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Jidduh Krishnamurti: Thinking together
I'm one of those somewhat stereotypical people who offer lots of critique, but rarely have anything positive to say about anything. Well, there is one positive thing that I think a lot about. And that's Krishnamurti's concept of "thinking together," to which I add the concept of feeling together. I firmly believe that the only way out of this crisis is to become nothing, and in our joint nothingness, think and feel together. We must strip away our beliefs and conclusions, and with our newfound freedom decide — together — what we will now do.

Here's a series of videos & transcripts of Krishnamurti talking about thinking together (I'm just linking to the first, which links on to the next): &

If you search on YouTube, there are numerous recordings of Krishnamurti talking about "thinking together," and I can firmly recommend him as a marvellous orator.

What are your thoughts on this concept?
I think Jiddu Krishnamurti has serious insights to offer every human being.  His conversations with David Bohm, both The Ending of Time ( and Truth, Actuality, and the Limits of Thought (, were and continue to be instrumental in deconstructing my psychological conditioning.  His insistence on trusting one's in-the-now-experience while forsaking the authority of others is why he is timeless.  Thinking Together, as Krishnamurti used it, is the coming together of people who do not believe in any authority, including the authority of ideas.  When one abandons ideas, they are able to see what is actual.  What actually is is independent from ideas.  The only thing that persists is the pre-symbolic; ideas only serve to cloud observation (ie. ideas are mistaken for the real world).  Although thinking is symbolic, thinking together is using the symbolic merely to best communicate the incommunicable, which is what is.  That is, Krishnamurti insists on thinking together so that we all, together, see the human condition (eg. recognize I am the rest of mankind).  When we all see the fact of our existence, we immediately see what that means in the world...which, of course, necessitates the destruction of everything that we know as familiar in the realm of culture and symbolic thought.  He was unintentionally anti-civ and I love it.  Being-in-the-world (not in Heideggerian sense) is enhanced when the symbolic is eschewed.

My favorite Krishnamurti era is mid-70s to his death in the mid-80s but even some of his early writings have wonderfully insightful nuggets.  He was writing against property, expounding (without knowing it) on Stirner's creative nothing, and saying that relations are all there are in the 1930s.
I have not seen those conversations — I will get going with them soon. Thank you for the link!

And thank you for your comments. I think Krishnamurti eclipses all the best negativity of Nietzsche and Stirner, whilst simultaneously offering a way out of our crisis. His critique of *all* authority, including even ideas, is very illuminating, and sort of eclipses JZ's work on reification. (I stress to add that I do not mean that Nieztsche, Stirner, or JZ, are in any way redundant, nor that Krishnamurti is redundant, for he very obviously isn't, to me.)

St. John said that "if I hold my hand in front of my eyes, I cannot see the sun," which I feel sums up Krishnamurti's critique of all authority, particularly religion ("if I have an image of God, I cannot see God"), including scientism. If I *know* the mountain, I cannot *observe the mountain. There is conflict between me and the mountain. Knowing is recognising, recognising happens from the past — the mountain exists in the present, I cannot observe the future. Furthermore, there is conflict between me and other observers. If you too *know* the mountain, not only can you not *observe* it, we don't even *know* the same thing — our images are in conflict. As such, ideas, knowledge, conclusions, they're all a kind of violence that separates us. We need to tear it all down and think, and feel, together.
A close friend of mine, who recently passed away, was a devotee of Krishnamurti. I guess I was too. In fact, he and I both studied K's teachings very seriously and intensely together for about 6 years. My friend traveled around the world during the 1980s to attend several of K's talks at: Ojai in California, Brockwood Park in England, and Saanen in Switzerland. We both attended a talk in Victoria, British Columbia. My friend was a high school teacher, and once applied to teach at the Krishnamurti school in Victoria.

Krishnamurti was not against all forms of authority. He was against religious and spiritual authority, since he felt religions had led people astray. When K dissolved the Theosophical Order of the Star of the East (1928), he did so by proclaiming that 'truth' was a pathless land, that no religion, teacher, or guru, could bestow spiritual wisdom or religious salvation on anyone. He told people to be a light to themselves. This was essentially the basic message he taught for the rest of his life. But it was a message only in the context of religion and spirituality. K did not have a critique of any other form of authority. He had no social analysis. He thought the problems of the world could only be solved by becoming spiritually 'enlightened' (though he almost never put it in those words, he mostly expressed it in terms of "understanding yourself'). When K founded his educational schools in India, England, Canada, and California, they were meant to be schools which fostered student's self-understanding, as well as impart academic excellence. He often encouraged the students to obey their teachers, obey society's laws, and get good jobs, as he felt that what the rest of society was doing didn't matter, as long as you were trying to free yourself psychologically, then your own self-realization would have a positive impact on the world around you.

