Exam questions from a philosophy course

Professor Raymond Martin’s list of examination questions from one of his philosophy courses involving the work of Krishnamurti (Study Questions for a course in Contemporary Eastern Philosophy, Spring, 1985).

1.) K is concerned with the problems posed by individual and collective human violence. He thinks there is one and only one solution. What is it? What is his main objection to alternative solutions? Do you agree?

2.) K teaches that gurus and spiritual disciplines are counter-productive. Why? Give the best reason you can for disagreeing with him.

3.) "The great religions of the world are the repository for our collective spiritual wisdom. The wise person will learn this wisdom, and use it as a guide to his own experience." Would K agree? Explain why or why not. 
Do you agree with K? If so, give the best reason you can for disagreeing with K. If not, explain why not.

4.) Consider: "The clerk, when he seeks to become a manager, becomes a factor in the creation of power-politics which produce war, so he is directly responsible for war." Does K mean to imply that you, since you also are ambitious, are also, in virtue of your ambition, directly responsible for war? Do you agree? Give reasons for your answers.

5.) Consider: "One of the fundamental causes of the disintegration of society is copying, which is the worship of authority." Explain in your own words what K means. Does K recognize any circumstances under which appeal to authority is all right? What do you think is the most serious problem with his view? Give reasons for your answers.

6.) "We will learn how to solve our problems when we learn how to give them more thought and better thought." Would K agree? Explain why or why not. Give the best reason that you can for disagreeing with K's answer.

7.) Could you live your life effortlessly? What does K think? Do you agree? If you do, explain why you're not doing it. If you disagree, explain why.

8.) Do you have a self or just the illusion of a self? In either case, what should you do about it?

9.) Why aren't we fearless? What does K think? What do you think? Give reasons for your answer.

10.) Consider: "What is important, surely, is to be aware without choice, because choice brings about conflict. The chooser is in confusion, therefore he chooses; if he is not in confusion, there is no choice." 
Explain in your own words and in considerable detail what K is talking about.

11.) Consider: "Now, if we examine our life, our relationship with another, we shall see that it is a process of isolation." Explain in your own words what K means. Give the clearest example that you can, from your own life, to show that what K is saying is at least sometimes false. Explain why you think this is an especially suitable example. Now explain how someone could best argue that what K is saying is even true of your example.

12.) Bhagwan claimed to be contradictory on purpose. K doesn't make any such claim. But he may be contradictory none the less. Give the best argument that you can that K is sometimes guilty of an important contradiction. Does it matter? Give reasons for your answer.

13.) What does K mean by "loneliness"? How much of your life is an attempt to distract yourself from loneliness _ according to K?, according to you?

14.) When you suffer psychological pain, who is it that suffers? How would K answer this question? Explain in your own words what K means, so that someone who had never read K or any other philosopher could understand you.

15.) "K says some confusing things about whether in his view it takes time to acquire self-knowledge. In some places he says things which imply that it does, in other places he says things which imply that it doesn't. 
Although his words are sometimes unclear, what he means to say is clear enough, and also consistent." Does K say confusing things on this topic? Give reasons for your answer. Is there a plausible interpretation of the many things K says on this topic that is both clear and consistent? Give reasons for your answer.

16.) K talks a great deal about "meditation". What does K mean by "meditation"? Things that some others call meditation, K would not call meditation. What are the most important of these? Why does K think that meditation, as he understands it, is important?

17.) K talks a great deal about memory. He seems to think that memory is often essential, or that certain kinds of memory are essential, and that memory is often a hindrance, or that certain kinds of memory are a hindrance. What are K's views on the importance of memory? What, in K's view, is the relationship between memory and the self? Do you agree with K's views on memory? Give reasons for your answer.

18.) Is K an atheist, a theist, or an agnostic? Explain your answer in considerable detail.

19.) What are K's views on sex and love? Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer.

20.) Taking what K has to say all in all, what do you think is the greatest merit of his views? What do you think is the greatest difficulty? Give reasons for your answers.

21.) Briefly explain what K meant by any five of the eight quoted remarks:

a. "The understanding of oneself is not a result, a culmination; it is seeing oneself from moment to moment."

b. "Effort is a distraction from what is."

c. "Reality, truth, is not to be recognized."

d. "Action as we know it is really reaction."

e. "Belief is a denial of truth."

f. "Cultivation of the ideal is considered virtuous; but if you look at it closely and directly you will see that it is nothing of the kind."

g. "The more knowledge a mind is burdened with the less capable it is of understanding."

h. "I think we shall understand the significance of life, if we understand what it means to make an effort."

Raymond Martin, 1985

[reproduced without permission from "The Link" which had permission from Mr. Martin]