Revolution of the Psyche, by Krishnamurti

The Thinker and the Thought: “What you are, the world is. So your problem is the world’s problem”

Screenshot 2021-12-25 at 15.00.59

Screenshot 2022-02-20 at 16.45.17


Screen Shot 2021-05-10 at 10.39.26


Screenshot 2022-02-20 at 16.31.23 3

Krishnamurti in 1910. The year before, theosophist Charles Webster Leadbeater, who claimed clairvoyance, had noticed Krishnamurti on the Society’s beach on the Adyar river and was amazed by the “most wonderful aura he had ever seen, without a particle of selfishness in it.” Leadbeater was convinced that the boy would become a spiritual teacher and a great orator; the likely “vehicle for the Lord Maitreya” in theosophical doctrine, an advanced spiritual entity periodically appearing on Earth as a World Teacher to guide the evolution of humankind. Krishnamurti later rejected this role, and indeed rejected the whole idea of following “roles”, after an intense spiritual experience in 1922.

Jiddu Krishnamurti was an Indian philosopher, speaker, and writer. In his early life, he was groomed to be the new ‘World Teacher’ (the Theosophical concept of Maitreya), but he later rejected this mantle and withdrew from the Theosophy organization behind it.

His interests included psychological revolution, the nature of mind, meditation, holistic inquiry, human relationships, and bringing about radical change in society. He stressed the need for a revolution in the psyche of every human being and emphasised that such revolution cannot be brought about by any external authority, be it religious, political, or social.

Krishnamurti was often seen as a spiritual master, although he interestingly mistrusted all religions and denounced the Eastern convention of deifying living spiritual masters. This gives some of his thinking an unusual and indeed at times devastating honesty. Perhaps nowhere is this more seen than in his critiques of the ego – the basis of both the modern personality and of most orthodox psychoanalytic thinking (the purpose of much Freudian and Jungian analysis is actually to strengthen the ego). The goal in Krishnamurti’s vision seems to be to go beyond both ‘self’ and beyond ‘mind’ (which, like Tolle, Krishnamurti equates with ego or what Blake calls “Selfhood”). “Judgement and comparison commit us irrevocably to duality”, he says – and we can never be happy therefore while we are in this state. And neither can those around us.

William Blake Satan in Glory

The ego’s view of itself. It’s hard to get beyond this self-adoring and monopolising figure to see either reality, ourselves, or God, because its purpose is to keep us separate, isolated, and wanting. As Tolle notes, the definition of “ego” is not simply “I”, but “I want”, and indeed “I want more”. Every time this program is strengthened, it wants, and it wants more. Blake’s name for this entity or structure is even more damning: the image is called Satan in his Original Glory. As Damon explains, “In the Individual, Satan is the principle of selfishness (the Selfhood) and the function of rationalising (the Spectre)” (A Blake Dictionary). The Hebrew term śāṭān is a generic noun meaning “accuser” or “adversary”, and is derived from a verb meaning primarily “to obstruct, oppose”. It is a state, or structure, not a “person”. The ego thus serves a protective or covering function, but what it ultimately protects the individual from is seeing the truth. In the Bible it is referred to as “the Covering Cherub”.

The following notes are from his work The First and Last Freedom. What is particularly interesting about his way of thinking is how it often challenges the basis of many contemporary forms of political activism, by suggesting that what we hate in existing external systems are often actually dissociated expressions of internal programs and relationships, and that the great secret to changing the world is therefore to change the nature of our actual relationships. What orthodox activism therefore tends to produce is not change, but division. Krishnamurti’s arguments are both thought-provoking and disturbing, because he forces us to see that many of the things we dislike in the current system are actually ways of being and relating that we ourselves embody.

Screen Shot 2021-05-10 at 10.39.26

The Politics of Relationship, and Relationships as Politics

Screenshot 2022-02-20 at 17.21.02

Donald Trump shouts “You’re fired!” at a rally in 2015. Our current political system burns with anger. Anger, interestingly, is one of the defining features of Trump’s psychology. As Dan P. McAdams observes, “anger may be the operative emotion behind Trump’s high extroversion as well as his low agreeableness” (‘The Mind Of Donald Trump’, 2016). According to Barbara Res, who in the early 1980s served as vice president in charge of construction of Trump Tower in Manhattan, the emotional core around which Donald Trump’s personality constellates is anger. But it’s also, interestingly, the defining feature of many “anti-Trump” activists, who hate how much he hates and rage at his incessant rages.

