Krishnamurti: Talk 3
Transcript of Talk 3, Madras, 13 January 1971
As we have talked about so many other things like fear, pleasure, and the ending of sorrow, I think we ought to talk over together the question of meditation. That word is loaded, specially in the East. One has all kinds of ideas of what meditation is, what systems to follow, what methods, what practices, what disciplines, and I think we ought to consider this, because it is part of life like death, love, and this sense of great beauty. Meditation also is not only a part but perhaps covers the whole field of life.
I do not quite know how to begin, because it is rather a complex thing and we ought to begin, I think, by considering that one must change radically, totally one’s way of living, not only outwardly in our relationships, in our attitudes and activities, but also inwardly, most profoundly. There must be really a marvellous change so that our minds are entirely different. Yet as man, centuries upon centuries, has sought a way of life that is not worldly and so has escaped from life, he has denied living and created his own idea of what a religious life is and if we are going into this question of meditation and what a religious life, what a religious mind is, we must turn our back upon everything that man has thought about what meditation is or what a religious life is. We have totally to abnegate, deny all that.
So we will begin by seeing what is not meditation, and through negation come to the positive. You must negate not merely verbally, or intellectually, theoretically, but actually negate every thing that man has said. One has to find out for oneself, because truth is something not to be bought through another. It is not something fixed, something that you can repeatedly add to in order to discover it. Please do realize that if one is really serious, one must totally negate all the propaganda, for religion is a continuous propaganda. You are told what to do, what to think, either for over 5000 years or for 2000 years. So you must, if you are serious, totally put aside all that and find out for yourself what truth is, if there is such a thing. So it is important to understand yourself, not what others say about yourself. If you followed a psychologist or a philosopher or an analytical, intellectual person, or one of the ancient teachers, however ancient, respected and all the rest of it, you are merely following what they are telling you about yourself. Therefore, you have to deny all that, and then you begin to find out what you are.
And meditation is part of this, because without knowing yourself, not only superficially but at the very depths of your being, you have no basis for any action, you have no foundation whatsoever on which you can build a house that is stable, orderly. So it is absolutely necessary if you would really take this extraordinary journey, and that is what we are going to do: journey together into this enormous, complex problem of understanding oneself. Please see the absolute, essential necessity of it, that nobody can teach you about yourself except yourself, so you have to be the guru, the disciple yourself, the teacher yourself, and learn from yourself. What you learn from another is not true. So you have to find out for yourself what you are and to learn how to observe yourself.
You know it is one of the most arduous tasks to go into this. It is like taking a journey together. You know when you walk together you must be friends, you must love walking together, and that is one of the most difficult things. To learn about oneself is not to accumulate knowledge about oneself. To learn about myself I have to observe myself. If I learn about myself through the accumulation of knowledge, I don’t learn about myself.
There are two ways of learning: to learn in order to accumulate knowledge and from knowledge observe, observe through the screen of the past. I learn about myself, observe myself, having experience and accumulating knowledge from those experiences and looking at myself through those experiences. That is, I look at myself through the past, for knowledge is the past. That is one way of looking at oneself. The other is to observe and watch the movement of all the thoughts, of all the motives, and never accumulate. Therefore, learning is a constant process.
I see this needs further explanation. I see myself being violent, and I have condemned it or justified it, and I have learnt from it that there should be no violence. I have learnt from it. Next time I observe myself being violent, I respond according to my knowledge of what I have learnt. And, therefore, there is no fresh observation. I am looking at the new experience of violence with old eyes, with previous knowledge. Therefore I am not learning. Learning implies a constant movement, not from the past, but a movement from moment to moment so that there is no accumulation. We are the result of thousands of accumulations, we are accumulating, and if you would understand that accumulation, you have to learn about it and not further accumulate. So there must be an observation which is a constant learning without accumulation. Accumulation is the centre, is the “me”, the ego; and to learn about it one must be free of accumulation and not accumulate at another level in a different direction.
So there must be learning about oneself by watching, not condemning, not justifying, but just watching, the way you walk, the way you talk, the words you use, the motives, the purposes, the intentions – to be totally aware without any choice. And that awareness is not a matter of accumulation but of being aware from moment to moment. When you are not aware, do not bother. Begin again, so that your mind is always fresh. Therefore the learning about oneself is not only at the conscious level, superficial level, but also at the deeper level: the so-called unconscious, the hidden. How are you going to learn about something that is very deeply rooted, hidden, not open? Our whole consciousness is both superficial and hidden; and one has to learn the content of all that consciousness, because the content makes up the consciousness. The two are not separate, the content is the consciousness.
