The Chattering Mind


Maurice Frydman (MF): I wanted to discuss today a very prosaic thing: the problem of the chattering mind. What makes the mind chatter? When we watch our minds, we see that it is all the time talking, talking, talking to itself like a lunatic. Sometimes it makes some sense, usually it makes no sense at all. And yet on every occasion, as soon as our attention flags, it starts chattering. Where does it get the energy from, and what is the purpose of this chattering? It is a constant occupation of the mind, all the time from morning till night. Every free moment we see it is chattering, murmuring, murmuring all the time.

Pupul Jayakar (PJ): Isn’t this its very nature?

MF: That doesn’t explain anything to offer any remedy.

PJ: It must operate in order to exist.

MF: We are not initiating it by saying ‘It must’. There is no ‘must’ there; we have thought that there is a ‘must’. The amount of time and energy devoted to it makes it a major factor in our life.

Krishnamurti (K): Why does the mind chatter? What is its purpose? Is it a waste of time, a waste of energy?

MF: Obviously it seems to be a waste of energy and time. As I watch the brain, I see that the chattering happens only in the brain; it is a brain activity. Currents flow up and down, but the meaninglessness and purposelessness of all this is distressing. The brain simply wears itself out with its own activities. One can see that it is tiring for one’s brain, but it doesn’t stop. It’s a kind of paralysis.

K: Is this worth pursuing?

PJ: If you take the process of thought as a beginningless, endless process, then whatever comes out, why should one differentiate between the chattering and what we call a movement?

MF: Our awareness, or supposed awareness or attention, is absolutely wasted on it. We are aware of something that has absolutely no meaning. It is an idiotic function of the brain, and our time, our awareness, our attention are really wasted on it. Imagine you are locked up with an idiot: what will you learn? After some time there is nothing more to learn. S. Balasundaram (SB): Could we take a more inclusive thing perhaps? What is mediocrity, and what is the breaking through of mediocrity? That will include the chattering, include all this.

K: If you are willing to.

MF: You see, there is a great danger in broadening the issue because then we get lost in abstractions, in generalizations. Why not stick with what we are discussing? We give plenty of time to the brain, and that is a kind of disorganized activity of the brain.

K: Yes, sir. Your mind chatters; why?

MF: Because I can’t stop it.

K: No, no. Is it a habit? Is it a fear of not being occupied with something?

Achyut Patwardhan (AP): It is an extra-volitional activity.

MF: It looks simply like a kind of automatic activity, like a force in man. It’s just going on, there is no fear in it, nothing.

K: You have not understood what I mean. The mind apparently needs to be occupied with something. It happens…

MF: …to be occupied.

K: Yes. The mind has to be occupied with something.

MF: The mind is occupied all the time.

K: Yes, the mind is occupied with something all the time. And if it is not occupied, it feels vacant, it feels empty, and therefore it resorts to chattering.

MF: I am not sure.

K: I didn’t say it does; I am just asking. Is it a habit, or is it a fear of not being occupied?

MF: It is a habit, an ingrained habit.

K: I wonder if it is a habit?

PJ: There is what we call meaningful thinking, directed thinking, thinking which is logical, which is analytical, which is concerned with the solution of various problems. Then it is not a conscious chattering. In the unconscious state there is a continual movement of the mind throwing up reflexes, sounds coming out with all the accumulation of the rubbish over the years, and it keeps on throwing it out, and suddenly you wake up and say, ‘My mind is chattering.’ We differentiate between these two: what we call meaningful activity and what we call chattering. We give weight to it. Now, in terms of what you are saying, is this weight valid?

K: Do you find your mind chattering?

PJ: Sometimes.

K: Why is it chattering?

PJ: It chatters.

K: Why?

PJ: I don’t think there is a ‘why’ to it.

K: He wants to find out why it chatters. Has it any value? Or is it just like water flowing, flowing, flowing?

MF: It is a mental leakage.

K: Same thing, call it what you will; it’s just like water running out of the tap.

PJ: When the chattering is a great deal, it indicates to me that my mind is not yet alive.

K: Why do you object to a chattering mind?

MF: Loss of energy, loss of time. It is surely reasonable. Common sense asks, ‘What is going on?’