Truth cannot be given to you by somebody. You have to discover it; and to discover, there must be a state of mind in which there is direct perception.

What is the relationship between yourself and the misery, the confusion, in and around you? Surely this confusion, this misery, did not come into being by itself. You and I have created it, not a capitalist nor a communist nor a fascist society, but you and I have created it in our relationship with each other. What you are within has been projected without, on to the world; what you are, what you think and what you feel, what you do in your everyday existence, is projected outwardly, and that constitutes the world.

Screenshot 2022-02-20 at 17.26.13

Screenshot 2022-02-20 at 17.26.45

Screenshot 2022-02-20 at 17.27.04

Screenshot 2022-02-20 at 17.28.14

Screenshot 2022-02-20 at 17.28.31

Screenshot 2022-02-20 at 17.33.10

Screenshot 2022-02-20 at 17.31.44

Mixed messaging? The placards often proclaim ‘Love’, but the messages seem to reject the principle of democracy, sanction the building of walls, the cultural belittling of opponents, and are filled with accusations of racism and bigotry. It’s hard to imagine Jesus or Krishnamurti carrying placards accusing others of being racist bigots. Why? Because they genuinely believed in the root of love, which is seeing everyone as our brother and sister, as relational. “Not welcome” is the sign of the Accuser. It raises the question: is it possible to have a demonstration based on love and not anger? One that perhaps declares what one is for, not against – to see a sea of messages of all the positives, of all the ideals, of all the love, rather than a sort of perpetual one-upmanship. 

What you are, the world is. So your problem is the world’s problem. What is our relationship based on ? The relationship between yourself and myself, between yourself and another – which is society – what is it based on? Surely not on love, though we talk about it. It is not based on love, because if there were love there would be order, there would be peace, happiness between you and me. But in that relationship between you and me there is a great deal of ill will which assumes the form of respect.

Revolution in society must begin with the inner, psychological transformation of the individual. Most of us want to see a radical transformation in the social structure. That is the whole battle that is going on in the world – to bring about a social revolution through communistic or any other means. Now if there is a social revolution, that is an action with regard to the outer structure of man, however radical that social revolution may be its very nature is static if there is no inward revolution of the individual, no psychological transformation.

Screenshot 2022-02-20 at 17.52.01

Screenshot 2022-02-20 at 17.57.57

“Revolution in society must begin with the inner, psychological transformation of the individual”. Images: (above): In 2019, after police officer Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years for the murder of Botham Jean, the victim’s brother, Brandt Jean, walked across the courtroom, hugged Guyger, and said, “I forgive you.” (Below): Pope John Paul II meeting with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had tried to assassinate him (believing him to represent corruption). Following the shooting, the pope asked people to “pray for my brother [Ağca] … whom I have sincerely forgiven.” Ağca later developed a friendship with the pontiff, and in early February 2005, during the Pope’s illness, Ağca sent him a letter wishing him well. Forgiveness is a logic that appals the Urizenic left-brain. In The Ghost of Abel Blake explored the psychology of revenge and so-called “justice’, noting its recursive as well as regressive nature. As the Ghost of Abel proclaims, his death “Cries for Vengeance: Sacrifice on Sacrifice Blood on Blood”. What will ever stop this round of moral outrage and reprisal? Blake’s examination of this endlessly repeating pathology is particularly pertinent to the modern geography of these areas, in Mesopotamia and what is now the Middle East. Blake does not minimise the pain caused by the experience of murder and bloodshed (Abel: “O I cannot Forgive! The Accuser hath/ Enterd into Me as into his House & I loathe thy Tabernacles”); all he can do is to show the way out. As Damon notes, “in Blake’s illuminated Genesis, the mark which the Lord set upon [Cain] ‘lest any finding him should kill him’ is the kiss of the Forgiveness of Sins”.

Therefore to bring about a society that is not repetitive, nor static, not disintegrating, a society that is constantly alive, it is imperative that there should be a revolution in the psychological structure of the individual, for without inward, psychological revolution, mere transformation of the outer has very little significance.

Screen Shot 2021-05-10 at 10.39.26

Repetition versus Creation: The Left Brain versus the Right 3djI

Why is society crumbling, collapsing, as it surely is ? One of the fundamental reasons is that the individual, you, has ceased to be creative. I will explain what I mean.

