open kindheartedness is a major key in unlocking the door which is always open, but apparently hides what is already fully present.

In ages gone by, as well as today, this perennial teaching has been expressed in a multiplicity of ways, and paradoxically, the most accurate verbal expression is not always the most conducive for a genuine and full transmission to occur. In fact I have found that in many cases that when a genuine realisation have been achieved, it often leads to a unique way of talking about and expressing this, a way that is not simply a parroting of myself or any other teacher, but a unique expression due to the unique body-mind it is being expressed through.

I express this Freedom in different ways at different times, and if you decide to spend time with this expression that occurs through me, I hope you will see how there is no real difference in these expressions. Seeing unity amidst this apparent diversity will surely go a long way to improving mutual respect and understanding between individuals and traditions, as well as allow the teachings to reach those whom it may not ordinarily reach.  We can also be aware of how not all teachings are equal, how some teachings are limited and even sometimes dangerous, and when certain teachings will be more effective in given circumstances.

If you feel I can be of any benefit to you, please contact me or attend one of my meetings

With best wishes





What remains?

silence lake sunset

What is the ego?
Will you accept my definition or find out for yourself?

Stop, be aware of what is happening:
Notice the content of your thoughts.
Notice the feelings that accompany the thoughts:
Is there tension and stress in a particular thought?

Or is there a freedom,
A space where thought is free to move,
Free to come and go as it pleases?

And what is the ego?
What does it feels like?
What kind of energy does it bring into the physical organism?

Be open to feel this ego:
Get a sense of what it feels like in its many guises.
Relax and let it in.

Notice a cascade of thoughts and feelings:
When they are believed in and invested in,
The egoic thoughts weave an apparently believable story line,

But when seen for what it is,
Inherently empty of any self,
Just empty thoughts coming and going,
With some associated sensations,
And perhaps an interpretive thought accompanying and interpreting what the ‘feelings mean’.

Notice there may be an urge to get out of the ego,
A movement of thought that attempts to end the ego may occur,
And notice that this is simply more of the ego,
More of this activity based on this false sense of self,
Based on this false notion of separation.

When things are seen for what they are,
And allowed to unfold as they are,
And illusion born of thought is no longer believed in,
What remains?

Are spiritual teachings prescriptions or descriptions? Sudden vs. gradual teachings.

Q.  Hi Tom, often you talk about spiritual teachings as something you have to do, like a spiritual practice such as devotion or enquiry, but in my experience the most effective spiritual teachings are not really teachings or prescriptions but the best teachings are descriptions. Does that make sense? What are your thoughts?

Tom: Hi _____, yes that’s a really good point, especially as you near the end of your spiritual search or spiritual journey, descriptions become more important than prescriptions. Essentially the higher teachings are descriptions and the lower teachings are prescriptions. Let me explain:


The higher teachings simply describe your normal everyday experience, pointing out the Freedom that already is. This is why some higher teachings are called pointers. They are pointing out what already is the case.

They are not saying you need to do anything or become anything, they are not saying you have to improve in some way, but are pointing out the illusion of separation that when believed in causes suffering. Examples include statements like ‘there is no separate self’, ‘there is no doer’, ‘there is only god’, ‘all is one’, ‘awareness always is’.

These teachings are descriptions. These descriptions can trigger an insight, or in-seeing, into something about life as it already is, but has thus far not been recognised/realised.


Now the prescriptions, the lower teachings: these teachings tell you that you have to do something, they prescribe you something do to, such as meditation, chanting, physical exercises, be near the guru or some other kind of action to do. Prescriptions are instructions to be carried out by the body mind. They are often teachings for the ego, and are something for the ego to do, and so may serve to perpetuate the ego and can often actually reinforce the sense of self/ego/separation.

Prescriptions are instructions to be carried out by the body mind. They are often teachings for the ego, and are something for the ego to do, and so may serve to perpetuate the ego and can often actually reinforce the sense of self/ego/separation.

