Krishnamurti on Comparison

Episode Notes

‘Is it possible to live without comparison of any kind, never translating yourself in terms of comparison with another or with an idea or hero?’

This week’s episode on Comparison has six sections.

The first extract (2:34) is from Krishnamurti’s sixth talk in Saanen 1970, titled ‘We are conditioned to compare’.

The second extract (8:27) is from the fourth talk in Bombay 1983, titled ‘We are always comparing’.

The third extract (12:42) is from Krishnamurti’s fourth talk in Bombay 1967, titled ‘Can you live without comparison?’

The fourth extract (24:44) is from the second talk in Rajghat 1974, titled ‘What happens when there is no comparison?’

The fifth extract (34:28) is from Krishnamurti’s third talk in Ojai 1982, titled ‘Where there is comparison there must be fear’.

The final extract in this episode (46:35) is from the first question and answer meeting in Saanen 1985, titled ‘Why do gurus compare themselves to Krishnamurti?’

Part 1

We Are Conditioned To Compare

One of our conditionings is comparison, comparing not only with what you think is noble, or a hero, or a memory, but comparing secretly within yourself, with what you would like to be and what you are. The comparative, assertive pursuit is also our conditioning and this is extraordinarily subtle.

I compare myself to somebody who is a little more bright, a little more intelligent, a little more physically beautiful, who has regular features and all the rest of it – secretly or openly – this constant comparative inquiry, soliloquy, talking to oneself. Where there is comparison – please observe this in yourself – there is not only assertion, a form of aggression but also the feeling of achievement, and therefore in that there is frustration. When you can’t achieve, there is a sense of frustration and a feeling of inferiority. There is not only the aggressive conditioning but also from childhood all our education, all our educational system is based on this: compare, getting more marks, examinations, comparing yourself with somebody who is much cleverer – the battle goes on. And in that comparison is envy, jealousy, and all the conflict involved in that. Comparison implies measurement: I am measuring myself, what I think I am, with something that I think is better, bigger or nobler.

Please let us work at this thing together, not you listen and I talk – let us, both of us, move together, flow together in the comprehension of this because you will see our conditioning is so extraordinarily deep and so very subtle. And one asks, can the mind be ever free of this conditioning?

Then there is the conditioning of society, the culture, competitive, always measuring. As long as the mind has a measure, it must compare, whether the measurement, the rule, the tape with which you measure is self-created or given to you by the society, the culture that is around you. Do please go into this with me and you will see how extraordinarily fascinating and interesting this is.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1970, Talk 6

Part 2

We Are Always Comparing

Why is there in our minds and hearts this constant measurement? Measurement means comparison. To compare myself with you, who are beautiful, clear, certain. The whole feeling of your being is totally different from mine, and I compare myself with you, wanting to be like you, wanting to be like your guru, like your highest – whatever the example is. Why do we compare at all in life?

We say we compare in order to make progress. In the technological world, you have to compare – there must be measurement. Measurement was invented by the ancient Greeks – to measure – and with us, we are always comparing: you are beautiful, I am not, I want to be as beautiful, as powerful as you are, I want to be enlightened as you are. So there is always this competition of comparison between us. We are never free of that movement, and if we are free then what are we? If you don’t compare, as you must compare between two materials, two items of clothing or two cars – there you must naturally compare – but in human relationship, why do we compare, and is it possible to be free of comparison, to end comparison? If you do, then you throw away a great burden that has no reality because then you are what you are. From there you can begin. But if you are always comparing, becoming somebody else, then you are fundamentally unhappy, anxious, frightened, and all the rest of it.

So please ask the question of yourself whether you can live without comparison, without any form of measurement – which is quite difficult because we are trained, educated, convinced that we are this but will become that. The ‘becoming that’ is a form of measurement. To live without a single movement of measurement, that is part of meditation.

Krishnamurti in Bombay 1983, Talk 4

Part 3

Can You Live Without Comparison?

We are always comparing ourselves with somebody else. If I am dull, I want to be more clever. If I am shallow, I want to be deep. If I am ignorant, I want to be more clever, more knowledgeable – I am always comparing myself, measuring myself against others – a better car, better food, a better home, a better way of thinking. Comparison breeds conflict.