You and I have become imitative, we are copying, outwardly and inwardly.  Our education, our social structure, our so-called religious life, are all based on imitation; that is I fit into a particular social or religious formula. I have ceased to be a real individual; psychologically, I have become a mere repetitive machine with certain conditioned responses, whether those of the Hindu, the Christian, the Buddhist, the German or the Englishman. Our responses are conditioned according to the pattern of society, whether it is eastern or western, religious or materialistic. So one of the fundamental causes of the disintegration of society is imitation, and one of the disintegrating factors is the leader, whose very essence is imitation.

Screenshot 2022-02-20 at 19.04.51

Screenshot 2022-02-20 at 19.06.08

War-Protest-War-Protest-War-Protest-War-Protest. The 2003 anti-Iraq War global protests were described as “the largest protest event in human history”. According to BBC News, between six and ten million people took part in the protests, in up to sixty countries. All this activism didn’t make any difference: we went ahead and bombed anyway. Indeed, not only did the protests not prevent the war in Iraq, they also failed to prevent subsequent military interventions in Afghanistan, Libya, Sierra Leone, Kosovo and Syria. Mass action, collective solidarity, and organisational politics are essential for change but need to be creatively re-imagined, as Krishnamurti suggests, if they are not to become simply futile and hopeless responses of frustrated fatalism – a stance summed up by the “Not In My Name” banners of 2003, virtually admitting the inevitably of military action but simply piously washing their hands of responsibility for it.  

We can see that when there is imitation there must be disintegration; when there is authority there must be copying. And since our whole mental, psychological make-up is based on authority, there must be freedom from authority, to be creative. Have you not noticed that in moments of creativeness, those rather happy moments of vital interest, there is no sense of repetition, no sense of copying? Such moments are always new, fresh, creative, happy. So we see that one of the fundamental causes of the disintegration of society is copying, which is the worship of authority. The world is not something separate from you and me; the world, society, is the relationship that we establish or seek to establish between each other.

1_42 (1)

“The world is not something separate from you and me; the world, society, is the relationship that we establish or seek to establish between each other.”

So you and I are the problem, and not the world, because the world is the projection of ourselves and to understand the world we must understand ourselves. That world is not separate from us; we are the world, and our problems are the world’s problems. This cannot be repeated too often, because we are so sluggish in our mentality that we think the world’s problems are not our business, that they have to be resolved by the United Nations or by substituting new leaders for the old. It is a very dull mentality that thinks like that, because we are responsible for this frightful misery and confusion in the world, this ever-impending war.

Screenshot 2022-02-21 at 18.41.30

Screenshot 2022-02-21 at 18.43.49

The political is a byproduct of the relational, so we have to start actually living our politics. In 1999, Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra as a workshop for Israeli, Palestinian, and other Arab musicians to promote coexistence and intercultural dialogue.

Screen Shot 2021-05-10 at 10.39.26

Intentions: Projection, or Empathy?

Screen Shot 2019-06-18 at 10.41.48

“To transform the world, we must begin with ourselves; and what is important in beginning with ourselves is the intention.” This is not a retreat into privatism but a recognition of our mutual involvement, and actually taking responsibility for our projections, missiles, shadows, and hatreds. As the great psychoanalyst Otto Gross suggested, “all of the revolutions of the past have failed because the revolutionaries were concerned with outer change and were not able to realise that they carried the old structures – the old hierarchical structures – power structures – inside, and that’s why all revolutions failed, and just turned into a copy of what happened before.”

To transform the world, we must begin with ourselves; and what is important in beginning with ourselves is the intention.

The intention must be to understand ourselves and not to leave it to others to transform themselves or to bring about a modified change through revolution, either of the left or of the right. It is important to understand that this is our responsibility, yours and mine; because, however small may be the world we live in, if we can transform ourselves, bring about a radically different point of view in our daily existence, then perhaps we shall affect the world at large, the extended relationship with others.

Most of us are not creative; we are repetitive machines, mere gramophone records playing over and over again certain songs of experience, certain conclusions and memories, either our own or those of another. Such repetition is not creative being – but it is what we want. Creativeness is quite a different state of being, is it not? It is a state in which the self is absent, in which the mind is no longer a focus of our experiences, our ambitions, our pursuits and our desires.

Screenshot 2022-02-21 at 18.56.51

“Most of us are not creative; we are repetitive machines, mere gramophone records playing over and over again certain songs of experience, certain conclusions and memories, either our own or those of another.” As Blake wrote, precisely capturing this vacuous, mechanical, repetitive aspect of “revolving”: “The hand of Vengeance found the Bed/ To which the Purple Tyrant fled/ The iron hand crushd the Tyrants head/ And became a Tyrant in his stead”.