Perhaps implicit in this type of teachings is that you are not quite good enough as you are and that you have to improve or change in some way. There is also, perhaps, the idea of spiritual progress here, the idea of a path that can be travelled and a destination to be reached. All this is implied in prescriptive practices.

Notice that I write ‘perhaps’ and ‘often’ because practices are not necessarily bad, as I explain below.

Prescriptions as descriptions

There is also a third way of looking at this, which is that teachings that prescribe certain activities or practices can also be seen to be descriptions when looked at in another way, and so what appears to be a lower teaching can then be seen to be a higher teaching.

For example, the practice of mindfulness in which the seeker is instructed to ‘be mindful’ or ‘be aware of the present moment’ can be instead seen as a description of the way things already are, ie. awareness is already aware of whatever is being experienced, regardless of whether or not the mind is caught up in thoughts or not. The instruction of ‘be aware’ has been trumped by the pointer or description that ‘you are already aware’ or ‘awareness is already here.’

Similarly with ‘be unattached’, or ‘be loving’, or ‘be at peace’ – these prescriptions can be seen as descriptions of life as it already is, without having to lift a finger:  ‘be unattached’ becomes a description of awareness that is already unattached and ever-free, ‘be loving’ becomes a description of awareness that already fully embraces, ‘loves’ and is one with the totality of every experience, and ‘be at peace’ points out that awareness is a synonym for peace in that it is a constant in a world of impermanent transitory objects. All things come and go, awareness just is. We could continue: the prescription ‘let go’ becomes a pointer at  the fact that awareness has already ‘let go’ as it is and always has been unattached.

Descriptions are not necessarily better

As I said at the start of this answer, descriptions become more important towards the end of your seeking journey and they are essentially the higher teachings. Descriptions act as pointers that can trigger insight into the illusion of separation. Does this mean they are better? Many would say yes, but I disagree, at least partially. Both prescriptions (practices) and descriptions (pointers) are useful to different people depending where they are.

Practices are useful to purify the mind, reduce neurotic and addictive habitual tendencies, which results in a calm and peaceful mind that is able to better understand the pointers. As the mind becomes calmer, more psychologically integrated and mature, and happier, the pointers work much better and can trigger a ‘shift’ as intended.

Practices are useful to purify the mind, reduce neurotic and addictive habitual tendencies, which results in a calm and peaceful mind that is able to better understand the pointers.

Here, where the mind is already relatively pure, happy and calm, pointers/descriptions become increasingly important. What is interesting is that most spiritual teachings in the public domain tend to be action orientated, ie. practices/prescriptions. Most people when they encounter spirituality never even hear of direct pointers or so-called radical non-duality, so in this context of lack, the pointing teachings/descriptions become even more important.

That said, many seekers do not possess calm, contended happy minds, and so a practice/prescription becomes much more important, at least initially. I often come across seekers who are addicted to the radical non-dual teachings but their minds are still gripped strongly by illusion and as a result the chaotic and addictive habitual tendencies of body and mind doesn’t allow the pointers to truly hit home apart from on the intellectual conceptual level. The pointers do not penetrate the heart as the heart is barricaded in by a barbed-wire fence of intellect and concepts, often non-dual concepts.

These seekers are often lured in by the possibility of a quick, easy and instantaneous enlightenment in which one single ‘ah-ha’ moment will result in the total annihilation and vapourisation of all their pain, suffering and negative habits into a giant puff of smoke, and they will emerge An Enlightened Master from the Instantaneous School of Awakening. And while that may apparently happen for some, for most a process of purification is required, both before and after awakening.

Non-dual prescriptions

Yes, purification is also often required after awakening, and this is why I said ‘perhaps’ above when talking about the prescriptive teachings. Even when the illusion of separation has been seen through, spiritual practices may still be useful. Here, after awakening, practices no longer perpetuate the ego or false sense of self/separation that may happen during seeking.

Just as an enlightened sage can take driving lessons to learn to drive or buy an electric toothbrush to better clean their teeth, they can also utilise spiritual, physical and psychological practices to make their lives more comfortable on the social, physical and psychological levels.

