Introduction to J. Krishnamurti
J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986) is widely regarded as one of the greatest thinkers and religious teachers of all time. He spoke throughout the world to large audiences and to individuals including writers, scientists, philosophers and educators, about the need for a radical change in mankind. Asked to describe what lay at the heart of his teaching, he said:
Truth is a pathless land. Man cannot come to it through any organisation, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, nor through any philosophic knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection.
Krishnamurti was concerned with all humanity and stated repeatedly that he held no nationality or belief and belonged to no particular group or culture. In the latter part of his life, he travelled mainly between the schools he had founded in India, Britain and the United States, which educate for the total understanding of man and the art of living. He stressed that only this profound understanding can create a new generation that will live in peace.
VIDEO: Who are you?
Krishnamurti reminded his listeners again and again that we are all human beings first and not Hindus, Muslims or Christians, that we are like the rest of humanity and are not different from one another. He asked that we tread lightly on this earth without destroying ourselves or the environment. He communicated to his listeners a deep sense of respect for nature. His teachings transcend man-made belief systems, nationalistic sentiment and sectarianism. At the same time, they give new meaning and direction to mankind’s search for truth. His teaching, besides being relevant to the modern age, is timeless and universal.
He spoke not as a guru but as a friend and his talks and discussions are based not on tradition-based knowledge but on his own insights into the human mind and his vision of the sacred, so he always communicated a sense of freshness and directness although the essence of his message remained unchanged over the years. When Krishnamurti addressed large audiences, people felt that he was talking to each of them personally, addressing his or her particular problem. In his private interviews, he was a compassionate teacher, listening attentively to the man or woman who came to him in sorrow, and encouraging them to heal themselves through their own understanding. Religious scholars found that his words threw new light on traditional concepts. Krishnamurti took on the challenge of modern scientists and psychologists and went with them step by step, discussing their theories and sometimes enabling them to discern the limitations of those theories.
Krishnamurti left a large body of literature in the form of public talks, writings, discussions with teachers and students, scientists, psychologists and religious figures, conversations with individuals, television & radio interviews, and letters. Many of these have been published as books, in over 50 languages, along with hundreds of audio & video recordings.
Key Topics in Krishnamurti’s Teachings
Love is inexhaustible
There must be the flame that cleanses the mind and the heart, making all things new. That flame is not of the mind, it is not a thing to be cultivated. The show of kindliness can be made to shine, but it is not the flame; the activity called service, though beneficial and necessary, is not love; the much-practised and disciplined tolerance, the cultivated compassion of the church and temple, the gentle speech, the soft manner, the worship of the saviour, of the image, of the ideal – none of this is love.
Attachment denies love. Love is not to be found in suffering; though jealousy is strong, it cannot bind love. Sensation and its gratification is ever coming to an end; but love is inexhaustible.
Love is not of the mind. Let your heart be empty. Do not fill it with words, with the actions of the mind. Let your heart be wholly empty; then only will it be filled.
Extract from Commentaries on Living
VIDEO: What is love?
Only the innocent mind knows what love is
Fear is not love, dependence is not love, jealousy is not love, possessiveness and domination are not love, responsibility and duty are not love, self-pity is not love, the agony of not being loved is not love; love is not the opposite of hate any more than humility is the opposite of vanity. So if you can eliminate all these, not by forcing them but by washing them away as the rain washes the dust of many days from a leaf, then perhaps you will come upon this strange flower which man always hungers after.
If you have not got love, if you are not filled with it – the world will go to disaster. You know intellectually that the unity of mankind is essential and that love is the only way. But who is going to teach you how to love? Will any authority, any method, any system, tell you how to love? If anyone tells you, it is not love. Can you say, ‘I will practise love. I will sit down day after day and think about it. I will practise being kind and gentle and force myself to pay attention to others’? When you exercise discipline and will to love, love goes out of the window. By practising a method or system of loving you may become extraordinarily clever or more kindly or get into a state of non-violence, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with love.
