Knowing without names — on J. Krishnamurti

Acharya Prashant
3 min readJun 12, 2020

Following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

When you teach a child that a bird is named ‘bird’,
the child will never see the bird again.

~ J.Krishnamurti ~

Acharya Prashant: Beautiful quotation.

Because naming comes with a total bundle of association, references, memories, past, prejudices.

Having named something, having tagged or labelled something, you are no more in direct touch with that thing. Now, you are in touch with the name and not the thing.

It takes a beauty; beauty that lies in mystical unknowing. Now, you know. We have four rabbits here (at AdvaitBodh Sthal), we have deliberately we have refrained from naming them, one of them carries a name but the other three do not have names. It is beautiful and we often do not know who is who. They are all white, alike.

What else are identities, what else are relationships?


When something takes a name, it takes a lot of meaning. Now, it is not merely a person; the fellow is now a story. The name is the pointer to that story.

The naming may not exclusively belong to the language. You may not name somebody but the face, now serves as a name. It’s more about using memory rather than direct and immediate realization.

I look at you, and I can use your name to dig into memory And get information about you. I say, ‘He is Amit and the old story book opens and then everything about Amit is disclosed’. And I may not give you a name, or I may not know your name but I know your face and I may use the face as index or pointer. And then, the same story book opens.

So, it is not about having a word as a name; it is about a way of living. There is a way of living that relies on memory, that relies on security and the past, that relies on story books — this is one particular way of living.

There is another way of living that is bold, comfortable. It does not rely on names and associations. It lives directly, immediately, it is not carrying wounds from the past, it has no course to settle.