Why there is no Krishnamurti ‘ism’

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

J. Krishnamurti, the radical philosopher and teacher, once mentioned during a talk in a garden in India, that all ‘isms’ and organisations had failed.

He told us that all organizations and “isms” had failed and that in our pursuit of security we build new organizations that in turn betray us. (Krishnamurti a biography, by P. Jaykar)

After inquiring into why he may have said so, and after exploring his work a bit more, it has become very clear:

All ‘isms’ are theories, assertions, with a singular perspective of the world, with a predetermined lens. In other words, they are biases disguised as intelligence. Theory, with all its assumptions is always limited. Therefore, it should not replace the context in which the fact is occurring. In finding the general principles, we have ignored the context, and we have come up with a generalized approach, a mechanical response to every question, and every situation. With one central idea, and attaching an ‘ism’ to it, we look at everything. Every ‘ism’ is second-hand, we read something, watch something, listen to someone, and we think, rationally. Or at least we think we think rationally.

We assume that the ideas we have already judged before with our reason still hold true.This assumption of ideas holding true become our opinions, our beliefs, because the context in which the idea holds is constantly changing.

Truth has no path, and that is the beauty of truth, it is living… (Freedom from the known, by J. Krishnamurti)

So, without making sure that our assumptions are valid, we approach life with an easy one-fix-for-all approach. This predetermined lens is glorified with an ‘ism’ at the end.

Since we approach all problems with this one or perhaps a set of ‘isms’, we are threatened by the opposite of our ism. A capitalist is threatened by socialism, an atheist is threatened by theism, a spiritualist is threatened by materialism, a creationist is threatened by Darwinism, … and vice versa. We are threatened because we have based our life in these isms, and if we are wrong, that would mean we have been wrong about a lot more than the current error. This would mean we have to start from the beginning.

Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

This starting from the beginning scares us to our bones.

We like to embed ourselves in a system of thought we have taken from somewhere or the other, be it a religion, or some kind of ‘ism’, or some person. This is very comforting, because many are with us. We are not alone in approaching life this way; therefore, it is less likely that we would be completely wrong. Or at least, we won’t be alone. This sense of belonging is a great secure rock upon which we stand. So when an anti-rock comes along, we immediately attack it.

Fear is one of the greatest problems in life. A mind that is caught in fear lives in confusion, in conflict, and therefore must be violent, distorted and aggressive. It dare not move away from its own patterns of thinking, and this breeds hypocrisy. Until we are free from fear, climb the highest mountain, invent every kind of God, we will always remain in darkness. (Freedom from the known, by J. Krishnamurti)

No idea can hold for eternity, we are building on what we assume to be the stationary and objective truth. And somewhere down the road called ‘*insert any word here* ism’, there appears a contradiction, our theory does not hold, some fact seems to contradict our lens.

At this point two things may occur:

one- we perceive this fact without the lens of our ism,

and two: we continue to look at the fact from our lens, and therefore attack the fact itself.

If we see the fact from the lens of our ism, we go into debate, into different schools of thought, into argument, into violence, into war.

But if we see the fact as it is, and acknowledge its existence then two things may occur:

one- we let go of our ‘ism’ and jump to the opposite, or perhaps a slightly different ‘ism’,

or two: we look at the entire business of ‘isms’, with its limitation and its attempt to generalize life which is ever changing, ever growing, and ever diminishing. This means that we die to what has happened, what has been proven, what has been established by others. This means we are concerned with only what is happening. Then we can look at something without a lens, without an ism, without a belief about it. then we can make assumptions and test them immediately, in the context of that situation, and see if it works, if it does not, we can make another one to test, to solve the current problem, without making these assumptions into our beliefs, our opinions or our ‘isms’.

This too is an approach, a method, but unlike others, it is not bound to a static set of ideas. It is constantly changing itself, amending itself because it has not taken root psychologically. It remains open. If an assumption is seen to be false, even about the nature of isms themselves, it is immediately accepted for that situation. To look at something in the context of it, without a single presumption is how we can truly look at it, and find out what it is, including this sentence.

And because Krishnamurti does not give this as an absolute formula, or a generalized method, there is no Krishnamurti‘ism’. To understand Krishnamurti is to go into inquiry ourselves, instead of blindly following his ideas.

Photo by Ronald Ladines on Unsplash

This might be the beginning of true freedom.




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