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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


Question: There are so many gurus today, both in the East and in the West, each one pointing his own way to enlightenment. How is one to know if they are speaking the truth?

When a guru says he knows, he does not. When an Eastern guru or a man in the West says: "I have attained Enlightenment" - then you may be sure that he is not enlightened; enlightenment is not to be attained. It is not something that you reach step by step as if you were climbing a ladder. Enlightenment is not in the hands of time. It is not, "I am ignorant but if I do certain things I will come to enlightenment" - whatever that word may mean. What is time? Time is necessary to go from here physically to another place. Psychologically, is time necessary at all? We have accepted that it is and it is part of our tradition and training; I am this but I will be that. What I will be will never take place because I have not understood `what is'. The understanding of `what is' is immediate; you do not have to analyse, go through tortures.

One does not like to use the word `enlightenment', it is so loaded with the meaning given by all these gurus. They do not know what they are talking about; not that the speaker knows, that would be silly on his part, but one sees what is involved when they talk about achieving enlightenment, step by step, practising, so that the mind becomes dull, mechanical, stupid.

Whether they are Eastern or Western gurus, doubt what they are saying, doubt also what the speaker is saying - much more so, because although he is very clear about all these matters it does not mean that he is the only person who knows, which is equally absurd. The mind must be free from all authority - no followers, disciples and patterns.

The questioner asks: How is one to know that these gurus are speaking the truth? How do you know whether the local priests, the bishops, the archbishops and the popes are speaking the truth? Instead of going off to India accepting those gurus, consider first, how do you know whether they are speaking the truth? May be they are all engaged in some kind of guile which means money, position, authority, giving initiations and all the rest of it. Question them, ask them, "Why have you put yourself in authority?" Doubt everything they say and you will soon find that they will throw you out. it once happened that a very famous guru came to see the speaker. He said; "I am a guru with many followers. I began with one and now I have a thousand and more, both in the West and in the East, especially in the West. I cannot withdraw from them; they are part of me and I am part of them. They have built me and I have built them." The disciples build the guru, the guru builds the disciples and he cannot let them go. In this way authority in the `spiritual' world is established. See the danger of it. Where there is authority in the field of the mind and heart there is no love - spurious love maybe, but there is no sense of that depth of affection, love and care.

To find out who is speaking the truth, do not seek but question. Truth is not something you come by. Truth comes only when the mind is totally and completely free from all this. Then you have compassion and love; not for your guru, not for your family, not for your ideals or your saviour, but love, without any motive, which acts through intelligence. And you think that truth is something you buy from another!

The Eastern and the Western gurus all quote the old saying: "You must be a light unto yourself". It is an ancient and very famous saying in India. And they repeat it, adding, "You cannot be a light unto yourself unless I give it to you". People are so gullible; that is what is wrong. They all want something - the young and the old. For the young the world is too cruel, for them what the older generations have made of the world is too appalling. They have no place in it, they are lost, so they take to drugs and drink; all kinds of things are going on in the world with the young; communes, sexual orgies, chasing off to India, to gurus, to find somebody who will tell them what to do - somebody whom they can trust. They go there, young, fresh, not knowing; and the gurus give them the feeling that they are being protected and guided - that is all they want. They cannot get it from their parents, from their local priests, from the psychologists, because their parents, the local priests and psychologists are equally confused. They go off to this dangerous country, India, and there they are caught by the thousand. They are seeking comfort, somebody to say, "I am looking after you. I will be responsible for you. Do this. Do that", and it is a very happy, pleasant state, for they are also told, "You can do what you like, indulge in sex, in drink - go on".

Equally, the older generation are in the same position, only they express it with more sophistication. They are the same, the young and the old all over the world. But nobody can give guidance, can give light, to another. Only you yourself can do that; but you have to stand completely alone. That is what is frightening for the old and the young. If you belong to anything, follow anybody, you are already entering into corruption. Understand that very deeply, with tears in your eyes: when there is no guru, no teacher and no disciple, there is only you as a human being living in this world - the world, the society, which you have created. And if you do not do something for yourself, society is not going to help you. On the contrary, society wants you to be what you are. Do not belong to anything, not to any institution or organization; do not follow anybody, be not a disciple of anybody. You are a human being living in this terrible world; a human being who is the world and the world is you. You have to live there, understand it, and go beyond yourself.