In this torn desert world there is no love because pleasure and desire play the greatest roles, yet without love your daily life has no meaning. And you cannot have love if there is no beauty. Beauty is not something you see – not a beautiful tree, a beautiful picture, a beautiful building or a beautiful woman. There is beauty only when your heart and mind know what love is. Without love and that sense of beauty there is no virtue, and you know very well that, do what you will, improve society, feed the poor, you will only be creating more mischief, for without love there is only ugliness and poverty in your own heart and mind. But when there is love and beauty, whatever you do is right, whatever you do is in order. If you know how to love, then you can do what you like because it will solve all other problems.
So we reach the point: can the mind come upon love without discipline, without thought, without enforcement, without any book, any teacher or leader – come upon it as one comes upon a lovely sunset?
It seems to me that one thing is absolutely necessary and that is passion without motive – passion that is not the result of some commitment or attachment, passion that is not lust. A man who does not know what passion is will never know love because love can come into being only when there is total self-abandonment.
A mind that is seeking is not a passionate mind and to come upon love without seeking it is the only way to find it – to come upon it unknowingly and not as the result of any effort or experience. Such a love, you will find, is not of time; such a love is both personal and impersonal, is both the one and the many. Like a flower that has perfume you can smell it or pass it by. That flower is for everybody and for the one who takes trouble to breathe it deeply and look at it with delight. Whether one is very near in the garden, or very far away, it is the same to the flower because it is full of that perfume and therefore it is sharing with everybody.
Love is something that is new, fresh, alive. It has no yesterday and no tomorrow. It is beyond the turmoil of thought. It is only the innocent mind which knows what love is, and the innocent mind can live in the world which is not innocent. To find this extraordinary thing which man has sought endlessly through sacrifice, through worship, through relationship, through sex, through every form of pleasure and pain, is only possible when thought comes to understand itself and comes naturally to an end. Then love has no opposite, then love has no conflict.
You may ask, ‘If I find such a love, what happens to my wife, my children, my family? They must have security.’ When you put such a question you have never been outside the field of thought, the field of consciousness. When once you have been outside that field you will never ask such a question because then you will know what love is in which there is no thought and therefore no time. You may read this mesmerized and enchanted, but actually to go beyond thought and time – which means going beyond sorrow – is to be aware that there is a different dimension called love.
But you don’t know how to come to this extraordinary fount – so what do you do? If you don’t know what to do, you do nothing, don’t you? Absolutely nothing. Then inwardly you are completely silent. Do you understand what that means? It means that you are not seeking, not wanting, not pursuing; there is no centre at all. Then there is love.
We want to run away from our loneliness
We want to run away from our loneliness, with its panicky fears, so we depend on another, we enrich ourselves with companionship, and so on. We are the prime movers, and others become pawns in our game; and when the pawn turns and demands something in return, we are shocked and grieved. If our own fortress is strong, without a weak spot in it, this battering from the outside is of little consequence to us. The peculiar tendencies that arise with advancing age must be understood and corrected while we are still capable of detached and tolerant self-observation and study; our fears must be observed and understood now. Our energies must be directed, not merely to the understanding of the outward pressures and demands for which we are responsible, but to the comprehension of ourselves, of our loneliness, our fears, demands, and frailties.
There is no such thing as living alone, for all living is relationship; but to live without direct relationship demands high intelligence, a swifter and greater awareness for self-discovery. A “lone” existence, without this keen and flowing awareness, strengthens the already dominant tendencies, thus causing unbalance, distortion. It is now that one has to become aware of the set and peculiar habits of thought-feeling which come with age, and by understanding them make away with them. Inward riches alone bring peace and joy.
From The Book of Life
AUDIO: Loneliness and intelligence
How am I to overcome loneliness?
Questioner: How am I to overcome loneliness?
Krishnamurti: Can you overcome loneliness? Whatever you conquer has to be conquered again and again, does it not? What you understand comes to an end, but that which you conquer can never come to an end. The battling process only feeds and strengthens that with which you fight.
Now, what is this loneliness of which most of us are aware? We know it, and we run away from it, do we not? We take flight from it into every form of activity. We are empty, lonely, and we are afraid of it, so, we try to cover it up by some means or other – meditation, the search for God, social activity, the radio, drink, or what you will. We would do anything else rather than face it, be with it, understand it. Running away is the same, whether we do it through the idea of God, or through drink. As long as one is escaping from loneliness, there is no essential difference between the worship of God and addiction to alcohol. Socially there may be a difference, but psychologically the man who runs away from himself, from his own emptiness, whose escape is his search for God, is on the same level with the drunkard.