K: What is the point of it?

MF: What is the point of it? The thing is, awareness doesn’t help. Awareness is just like dumping an idiot in a room and having to listen to him. And the awareness says, ‘Stop, for heaven’s sake, stop’, and the idiot says, ‘ha, ha, ha’—there is no communication between the two.

PJ: The fact is that we are in the intermediate stage: neither here nor there. And there is not only chattering but the awareness of the chattering. ‘Why are we wasting energy?’ is also an indication of the intermediate stage.

MF: You may call it an intermediate stage, you may call it anything, but the thing remains. It is an activity of the mind which doesn’t yield to awareness.

K: I would leave attention, awareness, for the moment. I am just asking you, ‘Why does the mind chatter?’ Is it a habit? Or does the mind need to be occupied with something, and when it is not occupied with what it thinks it should be occupied, it calls it chattering. Why should not the occupation also be chattering? I am occupied with my house. You are occupied with your God, with your work, with your business, with your wife, with your sex, with your children, with your property. The mind needs to be occupied with something, and therefore when it is not occupied, it may feel a sense of emptiness, and therefore it chatters. I don’t see a problem in this, I don’t see a great issue in this. Unless you want to stop chattering—that’s quite a different matter.

MF: If the chattering is not distressing, there would be no problem.

K: So it is. You want to stop it, you want to put an end to the chattering. So, that is the question, not ‘Why, what for?’

MF: It comes to the same point: can chattering be put an end to?

K: That’s it, that’s all. Let’s be simple. Can the chattering mind come to an end? I don’t know what you call chattering.

MF: It is a verbal thing: talking, talking, talking.

K: No. When you are occupied with your business, that is also chattering.

MF: No, not chattering. It is then talking.

K: I want to find out what you call chattering. I say to myself that any occupation—with myself, with my God, with my wife, with my husband, with my children, with my money, property, or position, the whole of that—is chattering. Why exclude all that and say the other is chattering?

PJ: Because it is disjointed.

K: That’s it. It has no relationship to your activity.

PJ: It has no relationship to my life, there is no rationality.

K: There is no rationality. It is not related to your daily life, it has nothing to do with your everyday demands, and so it chatters.

PJ: That is what we call chattering. We all know that.

K: I know. We all know that.

PJ: Do you know that?

K: Not quite. Doesn’t matter, don’t bother about me.

AP: Our normal thinking has coherence to a context.

K: Yes.

AP: Chattering is that activity of the mind which has no coherence to any context; therefore we call it meaningless.

K: Is chattering a rest to the mind?

AP: No.

K: Wait, sir, not so quick. You are occupied with your daily work—conscious, rational, irrational, and all the rest of it— and chattering may be a release from all that.

SB: Would chattering bear the same relationship as dream to the waking state?

K: No, I wouldn’t put it that way. My muscles have been taut all day and I relax, and chattering may be my form of relaxation. It may be totally irrelevant.

AP: But it dissipates energy.

K: Does it?

AP: Yes. Relaxation means that it should not dissipate energy. Relaxation is that activity or inactivity which comes into being after you have exhausted your energy and you are resting. I wouldn’t call something a relaxation if that itself is a drain of energy.

K: So chattering, you say, is a wastage of energy, and you want to put a stop to that.

AP: No, it is not a question of wanting to stop it. There are many cults which give you a japam, and you have to do it. The idea is that the mind that is wasting its energy in chattering should be put to some activity, but that again is a mechanical thing and solves no problems. Now, you don’t do it because you see that that kind of activity is useless. Therefore we come back to understanding how this chattering gets going We don’t understand it at all. As I said, it is extra-volitional. We just don’t know its modus.

K: Would your mind stop chattering if it is full, fully occupied? If the mind is completely full, will there be chattering? I am just asking. I am not saying it will or it will not. If there is no space, or if the whole mind is full of space, will there be chattering? Doesn’t matter what phrase, what word you use—space, full, totally empty, or completely without any occupation. Will the mind chatter?

MF: We do not have that experience.

K: No. Or does chattering take place when there is some little space which is not covered? When the room is completely full and has no space, would there be any movement at all which you call chattering? I am trying to put it differently, I am trying to convey something.