Do you understand through comparison? When you compare two pictures, two pieces of music, two sunsets, when you compare that tree with another tree, do you understand either? Or do you understand something only when there is no comparison at all?

So is it possible to live without comparison of any kind, never translating yourself in terms of comparison with another or with an idea or with a hero or with an example? Because when you are comparing, when you are measuring yourself with what should be or what has been, you are not seeing what is.

Please listen to this. It is very simple and therefore, probably, being clever, cunning, you will miss it. We are asking whether it is possible to live in this world without any comparison at all. Don’t say no – you have never done it. You won’t say, ‘I cannot do it, it is impossible because all my conditioning is to compare,’ In a schoolroom, a boy is compared with another, and the teacher says, ‘You are not as clever as the other.’ The teacher destroys ‘B’ when he is comparing ‘B’ with ‘A’. That process goes on through life.

We think that comparison is essential for progress, for understanding, for intellectual development. I don’t think it is. When you are comparing one painting with the other, you are not looking at either of them. You can only look at a painting when there is no comparison. So in the same way, is it possible to live a life never comparing psychologically yourself with another? Never comparing with Rama, Sita, Gita, or whoever it is, with the hero, with your gods, with your ideals. A mind that is not comparing at all, at any level, becomes extraordinarily efficient, becomes extraordinarily alive because then it is looking at what is.

Look, I am shallow. I compare myself with another who is supposed to be very deep, capable and profound in his thinking and in his way of living. I, being shallow, narrow, limited, compare myself with that person, and I struggle to be like him. I imitate, quote, follow and try to destroy myself in order to be like him, and this conflict goes on endlessly. Whereas if there is no comparison at all, how do I know I am dull? Because you tell me? Because I cannot get a job? Because I am at school? How do I know I am dull if there is no comparison at all? Therefore, I am what I am; I am in that state from which I can move, I can discover, I can change. But when I am comparing myself with another, the change will invariably be superficial.

Please do listen to all this, it is your life. If there is no comparison, what is is. From there I move. This is one of the fundamental principles of life, that modern life has conditioned man to compare, to compete, to struggle endlessly, caught in a battle with another. I can only look at what is when there is no comparison. So I understand, not verbally but actually, that comparison is a most childish, immature thing.

Where there is love, is there comparison? When you love somebody with your heart, with your mind, with your body, with your entire being – not being possessive, not being dominating, not saying, ‘They are mine’ – is there any comparison? Only when there is no comparison can you look at what is. If we understand that, we can proceed to find out, to inquire into the whole structure of pleasure.

Not to compare what is, not only with the future but also with what has been in the past, this demands tremendous attention. I had a pleasure yesterday – sensuous pleasure; an idea which has brought an extraordinary light; a cloud which I saw full of light yesterday but which now I don’t see at all – and I want that back. So I compare the present with what has been, and I compare the present with what should be. It requires extraordinary intelligence and sensitivity to be free of this comparative evaluation. One must have intelligence and sensitivity completely; then only one can understand what is. Then you see you are passionate and have the energy to pursue what is. But you lose that energy when you are comparing what is with what has been or what should be.

Krishnamurti in Bombay 1967, Talk 4

Part 4

What Happens When There Is No Comparison?

Is it possible never to compare yourself with another, which is measurement, never to compare not only physiologically but, much more, psychologically? We are talking of psychological, inward comparison. The comparison is: you know, I don’t know; you are the guru or the saviour or the master or somebody high up on the ladder, and I am just on the lowest rung, and I must have you as an example. So I want to compare myself to see that I am progressing. That is comparison. I am greedy, and I compare myself to an idea of being non-greedy. And having established an ideal, a pattern of behaviour or a pattern of conduct, I compare myself all the time, and that is called growth, progress, evolution and all the rest of it.

That word ‘progress’ is rather interesting. I was told the other day that the word originally meant ‘to enter the enemy’s country fully armed’.

So, can one live that way? Not only intellectually, but in relationship. Life is relationship; without relationship there is no life. You may live in isolation, but you are related. You may withdraw, but you are still related to man; you are part of man, part of humanity. Can one, in daily life, in all kinds of relationship, live a life in which there is no comparison? Then the problem arises: what happens when I don’t compare?