What is important is not to overcome loneliness but to understand it; and we cannot understand it if we do not face it, if we do not look at it directly, if we are continually running away from it. And our whole life is a process of running away from loneliness, is it not? In relationship, we use others to cover up loneliness; our pursuit of knowledge, our gathering of experience, everything we do, is a distraction, an escape from that emptiness. So, these distractions and escapes must obviously come to an end. If we are to understand something, we must give our full attention to it. And how can we give full attention to loneliness if we are afraid of it, if we are running away from it through some distraction? So, when we really want to understand loneliness, when our intention is to go fully, completely into it, because we see that there can be no creativeness as long as we do not understand that inward insufficiency which is the fundamental cause of fear – when we come to that point, then every form of distraction ends.
So, if one would really understand this fundamental thing which we call loneliness, all escape must cease; but escape does not cease through worry, through seeking a result, or through any action of desire. One must see that, without understanding loneliness, every form of action is a distraction, an escape, a process of self-isolation, which only creates more conflict, more misery. To see that fact, is essential, for only then can one face loneliness.
Then, if we go still more deeply into it, the problem arises of whether that which we call loneliness is an actuality, or merely a word which covers something that may not be what we think it is. Is not loneliness a thought, the result of thinking? That is, thinking is verbalization based on memory; and do we not, with that verbalization, with that thought, with that memory, look at the state which we call lonely? So, the very giving of a name to that state may be the cause of the fear which prevents us from looking at it more closely; and if we do not give it a name, which is fabricated by the mind, then is that state lonely?
Surely, there is a difference between loneliness and being alone. Loneliness is the ultimate in the process of self-isolation. The more you are conscious of yourself, the more isolated you are; and self-consciousness is the process of isolation. But aloneness is not isolation. There is aloneness only when loneliness has come to an end. Aloneness is a state in which all influence has completely ceased, both the influence from outside, and the inner influence of memory; and only when the mind is in that state of aloneness can it know the incorruptible. But to come to that, we must understand loneliness, this process of isolation, which is the self and its activity. So, the understanding of the self is the beginning of the cessation of isolation and therefore of loneliness.
From Krishnamurti in Seattle 1950, Talk 4
The self is the root of all fear
The craving to become causes fears; to be, to achieve, and so to depend engenders fear. In understanding the cause of fear, there is its cessation, not the becoming courageous, for in all becoming there is the seed of fear. Dependence on things, on people, or on ideas breeds fear; dependence arises from ignorance, from the lack of self- knowledge, from inward poverty; fear causes uncertainty of mind-heart, preventing communication and understanding.
Through self-awareness we begin to discover and so comprehend the cause of fear, not only the superficial but the deep casual and accumulative fears. Fear is both inborn and acquired; it is related to the past, and to free thought-feeling from it, the past must be comprehended through the present. The past is ever wanting to give birth to the present which becomes the identifying memory of the “me” and the “mine,” the “I”. The self is the root of all fear.
From The Book of Life
VIDEO: How shall I be rid of the fear of death?
Thought breeds fear
How are you to look at fear; how are you to bring out all its structure, all its hidden parts? – through dreams? Dreams are the continuation of the activity of waking hours during sleep, are they not? You observe in dreams that there is always action, something or other is happening in dreams as in the waking hours, a continuation which is still part of one whole movement. So dreams have no value. You see what is happening: we are eliminating the things to which you are accustomed, analysis, dreams, will, time; when you eliminate all those, the mind becomes extraordinarily sensitive – not only sensitive but intelligent. Now with that sensitivity and intelligence we are going to look at fear.
What is fear? How does it come? Fear is always in relation to something; it does not exist by itself. There is fear of what happened yesterday in relation to the possibility of its repetition tomorrow; there is always a fixed point from which relationship takes place. How does fear come into this? I had pain yesterday; there is the memory of it and I do not want it again tomorrow. Thinking about the pain of yesterday, thinking which involves the memory of yesterday’s pain, projects the fear of having pain again tomorrow. So it is thought that brings about fear. Thought breeds fear; thought also cultivates pleasure. To understand fear you must also understand pleasure – they are interrelated; without understanding one you cannot understand the other. This means that one cannot say, ‘I must have only pleasure and no fear’ – fear is the other side of the coin which is called pleasure.
