Seeking Krishnamurti Quote on Enlightenment

Years ago, probably close to 20-year now, I read a Krishnamurti book whose title I have now forgotten. But, in the book, there was a quote that resonated with me on such a deep level that I have never forgotten it. Since it is highly likely that I am not remembering it accurately I have been searching, unsuccessfully for the quote. It goes something like this:

Do not seek enlightenment unless you do so as one whose hair is on fire seeks water.

Because I have not been able to find the quote, I wonder if I have somehow created this memory. Seems unlikely, so I’m hoping that someone out there recognizes this quote and can lead me to the source.

Why do I want to find this quote? This quote had a powerful impact on me back then. At the time I read it, I thought I was seeking enlightenment, but Krishnamurti’s words made it very clear to me that I was not ready for the type of seeking that is necessary to be on that path.

At the time, I believed that to seek enlightenment as one whose hair is on fire seeks water meant that the seeking had to be painful, work, struggle. I no longer believe that to be true and I want to go back to the source and read his words with my new understanding of what seeking enlightenment means.

Here’s how I would translate that quote based on my current awareness:

Do not seek enlightenment, for you cannot find something that you already possess. Seek rather to fully claim that which is yours. Seek to live with the single-minded focus of one whose hair is on fire seeks water. And seek your water, seek the fullness of life, as if you have already found it.

That is how I would interpret his words now. But I want to read the quote in context to see if I missed something at the time, something that, if I had seen it, might have shifted my perception of this particular quote.

If you know this quote and the book within which it can be found, please leave a comment here.

Thank you.

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      13 Responses to “Seeking Krishnamurti Quote on Enlightenment”

      1. Holistic Healing on September 16th, 2006 10:22 am

        Carnival of Healing: Host Tribute Edition…

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      2. liveconsciously on September 17th, 2006 5:10 pm

        I think there is a similar story about a zen student who goes to a zen master sitting by the river bank. The student says to the master that he wants to understand God. The master quickly grabs the student and plunges his head underwater, and holds him there until the student almost drowns. The master then lets go, and says to the student, only seek to understand God if you want it as much as breathing your last breath. Not quite the same as enlightenment, but it may be similar 🙂

      3. ed on September 18th, 2006 10:29 am

        Hi Ben. Thanks for that comment. It does, indeed, sound very similar. Certainly the underlying message is same. After all is there really any difference between seeking enlightenment and seeking God?

      4. peacenik on October 29th, 2006 6:44 pm

        I’ve heard a similair quote from a zen book.
        “Crave zen as a drowning man craves water”

      5. Edward Mills on October 30th, 2006 9:52 am

        Thanks Peacenik. I’ll see if I can find the book.
        fyi, the link to your blog isn’t working.

      6. Mike on July 23rd, 2007 8:13 am

        A quote that means a lot to me:

        “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society” — Krishnamurti

      7. Edward Mills on July 24th, 2007 10:59 am

        Mike. I love that! So true. Thanks for sharing that here.

      8. bhav on February 4th, 2008 8:51 am

        Hi this may seem odd to you but I was 16 when I first found enlightenment..this is no other way to describe what is actually indescribable..I was going through a very bad time in my life and somehow the Bhagavad Gita came into my life. I was so miserable and in the depths of depression but when I read the scripture I felt calm and serene. Without even realising it or intending to I would start to have lucid trancendental dreams until one day I awoke from one with the words ‘let go’ in my mind. For two weeks I was in a blissful state of mind in which I had no desires and my mind was as calm as the wind. But I stopped reading from the Gita or concentrating my mind on the Self and eventually I succumb to desire and gradually returned to a mental state of human slavery. I’m now 19 and have once again realised that desiring and craving materialistic objects poisons the soul. I’m once again on the path to peace with my Gita by my side. i do not know if my path to peace will be the same but all I know is that the Gita will open your mind if you let it. It is more than a book is a way of life..I hope you find peace as well as your quote.


      9. Edward Mills on February 8th, 2008 11:52 am

        Bhav. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s so hard to imagine having that wisdom at 16. I remember how difficult and dark those days were for me. Congratulations on breaking through that to discover your essential nature. I know that you’re path from here will lead to great things.

      10. robertdee on May 10th, 2010 1:48 pm

        I’ve seen this quote before and have tried to find it with little success. It resonates with me strongly. I don’t take it as meaning that seeking enlightenment is deliberately painful but that you have to be at the point where there is no other option – everything else has been exhausted.

      11. Ziba on May 2nd, 2012 11:21 am

        You are referring to a quote by Sri Ramakrishna “Do not seek illumination unless you seek it as a man whose hair is on fire seeks a pond.”

        Hope it helps.

      12. JD on September 10th, 2012 1:12 pm

        I have stumbled across your site many years later than your original posting. The quote you attribute to J. Krishnamurti may actually belong to Sri Ramakrishna who said: “Do not seek illumination
        unless you seek it as a man whose hair is on fire seeks a pond”.

      13. spiritualliberation on January 28th, 2013 8:47 pm

        I read the quote you are speaking of in an incredible book by Jack Kornfield, called After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. He pulls together the most incredible wisdom about the path of enlightenment- and our seemingly inevitable plunges back into the realm of human emotion, ego, and unworthiness. This book is soul food for anyone who has ever had an experience of awakening or enlightenment, and then wonders how to carry that experience back into their everyday life.

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