482 The truth


When reading  Krishnamurti  (and all others) one recurring subject is the truth. Saints, prophets, philosophers, writers, orators, gurus, teachers … and Krishnamurti, talk about truth. What are they talking about? Do you have an idea what the truth is?


It seems a silly question, the truth is the opposite of a lie, the opposite of falsehoods; we all know that. Yet, the truth is mentioned again and again in different contexts: It seems an issue much more pertinent than just the antonym of a lie. There appears to be a spiritual dimension to it … but one thing that has struck me over and over when reading K is that an easy definition is not available. It is hard to finda point where you can have an “aha” moment … so that is what he is (they are) talking about!

Krishnamurti says, “truth is a pathless land” (no system holds the truth). However, for Christians the path is simple: The Truth is the holy trinity, there is God (the Father), Christ (the Son), Spirit (the Holy Ghost), and you better believe (in) it.

Here are two comments (thank you Alanna and Eszter):

Alanna: "Hi Carsten, this blog really touched me. Each of your blogs are very enjoyable to read, but this one in particular of recent times really hit me!"


Ezster: "Hello Carsten! What a beautiful topic to be discussing. And you have taken such care in compiling it, truly a pleasure to read.

I’m re-reading Nisargadatta (after I recommended him to you, I couldn’t put the book down...), and have come across two quotes which I thought are in line with your most recent blog:

“Truth is not a reward for good behaviour, nor a prize for passing some tests. It cannot be brought about. It is the primary, the unborn, the ancient source of all that is. You are eligible because you are. You need not merit truth. It is your own ... stand still, be quiet.”

“The consciousness in you and the consciousness in me, apparently two, really one, seek unity and that is love.”


For Buddhists the opposite is true: The truth is that there is no holy trinity, in fact there is nothing holy ... no God, no gods and neither soul nor self. 

Myself, I reject both notions and I have settled for a much more simple Truth as well as truth in the vein of Jain beliefs - not-one-sidedness: one claim or another or both may be true. I have essays on  THE TRUTH 1, 2,   THE TRUTH 3, 4  and  TRUTH  ...  as well as the  header  into my book with for a title three definitions for the term  en.light.en.ment

But wait, there is more to the issue of truth from a Buddhist point of view, and from the point of view of many thought systems, philosophies and indeed some religions, and that is the question of duality versus non-duality. In many ancient (as well as not-so-ancient) scriptures the point is made of All-Is-One ... i.e. "the truth is there is no duality, all is One, and the One is all there is." Duality, then, is an illusion ... our "reality" - as we perceive it with our minds and our five senses - is an illusion and the only true reality is that of Oneness of the All (there are so many ways to describe this entity, this state ... God comes to mind, universal consciousness is another). Ahhh ...

... consciousness, this is another favourite subject of mine ... I write about it in my essays  CONSCIOUSNESS I,  CONSCIOUSNESS II.  And in my essay  DUALITY  you can see I don't buy into the concept of non-duality (here is some more reading on that topic if you can be bothered,  blog 411). 

I any case, non-duality is actually a state that is supported by the sciences ... Stephen Hawking  explains it quite well: On a quantum level everything is energy ... there is no such thing as "material" (quantum mechanics state all forms of matter are made up of electrons, protons, neutrons and photons ... forms of energy). Hmmm ... careful now, I truly do not know what I'm talking about here; as  Richard Feynman  said, "I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics." According to  Steven Weinberg, "there is in my opinion no entirely satisfactory interpretation of quantum mechanics." Incidentally, in a podium discussion with Sam Harris and Deepak Chopra (on YouTube), Chopra was asked by a theoretical physicist in the audience: “Would you like a short course in quantum mechanics so that we can straighten out your misuse of quantum notations?” So there.

But, but ... the question of truth and duality vs non-duality surely is not just an issue of science, at least not in our context of spirituality. Granted, on a scientific level there is no ambiguity: Everything we know can be reduced to energy ... at a quantum level, where things are really, really tiny. And on a mystical, esoteric level ... if the mystics say All Is One, well, so be it; that's OK with me. (Frankly, it puzzles me how the two ideas - mystic and scientific non-duality - could possibly be compatible ... quantum physics insights two thousand and five hundred years ago?)

Nevertheless, on the level where we are living, breathing, feeling, interacting, believing, thinking ... where we are both physical and conscious human beings, it's a different story, is it not? I do think here we have duality, the duality of - on the one hand - everything material, including our bodies, as well as the functions of the brain (our mind, our lower consciousness) and on the other hand, we have the spiritual, our soul, our inner self, our higher consciousness ... the one that throws its lot in with the universal consciousness (not convinced? Read it again  CONSCIOUSNESS I). So, I reckon the two - mystic Oneness-of-the-All and every-day-duality - can nicely sit side by side; I can't see a contradiction here. That's the truth (well, most likely just another truth). Frankly, myself, I believe the truth is in Zen. I have an essay on ZEN ... but what does it mean to us on a daily basis? Read all about it.