Thinking with the images of yesterday’s pleasure, thought imagines that you may not have that pleasure tomorrow – so thought engenders fear. Thought tries to sustain pleasure and thereby nourishes fear.
Thought has separated itself as the analyser and the thing to be analysed – they are both parts of thought playing tricks upon itself. In doing all this it is refusing to examine the unconscious fears; it brings in time as a means of escaping fear and yet at the same time sustains fear.
Can the mind look at fear without the centre? Can you look at that fear without naming it? The moment you name it ‘fear’, it is already in the past. The moment you name something, you divide it off. So, can you observe without that centre, not naming the thing called fear, as it arises? It requires tremendous discipline. Then the mind is looking without the centre to which it has been accustomed and there is the ending of fear, both the hidden and the open.
From Beyond Violence
We are afraid to die
We are afraid to die. To end the fear of death we must come into contact with death, not with the image which thought has created about death, but we must actually feel the state. Otherwise there is no end to fear, because the word death creates fear, and we don’t even want to talk about it. Being healthy, normal, with the capacity to reason clearly, to think objectively, to observe, is it possible for us to come into contact with the fact, totally? The organism, through usage, through disease, will eventually die. If we are healthy, we want to find out what death means. It’s not a morbid desire, because perhaps by dying we shall understand living. Living, as it is now, is torture, endless turmoil, a contradiction, and therefore there is conflict, misery and confusion. The everyday going to the office, the repetition of pleasure with its pains, the anxiety, the groping, the uncertainty, that’s what we call living. We have become accustomed to that kind of living. We accept it; we grow old with it and die.
To find out what living is as well as to find out what dying is, one must come into contact with death, that is, one must end every day everything one has known. One must end the image that one has built up about oneself, about one’s family, about one’s relationship, the image that one has built through pleasure, through one’s relationship to society, everything. That is what is going to take place when death occurs.
From The Book of Life
VIDEO: Is there any survival after death?
Is there continuity after death?
He had been a fairly well known man. He lay dying in the small house behind the wall, and the little garden, once cared for, was now neglected. He was surrounded by his wife and children, and by other near relatives. It might be some months, or even longer, before he passed away, but they were all around him, and the room was heavy with grief. As I came in he asked them all to go away, and they reluctantly left, except a little boy who was playing with some toys on the floor. When they had gone out, the man waved me to a chair and we sat for some time without saying a word, while the noises of the household and the street crowded into the room.
He spoke with difficulty. ‘You know, I have thought a great deal for a number of years about living and even more about dying, for I have had a protracted illness. Death seems such a strange thing. I have read various books dealing with this problem, but they were all rather superficial.’
Are not all conclusions superficial? ‘I am not so sure. If one could arrive at certain conclusions that were deeply satisfying, they would have some significance. What’s wrong with arriving at conclusions, so long as they are satisfying?’
There is nothing wrong with it, but doesn’t it trace a deceptive horizon? The mind has the power to create every form of illusion, and to be caught in it seems so unnecessary and immature.
‘I have lived a fairly rich life, and have followed what I thought to be my duty; but of course I am human. Anyway, that life is all over now, and here I am a useless thing; but fortunately my mind has not yet been affected. I have read much, and I am still as eager as ever to know what happens after death. Do I continue, or is there nothing left when the body dies?’
Sir, if one may ask, why are you so concerned to know what happens after death?
‘Doesn’t everyone want to know?’
Probably they do; but if we don’t know what living is, can we ever know what death is? Living and dying may be the same thing, and the fact that we have separated them may be the source of great sorrow.
‘I am aware of what you have said about all this in your talks, but still I want to know. Won’t you please tell me what happens after death? I won’t repeat it to anyone.’
Why are you struggling so hard to know? Why don’t you allow the whole ocean of life and death to be, without poking a finger into it?
‘I don’t want to die,’ he said, his hand holding my wrist. ‘I have always been afraid of death; and though I have tried to console myself with rationalizations and beliefs, they have only acted as a thin veneer over this deep agony of fear. All my reading about death has been an effort to escape from this fear, to find a way out of it and it is for the same reason that I am begging to know now.’