Now practices fulfil a practical function. Just as an enlightened sage can take driving lessons to learn to drive or buy an electric toothbrush to better clean their teeth, they can also utilise spiritual, physical and psychological practices to make their lives more comfortable on the social, physical and psychological levels. They refine the body and mind and remove negative habitual tendencies which in turn results in less suffering on the relative level (of things or objects) and eases the flow of energy in the body. This improves alignment with life and also improves social and physical functioning as a result. As the mind is purified, psychic and intuitive channels are also allowed to more fully open and wisdom can pour in this way too. Lastly, it is this purifying aspect of the teaching that leads to a more ethical way of living and is the link between love, ethics and spirituality.

Lastly, it is this purifying aspect of the teaching that leads to a more ethical way of living and is the link between love, ethics and spirituality.

I often describe this as a process of heart opening in which the conceptual understanding sinks down into the energetic and emotional heart and eventually the knot of the ego is cut when the egoic tendencies have been removed, either by life or with the additional help of a more formal spiritual practice. Here the sense of individuality is lost at an energetic level as well as the intellectual knowing, but the perspective of the body-mind continues as long as the body-mind lives.

Descriptions can also purify

Pointers and descriptions, whilst their primary purpose is to trigger insight or recognition into an aspect of ordinary life that was previously overlooked, they can also have a purifying function, that is they can also have a role in removing negative habitual tendencies which is the usual role of spiritual practices.

This works by being exposed to pointers repeatedly over a length of time. Over time, the pointers seep into the mind of a seeker, infiltrating the mind’s hidden depths, slowly rooting out false thoughts and notions based in ignorance, slowly rooting out ignorance. Then one day a critical mass is reached and the penny drops, the bottom of the bucket of water falls out and the illusion of separation is seen through. If the seeker-finder now continues to expose themselves to the pointers, even though the essential insight/realisation has occurred, these same pointers can have a purifying function in removing residual and vestigial habitual tendencies that may still cause discomfort and suffering on the phenomenal level (ie. the everyday world of objects in which the person/we live)

Gradual vs sudden path

Basically what we have been talking of here have historically been called the gradual and sudden paths to enlightenment. The gradual path is sometimes called the progressive path, and the sudden path can be called the instantaneous path or no-path school. Pointers may form part of the sudden school, whereas practices predominate in the gradual paths. There have been arguments between these ways of looking at enlightenment teachings and technologies/practices for many centuries across various traditions, most notably Buddhist schools.

Hopefully in this answer I have outlined how these two approaches can be utilised together to maximise success in achieving both insight into the Freedom that is already here, as well as remove the negative addictive habitual tendencies that perpetuate relative suffering and egoic decision-making.

Purification and  insight

Purification takes time and energy – it occurs at the level of the body and mind and results in a maturation in the psychological and energetic domains. I liken it to weeding a garden. Insight is quick, takes little energy, and most readily occurs in a relaxed but awake and aware state of mind relatively free of thoughts. I liken it to looking up and noticing the sky that was always there for the first time.

Purification involves change and improvement of the body-mind, insight is noticing that which was always there but was overlooked.

Don’t all practices just perpetuate the false-self? (Seeking vs teaching)

Now I’m sure many will disagree with what I am saying. Particularly the staunch non-dualists, those who say no practice is required and say that all practices just strengthen and reinforce the false-notion of separation/self.

However I have always been interested in what actually works and am not really one to cling to dogma. It was when I started sharing or ‘teaching’ this that I really came to realise how important practices are. Of course, there is such a lack of pointing/descriptive type teachings in the common public domain, this form of direct pointing inevitably becomes very valuable, especially to those seasoned seekers who have not encountered it before.

However I have always been interested in what actually works and am not really one to cling to dogma. It was when I started sharing or ‘teaching’ this that I really came to realise how important practices are.