Creativeness is not a continuous state, it is new from moment to moment, it is a movement in which there is not the `me’, the `mine’, in which the thought is not focused on any particular experience, ambition, achievement, purpose and motive.

It is only when the self is not that there is creativeness – that state of being in which alone there can be reality, the creator of all things. But that state cannot be conceived or imagined, it cannot be formulated or copied, it cannot be attained through any system, through any philosophy, through any discipline; on the contrary, it comes into being only through understanding the total process of oneself.


The self-enclosed rational egoic identity. As Blake notes, describing the emergence of this power within the human brain: ” Lo, a shadow of horror is risen In Eternity! Unknown, unprolific! Self-closd, all-repelling: what Demon Hath form’d this abominable void This soul-shudd’ring vacuum? — Some said “It is Urizen”, But unknown, abstracted Brooding secret, the dark power hid.” (The Book of Urizen). Urizen is precisely the structure of the isolated rationalising ego, or Spectre.

In it [the ego self] is included the competition, the desire to be. The whole process of that is the self; and we know actually when we are faced with it that it is an evil thing. I am using the word `evil’ intentionally, because the self is dividing: the self is self-enclosing: its activities, however noble, are separative and isolating. We know all this. We also know those extraordinary moments when the self is not there, in which there is no sense of endeavour, of effort, and which happens when there is love.

Now what brings about dissolution of the self? Religious and other groups have offered identification, have they not? “Identify yourself with a larger, and the self disappears”, is what they say. But surely identification is still the process of the self; the larger is simply the projection of the ‘me’, which I experience and which therefore strengthens the ‘me’.

When you believe that there is truth, God, the timeless state, immortality, is that not the process of strengthening the self? The self has projected that thing which you feel and believe will come and destroy the self.

[In many programs of so-called ‘Self-actualization’] you have not really destroyed the self but only given it a different name, a different quality; the self is still there, because you have experienced it. Thus our action from the beginning to the end is the same action, only we think it is evolving, growing, becoming more and more beautiful; but, if you observe inwardly, it is the same action going on, the same `me’ functioning at different levels with different labels, different names.


Inflation and Identification: “From the beginning to the end is the same action, only we think it is evolving, growing, becoming more and more beautiful; but, if you observe inwardly, it is the same action going on”. The basis of the ego is its attempt to inflate and perpetuate itself through identification with anything that can make it feel bigger or better, including the highly attractive role of being spiritual, of being more holier than thou. Those in the Jungian traditions are especially susceptible to this form of sublimated grandiosity, with therapeutic quests often “necessitating Odyssean ventures into the Unconscious”, as clinical psychologist David Smail remarks, in which the little ego eventually re-casts itself as a magnificent, purified Self (complete with Capital S, which the ego with a small ‘s’ latches on to) heroically conquering the assorted dragons and shadows it has created for itself to “defeat”.

When you see the whole process, the cunning, extraordinary inventions, the intelligence of the self, how it covers itself up through identification, through virtue, through experience, through belief, through knowledge; when you see that the mind is moving in a circle, in a cage of its own making, what happens?

When you are aware of it, fully cognizant of it, then are you not extraordinarily quiet – not through compulsion, not through any reward, not through any fear?

When you recognize that every movement of the mind is merely a form of strengthening the self when you observe it, see it, when you are completely aware of it in action, when you come to that point – not ideologically, verbally, not through projected experiencing, but when you are actually in that state – then you will see that the mind, being utterly still, has no power of creating. Whatever the mind creates is in a circle, within the field of the self.

A virtuous man is a righteous man, and a righteous man can never understand what is truth because virtue to him is the covering of the self the strengthening of the self because he is pursuing virtue. When he says “I must be without greed”, the state of non-greed which he experiences only strengthens the self. That is why it is so important to be poor, not only in the things of the world but also in belief and in knowledge.

Quotefancy-1975430-3840x2160 2

As Eckhart Tolle notes, “one of the most basic mind structures through which the ego comes into existence is identification. Whatever behaviour the ego manifests, the hidden motivating force is always the same: the need to stand out, be special, be in control; the need for power, for attention, for more. And of course the need to feel a sense of separation, that is to say, the need for opposition, enemies.” We have built whole political systems based upon this structural principle of division and separation – the need to define ourselves against what our “enemies” are, and thereby elevate ourselves (that is, elevate our egoic structures of identification, which we then cling to).