Will any escape free the mind from fear? Does not the very act of escaping breed fear?
‘But you can tell me, and what you say will be true. This truth will liberate me…’
We sat silently for a while. Presently he spoke again. ‘That silence was more healing than all my anxious questioning. I wish I could remain in it and quietly pass away, but my mind won’t let me. My mind has become the hunter as well as the hunted; I am tortured. I have acute physical pain, but it’s nothing compared to what’s going on in my mind. Is there an identified continuity after death? This me which has enjoyed, suffered, known – will it continue?’
What is this “me” that your mind clings to, and that you want to be continued? Please don’t answer, but quietly listen. The “me” exists only through identification with property, with a name, with the family, with failures and successes, with all the things you have been and want to be. You are that with which you have identified yourself; you are made up of all that, and without it, you are not. It is this identification with people, property and ideas that you want to be continued, even beyond death; and is it a living thing? Or is it just a mass of contradictory desires, pursuits, fulfilments and frustrations with sorrow outweighing joy?
‘It may be what you suggest, but it’s better than not knowing anything at all.’
Better the known than the unknown, is that it? But the known is so small, so petty, so confining. The known is sorrow, and yet you crave for its continuance.
‘Think of me, be compassionate, don’t be so unyielding. If only I knew, I could die happily.’
Sir, don’t struggle so hard to know. When all effort to know ceases, then there is something which the mind has not put together. The unknown is greater than the known; the known is but as a barque on the ocean of the unknown. Let all things go and be.
His wife came in just then to give him something to drink, and the child got up and ran out of the room without looking at us. He told his wife to close the door as she went out and not to let the boy come in again. ‘I am not worried about my family; their future is cared for. It’s with my own future that I am concerned. I know in my heart that what you say is true, but my mind is like a galloping horse without a rider. Will you help me, or am I beyond all help?’
Truth is a strange thing; the more you pursue it, the more it will elude you. You cannot capture it by any means, however subtle and cunning; you cannot hold it in the net of your thought. Do realize this, and let everything go. On the journey of life and death, you must walk alone; on this journey there can be no taking of comfort in knowledge, in experience, in memories. The mind must be purged of all the things it has gathered in its urge to be secure; its gods and virtues must be given back to the society that bred them. There must be complete, uncontaminated aloneness.
‘My days are numbered my breath is short, and you are asking a very hard thing: that I die without knowing what death is. But I am well instructed. Let be my life, and may there be a blessing upon it.’
Your gods are dividing you
What is happening in the world? You have a Christian God, Hindu Gods, Muslims with their particular conception of God – each little sect with their particular truth; and all these truths are becoming like diseases in the world, separating people. These truths, in the hands of the few, are becoming the means of exploitation. You go to each, one after the other, tasting them all, because you begin to lose all sense of discrimination, because you are suffering and you want a remedy, and you accept any remedy that is offered by any sect, whether Christian, Hindu, or any other sect. So, what is happening? Your Gods are dividing you, your beliefs in God are dividing you and yet you talk about the brotherhood of man, unity in God, and at the same time deny the very thing that you want to find out, because you cling to these beliefs as the most potent means of destroying limitation, whereas they but intensify it.
From The Book of Life
VIDEO: Does God exist?
To believe in God is not to find God
Question: Belief in God has been a powerful incentive to better living. Why do you deny God? Why do you not try to revive man’s faith in the idea of God?
Krishnamurti: I am not denying God – it would be foolish to do so. Only the man who does not know reality indulges in meaningless words. The man who says he knows, does not know; the man who is experiencing reality from moment to moment has no means of communicating that reality.
Belief is a denial of truth, belief hinders truth; to believe in God is not to find God. Neither the believer nor the non-believer will find God because reality is the unknown, and your belief or non-belief in the unknown is merely a self-projection and therefore not real. There are many people who believe; millions believe in God and take consolation.
First of all, why do you believe? You believe because it gives you satisfaction, consolation, hope, and you say it gives significance to life. Actually your belief has very little significance, because you believe and exploit, you believe and kill, you believe in a universal God and murder each other. The rich man also believes in God; he exploits ruthlessly, accumulates money, and then builds a temple or becomes a philanthropist.