I have compared myself with you, who are very clever, bright, intelligent, nice-looking, have a tremendous reputation – blah – I compare myself with you, and therefore I say to myself, ‘I am rather dull. I am rather stupid compared to that chap.’ This is how we are educated in schools. And what happens when there is no comparison? Do I become a vegetable? Do I stagnate? Or something totally different thing takes place. You try it now, please, as I am talking. Try this.

You are used to comparing; that is part of your tradition, by stories, which is memory, which is thought, and as you are listening now, try to find out what happens if you don’t compare. Don’t you then realise that you have carried all along a tremendous burden? And when you don’t compare, you are free of that burden. Therefore you can look at yourself without comparison.

So, what you are, not what you should be or what you have been or what you will become, but actually what you are. Which means when there is no comparison, you don’t know what you are. Good – you don’t know what you are, therefore from there you can start. I don’t know what I am, but I am going to find out. And therefore from that arises this question of whether you can live in daily life without any control, without any comparison. Which doesn’t mean that you do what you like – of course, you are doing that anyhow. But actually to live without a single direction, which is to control. This demands a skill in action, which is an art to be learnt, and the very learning of it is its own discipline. You don’t bring a discipline upon it, but the very observation of how to live without control brings its own order. Do it and you will see how extraordinarily simple it is. Putting it into words makes it complicated, but it’s really very, very simple.

You see, I don’t know what I am. I know people have told me what I am – I am an atman, I am Freudian, all the rest of the things – but I see that I live a life of comparison, and when I don’t compare I am at a loss. For the first time in my life, I am altogether lost, uncertain, unclear, confused. And I must be lost, otherwise I cannot find.

Krishnamurti at Rajghat in 1974, Talk 2

Part 5

Where There Is Comparison There Must Be Fear

What is fear? What are the contributory factors that bring about fear? Like many small streams, rivulets make the tremendous volume of a river, what are the small streams that bring about fear, that have such tremendous vitality of fear? Is one of the causes of fear comparison? Comparing oneself with somebody else, psychologically. Obviously it is. So, can one live a life comparing oneself with nobody? When you compare yourself with another, ideologically, psychologically or even physically, there is the striving to become that, and there is the fear that you may not. It is the desire to fulfil, and you may not be able to fulfil. Where there is comparison, there must be fear.

So one inquires, asks whether it is possible to live without a single comparison, never comparing whether you are beautiful or ugly, fair or not fair, physically, or psychologically approximating yourself to some ideal, to some pattern of values. There is this constant comparison going on. We are asking: is that one of the causes of fear? Obviously. And where there is comparison, there must be conformity, there must be imitation, inwardly.

So we are asking: comparison, conformity, imitation – are they contributory causes of fear? And can one live without comparing, imitating, conforming psychologically? Obviously, one can. If those are the contributory factors of fear, and you are concerned with the ending of fear, then inwardly there is no comparison, which means there is no becoming. Comparison entails – the very meaning of the comparison is to become that which you think is better, higher, nobler and so on. So, comparison, imitation, conformity, which is becoming, is that one of the factors, or the factor of fear? We are not saying it is, but you have to discover it for yourself. Then if those are the factors, then if the mind is seeing those factors as bringing about fear, the very perception of those ends the contributory causes.

Where there is a cause, there is an end. I hope you understand this. If there is physically a cause which gives you a tummy ache, there is an ending of that tummy ache by discovering what is the cause of the pain. Similarly, where here is a cause there is an ending of that cause.

And is time a factor of fear? That is, time as of the things or incidents or happenings that have taken place in the past, or that might happen in the future, and the present. Time is a movement, physically from here to that place, from one point to another point – a movement from one point to another point requires time. To learn a language requires time. To learn any form of technique requires time. But when we think about the future, what might happen – I have a job, I might lose it; my wife might run away, leave me – the future. So we are talking not of physical time – the sunrise, sunset, the movement of the watch, a clock, chronological time – but we are talking about psychological time. I am, I shall be, and I might not be. So, is time a factor of fear? Not how to stop time – you can’t stop time – but to observe it first, observe the fact that one of the factors of fear is time. Let’s say I’m afraid of death. That is in the future. So is time a factor of fear? Obviously, it is. Then is thought a factor of fear?