Thus a religious man is not really one who puts on a robe or a loincloth, or lives on one meal a day, or has taken innumerable vows to be this and not to be that, but is he who is inwardly simple, who is not becoming anything. Such a mind is capable of extraordinary receptivity, because there is no barrier, there is no fear, there is no going towards something; therefore it is capable of receiving grace, God, truth, or what you will.

Screen Shot 2019-10-04 at 19.20.44

Albion Rose. “Albion rose from where he laboured at the Mill with Slaves / Giving himself for the Nations he danc’d the dance of Eternal Death”. That is, the dance of eternal ego death. Albion has become politically awakened: a state of inclusion, receptivity, creativity and openness, having cast off his “rotten rags of Memory”, his limiting identifications, his judgmentalism of others, his labels, his self-division and anger. He has become naked: no longer identifying with any role, but understanding all of them.

When you see this process, when you are really aware of it without opposition, without a sense of temptation, without resistance, without justifying or judging it, then you will discover that the mind is capable of receiving the new and that the new is never a sensation; therefore it can never be recognized, re-experienced. It is a state of being in which creativeness comes without invitation, without memory; and that is reality.

Screen Shot 2021-05-10 at 10.39.26

The Revolution of Affect

Screenshot 2022-02-21 at 19.13.43

As Solms and Panksepp have persuasively established, “the id is the fount of consciousness and the ego is unconscious in itself. Conscious states are inherently affective. It is this realization that is now revolutionizing consciousness studies (Damasio, 2010; Panksepp, 1998).” Solms’s research dovetails in many remarkable and exciting ways with that of Iain McGilchrist, who has undertaken a similar paradigm shift in making us aware that it is the right hemisphere (“the affective (primary) self” in Solm’s terms) that is actually more aware, more intelligent, and more sophisticated than the slower, explicit, verbal, “rational” and egoic left brain system. See The Conscious Id, by Mark Solms.

Awareness is a state in which there is no condemnation, no justification or identification, and therefore there is understanding; in that state of passive, alert awareness there is neither the experiencer nor the experienced.

Until we understand how to transcend this separative thinking, this process of giving emphasis to the ‘me’ and the ‘mine’, whether in the collective form or in individual form, we shall not have peace; we shall have constant conflict and wars.

We talk about love; we say we love people, that we love our children, our wife, our neighbour, that we love nature; but the moment we are conscious that we love, self-activity has come into being; therefore it ceases to be love.

Obviously, there must be a radical revolution. The world crisis demands it. Our lives demand it. Our everyday  incidents, pursuits, anxieties, demand it. Our problems demand it. There must be a fundamental, radical revolution, because everything about us has collapsed. Though seemingly there is order, in fact there is slow decay, destruction: the wave of destruction is constantly overtaking the wave of life.

So there must be a revolution – but not a revolution based on an idea. Such a revolution is merely the continuation of the idea, not a radical transformation. A revolution based on an idea brings bloodshed, disruption, chaos.  Transformation is not in the future, can never be in the future. It can only be now, from moment to moment.

Screenshot 2022-02-21 at 19.19.32

Pioneering psychoanalyst Otto Gross understood the social drivers of mental distress (including trauma and neuroses), their roots in “the authoritarian, patriarchal structure of the rest of society”, and the need for an affective revolution in healing: he said that “the highest goal of every revolution is to replace the will to power with the will to relating.” See Psychoanalysis and the Revolution Inside.

Love is not different from truth. Love is that state in which the thought process, as time, has completely ceased. Where love is, there is transformation. Without love, revolution has no meaning, for then revolution is merely destruction, decay, a greater and greater evermounting misery. Where there is love, there is revolution, because love is transformation from moment to moment.”

– Krishnamurti. The First and Last Freedom

Screen Shot 2021-05-10 at 10.39.26

I am in you and you in me, mutual in love divine:

Fibres of love from man to man thro Albions pleasant land.

In all the dark Atlantic vale down from the hills of Surrey

A black water accumulates, return Albion! Return!

Thy brethren call thee, and thy fathers, and thy sons,

Thy nurses and thy mothers, thy sisters and thy daughters

Weep at thy souls disease, and the Divine Vision is darkend …

I am not a God afar off, I am a brother and friend

Within your bosoms I reside, and you reside in me:

Lo! We are One; forgiving all Evil; Not seeking recompense!

–  William Blake, Jerusalem 45: 7-20Screen Shot 2021-05-10 at 10.39.26

Screenshot 2022-02-21 at 19.35.54

“I am in you and you in me, mutual in love divine”. Any politics that aims to divide us is the politics of the Accuser. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s