It's a very quietist, individualist, and somewhat Buddhist approach to change, which is why I eventually moved on from Krishnamurti. Without any social content, there can be no social change. Waiting around for enough individuals to become spiritually enlightened didn't seem like a very practical response to the deep crisis we are facing as a species. On the other hand, K was certainly against things like nationalism, but only as a belief. His answer was simply to undermine the belief on a personal level, and the rest would take care of itself. He didn't seem to believe in any kind of social action, and had no answers to things like oppression in the immediate present. K was no anarchist either. He used the word pejoratively, usually in association with lawlessness, disorder, and violence.

Even though I now regard Krishnamurti' teachings as being somewhat rather limited in terms of social and political analysis, I still think he offers a relatively good primer on at least getting one's own thoughts clearer, and learning to be critically self-aware. For me, K was a gateway drug to questioning more than just religion and spirituality. Yet it took a long time after moving on from Krishnamurti and expanding my political awareness before I found myself at home in anarchism.
Odin, I find your saying K wasn't against all authority difficult to square off with the things I have read and watched by K, in which he frequently says things like how there's no reason why he (anyone) should accept any authority, and that all authority of any kind is the most destructive thing, and so on. I definitely understand him as being against all authority. Although what his schools did and said, I have no knowledge about. (Interesting how he encouraged students to obey their teachers, when I've seen a video of him at one of those schools, telling the students to not do their exams, and just in general not accept any authority from the teachers.) So I disagree with your reading — but acknowledge that you seem to be more well-read, so I might be missing something.

I agree that K wasn't an anarchist — he would no doubt view any -ism as a violence, since identifying with them creates a divide, which must lead to conflict. But for those interested, here's a writing from Green Anarchy about some of the anarchist inspirations to be found in K:

K not offering any blueprints of a future society or plans to fix this one is a valid criticism if you want those things. Personally, I don't think that I would like those things. I don't want to join a group and overthrow the government, and then murder everyone who dissents to the new government. I would agree with K that these reactions don't really get us anywhere meaningful. But while I would also agree with you that this Buddhist approach to change, where you at the most extreme stereotype go live in a monastery and meditate for 60 years and then die, isn't really very serious at all — if you are serious about social change, I don't see any way of ending any external struggles without first ending our internal struggles. I firmly believe that we must all become our respective creative nothings, and only then can we, together, think and feel. And if that is an impossibility, then a world without conflict is an impossibility, and the monks who are trying to achieve enlightenment for themselves only might be onto something. In any event, I don't mean to say that this belief of mine precludes advocating or even fighting for social change. We might all be suffering, but if we can suffer a tiny bit less, that would be nice.
I think you'll find, if you go carefully through the texts, that K will often say "all forms of authority", and "all outward authority". Yes. However, he will usually follow this up with the specific examples of "priest", "guru", "savior", "saint", "teacher", "therapist", etc. That's how we know he is mostly talking about religious authority. K was against all forms of psychological, spiritual, and religious authority. 99% of the time, that was the context in which he talked about authority.

You can go to Krishnamurti Online and do a keyword search:

Occasionally he would mention "government", "armies", and "bosses", etc., but he usually skimmed over these. He was certainly very skeptical of governments and institutions in general, and hated war, nationalism and patriotism, yet rarely talked about defying that kind of authority. I think that's because he felt it was relatively easy (and almost trivial) for people to defy institutional authority, but much more difficult and important to defy the inward psychological authority of religious and spiritual dogma, and even the authority of one's own past experience. He saw the students of the 60s defying the authorities of the day and felt what they really needed to do was to start with their own inner psychological conditioning first, otherwise the students would simply end up recreating more outward political turmoil.