MF: It is a hypothetical question. The fact is that there is chattering.

K: It is hypothetical in the sense that our minds are partly occupied, and the unoccupied part is chattering.

MF: It seems so by definition—the occupied mind and the unoccupied mind. If you identify the unoccupied mind…

K: No, I am not identifying anything. I am asking, I am not saying it.

MF: I say it is all tautology, it is the same thing said in another way.

K: Of course it is. I want to find out why the mind chatters. Is it a habit?

MF: It looks like it.

K: It looks like it. Why has the habit arisen?

MF: It is rather that we challenge the thing itself. There is no reason.

K: I don’t mind the chattering; why do you object to chattering?

MF: Because it is such a tremendous waste of energy.

K: I am not sure, I am not sure it is a waste.

MF: Since you are beyond the pale, you don’t belong to our race.

K: Come off it. [Laughs]

MF: Come on. Unless you know something from your own experience, it is like talking to an alien.

K: Look, sir, is it a habit? If it is a habit, then how does that habit come to an end?

MF: That’s all.

K: That is the only thing you are concerned with. How does a habit, any habit—smoking, drinking, overeating—come to an end?

MF: It usually comes to an end by looking at it intensely.

K: Will the chattering stop when you look at it intensely?

MF: It doesn’t. That is the wonder. Therefore I brought it up.

K: I am not sure it doesn’t.

MF: I have shed many bitter tears over it, and it doesn’t.

K: Wait, sir. I am not sure it doesn’t. If I intensely observe smoking, intensely pay attention to all the movement of smoking, it withers away. So why can’t this wither away?

MF: Because this is automatic; smoking is not automatic.

K: It is not automatic. It has become automatic.

MF: Let’s not refer to the beginnings. There are no beginnings; I can’t trace any beginning to chattering, and also it is peculiarly automatic. It is almost an autonomous shivering of the brain, and I am helpless. I only see the brain shivering, murmuring, and I can’t do anything.

K: All non-volitional. Yes, that’s what we all agreed upon.

PJ: All systems deal with this peripheral movement of chattering, and even before they get down to anything, they say that first it must end.

MF: We say everything is conducive—concentrating, repeating mantras, bringing in some uniformity, some monotony. You see, this chattering is not monotonous; as a phenomenon it is monotonous, but the content keeps constantly changing.

K: Yes, the content of it changes. Rather interesting.

MF: Sometimes it is boring, sometimes it is interesting.

PJ: It is completely disjointed.

MF: Sometimes a very weird trend affects us.

K: Oh yes, oh yes.

PJ: But the basic question is that as long as the thinking process fills consciousness, and is the major operation of consciousness, as long as you have directed thinking and chattering, I do not think it is possible to get rid of one and keep the other.

AP: There is another approach to this: our minds function at different levels, and chattering is that movement in which all these levels get jumbled up.

PJ: I don’t think so, I don’t think the levels get jumbled up. The conscious movement of thinking is when the thinker draws on thought to build a premise and then moves from there logically, reasonably, to find a solution. In the field of the irrational, in chattering, many things take place which the rational mind does not understand. But I was wondering whether the two are not counterparts of each other and whether one can exist without the other.

SB: We object to chattering, but apparently we don’t object to directed occupation.

PJ: That’s what I am saying. It is not a question of ‘object to’. I say that as long as this is there, the other will be there.

AP: I question that.

PJ: Let’s discuss it. I wonder whether this is not a reflex of the other.

SB: The mind knows directed occupation. It also apparently knows chattering, non-directional chattering. Does such a mind know space or emptiness?

PJ: Don’t put it that way.

SB: No. Because Krishnaji brought in space.

K: Go ahead, I was trying to feel it around.

PJ: Don’t put it that way. If one exists, the other will exist. That is what I would like to go into.

AP: I question that because I say it is possible for a person to be efficient in the doing of any single job to which he is directed. That is directed activity. Now you say that any person who is capable of directed activity must also have the lunatic fringe of chattering all the time.

PJ: No, that is not what I said. Directed activity does not mean only the activity concerned with pure technological function; there is also the whole psychological activity which is directed. As long as the psychological, emotional activity is directed, the other remains.

