J. Krishnamurti on ‘What are we seeking?’

When was the last time that you took a pause and really asked, “What is it that I am seeking? What is it that I am running after? All my actions, worries, fears, desires, excitements…they must be guided by something underneath that I don’t pay much attention to, but what can that be?”

Our actions are usually so mechanical that we don’t think much about our routine. We wake up, do the everyday things, go through the day, come back and sleep. The same thing goes on for years. Some days are exciting, some days are boring. But it is always something outside that drives our feelings. But even behind all our little feelings, there is something that we want to happen, something that we are seeking…What is it?

After all, if we are to spend all of our life energy seeking something, is it not important that we are absolutely clear about ‘what are we seeking?’ The question is so simple and straightforward but you will find yourself struggling with the answer. There are so many layers to our mind and our desires that it is very difficult to go to that root, that one thing that we are seeking. For example, 

  • We seek to have more wealth. Why? To secure our survival? To enjoy pleasures and luxuries of all kinds? Or has it just become our habit to ‘generally want more wealth’ because everyone else wants it?
  • We tend to seek love or a partner. Why? To feel loved, and cared for, to have sexual gratification? 
  • We seek respect or rather attention of others. Why? Because It clearly gives us gratification. 
  • And when all else fails, We search for god or the truth. Why? Because nothing of earlier lasted, it all faded. But we want something permanent, something that can endure.

“Very well, we want pleasure. Perhaps that may be putting it very crudely, but that is actually what we want – knowledge that will give us pleasure, experience that will give us pleasure, a gratification that will not wither away by tomorrow. And we have experimented with various gratifications, and they have all faded away; and we hope now to find permanent gratification in reality, in God. Surely, that is what we are all seeking – the clever ones and the stupid ones, the theorist and the factual person who is striving after something. And is there permanent gratification? Is there something which will endure?” – J. Krishnamurti

If you look carefully, all of us, in one form or another are seeking some peace, happiness, pleasure that is permanent.

The next question is, “Can this permanent happiness, pleasure, or gratification be given to us by someone else?”

When it comes to pleasures, we don’t think much. We rush anywhere where we can find a hint of gratification. But yet after all those attempts, what have we gained? Look around, has anyone ever gained permanent pleasure from anyone outside? Even the wealthiest ones are miserable. Even those who have found love for life seem in no way extraordinarily satisfied. I haven’t found a single person yet whose search has ended.

It means that there is some problem with our method of search. The problem is that we are not paying much attention to the seeker. When you are looking for permanent happiness, do you first understand the seeker? Do you understand the mind that seeks these pleasures?

We do not know ourselves and worse yet, we don’t want to. We find every possible distraction to turn away our attention from ourselves, our chaotic mind. Have you ever noticed how uncomfortable you start feeling when you have nothing to do?

“The difficulty is that we are so impatient; we want to get on, we want to reach an end, and so we have neither the time nor the occasion to give ourselves the opportunity to study, to observe. Alternatively, we have committed ourselves to various activities – to earning a livelihood, to rearing children – or have taken on certain responsibilities of various organizations; we have so committed ourselves in different ways that we have hardly any time for self-reflection, to observe, to study.”

Here is where we need to make a U-turn. Knowing that the problem of permanent happiness is not to be solved by seeking pleasures outside. Permanent happiness cannot be found in books. It can not be found by traveling the world. No one can give you that.  It can only be solved if you understand the one who is seeking. This is the climax of the entire article.

“For you may wander all over the earth but you have to come back to yourself.”

How do you understand yourself? The only way is to be attentive, be extremely attentive to how your mind works. Why it wants what it wants? Why it drives you towards certain things and runs away from other things? There is no other way. We have to take a pause from our “busyness” and look at our mind for what is it seeking. Only then there is a possibility to become calm. Only then the search can come to an end.

“The more you know yourself the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end – you don’t come to an achievement, you don’t come to a conclusion. It is an endless river. As one studies it, as one goes into it more and more, one finds peace. Only when the mind is tranquil – through self-knowledge and not through imposed self-discipline – only then, in that tranquillity, in that silence, can reality come into being.”

Hope you enjoyed the post! This post was based on an article, “What are we seeking?” from J.Krishnamurti’s book, “The first and the last freedom”. The essence of this post is that searching for self-knowledge in books and through other people is futile, it is meaningless. 


Be free! Become independent and know that only you can know yourself. Nothing outside can help you, books and gurus are useless when it comes to self-knowledge. Being attentive to your mind, your thinking process, and its tendencies is the only way to start knowing yourself. 

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