IQ Vol.

1, Issue 2

IMAS Quarterly ISSN 2049-3649

An Easterner in the West: The philosophy of Krishnamurti and the road to a good life for the Martial Artist Prof. Baris Sentuna PhD FIMAS

Key Words: Philosophy, Krishnamurti, Philosophy of Sports, Martial Arts

Abstract: This philosophical paper will seek to analyse the philosophy of Krishnamurti, where he explains the process that leads to the “Good life”. Therefore, the contents of this paper will tend to concentrate much more on philosophcal concepts than any physical martial arts skill, and explains the path Krishnamurti describes for journeying towards a “good life”.

In the first part of this paper Krishnamurti’s advice and guidance for eventually attaining a “good life” are explained and described, while the second part will attempt to analyse each of these different steps for realising the process of attaining the “good life”.

This article is based upon the guidance that Krishnamurti gives for answering the question: “What is a good life?”, and consists of experiences and life analysis. Krishnamurti exemplifies not only mental or theoretical experiences, but also physical ones that can be encountered and lived via our martial arts training. This marriage between theory and

practice is what makes the teachings of Krishnamurti so important.

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As stated above, this paper will examine the ideas of Krishnamurti in two parts. In the first, it’s attention will be focused upon the differentiations he recommended and used for explaining the various events, and which he regarded as being the origin of all our problems.

In the second part, it will consider a quote from Krishnamurti, in which he mentions the processes that we can employ in order to end the problems in our lives. Personal experiences from Aikido are also analysed, in addition to the ideas of Krishnamurti.

1. Basic differentiations Krishnamurti used 1.1 The differentiation between the events and the ideas about events: The first differentiation, and one of the most striking theories that Krishnamurti used as a basis for his philosophy is the differentiation between the acutal events and the ideas about these events. According to his theory, events occur for the purpose of us observing and

experiencing them, and they do not, themselves, cause any kind of problems, confusion or fear. The things we fear, and the things that cause us problems, are actually our ideas

regarding these events, our perceptions and judgements, in other words.

Krishnamurti explains this situation thus: “How can it be possible to become afraid from any event? I can realize a problem when I face up to it and communicate directly with it, then I can see and observe it…as a result; the thing that I am afraid of is my perception concerning

© 2012 The Institute of Martial Arts and Sciences |


IQ Vol. 1, Issue 2

IMAS Quarterly ISSN 2049-3649

the event, of what the event could be and its possible consequences.” (Krishnamurti, 1994, p. 41)

Krishnamurti states that this differentiation is actually the base of problems in our daily life11 hence this differentiation is significant and the reason why “the idea about the event” becomes a problem by means of inflicting stress on the mind. A working mind, in other words, leads to problems. Krishnamurti explained this as such: “Our minds are condemned to cause unhappiness, confusion and infinite problems.” (Krishnamurti, 1994, p.40)

From this reasoning, then, it can be assumed that the mind, in a sense, is problematic. This is precisely what the martial artist tries to overcome by achieving Zanshin. In martial arts the “Zanshin” simply means “still mind” and Martial Artists work for many for long years in order to achieve this state of mind which is the direct opposite of the “working everyday mind”.

“The idea concerning the event is the product of the mind and so the mind should be left aside”. According to Krishnamurti, these ‘ideas’ about ‘events’ are the primary cause of the various troubles in our daily lives including things like love, sex and loneliness. For

example, let’s take a look at what Krishnamurti said about sex, which like martial arts is a bodily event.

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Sex is the breaking point for many people, since it requires bodily contact and sometimes, and for some people, it is the only bodily contact that they experience, in our world of highly modernised societies that rely so much upon mobile phones and laptops.

“sexual activity is not a problem for you, just like eating is not a problem for you. However, if you do not have anything else to think about and you think about food all day, it will become a problem for you.” (Krishnamurti, 1994, p.41)

The events become problems when the mind begins working to produce ideas about the events. So, we should stop our minds; we should all strive to have a “stable/still mind” wherein the mind does not consume energy. “Stable mind” has a significant role in solving our problems, it is especially important in the situation where the idea is recognised as being the event. This effortlessness lies at the very heart of most martial arts like Judo or Aikido for example. Martial artists try to use the inner energy or the opponents energy rather than resorting to, or relying upon, any kind of personal effort.