P.Y. Deshpande (PYD): I think the mind works like a mirror, reflecting all our involvements, the objective as well as the psychological, the present as well as the past, which is deep down in our consciousness. Unless we direct our attention to it, we will be chattering.

K: How do you stop it? That is what he is interested in.

PJ: Achyutji seems to say it is possible that there can be a state of directed thinking both at the functional level and at the psychological level minus the chattering.

AP: No. What I say is that that is activity; I know how it arises, I know its source, I know its ending.

PJ: If it is a directed activity, do I really know its source?

AP: That is how the centre sustains itself; that is the centre.

PJ: This is what I surmise when I want to explore and find the root of that, but I find neither the root nor the source.

PYD: We are dividing the natural flow of the mind as chattering and non-chattering. Why should we?

K: He says chattering is a waste of energy.

PYD: Why should we say it, how do we know?

K: Oh, yes. We can know that it is so irrational, illogical, sloppy; you know all that.

PYD: But do we not know that the entire rational effort ends up in nothing? Both are equally right or wrong; why choose?

MF: To me there are two movements of the mind: intended and non-intended. I have no quarrel with the intended movement. My quarrel is with the non-intended movement.

K: That’s what we have said. Put it in ten different ways.

MF: Can I do away with the non-intended movement?

K: That is all he is concerned with. He asks, ‘Can I stop chattering?’ Full stop. How would you set about?

MF: I set about it in the most stupid way; I take up a book or listen to music—help from outside.

K: No, that is going off again. I won’t do that. I won’t turn to anything to stop chattering, and I want to stop it because I see it is an irrational flow of thoughts without any meaning. Right? Now, how is it to come to an end?

MF: All I can do is to look at the question.

K: But it will return later.

MF: As long as I look at the question, the chattering stops.

K: But it will return later, so I want to stop it…

MF: …for good.

K: For good. Now, how am I to do it? So instead of being occupied with a directed, intended movement, I am now occupied with stopping chattering.

SB: Sir, I don’t object to being occupied with money, with something else.

K: That’s it.

SB: With a hundred different things. I say it is all right. But I say, ‘Why does this blessed mind chatter? I want to stop that.’

K: I put that question right at the beginning. I want to stop chattering, and I see it is a wastage of energy. What am I to do? How am I to stop it for good?

MF: I just don’t know how to stop anything for good.

K: All right. For the time being, for a couple of days—put it any way you like. How am I to stop it? How will it come to an end?

PJ: I feel that as long as you are looking at any process of the mind, whether it is directed action or non-directed action, you are trapped. I don’t think you can improve the chattering. I don’t think there can be any action.

K: Why do you object to chattering? You say you are wasting energy, but you are wasting energy in ten different directions.

PJ: Tomorrow, you have an abstract painting, or a poem or music which is totally disjointed.

K: I know.

PJ: If you lived twenty, thirty years ago, it would have had no meaning at all. But if you listen to it in a different way…

K: But now also this has no meaning.

PJ: So the whole thing has no meaning.

AP: This is an oversimplification.

K: Sir, I don’t object to my mind chattering. I don’t mind wasting a little bit of energy because I am wasting energy in so many directions. So why do I object to chattering?

MF: The other direction has my approval.

K: So you really disapprove of wasting of energy of a particular kind. But I object to wasting energy in any direction.

MF: That is a questionable point: what is a waste of energy and what is not?

K: That’s what we are coming to.

MF: Is breathing a waste of energy? Breathing is going on constantly.

PJ: Is chattering a waste of energy or the mind saying ‘I do not want it to chatter’?

K: I asked that, I asked that.

AP: I would also like to make sure we are not shirking a very difficult problem by these facile answers.

PJ: I don’t say we have solved the problem.

AP: No, I just want to make sure.

PJ: There are two ways of looking at it. One is to say that I have solved the problem. I’m not making any such statement because the problem is much vaster. But out of this whole process of thinking, which is the basis of word-formation out of the brain cells, why does one differentiate between the directed and the non-directed?

K: I don’t object to it.

PJ: That’s all I am saying.

K: Frydman objects to that.

MF: Maybe you don’t have the same experience as I have. In my case, whenever I am in a state of chattering, there is what you call in French angoisse.