Anyway, I'm reading Krishnamurti these days ... he (as well as the Buddha) wants us to go inside (in meditation) and discover the truth for ourselves, in fact all on our own. Maybe then we realise the truth is not anything our busy mind perceives as reality. Furthermore, the core of Krishnamurti's teachings (to my limited mind at least) is the realisation that our strongest longing is for freedom. That is not just political freedom, but freedom from the known, freedom from the contents of our overloaded mind, the baggage we have accumulated over the ages ... our illusions & disillusions, hang-ups, biases, hatreds, expectations, past experiences (good or bad), our traditions, religious doctrines & dogmas, regrets, sorrows & guilt, prejudices & preconceptions. Actually Krishnamurti finally does offer a definition of truth ... in the book Freedom from the Known (I have condensed the last three chapters into a few sentences):


(p. 114) "A still mind is limitless and that is the only truth. In that state of mind you may come across this thing called truth, reality, bliss, God, beauty or love.

(p. 127) "This thing cannot be invited. Please understand that very simple fact. For this to happen is like a cool breeze coming through the window ...

you cannot invite the breeze, but you can leave the window open." 

Also read up on what  K variously says about truth:


Truth is the vast ocean which has not been charted: it is fathomless

Truth you have to find out for yourself; you have to walk the path alone - and there is no path to truth. Truth is the vast ocean which has not been charted: it is fathomless. You have to find it, walking endlessly, and the endlessness becomes a torture, a thing that you are frightened of, if you have not understood the beginning of what we have been talking about. Then there is no time; then you are living so completely in that emptiness that time has gone and there is only the present, this active present. 
I do not know if you have ever noticed a bird on the wing, a leaf falling, or the sun on the water, or the reflection of the moon on the water. If you have noticed, if you have seen the beauty of it, in that moment there is no time: it is there endlessly, unspoiled, incorruptible, timeless.

Collected Works, Vol. XIV,118



Truth is always new

Truth is always new, therefore timeless. What was truth yesterday is not truth today, what is truth today is not truth tomorrow: truth has no continuity. It is the mind which wants to make the experience which it calls truth continuous, and such a mind shall not know truth.
Truth is always new: it is to see the same smile and see that smile newly, to see the same person and see that person anew, to see the waving palms anew, to meet life anew. Truth is not to be had through books, through devotion or through self-immolation, but it is known when the mind is free, quiet; and that freedom, that quietness of the mind, comes only when the facts of its relationships are understood. Without understanding its relationships, whatever it does only creates further problems. But, when the mind is free from all its projections, there is a state of quietness in which problems cease; and then only, the timeless, the eternal, comes into being. Then truth is not a matter of knowledge, it is not a thing to be remembered, it is not something to be repeated, to be printed and spread abroad. 
Truth is that which is; it is nameless. And so, the mind cannot approach it. Truth is that which is.

Collected Works, Vol. VI,135



Truth is a state of being

So, there is no path to truth, and there are not two truths. Truth is not of the past or of the present, it is timeless; and the man who quotes the truth of the Buddha, of Shankara, of the Christ, or who merely repeats what I am saying, will not find truth, because repetition is not truth. Repetition is a lie. Truth is a state of being which arises when the mind -which seeks to divide, to be exclusive, which can think only in terms of results, of achievement- has come to an end. Only then will there be truth. The mind that is making effort, disciplining itself in order to achieve an end, cannot know truth, because the end is its own projection, and the pursuit of that projection, however noble, is a form of self-worship. Such a being is worshipping himself, and therefore he cannot know truth. Truth is to be known only when we understand the whole process of the mind, that is, when there is no strife.

J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life



What is truth?

When the mind realizes the limitation, the narrowness, the finiteness of thought, then only it can ask the question: what is truth? Is this clear? I do not accept truth given by philosophers - that's their game. Philosophy means love of truth, not love of thought. So there is no authority - Plato, Socrates, Buddha, but Christianity has not gone into that very deeply. They have played with words and symbols, made a parody of suffering and all the rest of it. So the mind rejects all that.

Saanen 1st Public Talk 13th July 1975




One day a man was walking along the street and instead of looking at the beautiful sky he was watching the pavement as he went along. Then he saw in the distance something very brilliant. He went rapidly towards it, picked it up and looked at this extraordinary thing, and he was in a state of beatitude, because it was extraordinarily beautiful. So he looked at it and put it in his pocket. Behind were two people, also walking. One of them says to the other "What was it that he picked up? Did you see his expression, what an ecstasy he was in by the very act of looking at it?" And the other - who happened to be the devil - said, "What he picked up was truth." And the friend said "That is a very bad business for you that he has found it". He said "Not at all. I am going to help him to organize it." And that is what we have done - we have the systems, the methods, the practices of the gurus. And so a mind that is enquiring into the nature of truth must be free totally from all organized pursuit, all organized practice, all organized enquiry.

