On Sitting Quietly

From Krishnamurti’s Book BEGINNINGS OF LEARNING

Man has always wanted something holy, sacred. Just being kind to others, being sensitive, polite, considerate, thoughtful and affectionate: that hasn’t got depth, it hasn’t got vitality. Unless you find out in your life something really sacred which has depth, which has tremendous beauty, which is the source of everything, life becomes very superficial. You may be happily married, with children, a house and money, you may be clever and famous, but without that perfume everything becomes like a shadow that has no substance.

Seeing what is happening around the world, will you, in your daily life, find out something that is really true, really beautiful, holy, sacred? If you have that, then politeness has meaning, then consideration has meaning, has depth. Then you can do anything you like, there will always be that perfume. How will you come to this? It is part of your education, not only to learn mathematics, but also to find this out.

You know, to see something very clearly – even that tree – your mind must be quiet, mustn’t it? To see that picture I must look at it, but if my mind is chattering, saying ‘I wish I were outside’, or ‘I wish I had a better pair of trousers’, if my mind is wandering, I will never be able to see that picture clearly. To see something very clearly I must have a very quiet mind. See the logic of it first. To watch the birds, to watch the clouds, to watch the trees, the mind must be extraordinarily still to follow.

There are various systems in Japan and India to control the mind so that it becomes completely quiet. And being very quiet you then experience something immeasurable – that is the idea. So they say: first the mind has to be quiet, control it, don’t let it wander, because when you have a quiet mind life is extraordinary. Now when you control or force the mind you are distorting it, aren’t you? If I force myself to be kind, that is not kindness. If I force myself to be extremely polite to you that is not politeness. So if I force my mind to concentrate on this one picture then there is so much strain, effort, pain and suppression. Therefore such a mind is not a quiet mind – you see? So we have to ask: is there a way of bringing about a very quiet mind without any distortion, without any effort, without saying, ‘I must control it’?

Of course there is. There is a quietness, a stillness without any effort. That requires understanding of what effort is. And when you understand what effort, control, suppression is, understand it not just verbally but really see the truth of it, in that very perception the mind becomes quiet. You meet every morning at eight o’clock. What takes place what do you do when you meet?

Questioner: We sit quietly in the room.

Krishnamurti: Why? Go on, discuss it with me. Do you read anything?

Questioner: Sometimes people read.

Krishnamurti: What is the meaning of it? Why do you meet every morning?

Questioner: I have been told that it is to find a feeling of togetherness.

Krishnamurti: Do you, sitting quietly, get a feeling of togetherness? Do you actually feel it? Or is this just an idea?

Questioner: Some do, some don’t.

Krishnamurti: Why do you meet at all? Come on, you don’t discuss with me! You know, meeting in the morning, sitting together, if you do it rightly it is an extraordinary thing. I don’t know if you have ever gone into it. When you sit down, do you sit really quietly? Is your body really very quiet?

Questioner: No. It isn’t quiet most of the time.

Krishnamurti: Why isn’t it quiet? Do you know what it means to sit quietly? Do you keep your eyes closed? Answer! I am doing all the talking. What do you do? Are you relaxed? Do you sit really quietly?

Questioner: Sometimes you are very relaxed.

Krishnamurti: Wait, don’t say ‘sometimes’. This is only an escape, stick to one question.

Questioner: I am very quiet and very still.

Krishnamurti: What do you mean by being quiet? Are you quiet physically?

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: Which means what? Please listen to this. Are your nerves, your body movements and your eyes absolutely quiet? Is your body very quiet without twitching, without any movement and when you close your eyes are they still? To sit quietly means your whole body is relaxed, your nerves are not strained, not irritated, there is no movement in friction, you are physically absolutely quiet. You know, the eyes keep moving because you are always looking at things, therefore when you close your eyes keep them completely quiet.

You go into this room at eight o’clock in the morning to sit quietly so as to have harmony between your mind, your body and your heart. That is the beginning of the day, so that this quietness goes on throughout the day, not just for ten minutes or half an hour. That quietness goes on though you play games, shout or chatter, but at the core there is always the sense of this quiet movement – you follow?

Questioner: How?

Krishnamurti: I am going to show you. Do you see the importance of it? Don’t ask ‘how’ – first see the logic, the reason for it. When you meet in the morning for ten minutes you sit absolutely quietly, you may read something – it may be Shakespeare, or a poem – and you gather quietness. Look, sit absolutely quietly without a single movement so that your hands, your eyes, everything are completely quiet – what happens? Somebody has read a poem and you have listened to it; while you were going to the room you watched the trees, the flowers, you have seen the beauty of the earth, the sky, the birds, the squirrels, you have watched everything around you. And when you have watched everything around you, you come into the room; then you don’t want to look out any more. I wonder if you follow? You have finished with looking out (because later you will go back to it), you have finished by looking very carefully at everything as you came in. Then you sit absolutely quietly without a single movement; then you are gathering quietness without any forcing. Be quiet. Then when you leave, when you are teaching or when learning this or that, there is this quietness going on all the time.