K: Angoisse, yes. Anxiety.

MF: No, not anxiety. Something verging on despair.

PJ: I know it in a big measure. Don’t let us fool ourselves. We all know it.

MF: We all know it. As if I am cracked.

K: I don’t get this, sir.

MF: I am cracked. I just chatter, and I just turn from side to side, but there is chattering going on, and it catches me totally unawares.

K: Sir, let’s stick to one thing at a time. You say it is a wastage of energy. We waste energy in so many other ways. Why do you object to this?

MF: It is a most unpleasant waste of energy.

K: So we come back. We would like to be logical in this— you don’t want the unpleasant waste of energy, but you would rather have it pleasantly.

MF: Of course.

K: So you are objecting to the waste of energy that is unpleasant.

AP: Also, I assume responsibility for those directions of waste of energy which I feel have some known purpose, some known motive, because there I am at least in a position to understand my motive and see how energy is wasted in that direction. But when I can’t even find the motive, then I don’t know how to cope with it.

K: You see, this is repeating the same thing in ten different ways. I don’t see why you are making a problem of it.

PJ: When I have a great problem in my mind, and my mind is thinking about it, even logically and in a directed manner, my mind is full of the problem, I am filled with that problem. Then my mind is full of chattering.

K: You see, I would approach the problem differently. I am not concerned with whether my mind chatters or not. Whether there is a movement directed or not directed, intended or not intended, what is important is a mind that is very steady, rock-steady. And then the problem doesn’t exist—all right, let it chatter. And it’s like…

MF: …the ocean not affected by the waves.

K: Yes, a step behind it.

PJ: Do you think in word-formation in the mind, or are you aware and you speak? I would like to know.

K: Wait, hold on to that question. I would approach the question, tackle it, quite differently. If the mind is completely rock-steady, then somebody spilling water over it, a bird passing over it, or a bird making a mess on the top—you brush it off. The thing is that and not the other.

MF: I know my mind only on the surface; whether it is deep or not, I don’t know.

K: I understand, sir. I said that is the way I would approach it. I don’t say you should approach it that way. If I have a problem of that kind, I would approach it, find out if my mind is rock-steady. And a little wave, a little rain, a little movement doesn’t matter. But you are approaching it—I am not saying you are wrong and I am right—from the point of trying to stop wastage of energy, irrational wastage, unintended wastage. And I say unintended or intended wastage is taking place all round you all the time. So, to me, the problem is very simple: is the mind totally steady?

MF: From some previous life I brought a boon that whenever I say Om, the mind stops.

K: All right.

MF: Am I to go on repeating Om?

K: Yes, if you like it. You see, that is so trivial, all this.

MF: I know that it is too silly, but what am I to do? How to stop it?

K: I am telling you. I would approach it in a totally different way. I know the mind chatters, I know there is wastage of energy in so many directions, intended, not intended, conscious, unconscious. I say leave it alone, don’t be so terribly concerned about it, look at it in a different way.

MF: Which is, dive, dive under the waves.

K: Dive, get rock.

MF: Yes, go to the rocks, go to the bottom of the sea. Sit like a whale, go deep down and sit there.

PJ: I want to ask you a question…

K: …which is different.

PJ: It is related.

K: Go on, I don’t know if it is related.

PJ: Does your mind…

K: Whose mind?

PJ: Your mind.

K: Oh, my Lord!

PJ: …operate in thought at all, in thought and word-formation moving across the mind?

K: No.

PJ: Do your brain cells spin out words, which is the chattering mind?

MF: As I look at you, as a body, I say here is a man who is completely empty. He doesn’t know what he is going to say next, but he says something, and it makes sense, it comes together, it rolls out. But, poor man, if you ask him now what his next sentence will be, he doesn’t know.

K: I quite agree.

PJ: So your consciousness is really empty.

MF: He is just watching himself, watching; that’s all, that’s my feeling.

K: This doesn’t lead us very far.

PJ: It gives us an indication.

K: This doesn’t lead us very far, let’s drop it. Go to some other thing—mediocrity.

SB: You approach the issue from two different positions. One: you say, ‘Look at this fragmentation, look at what happens.’ Then you suddenly take a jump and say, ‘Leave it. Is there a mind that is imperturbable? Is there a state?’