1.2 The differentiation between what the person thinks and the idea: This is the second differentiation that Krishnamurti realised and used: If we manage to implement differentiation in our daily lives it will, in turn, direct us through the confusion of the mind, helplessness and pain. Since if we separate “fear” and “myself”, “myself” starts to dominate over “fear”, and “myself” will start to strive for preventing the fear within this vicious circle.
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IQ Vol. 1, Issue 2

IMAS Quarterly ISSN 2049-3649

On the other hand, striving for something affects the “stable mind”, since “stable mind” is a mind which does not strive for anything. In this case, if we look at the situation deeply: The striver, “myself”, is the creator of the fear and so it is the same with all fears. (Krishnamurti, 1994, p.34)

Being aware of “myself” is the first step for realising the process that Krishnamurti used to solve the problems of life and help explain the path towards having a good life. In order to achieve this idea, however, we need to mention indistinguishability

1.3 The indistinguishability between the observer and the thing observed: It is very hard to understand indistinguishability in terms of a concept. Philosophically speaking, this is the end of the Krishnamurti doctrine. It is possible to call it not only the end of Krishnamurti’s doctrine, but almost all Eastern doctrines. This is the term “to be one”, which is unity.

The mind is independent within the indistinguishability, that Krishnamurti calls the “situation of creative space”. One of the most significant characteristics of this situation is that it must be allowed to occur naturally or by itself, “without an invitation”. In other words, the

“situation of creative space” forms with awareness and “stable mind”, and so is the indicator of forming with awareness and “stable mind”.

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In martial arts terms this is the situation named as, “Shibumi”. This is the effortless beauty that arises in the martial arts master after many long years of arduous training. Therefore, it is also one of the situations that is extremely difficult to realise and experience.

In addition, this can also be referred as a unity. An example might be, Morihei Ueshiba, (the founder of Aikido) when he says “I am the universe” after having become aware of all of these differentiations. Indeed, all of these eastern concepts are to be found in the quotes of Ueshiba Sensei. However these are experiences rather than mere concepts that can be

grasped by the mind. They are states rather than simple philosophical clarifications. Another part of this philosophy we will analyse in this paper is where Krishnamurti gives the key towards a “good life” step by step.

2. Processing the advice Krishnamurti gives for attaining a good life. Firstly, I want to quote the whole of this part and then continue with trying to explain step by step the individual components: “the person who thinks is a fictional existence and error of mind. (1) It is not needed to think about the event to become aware of the idea to be an event. (2) If there is a simple and not selected awareness, cover of the event starts to bring itself into relief. (3) By this way, the idea ends up as an event. (4) And so, the problems and troubles in our social structure that corrodes our hearts and ideas can be solved.” (Krishnamurti, 1975, p. 108)

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IQ Vol. 1, Issue 2

IMAS Quarterly ISSN 2049-3649

2.1 To realize that idea is a fictional existence: This is the result of the differentiation between the person who thinks and the idea as explained in 2nd part of differences. If we differentiate “fear” and “myself” from each other, “myself” will start to prevent the fear without knowing that it causes fear. If we realize that “myself” is trying to prevent the fear, and analyze it in more detail we can recognize that it tries to dominate over fear. Fear is not a desired thing for “myself”. At this level, we can also ask the question why the fear is not desired for “myself”. The answer is simple:

“myself” understands that it should not get afraid. Hence, “myself” tries to prevent “fear”, however this effort is useless, since it is done by mind. “Mind” is exactly the source of the problem. The solution for “fear” and other problems lays in achieving the “stable mind” In the martial arts, this happens by means of Zanshin.

When “myself” tries to be dominant by means of the mind, ‘myself’ faces a problem, first it tries to be dominant over the problem and change its fear and ideas. If it encounters any resistance or barriers in it’s path, then it chooses another way. That being to change the ego, or “myself”. This is the reason that we sometimes say such things as “I cannot be the person doing this” or “this can not be me”. These inner statements are proof of the confusion in our minds and the challenge between “myself” and “idea”.