Questioner: Isn’t that a forced quietness?

Krishnamurti: You didn’t understand. You have had your bath, you come downstairs and you look, not just casually, but you look at the trees, you look at the bird going by, you look at the movement of the leaf in the wind. And when you do look, look. Don’t just say ‘I’ve seen that’, but give your attention to it. Do you see what I am saying? So before you come into the room look at everything clearly and with attention, with care. And when you come in and somebody reads something, you sit quietly. Do you see what happens? Because you have looked extensively at everything, then when you sit quietly, that quietness becomes natural and easy because you have given your attention to everything that you have looked at. You carry that attention over when you sit quietly, there is no wandering off, no wanting to look at something else. So with that attention you sit and that attention is quietness. You can’t look if you are not attentive, which means being quiet. I don’t know if you see the importance of this?

That quietness is necessary because a mind that is really very quiet, not distorted, understands something which is not distorted, which is really beyond the measure of thought. And that is the origin of everything.

You see, you can do this not only when you are sitting in the room but all the time, whilst you are eating, talking, playing games; there is always this sense of attention you have gathered at the beginning of the day. And as you do it, it penetrates more and more. Do it.

Questioner: Sir, isn’t the attention that one gives more important than sitting down and being quiet?

Krishnamurti: I said, there is the attention that you have given to watching the birds, the trees, the clouds. And then when you go into the room you are gathering that attention, intensifying it – you follow? And that goes on during the day even though you don’t pay attention to it. Try it tomorrow morning, I am going to question you about it. An examination! (Laughter.) Because when you leave this place you must have captured something – neither Hindu nor Christian – then your life will be sacred. (Pause.) What do you say, Sophia? I am going to make her talk!

Questioner: At times we forget and in that time thought reforms us all again.

Krishnamurti: What you are saying is: I watched the birds, the trees, the leaf, the movement of the branch in the wind, I watched the light on the grass, the dew – I paid attention. And when I come into this room I am still attentive. Not attentive to anything – you follow? There I have been attentive to the bird, to the leaf. Here, when I come in, I am not attentive to anything – I am just attentive. Then in that state of attention thought comes in – doesn’t it? ‘I haven’t done my bed’, ‘I must clean my shoes’ or whatever it is and you pursue that thought. Go to the very end of that thought, don’t say, ‘I mustn’t think that’. Finish it. In the process of finishing that thought a new thought arises. So pursue every thought to the very end, therefore there is no control, no restraint. It doesn’t matter if I have a hundred thoughts. I am going after one thought at a time so that the mind becomes very orderly. I don’t know if you are following all this?

Questioner: Where does silence come in then?

Krishnamurti: You don’t bother about silence because if thought is coming in you are not silent. Then don’t force yourself to be quiet, pursue that thought. Questioner: Is there any end to that? Krishnamurti: Yes, if you finish it; but if you don’t go to the very end of it, it will come back because you haven’t finished one thing. You have understood?

Look, I come out of the house, go round the lawn and watch, pay attention to the beauty, the tenderness, the move of the leaf. I watch everything and I come into the room and sit. You read something and I sit quietly. I am trying to sit quietly and my body jerks because I have a habit of twitching, so I have to watch that, I pay attention to it, I don’t correct it. You can’t correct the movement of the leaf can you? So in the same way I don’t want to correct the movement of my hands, I watch it, I pay attention to it. When you pay attention to it, it becomes quiet – try it. I sit quietly, one second, two seconds, ten seconds, then suddenly up pops a thought: ‘I have to go to some place this afternoon. I didn’t do my exercises; I didn’t clean the bath.’ Or sometimes the thought is much more complicated: I am envious of that man. Now I feel that envy. So go to the very end of that and look at it. Envy implies comparison, competition, imitation. Do I want to imitate? – you follow? Go to the very end of that thought and finish it, don’t carry it over. And when another thought pops up, you say, ‘Wait, I’ll come back to that.’

If you want to play this game very carefully, you write every thought you have on a piece of paper and you will soon find out how thought can be orderly because you are finishing every thought, one after the other. And when you sit quietly the next day you are really quiet. No thought pops up because you have finished with it; which means you have polished your shoes, you have cleaned your bath tub, you have put the towel in its right place at the right moment. You don’t say when you sit down, ‘I didn’t put the towel back.’ So the thing that you are doing is finished each time, and when you sit quietly you are marvellously quiet, you bring an extraordinary sense of orderliness into your life. If you haven’t that orderliness you cannot be silent, and when you have it, when the mind is really quiet, then there is real beauty and the mystery of things begins. That is real religion.