My problem with all this dividing life into "inner" and "outer" business is that using this kind of language already binds one to a mostly illusory binaric dualism. To me, consciousness is not bound by the skin, and the environment doesn't stop at the skin. Our environment (both physical and social) affects our consciousness, and vice versa. You can't really separate the organism from its environment, or the inner from the outer. They affect each other and evolve together in a feedback loop. The culture we grow up in conditions our thoughts and beliefs, and when we question those thoughts and beliefs, we can start to change the culture, which in turn, will affect and condition the thoughts and beliefs of the next generation (if not also the present). That's why to me, it doesn't matter where one starts to undertake change, in the political sphere (outer), or in the personal psychological realm (inner)--since these are not separate to begin with--as long as one starts somewhere.

I wasn't criticizing K for not offering "blueprints", I was criticizing him for not having any kind of social or political analysis, let alone even any practical suggestions. Almost everything to him was a matter of personal self-reflection. Not a bad thing, just not enough.
Hey, thanks for a great exchange, Odin and alexander - this makes me keen to check out Krishnamurti.
Odin, I think that you are contradicting yourself — or at least that you are not contradicting me — and actually arguing in support of my point, when you say «and when we question those thoughts and beliefs, we can start to change the culture» — because that is the precise order I suggest necessary. And that is the essence and sum of what I mean with what you call an illusory binary dualism. In doing this, we will necessary, as you say, affect and condition the next (and present) generation — that much is obvious. However, I maintain that persuasion is a violence, and ultimately undesirable. If I convince you that something like racism is bad, there's nothing precluding someone else from convincing you that it is good. Instead, you must see it for yourself; you must *observe* it.

I see what you mean by K focussing mostly on the more deeply indoctrinated things, rather than offering social or political analysis. I don't know that I share this criticism, as I find that my own views indeed are the results of critical self-reflection more so than anything else, and I find most social and political analysis a failure anyway. And while there certainly is some value in some analysis, I don't mind that it doesn't come from K — I quite enjoy reading Perlman too — but as you say that's not a bad thing about K, it just means that perhaps his teachings aren't the entirety of all that is useful and necessary.
I don't think I'm contradicting myself. I said there is a binaric dualism to the way we think about consciousness that is incorrect. It doesn't matter what order you do it in, because what causes beliefs to form or change can come from anywhere. It could be the result of something happening in society at large, or something you rethink. But I would suggest that most of our beliefs (especially our political beliefs) are not our own. We aren't born believing in anarchy, or primitivism, or nihilism, or even capitalism, etc., we pick these ideas and beliefs up from the society around us as we grow and learn. We then modify them through our own thinking.

Take LGBTQ rights, for instance. For centuries LGBTQ people lived mostly in the closet. Being gay was considered a crime up until the 1970s in most advanced Western countries. Then the Stonewall riots happened, and soon after, more gay people started coming out. The simple act of coming out slowly started to change straight people's minds to the point where being queer became more acceptable. Straight people didn't change their minds by themselves through their own thinking, or meditating, or choiceless awareness. It took a political act on the part of the LGBTQ community to deliberately change the culture first, over the course of decades, which raised awareness around discrimination, harassment, and oppression they had been facing for centuries. So in this case, the order of change started with society first.

The idea that persuasion is violence is just silly. We persuade and convince ourselves of all sorts of things based on what is happening around us all the time. Our beliefs are formed over time and ultimately come from a variety of different sources, most of which have the purpose of persuasion. Indeed, you are trying to persuade me right now that persuasion is violence. :-)
My own point is that you must journey inwards in order to not accept any authority, any idea, and then you can begin to merely observe rather than think. It is obviously better for queer folk if they are not mocked and beaten by default, and that social change is important in its own right. But I suspect there will always be power, and there will always be indoctrination. Thus the journey inwards to recognise what is actual, and what is merely an idea. Change does not necessarily have all that much to do with this — it is a separate subject. And again I think the order is clear — attitudes to LBTQ changing started with a journey inwards from which it was the realisation that they had to change was concluded.

The fact that you are using "persuade" and "convince" rather interchangeably suggests to me that you do not understand me. Although I am not a pacifist, I am not trying to persuade you; I am trying to share what I know with you, so that you may observe for yourself if you think that it is true. Then you are convinced. If I were to persuade you, I would dazzle you with rhetoric and charm, and persist until you accepted that I am "right." I do not think that I am right. In fact, I try not to think at all. And if you remain unconvinced then I do not consider that a failure. Perhaps my observations are wrong, although I do not think so presently.

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