Jiddu Krishnamurti on Insight and Intuition

What do you mean by insight? Does it differ from intuition?

What do we mean by intuition? Having a hunch, that’s having a feeling that’s the right thing. And intuition also, having been sensitive, capturing something which may be conditioned, which may be personal, which may be a desire, wish-fulfillment. And we must be clear and hesitant in using that word ‘intuition’, because it may be one’s own unconscious desire, one’s own longing for something to happen, or sudden feeling that it’s the right thing to do. But I think insight is different. May we go into it together?

The scientists, the physicists, the technological people have an insight into some invention. They see something new. Is that insight partial or is an insight whole? You understand? We are meeting, I hope, together. I may have an insight, as I am an engineer, into the structure of a bridge. And I operate according to that insight. That insight is being more powerful, I adjust all my knowledge to conform, or adjust to that knowledge – right? To that insight. But is that insight partial? A poet, a painter, a musician, may have an insight, but it is still partial. When we use the word ‘insight’ we mean insight into the whole movement of life, not one part of it – right? So let us together find out what we mean by insight, how does it take place? If you are interested in it. Because that may be the solution for our problems. Specially psychological issues that are such a tremendous travail in all our lives. So together let’s find out what we mean by insight.

Is, I am questioning it, so please question it also, is insight an action of memory? One has accumulated a great deal of knowledge, psychologically or physically, and that knowledge may, being limited, see something very clearly. But that knowledge being always in the field of ignorance because there is no complete knowledge about anything, including oneself, and when there is an insight from that limited knowledge that insight must also be limited. So ‘insight’, we mean by that word, it is not the outcome of knowledge, knowledge being you can examine, say for example, all the comparative religions, the various sects, the various rituals and so on, you can examine them, study them, and come to a conclusion. Whereas that conclusion may be rational, sane, logical but it is based on the activity of thought. And therefore it is limited. And that conclusion, naturally, must be limited. That’s clear. Whereas insight has nothing whatever to do with knowledge, it has nothing to do with remembrance, but you have an insight say into all the comparative religions, with all their rituals, sanctions, dogmas, beliefs and so on, if you have an insight into all that, you see they are all similar. Right? They are all based on thought and therefore all religions are limited. There is an immediate perception of it, not a logical conclusion and action but the total perception of all the religious activities in the world, having an insight implies you see that they’re essentially limited because they’re put together, invented by thought.

Similarly, to have an insight into one’s relationship, which is much more difficult. Relationship, as it is now based on images, hopes, pleasures, fears and so on, essentially based on the images that thought during a period of time, it may be a day or ten years, has built it. To have an insight into that, that is, relationship is based on images, to have an insight into that is to dispel the images. I hope you are following some of this.

Suppose I am married, or have a girlfriend, my relationship actually is based on my particular like and dislike, my particular attraction – sexual or otherwise, the environmental influences, the biological demands and I establish a relationship with another person based on that. Obviously. And is it possible to have an insight into the whole movement of relationship, not come to a conclusion that I have images, I must break them, how to break them and so on, so on, so on. But to have an insight into it, which means to see basically what it is, fundamentally what it is. And if one has that deep insight the action which comes out of that insight is much more logical, much more sane and has a quality of something original, love. I hope you are following all this. Right?

That is, to take a very simple example: All nationalism is glorified tribalism. Right? All nationalities – all nations, whether it is American, Russian, all the rest of it, is glorified tribalism – right? The moment you see that, that it is a very limited, narrow feeling which divides man, to have an insight into that is to be free from all the tribalism. Right? Are you following all this? Or if you have an insight into the question of obedience and following, whether it’s the obedience to a guru, to a priest, to a law and so on, to have a deep insight into this quality of following and obedience: will you obey, follow anybody? Naturally you will obey laws, whether they are good or bad we are not discussing, how far you can go, how far you cannot go, that is not our problem for the moment, but the whole concept of following and obeying – I obey a doctor, I obey a surgeon and if I am not too neurotic and the policeman isn’t too brutal, I obey. But the whole psychological desire in which lies the security of following. If I follow somebody I feel safe, whether it is a psychiatrist, or a priest, or my wife or husband, or whatever it is, one feels safe. Right? Now if you have an insight into that, that is, a mind, a brain that is conditioned to follow, the feeling of following and the urge to follow completely drops away instantly.

So insight is not brought about through will, through desire, through memory. It is immediate perception and therefore action. Have I… When we talk about perception, is it possible to observe without the word – please try, do it as we are talking and you will see. Is it possible to observe a tree, a person, the speaker, to observe without the word, the word indicating all the memories, the reputation, the remembrances, the word implying all that. Knowing the word is not the thing, can you observe without the word? Right? And when you observe, is the observer different from the observed? One observes that tree. There, the observer, I hope, is different from the tree – right? The observer is not the tree. That would be rather neurotic to say, ‘I am the tree’. But to observe the tree without calling it the tree, without the name. The name and all the things associated with that name, is the tradition, the memory, the past, which says, ‘That is the tree’. To look at it without all that in operation – right? Please do it as we are talking about it. And can one observe oneself without the word, without all the associations connected with that word, to look at it? And when you do observe in such a manner, is the observer different from the observed? Wait, I’ll show it to you.

The feeling of anger arises in me, is that anger different from me? Or I am anger? But what thought has done is, a moment later one says, “I have been angry”, which means I am separate from that anger – are you following all this? Whereas the actual fact is when there is anger there is only anger, that feeling. There is no observer different from the observed. That division arises only after. Out of that division comes all our conflict. Right? So is it possible to observe without the word, without all the memories associated with that word? Then only the observer is the observed and that eliminates altogether the division which brings about conflict. To have an insight into that is to end the division – right?

Post Author: Chad

A child of the universe. A student of life and death.