The men who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima said that God was with them; those who flew from England to destroy Germany said that God was their co-pilot. The dictators, the prime ministers, the generals, the presidents, all talk of God, they have immense faith in God. Are they doing service, making a better life for man? The people who say they believe in God have destroyed half the world and the world is in complete misery. Through religious intolerance there are divisions of people as believers and non-believers, leading to religious wars. It indicates how extraordinarily politically-minded you are.
Is belief in God ‘a powerful incentive to better living’? Why do you want an incentive to better living? Surely, your incentive must be your own desire to live cleanly and simply, must it not? If you look to an incentive you are not interested in making life possible for all, you are merely interested in your incentive, which is different from mine – and we will quarrel over the incentive. If we live happily together not because we believe in God but because we are human beings, then we will share the entire means of production in order to produce things for all. Through lack of intelligence we accept the idea of a super-intelligence which we call God; but this God, this super-intelligence, is not going to give us a better life. What leads to a better life is intelligence; and there cannot be intelligence if there is belief, if there are class divisions, if the means of production are in the hands of a few, if there are isolated nationalities and sovereign governments. All this obviously indicates lack of intelligence and it is the lack of intelligence that is preventing a better living, not non-belief in God.
You all believe, in different ways, but your belief has no reality whatsoever. Reality is what you are, what you do, what you think, and your belief in God is merely an escape from your monotonous, stupid and cruel life. Furthermore, belief invariably divides people: there is the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Christian, the communist, the socialist, the capitalist and so on. Beliefs and ideas divide. You may bring a few people together in a group but that group is opposed to another group. Ideas and beliefs are never unifying; on the contrary, they are separative, disintegrating and destructive. Therefore your belief in God is really spreading misery in the world; though it may have brought you momentary consolation, in actuality it has brought you more misery and destruction in the form of wars, famines, class divisions and the ruthless action of separate individuals. So your belief has no validity at all. If you really believed in God, if it were a real experience to you, then your face would have a smile; you would not be destroying human beings.
Now, what is reality, what is God? God is not the word; the word is not the thing. To know that which is immeasurable, which is not of time, the mind must be free of time, which means the mind must be free from all thought, from all ideas about God. What do you know about God or truth? You do not really know anything about that reality. All that you know are words, the experiences of others or some moments of rather vague experience of your own. Surely that is not God, that is not reality, that is not beyond the field of time. To know that which is beyond time, the process of time must be understood – time being thought, the process of becoming, the accumulation of knowledge. That is the whole background of the mind; the mind itself is the background, both the conscious and the unconscious, the collective and the individual. So the mind must be free of the known, which means the mind must be completely silent, not made silent. The mind that achieves silence as a result, as the outcome of determined action, of practice, of discipline, is not a silent mind. The mind that is forced, controlled, shaped, put into a frame and kept quiet, is not a still mind. You may succeed for a period of time in forcing the mind to be superficially silent, but such a mind is not a still mind. Stillness comes only when you understand the whole process of thought, because to understand the process is to end it and the ending of the process of thought is the beginning of silence.
Only when the mind is completely silent not only on the upper level but fundamentally, right through, on both the superficial and the deeper levels of consciousness, only then can the unknown come into being. The unknown is not something to be experienced by the mind; silence alone can be experienced, nothing but silence. If the mind experiences anything but silence, it is merely projecting its own desires and such a mind is not silent. So long as the mind is not silent, so long as thought in any form, conscious or unconscious, is in movement, there can be no silence. Silence is freedom from the past, from knowledge, from both conscious and unconscious memory. When the mind is completely silent, not in use, when there is the silence which is not a product of effort, then only does the timeless, the eternal come into being. That state is not a state of remembering – there is no entity that remembers, that experiences.
Therefore God or truth or what you will is a thing that comes into being from moment to moment, and it happens only in a state of freedom and spontaneity, not when the mind is disciplined according to a pattern. God is not a thing of the mind, it does not come through self-projection, it comes only when there is virtue, which is freedom. Virtue is facing the fact of what is and the facing of the fact is a state of bliss. Only when the mind is blissful, quiet, without any movement of its own, without the projection of thought, conscious or unconscious – only then does the eternal come into being.
