Urgency in Attention

From Krishnamurti’s Book THE FLIGHT OF THE EAGLE

We have seen that whenever I impose upon myself, psychologically, an idea or a conclusion, that breeds violence. I am cruel – verbally and in feeling. I impose on that, saying ‘I must not,’ and I realize that is a form of violence. How am I to deal with this feeling of cruelty without imposing something else on it? Can I understand it without suppressing it, without running away from it, without any form of escape or substitution. Here is a fact – I am cruel. That is a problem to me and no amount of explanation, saying ‘you should, you should not,’ will solve it. Here is an issue which affects me and I want to resolve it, because I see there may be a different way of living. So I say to myself, ‘How can I be free of this cruelty without conflict,’ because the moment I introduce conflict in getting rid of cruelty, I have already brought violence into being. So first I must be very clear about what conflict implies. If there is any conflict with regard to cruelty – of which I want to be free – in that very conflict there is the breeding of violence. How am I to be free of cruelty without conflict?

Questioner: Accept it.

Krishnamurti: I wonder what we mean by accepting our cruelty. There it is! I am not accepting or denying it. What is the good of saying ‘accept it’? It is a fact that I have a brown skin – it is so. Why should I accept it or reject it? The fact is I am cruel.

Questioner: If I see I am cruel I accept it, I understand it; but also I am afraid of acting cruelly and of going along with it.

Krishnamurti: Yes. I said, ‘I am cruel.’ I neither accept nor reject it. It is a fact; and it is another fact, that when there is conflict in getting rid of cruelty there is violence. So I have to deal with two things. Violence, cruelty and the ridding myself of it without effort. What am I to do? All my life struggle and fight.

Questioner: The question is not violence, but the creation of an image.

Krishnamurti: That image gets imposed upon, or one imposes that image on ‘what is right?

Questioner: It comes from ignorance of one’s true being.

Krishnamurti: I don’t quite know what you mean by ‘true being’.

Questioner: I mean by that one is not separate from the world, one is the world and therefore one is responsible for the violence that goes on outside.

Krishnamurti: Yes. He says, true being is to recognize that one is the world and the world is oneself, and that cruelty and violence are not something different, but part of one. Is that what you mean?

Questioner: No. Part of the ignorance.

Krishnamurti: So you are saying there is the true self and there is ignorance? There are two states, the true being and it getting covered over by ignorance. Why? This is an old Indian theory. How do you know that there is a true being which is covered over by illusion and ignorance?

Questioner: If we realize that the problems we have are in terms of opposites, all problems will disappear.

Krishnamurti: All one has to do is not to think in opposites. Do we do that, or is it just an idea?

Questioner: Sir, isn’t duality inherent in thought?

Krishnamurti: We come to a point and go away from it. I know I am cruel – for various psychological reasons. That is a fact. How shall I be free without effort?

Questioner: What do you mean by ‘without effort’?

Krishnamurti: I explained what I mean by effort. If I suppress it there is effort involved in the sense that there is contradiction: the cruelty and the desire not to be cruel. There is conflict between ‘what is’ and ‘what should be.’

Questioner: If I really look at it I can’t be cruel.

Krishnamurti: I want to find out, not accept statements. I want to find out if it is at all possible to be free of cruelty. Is it possible to be free of it without suppression, without running away, trying to force it. What is one to do?

Questioner: The only thing to do is to expose it.

Krishnamurti: To expose it I must let it come out, let it show itself – not in the sense of becoming more cruel. Why don’t I let it come out? First of all I am frightened of it. I don’t know if by letting it come out I might not become more cruel. And if I expose it, am I capable of understanding it? Can I look at it very carefully, which means attentively? I can do it only if my energy, my interest and urgency coincide at this moment of exposure. At this moment I must have the urgency to understand it, I must have a mind without any kind of distortion. I must have tremendous energy to look And these three must take place instantly at the moment of exposure. Which means, I am sensitive enough and free enough to have this vital energy, intensity and attention. How do I have that intense attention? How do I come by it?

Questioner: If we come to that point of wanting to understand it desperately, then we have this attention.

Krishnamurti: I understand. I am just saying, ‘Is it possible to be attentive’? Wait, see the implications of it, see what is involved in it. Don’t give meanings, don’t bring in a new set of words. Here I am. I don’t know what attention means. Probably I have never given attention to anything, because most of my life I am inattentive. Suddenly you come along and say, Look, be attentive about cruelty; and I say, ‘I will’ – but what does it mean? How am I to bring about this state of attention? Is there a method? If there is a method and I can practice to become attentive, it will take time. And during that time I continue to be inattentive and therefore bring more destruction. So all this must take place instantly!

I am cruel. I won’t suppress, I won’t escape; it doesn’t mean that I am determined not to escape, it doesn’t mean that I have made up my mind not to suppress it. But I see and understand intelligently that suppression, control, escape, do not solve the problem; therefore I have put those aside. Now I have this intelligence, which has come into being by understanding the futility of suppression, of escape, of trying to overcome. With this intelligence I am examining, I am looking at cruelty. I realize that to look at it, there must be a great deal of attention and to have that attention I must be very careful of my inattentions. So my concern is to be aware of inattention. What does that mean? Because if I try to practice attention, it becomes mechanical, stupid, there is no meaning to it; but if I become attentive, or aware of lack of attention, then I begin to find out how attention comes into being. Why am I inattentive to other people’s feelings, to the way I talk, the way I eat, to what people say and do? By understanding the negative state I shall come to the positive, which is attention. So I am examining, trying to understand how this inattention comes into being.

This is a very serious question because the whole world is burning. If I am part of that world and that world is me, I must put an end to the fire. So we are stranded with this problem. Because it is lack of attention that has brought about all this chaos in the world. One sees the curious fact that inattention is negation – lack of attention, lack of ‘being there’ at the moment. How is it possible to be so completely aware of inattention that it becomes attention? How am I to become completely, instantly, aware of this cruelty in me, with great energy, so that there is no friction, no contradiction, so that it is complete, whole? How do I bring this about? We said it is possible only when there is complete attention; and that complete attention does not exist because our life is spent wasting energy in inattention.