Do you understand all this? We said there are various contributory causes of fear – comparison, imitation, identification, and this act of becoming something else – I am this, I must be that, and I may not be that, ever. And is time a factor in the movement of fear? Obviously, it is. There is a distance between now, the living, and the dying, a distance from this point to that point. To move from this point to that point is fear. Time is fear.

So, next we are asking: is thought fear? It is very important to find out. Is thought the root of fear? Time is the root of fear, obviously, as comparison and so on, and is thought also the root of fear? Time and thought, are they not together?

Krishnamurti in Ojai 1982, Talk 3

Part 6

Why Do Gurus Compare Themselves to Krishnamurti?

Question: Various teachers and gurus say that essentially they are giving the same teaching as you. What do you say? How do you respond to that statement?

Krishnamurti: I wonder why they compare themselves with the speaker. One questions why they should even consider that what the speaker is saying is what they are also saying. Why do they say these things? I know this is a fact in India, Europe and in America – there are various trumped-up gurus, various groups that say, ‘Yes, we are also going to the same thing, along the same river, as you are doing.’ This has been stated to me, to the speaker personally and we have discussed this matter with these gurus, with these local or foreign – what do you call them? – leaders. We have gone into this question.

First of all, why do they compare what they are saying with K? Why do they maintain that? What is the intention behind it? Is it to ride the same bandwagon? Is it because they think they may not be ‘quite quite’ but by comparing themselves with K, they might become ‘quite quite’? So in talking over with them, with some of them, we went into it. I doubt what they are saying, and I doubt the speaker’s own experiences. There is a doubt, disbelief, not saying, ‘Yes, quite right, we are in the same boat.’

So if we could approach this question with doubt, with a certain sense of scepticism on both sides. Those who say we are rowing the same boat on the same river – perhaps they are far ahead, and the speaker is far behind, but it is still the same river, in speaking with them, as they doubt, question, demand, and as you push further and further and further, deeper and deeper, they come to an end. And at the end of it, the speaker has heard many of them say, ‘What you say is perfect, is the truth; you embody truth’ – and all that business. And they salute and go away saying, ‘We have to deal with ordinary people, so this is only for the elite.’ I say, ‘Double nonsense!’

So why do we compare at all, not only ‘My guru is better than your guru’ – but why can’t we look at things as they are, questioning, doubting, asking, demanding, exploring, never saying our side is better than your side, or this side is better than that side, or that we are all doing the same thing?

The other day I heard, ‘What you are speaking, so am I speaking; what is the difference?’ I said, ‘None at all.’ We use the same language, English or French, a little bit of Italian, we use the same language, but the content, the depth that lies behind the word may be quite different. We are so easily satisfied with explanations, with descriptions, with a sense of all the éclat, all the glory, all the paraphernalia, and we are impressed by all that. Our brains don’t work very simply. That is one of my questions that I would like to ask you.

Have you watched, seen how your brain works? Watched as an outsider watching your brain in action – have you ever done it? Or the brain is carrying on in its old habits, beliefs, dogmas, rituals, business and so on, just mechanically carrying on. If I may ask, is your brain like that? Have you ever watched one thought chasing another thought, a series of associations, a series of memories, holding on to your own experience?

The other day in America, a person whom we have known for some time said that that person lived according to his experience, and that his experience has told him, and that his experience was real, actual, very deep, and that experience is all-important to him. And we said, ‘Why don’t you doubt your experience; it may not be actual?’ It may be actual, it may be imaginary, it may be romantic – all the sentimentality and all the rest of it – why don’t you doubt that very thing that you say, that your experience tells you? Inwardly. And one has not seen that person again!

So is it not necessary to be aware of all these things: why they compare, why they say we are all in the same boat? We may be in the same boat – probably we are, all of us – but why assume one is in the same boat with you? Is it the desire to – oh, I don’t know. You know all about it, don’t you? So can we not accept any guru, any leader, including, especially, the speaker? Never accept anything psychologically except that we have watched ourselves in our relationship, that we have watched our speech, the voice, the tone of the voice, the words we use – all that. Can one be all day, or some time of the day, aware of all that? And then perhaps you don’t need any guru, any leader, any book, including that of the speaker. Then there is something totally different taking place when one is really attentive.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1985, Question and Answer Meeting 1

Listen on:

Apple Podcasts



Google Podcasts

Amazon Music

Apple Podcasts



Google Podcasts

Amazon Music