"Questions - Answers"
J. Krishnamurti


Question: I gather definitely from you that learning and knowledge are impediments. To what are they impediments?

Krishnamurti: Obviously knowledge and learning are an impediment to the understanding of the new, the timeless, the eternal. Developing a perfect technique does not make you creative. You may know how to paint marvellously, you may have the technique; but you may not be a creative painter. You may know how to write poems, technically most perfect; but you may not be a poet. To be a poet implies, does it not?, being capable of receiving the new; to be sensitive enough to respond to something new, fresh. With most of us knowledge or learning has become an addiction and we think that through knowing we shall be creative. A mind that is crowded, encased in facts, in knowledge - is it capable of receiving something new, sudden, spontaneous? If your mind is crowded with the known, is there any space in it to receive something that is of the unknown? Surely knowledge is always of the known; and with the known we are trying to understand the unknown, something which is beyond measure.

Take, for example, a very ordinary thing that happens to most of us: those who are religious - whatever that word may mean for the moment - try to imagine what God is or try to think about what God is. They have read innumerable books, they have read about the experiences of the various saints, the Masters, the Mahatma and all the rest, and they try to imagine or try to feel what the experience of another is; that is with the known you try to approach the unknown. Can you do it? Can you think of something that is not knowable? You can only think of something that you know. But there is this extraordinary perversion taking place in the world at the present time: we think we shall understand if we have more information, more books, more facts, more printed matter.

To be aware of something that is not the projection of the known, there must be the elimination, through the understanding, of the process of the known. Why is it that the mind clings always to the known? Is it not because the mind is constantly seeking certainty, security? Its very nature is fixed in the known, in time; how can such a mind, whose very foundation is based on the past, on time, experience the timeless? it may conceive, formulate, picture the unknown, but that is all absurd. The unknown can come into being only when the known is understood, dissolved, put aside. That is extremely difficult, because the moment you have an experience of anything, the mind translates it into the terms of the known and reduces it to the past. I do not know if you have noticed that every experience is immediately translated in1o the known, given a name, tabulated and recorded. So the movement of the known is knowledge, and obviously such knowledge, learning, is a hindrance.

Suppose you had never read a book, religious or psychological, and you had to find the meaning, the significance of life. How would you set about it? Suppose there were no Masters, no religious organizations, no Buddha, no Christ, and you had to begin from the beginning. How would you set about it? First, you would have to understand your process of thinking, would you not? - and not project yourself, your thoughts, into the future and create a God which pleases you; that would be too childish. So first you would have to understand the process of your thinking. That is the only way to discover anything new, is it not?

When we say that learning or knowledge is an impediment, a hindrance, we are not including technical knowledge - how to drive a car, how to run machinery - or the efficiency which such knowledge brings. We have in mind quite a different thing: that sense of creative happiness which no amount of knowledge or learning will bring. To be creative in the truest sense of that word is to be free of the past from moment to moment, because it is the past that is continually shadowing the present. Merely to cling to information, to the experiences of others, to what someone has said, however great, and try to approximate your action to that - all that is knowledge, is it not? But to discover anything new you must start on your own; you must start on a journey completely denuded, especially of knowledge, because it is very easy, through knowledge and belief, to have experiences; but those experiences are merely the products of self-projection and therefore utterly unreal, false. If you are to discover for yourself what is the new, it is no good carrying the burden of the old, especially knowledge - the knowledge of another, however great. You use knowledge as a means of self-protection, security, and you want to be quite sure that you have the same experiences as the Buddha or the Christ or X. But a man who is protecting himself constantly through knowledge is obviously not a truth-seeker.

For the discovery of truth there is no path. You must enter the uncharted sea - which is not depressing, which is not being adventurous. When you want to find something new, when you are experimenting with anything, your mind has to be very quiet, has it not? If your mind is crowded, filled with facts, knowledge, they act as an impediment to the new; the difficulty is for most of us that the mind has become so important, so predominantly significant, that it interferes constantly with anything that may be new, with anything that may exist simultaneously with the known. Thus knowledge and learning are impediments for those who would seek, for those who would try to understand that which is timeless.