Therefore, to understand the content there must be an observation without the observer. You know this is one of the most fascinating things in life, to find out how to look anew at life. To observe the hidden, one has to have eyes that are not conditioned by the past as a Hindu, Christian, and all the rest of it. One must look at oneself as though for the first time, each time and therefore never accumulate. If you can so observe yourself in action in the office, with the family, with the children, when you are sexual, when you are greedy, ambitious, observe without condemning it, without justifying it, just observe, then you will see that in that observation there is no conflict whatsoever. And a mind that comes with a tortured, with a distorted mind, can never possibly find out what truth is. And most of our minds are distorted, tortured, made small by control, by discipline, by fear.
Psychologists say that you must dream, otherwise you go mad. There must be dreams when you sleep, there must take place dreams. Please be interested in this, because you dream in life every night. When you sleep, some kind of dream, activity, goes on; and they say that it is essential for human sanity that you must dream. Now we are going to question it, going to find out whether it is absolutely necessary to dream at all. So we have to discard what the professionals have said and find out for ourselves. We have to ask ourselves what dreams are. Are not dreams the continuation of the activity of daily life, only in symbolic form? Please do not agree or disagree. We are enquiring together, taking the journey together, therefore, there is no agreement or disagreement. We are both of us observing, we are asking whether it is necessary to dream at all.
And what are dreams? Are they not the movement of daily life, the daily observations, the daily wrangles, all the misfortunes, violence, bitterness, anger, the movement of all that continuing while you are asleep, only taking a symbolic, visual or a verbal form? You find out. If you have observed you will see that the brain needs order, otherwise it cannot function rationally. Have you noticed before you go to asleep that you review the day, and you say to yourself, “I should have said that differently, I should have done that in a different way, I should not have said that, I wish it had not happened, I must correct it tomorrow?” Haven’t you noticed that you review the day just before you go off to sleep? Why? Because if you do not do it consciously, while you are asleep the mind is spending its energy to bring order within itself.
Are you following all this? Look, order is necessary in daily life not only when you are asleep. The brain demands that you have an orderly, sane life, otherwise it cannot function efficiently.. And order is virtue, because if you are not virtuous, if you are disorderly, how can the brain function? It can only operate excellently when it is secure, when it has order within itself. Haven’t you noticed all these things?
So while you are asleep, while the body is asleep, the dream is bringing about order in itself, because next day it has to face disorder again; therefore it must have some capacity to bring order out of disorder, and the bringing about of order is a form of dream. But if you in the waking hours establish order, then the brain, while the physical body is asleep, can live a totally different kind of life. Look, this is part of meditation. A mind that has no order, that is disorderly, doing one thing, saying another, acting another way, as we do, such a mind cannot possibly understand what meditation is. There must be order. Now, how do you establish, how does the mind, the brain establish order during the day, order being virtue? We are not talking of social morality but of a virtue that is orderly.
Now order is not a blueprint established by the Gita, the Bible, by the teacher. Order is a living thing; it is not a blueprint. If you have a blueprint, then there is disorder between what you are and what you should be. Therefore, in that there is contradiction, there is conflict. Conflict indicates disorder. So you can only find out what order is if you learn what disorder is. In the understanding of what disorder is, you have order. Our daily life as we live is disorderly, is it not?
Would you say, your life, if you are honest to yourself, was very orderly, very sane, balanced, harmonious? Obviously not. If it was, you would not be sitting here. You would be free human beings, marvellous human beings, establishing a different kind of society; but we are disorderly human beings, contradictory. So observe without denying, justifying, just observe your disorder, how contradictory you are, how frightened you are, how envious you are, seeking prestige, position, bullied by your wife or husband, a slave to what your neighbour thinks of you – a constant conflict, struggle. Observe that without justifying or condemning. Learn all about that disorder and you will see that out of that comes an extraordinarily sweet order with a movement, with a life, with a vigour. Then you will see that during the day you have established complete order in your life, a mathematically precise order. And to understand that, you have to understand fear, you have to understand pleasure – which we went into briefly the other day. And by being aware of them choicelessly, you will see that when you go to sleep your mind then has no dreams at all. Therefore such a mind, such a brain is made fresh during sleep, renews itself, and therefore, the next morning you will find the brain has an extraordinary capacity.