“Myself” is filled with certain prejudice. This certainty leads to confusion between “ideas” and “myself”. However, if we realize, Krishnamurti’s argument, which is “I am exactly the fear myself”, then we can begin to become aware that there is, in fact, no need for a “self”,

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and that causes us to change our perceptions. Those expressions such as “this can not be me” do not have any meaning anymore since “myself” does not demonstrate any effort over fear; it is the fear itself.

Unfortunately, most of us are far away from observing this in our daily life, and realising that our thoughts and ideas are pure fiction. However, there is the paradox: we cannot do it, in case we do it, or we may not want to do it. On the contrary, we are only creating a much bigger “myself”, by working to make it even more powerful, even when we emphasise this every single day. We are trying to do everything for “myself” which obviously leads to confusion.

2.2 Comprehension of an idea as an event: If we understand that the person who thinks is nothing more than an illusion, and implement the differentiation between the person who thinks and the idea itself, then we can we start to see our ideas as being events. It is the opinion of the author that this can only done by achieving a “stable mind”, as the person in this state does not waste time and energy in trying to control random ideas when in the “stable mind” condition.

Moving through this level, we can recognise our ideas as being exactly what they are without concerning “myself” and nothing tries to change or prevent “myself”. I think this can be very beneficial to all of us in our daily life, especially in important things such as our attitudes regarding fear and love…

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IQ Vol. 1, Issue 2

IMAS Quarterly ISSN 2049-3649

If we return to fear, and see the fear as being an event then we can start to observe it. Hence, we can directly communicate with it, and try to realize what happens to us when we become afraid. I believe that we really start to enjoy our lives once this has been achieved. In

Aikido my legendary sensei N. Tamura expresses it in this way: “Our minds should be as watching the clouds” (Tamura, N., 2008)

2.3 It is not necessary to think about the events: If one succeeds in realising this stage, and comprehends that we do not need to think about events then in our daily lives, the application will be to watch and observe the ideas floating about, just like watching the clouds billowing in the sky. The state that Krishnamurti

explains is this: The events have “unselected basic awareness” in and of themselves, and this awareness passes through us when we observe them.

This situation occasionally happens in our lives. We are all, sometimes, struck by certain events that have such an impact upon us we simply cannot even bear to think about them. However, I can say that the situation of not thinking anything is not the action we want; but rather, it is something that just happens. And then we realise that it is unnecessary to think about the event either for good or ill. We recognise that it is just an event, and is, ultimately, whatever it is.

Martial arts do also possess such an important property. While practicing martial arts, when someone attacks you, you cannot simply stand there and think, there is no time for any kind
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of intellectual processes or reasoning, one just reacts. It is perhaps here then, in this unthinking instant that the “still mind” truly occurs and truly reveals itself to us.

Conclusion The last steps Krishnamurti states for a “good life” are when awareness of this important truth starts to be realised, then evaluating the idea as if it is an event ends and, finally, the problems encountered in everyday life become solved. The mentioning and explaining of the, 4th, 5th and 6th steps will be theoretic and abstract as is so often also the case in the classical schools of philosophy. I just want to say that this certainly does not mean that I have understood and experienced the first three steps completely. This reminds me of a story I was once told: One day, O Sensei , the founder of Aikido, came to the dojo. He was very happy and his friends, noticing this, enquired “Sensei, why are you so happy today?” He gives an important example and answers: “I suppose I have finally learned how to fall after practicing for so many years”.

I will end with again a word by Krishnamurti: “Reality is a pathless place”. (Krishnamurti, 1994, p.34)

References Kirshnamurti J., (1975) First and Last Freedom, HarperOne. Kirshnamurti J., (1994) On Love and Loneliness, HarperOne; 1st edition

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IQ Vol. 1, Issue 2

IMAS Quarterly ISSN 2049-3649

Tamura N., (2008) International Aikido Seminar Lecture notes.

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