K: Yes, I’ll say yes.

SB: You say you look at this, and you also drop it, and you ask, ‘Is there the other?’

K: I don’t think the problem of chattering will be stopped the other way.

SB: What is the relationship between the two?

K: I don’t think it has any.

SB: What is the relationship of the two approaches? Not the relationship of these two. You say, ‘Look at the fragmentation, look at your chattering, the wastage of energy’, and you ask, ‘Is there a state?’

K: Yes. The mind is chattering, and we have discussed it for half an hour, talked about it from different points.

SB: The mind still goes at it fragmentarily.

K: Yes. Fragmentary and wanting to resolve the problem, resolve by looking at it. And I listen to it all and say this does not seem to answer it, it doesn’t seem to complete the picture. Therefore I wait, I listen, watch, and I say, ‘By Jove, there is a different approach.’ Maybe. The mind is so unsteady, it hasn’t got deep roots of in-depth steadiness, therefore it chatters. So, that may be it. You follow? From the observation of what is, I haven’t jumped. It looks like jumping, but I have watched it. This morning I said we are tackling this…

SB: You haven’t jumped. We dealt with the part in ourselves.

K: That’s it.

SB: Whereas you have suddenly collected the whole.

K: Yes, I feel that way. You see, that’s the way I would operate. If my mind was chattering, I’d say, ‘Yes, it is chattering, I know it is a wastage of energy’ and this and that and the other. I look at it, and some other factor comes into it—the factor that my mind is not steady at all. So I would pursue that rather than the chattering.

SB: Does the demand…?

K: The demand creates it. No, no, I must be very careful. I won’t even use that word demand. Sorry, I’ll cut out all that I said.

SB: It is like if you have a pail of mercury and you spill it, the droplets are all over the place. Sometimes it looks as though one is like that.

PJ: When you talked of the pillar of the mind, of the pillar of stability, silence, depth, endless depth, you said that if the mind chatters, you would pursue it.

K: Right. That would be my concern, not my chattering.

PJ: That would be your concern. Now, how do you tackle that?

K: Yes. Let’s discuss that.

SB: Sir, you would have tackled it instantly. How would you have tackled it?

PJ: How do you do that? It is not that you have no problems; you must have problems.

K: About chattering?

PJ: Not chattering, but other problems. It all comes from the same thing.

K: Wait. Let’s take chattering.

MF: The question is: will the knowledge of diving below the level of chattering solve my problem?

K: Ah, no. Not diving. You are off, you are off.

MF: Then what?

K: Chattering takes place when the mind is not completely steady.

MF: There is no question about it.

K: Therefore I am not going to concern myself with chattering.

MF: It will be only added to the chattering I already have.

K: No, no.

MF: The mind starts chattering about stillness.

K: No, no. I see that as long as the mind is not steady, there must be chattering. So I am not concerned about the chattering. I am going to find out what is the feeling and the quality of a mind that is completely rooted, steady. That’s all. I have moved away from that.

MF: You have moved away from what is to what is not.

K: No, no! I have not moved away to what is not. I know my mind chatters. I know it is an irrational, involuntary, unintended wastage of energy. And I also know I am wasting energy in so many different ways. To gather all the wastage of energy is impossible. As Balasundaram said, I spill mercury and there are a hundred little droplets all over the place; I can’t go on collecting them because it is another waste of time. So I say there may be a different way which is, the mind, not being steady, chatters. So my inquiry now is: what is the nature and structure of the steadiness?

MF: The steadiness is still verbal.

K: I don’t know it, I don’t know it.

MF: I hear the word steadiness.

K: I understand all that. I don’t know it. I am going to inquire, I am going to come to it, find out.

MF: Verbally it is the opposite of restlessness. Full stop. If my mind is chattering, it is the opposite.

K: No. I don’t think it is the opposite.

MF: Then I begin there.

K: Right. You say steadiness is the opposite of restlessness. And I say steadiness is not the opposite of restlessness because the opposite always contains its own opposite; therefore it is not the opposite.

MF: All right. An escape from restlessness.