And that is part of understanding oneself. You must love this, you must give your life to this, because it is your life, you must give your life to understand your life, because you are the world and the world is you. If you change, you change the world. This is not merely an intellectual idea, you must burn with this, you must have passion. And meditation is the release of tremendous energy.
You know, to change the environment there must be a system, a method, A method, system, is to act efficiently. Just follow this. If you want to change the environment round here, there must be a planning of what to do. If you want to build a house, you have to plan. And when you establish a system, what takes place? Outwardly what takes place? There must be a few who will be capable of running that system. Then what happens to the people who run the system? They become much more important than the system or the consideration of changing the environment. Haven’t you noticed all this? They are the bosses, they are the people who use the system in order to become important themselves, like politicians the world over. Please follow this. To bring about an environmental change, there needs to be an efficient group of people with a system. But the efficient people are human beings, they are angry, jealous, envious, they want a position. You have seen all this, haven’t you? Therefore they use the system and forget the whole business.
Now we want a system to meditate. See the relationship between the two. We think we could be efficient in our meditation, in our thinking, in our enquiry, if there was a system. Now what does the system imply? Please bear in mind very clearly the distinction between the two. If you want to change the physical environment, there must be a group of people who are efficient to carry out that system, they must be impersonal, not egotistic, not lining their own pockets metaphorically and physically. Therefore human beings matter more than the system. Do you see the importance of it?
We say the same thing about bringing about a change in ourselves, that only through a system we can change, only through a system we can learn what meditation is. Because that appears to offer efficiency. Does it? You know every little guru in India and elsewhere has a system of meditation. Now systems imply a repetition, a practice, following a method. If you follow a method, a system, a practice, it becomes a routine; then there is an escape through sex or through different forms. Therefore, at all costs, avoid any system of meditation because a mechanical mind can never possibly find out what truth is. The mechanical mind can become very disciplined, orderly, but that orderliness is contradictory to the order which we are talking about, because in that orderliness which is so-called repetition, there is contradiction between what you are and what you should be, the ideal. So there is contradiction in that; and where there is contradiction there is distortion and a tortured mind can never find out anything new. So do not belong to any system, do not follow any guru.
You know once a very famous guru came to see us. It was a rather amusing incident. Some of us were sitting on a little mattress, as big as this, and out of politeness we got up and we asked the important man to sit on the mattress. He sat. He had a stick. He put the stick in front of him, sat very dignified, and he became the guru, because he was on a little mattress. He was telling us all what we should do, because out of politeness we offered the little seat which was an inch higher. Vanity and the demand for power and position and followers – such people will never find out what truth is. They will find what they want, which is their own gratification.
There is no system, but if you understand there is no system, then your mind becomes alive, sharp, to find out. Now what is it that you are going to find out? We want, most of us, to experience something other than the daily experiences. We want to experience a transcendental state, an experience of enlightenment. The word “experience” means to go through, and when you demand to have greater experiences, that indicates that you are bored with daily living. All the people who take drugs think that through drugs they will have extraordinary experiences. They do take a trip. Their trips, their experiences are the expressions of their own conditioning. It gives them a certain vitality, a certain clarity, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with enlightenment. So through drugs you cannot possibly come upon it.
So what is it that we are seeking? What is it that man wants? He sees what his life is, a boredom, a routine, a battlefield, a fight, a constant struggle – never a moment of peace except perhaps occasionally, sexually or otherwise. So he says life is transient, life is changing, there must be something extraordinarily permanent, and he wants that permanence, something other than the mere physical, the daily routine and experience, and he calls that God. So he believes in God; and all the images, rituals are based on belief. Belief is the outcome of fear. If there is no fear, you can see the leaf, the tree, the beautiful sky, the light on the birds – there is beauty, and where there is beauty there is goodness, where there is goodness there is truth.
So one must understand the daily living. We must understand why our lives have become mechanical, why we follow others, why we believe, not-believe, fight. We know what is going on in daily life and we want to escape from it. Therefore, we want wider, deeper experiences. And books, gurus, teachers promise enlightenment, that extraordinary thing. And systems offer you that, that is, “Do these things and you will get there, follow this path and you will find yourself there”……as though truth is like a station fixed and all the roads leading to it.
There is no road, there is no path, there is no fixed truth; and therefore you must have a mind that is extraordinarily alive, watching, learning.