J. Krishnamurti 4th Public Talk New Delhi 20th December 1970



Truth must be discovered

There is no path to truth. Truth must be discovered, but there is no formula for its discovery. What is formulated is not true. You must set out on the uncharted sea, and the uncharted sea is yourself. You must set out to discover yourself, but not according to any plan or pattern, for then there is no discovery. Discovery brings joy - not the remembered, comparative joy, but joy that is ever new. Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom in whose tranquillity and silence there is the immeasurable.

Commentaries on Living Series I, My Path and Your Path



Truth is in every leaf, every tear

God or truth cannot be thought about. If you think about it, it is not truth. Truth cannot be sought; it comes to you. You can go after only what is known. When the mind is not tortured by the known, by the effects of the known, then only can truth reveal itself. Truth is in every leaf, every tear; it is to be known from moment to moment. No one can lead you to truth; and if anyone leads you, it can only be to the known.

The Collected Works vol VI, p 5



The mind that is seeking truth will never find it

You cannot find truth through anybody else. How can you? Surely, truth is not something static; it has no fixed abode; it is not an end, a goal. On the contrary, it is living, dynamic, alert, alive. How can it be an end? If truth is a fixed point, it is no longer truth; it is then a mere opinion. Truth is the unknown, and a mind that is seeking truth will never find it. For mind is made up of the known, it is the result of the past, the outcome of time which you can observe for yourself. Mind is the instrument of the known, hence, it cannot find the unknown; it can only move from the known to the known. When the mind seeks truth, the truth it has read about in books, that is self-projected, for then the mind is merely in pursuit of the known, a known more satisfactory than the previous one. When the mind seeks truth, it is seeking its own self-projection, not truth.

The Collected Works vol VI, p 5



Truth cannot be measured in time or in words

Questioner: Can one love truth without loving man? Can one love man without loving truth? What comes first?

Krishnamurti: Love comes first. To love truth, you must know truth. To know truth is to deny truth. What is known is not truth. What is known is already encased in time and ceases to be truth. Truth is an eternal movement, and so cannot be measured in words or in time. It cannot be held in the fist. You cannot love something which you do not know. But truth is not to be found in books, in images, in temples. It is to be found in action, in living. The very search for the unknown is love itself, and you cannot search for the unknowable away from relationship. You cannot search for reality, or for what you will, in isolation. It comes into being only in relationship, only when there is right relationship between man and man. So the love of man is the search for reality.

The Collected Works vol IV, p 172 ckd



The man who is following a path can never know truth

Truth is not something in the distance; there is no path to it, there is neither your path nor my path; there is no devotional path, there is no path of knowledge or path of action, because truth has no path to it. The moment you have a path to truth, you divide it, because the path is exclusive; and what is exclusive at the very beginning will end in exclusiveness. The man who is following a path can never know truth because he is living in exclusiveness; his means are exclusive, and the means are the end, are not separate from the end. If the means are exclusive, the end is also exclusive. So there is no path to truth, and there are not two truths. Truth is not of the past or the present, it is timeless; the man who quotes the truth of the Buddha, of Shankara, of Christ, or who merely repeats what I am saying, will not find truth, because repetition is not truth. Repetition is a lie.

The Collected Works vol VI, p 134



You cannot seek truth

The idea of searching for truth is utter nonsense! Because to search for something implies that you are trying to find, uncover something. How can you find, with a dull and repetitive mind, something which is not to be sought after, which is something alive, moving, which is totally new? So you cannot seek it. I know it is one of the fashionable things or religious things to seek truth or God! You have to throw that word overboard; it has no meaning. But what has meaning is to find out if the brain can be extraordinarily sensitive, quiet, and free. Out of that freedom alone can one live peacefully in this world and create a new world, a new generation, a new people.

The Collected Works vol XVI, p 19



The True Revolutionary

Truth is not for those who are respectable, nor for those who desire self-extension, self-fulfillment. Truth is not for those who are seeking security, permanency; for the permanency they seek is merely the opposite of impermanency. Being caught in the net of time, they seek that which is permanent, but the permanent they seek is not the real because what they seek is the product of their thought. Therefore, a man who would discover reality must cease to seek—which does not mean that he must be contented with what is. On the contrary, a man who is intent upon the discovery of truth must be inwardly a complete revolutionary. He cannot belong to any class, to any nation, to any group or ideology, to any organized religion; for truth is not in the temple or the church, truth is not to be found in the things made by the hand or by the mind. Truth comes into being only when the things of the mind and of the hand are put aside, and that putting aside of the things of the mind and of the hand is not a matter of time. Truth comes to him who is free of time, who is not using time as a means of self-extension. Time means memory of yesterday, memory of your family, of your race, of your particular character, of the accumulation of your experience which makes up the “me” and the “mine”.

J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life