However I have seen many seekers who need to learn to relax, learn to be more positive and deal with their psychological issues first, as these are the overriding issues that are causing suffering and preventing insight from occurring. Whilst dealing with these psychological issues first is not always  necessary, it does make the awakening process much easier for most, as when the false sense of self is seen through, what can initially happen is that the ego/mind reacts with fear and anxiety. However if these fears and anxieties have largely already been dealt with, then the awakening to no-self becomes much smoother and easier.

Often what happens is that as a seeker becomes more advanced and purified, the direct pointings become more important and it is these that are ultimately liberating. When the seeker becomes a finder, often they stress the importance of the teachings that directly led to their own realisation – ie. the direct pointings.

However to ignore the indirect teachings, or practices and gradual path, we do a disservice to those who need them, and we may also prevent further purification post-insight from occurring.

However to ignore the indirect teachings, or practices and gradual path, we do a disservice to those who need them, and we may also prevent further purification post-insight from occurring.

Some final words

Whilst I try to map some of this out in order to aid seekers, especially those who are unable to find the answers they are looking for in a teacher or teaching, I acknolwedge that the path is different for everyone. These are some general trends and I am sharing what I know. I hope you find these words useful. Don’t cling to them too much either and remember this is difficult, if not impossible to put into words.

Best wishes to you and please contact me or join me in one of my online meetings if you think I can be of service.



Krishnamurti: have no shelter outwardly or inwardly

rose red enlightenment

Over the next few days I’ll be sharing a series of posts written by J. Krishnamurti. I hope you enjoy them, but also I hope you will take the time to slow down, read them carefully, ponder and see the simple profundity they indicate. Best wishes to you ❤

The following is written by Jiddu Krishnamurti, taken from BULLETIN 4, 1969

Death is only for those who have, and for those who have a resting place. Life is a movement in relationship and attachment; the denial of this movement is death.

Have no shelter outwardly or inwardly; have a room, or a house, or a family, but don’t let it become a hiding place, an escape from yourself.

The safe harbour which your mind has made in cultivating virtue, in the superstition of belief, in cunning capacity or in activity, will inevitably bring death.

You can’t escape from death if you belong to this world, to the society of which you are. The man who died next door or a thousand miles away is you. He has been preparing for years with great care to die, like you. Like you he called living a strife, a misery, or a jolly good show. But death is always there watching, waiting.

But the one who dies each day is beyond death.

To die is to love.

The beauty of love is not in past remembrances or in the images of tomorrow. Love has no past and no future; what has, is memory, which is not love. Love with its passion is just beyond the range of society, which is you.

Die, and it is there.

Total Freedom

Freedom from suffering is a total freedom.

Which means you are free to suffer.

Suffering is ok. When it’s ok, it’s no longer suffering. Just sensations, some more comfortable than others, the body-mind organism naturally responding to the feedback provided by the senses.

It’s just what ever is happening.

What is.

Freedom, no doer, who sees there is no doer?

Q: But who sees there is no doer? Isn’t it the ego itself that sees through the illusion of self?

I use the word ‘ego’ to be synonymous with ‘doer’. Because there is a belief in being a doer, there is the notion that ‘I can change this’, ‘I can get somewhere better’, which is the seeking. This seeking is a subtle form of suffering.

When the doer is seen to be false, the seeking starts to collapse, and suffering fades.

To answer your question: who or what sees there is no ego? That which previously saw the ego is that which sees there is no ego. It is never the ego that sees: the ego is a construct of thought, which is always the seen.

Freedom is Absolute Total Forgiveness

(This question is continued from a prior post: Responsibility: if there is no doer and no-self…then what about responsibility?)

Question: OK, you mentioned total forgiveness? That’s confused me. Why do you say that?

Tom: Well everything is just unconditionally accepted, choicelessly. That’s just the way things are. Whatever happens is whatever happens, and in that sense it is totally accepted regardless of what the body-mind thinks of it.

You could say our naturally awareness accepts and ’embraces’ everything within that happens within our awareness. In that sense there is constantly total forgiveness, or total  love, not the emotional love or forgiveness, though these phenomena tend to arise more frequently, but the choiceless acceptance/love/forgiveness of whatever is happening.