Then there is this whole question of concentration. I do not know who tells you these things that you must concentrate, learn to control thought, that you must suppress desires, you must be this, never look at a woman, never look at a man. I do not know why you ever listen to this. Have you ever concentrated, that is, fixed your attention on something? A school boy, when he wants to look out of the window and see the movement of the leaves, the tree or the passer-by, and the teacher says “Look at the book, do not look out of the window: that is concentration; that is, focus your attention and build a wall round yourself so that you are not disturbed. Concentration becomes exclusion, resistance. Do you see this? And in that concentration there is a battle. You want to concentrate and your mind goes off, your thought chases something or other, so there is conflict, whereas if you give attention, if you are attentive during the day, even for a few minutes at a time, completely attentive – giving your mind, your body, your heart, your eyes, your cars, your brain – completely, totally attentive, then you will see there is no border to attention, there is not a resistance. In that state of attention there is no contradiction. Be attentive and then forget it, begin again, pick it up each time, so that this attention is fresh each time, and then you will know when you are not attentive. Then in that state of non-attention is conflict, then observe that conflict, be aware of that conflict, give your total attention to that conflict, so that the mind becomes extraordinarily alive, non-mechanical. That is part of meditation.
Then you are being told that you must acquire a silent mind, aren’t you? Even the speaker has told you that. Forget what the speaker has said, but see for yourself why your mind must be quiet, must be silent, see it for yourself. To see anything clearly, your mind must not chatter. If I want to listen to what you are saying, my mind must be quiet, mustn’t it? If I want to understand what you are saying, I must listen to you. When I am listening to you, if I am thinking about something, I cannot listen. You see the point? Therefore, to listen, to observe, the mind must be quiet. That is all.
Now you ask, how is the mind to be quiet when it is chattering all the time about something or other? If you try to stop the chattering, then that becomes a conflict. The mind has got into the habit of chattering, talking to itself or talking with somebody else, endlessly, using words, words. And if you try to stop that by the action of will, then that is a contradiction.
Therefore, find out why your mind chatters, enquire into it, understand it. It does not matter very much if it chatters. Why does it chatter? Because it must be occupied with something. You know people say, “You must be committed to something, to some activity, you must be totally involved”, and the mind is totally involved in chattering. And why does it chatter? Because it has to be occupied. Why does it demand to be occupied? I am asking it for you, but find out, ask what would happen if it did not chatter, if it was not occupied. If your mind was not occupied, what would happen? It would face emptiness, wouldn’t it? If the habit stops suddenly, you feel lost.
And this emptiness is the fear of your own loneliness and you try to escape from this loneliness, from this fear, from this emptiness by chattering, or by being occupied with this or that. So, go deep into the very depth of this loneliness, not trying to suppress it or escape from it, but just to observe it. And you can only observe it if your mind is quiet, because the moment you condemn it, the moment you say, “I must not chatter”, then you have conflict. But if you merely observe your own loneliness, then you will find that your mind facing this emptiness becomes completely alone.
There is a difference between loneliness and aloneness. Loneliness is isolation, total isolation, which is what we are doing all the time in daily life. During the daily activity you are isolating yourself – you may be married, you may sleep with your wife or not, but what takes place? You have your own ambitions, greed, problems, and she has her own problems; you are trying to establish a relationship between various problems; so this self-centred activity is loneliness. The self-centred activity is isolating, and therefore there is this sense of appalling, frightening loneliness.
And when you understand this, you have that aloneness which comes when the mind and the brain cells have understood this whole problem, which is, the denial of all authority – of all spiritual authority, the authority of another or the authority of your own accumulated knowledge as experience, which is the past. When you discard totally in yourself all authority, when you are no longer following any system and when you have understood fear, pleasure, then in that understanding of fear and pleasure, there is joy. Joy has nothing whatsoever to do with pleasure. You may have a moment of great joy, but thinking about it reduces it to pleasure.
Order is not a blueprint; it comes with the understanding of disorder – that is your life. Virtue is a living thing like humility; you cannot cultivate humility. So when all this is done the mind becomes extraordinarily clear, unconfused, and therefore it is alone. Out of this aloneness comes a quality of silence, which is not the result of practice, which is not the opposite of noise. That silence is without cause, and therefore it has no beginning and no end. And to such a mind, absolutely orderly, and therefore completely alone, and therefore innocent – which means that it can never be hurt – comes a marvellous silence.
What happens in that silence, there are no words to describe. If you describe what happens, then those words are not the thing – what is described. The description is not the described. Therefore, truth, that blessedness, that extraordinary silence. and the movement of that silence has no words, and if you have gone that far, then you are enlightened, you do not seek anything, you do not want any experience, then you are a light, and that is the beginning and the ending of all meditation.