K: It is not an escape. I started out chattering, and I see the wastage of energy, and I also see wastage of energy in so many ways. I cannot collect all these wastages and make them whole. So I leave that problem. I say, ‘Yes, I know, I understand it.’ It may be that the chattering goes on, and the wastage will go on in different directions as long as the mind is not rock-steady. That is not a verbal statement; it is an understanding of a state that has come into being by discarding the inquiry into how to collect the wastage. So it is not a verbal statement—anymore than about the spilt mercury.

MF: And I stop. I must stop wasting, otherwise I am only at the verbal level.

K: I am not concerned about the wastage of energy.

MF: Then I am purely on the level of just understanding that when there is the rock-steady state of the mind, there will be no wastage.

K: No, no, no.

SB: There is always this problem that the negative is transformed into the positive by the mind. The negative doesn’t naturally transform itself into the positive.

K: I don’t know, I am not bothered about it, but he is.

PJ: But you also say that that will be your concern.

SB: I feel this way: when he says that the negative is the positive, the negative observation is instantly the positive. The negative goes through this process.

K: That is, now my attention is directed in a different direction. Instead of it being directed at how to stop the wastage, it is now directed to the understanding of what it means to be steady.

SB: But it is not a mental direction.

K: No, no, of course not.

SB: It is not a verbal or a mental or a thought-of direction.

K: I think that is really quite important: what is the nature of a steady mind? Can we discuss that? I think that would be good. Not a verbal description of the steady mind.

MF: Are you talking about the momentarily steady or the permanent?

K: Ah no, no. You see, I don’t like the word permanent.

MF: Is it a guest or a host?

K: Oh, my lord, no. [Laughs]

PJ: What is the nature of a steady mind?

K: Don’t you know it?

MF: By your grace we all know it. I have the taste of it.

K: No. Cut me out!

PJ: I would say that, but that still will not stop the chattering.

K: You see, he said the sea is very deep, and it is very steady down below; a few waves on top, or a flood or wind that passes by—don’t care. And if you care, then you remain there.

PJ: When you find yourself remaining there, then the only thing is to see that you are there.

K: Or discover that you are there. And you see that and discard it. Don’t let’s make a lot of fuss about it. As Balasundaram pointed out, the negation instantly becomes the positive when you see it; the false becomes the true instantly. That’s it.

MF: Krishnaji, imagine that you have got the habit of smoking. Would you just leave it like that, or would you fight it?

K: No, I wouldn’t fight it.

MF: You would smoke to your heart’s content?

K: No, I wouldn’t smoke to my heart’s content. First of all, the doctor tells me, ‘It is very bad for you, you are going to get cancer in your lungs, stop it.’ The body has got the nicotine habit; that is one thing. It is going to fight, it is going to demand it. But the mind has said ‘No more’. Because the doctor said don’t, I have listened to him; therefore it is finished. So now I say to the body, ‘I know you are going to fight, I am going to watch it. I have poisoned you by the stupid habit, now we will see how that poison can be worked out.’ I am not going to fight it.

MF: Because there is no part of your mind which wants the pleasure of smoking.

K: No. There is no part of my mind which hasn’t totally listened.

MF: But that which made you like smoking is strong.

K: Because of my stupid habit.

MF: The liking is there. The pleasure of smoking is a living thing; it is not a dead thing.

K: No. The pleasure stopped instantly when the doctor said no.

MF: Then you are a born different man.

K: I do it that way.

MF: Yes, but that is not our state.

PJ: With smoking or any such habit, it can happen just like that. But is not of the same kind.

K: I know. He brought it up. We dealt with chattering; don’t let us go back to that. He asked, ‘How would you deal with the habit of smoking if you had it?’ If I had it, and if I read an advertisement that says smoking is dangerous, that it affects your lungs, and that you might have cancer, that is enough. But you say it is not so. I say it’s gone.

MF: Because you have a very strong instinct of self-preservation, you are like that.

K: I think, that is the only way.

MF: Congratulations. [Laughter]

K: After all, you eat raw food and all that; that’s self-preservation.

MF: You don’t act out of fear?

K: No, I don’t act out of fear. I see it is a dangerous thing, it is finished. I see nationalism is a dangerous thing, it is finished.