Meditation without the meditator
Meditation is not a practice, following a system, a method; these only lead to the darkening of the mind and it is ever a movement within the boundaries of the known; there is despair and illusion within their activity.
It was very quiet so early in the morning and not a bird or leaf was stirring. Meditation which began at unknown depths and went on with increasing intensity and sweep, carved the brain into total silence, scooping out the depths of thought, uprooting feeling, emptying the brain of the known and its shadow. It was an operation and there was no operator, no surgeon; it was going on, as a surgeon operates for cancer, cutting out every tissue which has been contaminated, lest the contamination should again spread. It was going on, this meditation for an hour by the watch. And it was meditation without the meditator. The meditator interferes with his stupidities and vanities, ambitions and greed. The meditator is thought, nurtured in these conflicts and injuries, and thought in meditation must totally cease. This is the foundation for meditation.
VIDEO: Meditation is unpremeditated art
Meditation is without beginning or end
He was young and very earnest, with clear, sharp eyes. Although in his thirties, he was not yet married; but sex and marriage were not a serious problem, he added. A well-built man, he had vigour in his gestures and in his walk. He was not given to much reading, but he had read a certain number of serious books, and had thought about things. Employed in some governmental office, he said his pay was good enough. He liked outdoor games, especially tennis, at which he was evidently quite good. He didn’t care for cinemas, and had but few friends. It was his practice, he explained, to meditate morning and evening for about an hour; and after hearing the previous evening’s talk, he had decided to come along to discuss the meaning and significance of meditation. As a boy, he often used to go with his father into a small room to meditate; he could bring himself to stay there for only ten minutes or so, and his father didn’t seem to mind. That room had a single picture on the wall, and no member of the family went into it except for the purpose of meditation. While his father had neither encouraged nor discouraged him in the matter, and had never told him how to meditate, or what it was all about, somehow, ever since he was a boy, he had liked to meditate. While he was in college, it had been difficult for him to keep regular hours; but later, once he got a job, he had meditated for an hour every morning and every evening, and now he wouldn’t miss those two hours of meditation for anything in the world.
‘I have come, sir, not to argue or to defend anything, but to learn. Although I have read about the various types of meditation for different temperaments, and have evolved a way of controlling my thoughts I am not foolish enough to imagine that what I am doing is really meditation. However, if I am not mistaken, most authorities on meditation do advocate control of thought; that seems to be the essence of it. I have also practised a little yoga as a means of quieting the mind: special breathing exercises, repeating certain words and chants, and so on. All this is merely by way of introducing myself, and it may not be important. The point is, I am really interested in practising meditation, it has become vital to me, and I want to know more about it.’
Meditation has significance only when there’s an understanding of the meditator. In practising what you call meditation, the meditator is apart from the meditation, isn’t he? Why is there this difference, this gap between them? Is it inevitable, or must the gap be bridged? Without really understanding the truth or the falseness of this apparent division, the results of so-called meditation are similar to those which can be brought about by any tranquillizer that is taken to quiet the mind. If one’s purpose is to bring thought under domination, then any system or drug that produces the desired effect will do.
‘But you wipe away at one stroke all the yogic exercises, the traditional systems of meditation that have been practised and advocated through the centuries by the many saints and ascetics. How can they all be wrong?’
Why shouldn’t they all be wrong? Why this gullibility? Is not a tempered scepticism helpful in understanding this whole problem of meditation? You accept because you are eager for results, for success; you want to “arrive”. To understand what meditation is, there must be questioning, inquiry; and mere acceptance destroys inquiry. You have to see for yourself the false as the false, and the truth in the false and the truth as the truth; for none can instruct you concerning it. Meditation is the way of life, it is part of daily existence, and the fullness and beauty of life can only be understood through meditation. Without understanding the whole complexity of life, and the everyday reactions from moment to moment, meditation becomes a process of self-hypnosis. Meditation of the heart is the understanding of daily problems. You can’t go very far if you don’t begin very near.
‘I can understand that. One cannot climb the mountain without first going through the valley. I have endeavoured in my daily life to remove the obvious barriers, like greed, envy and so on, and somewhat to my own surprise I have managed to put aside the things of the world. I quite see and appreciate that a right foundation must be laid, otherwise no building can stand. But meditation isn’t merely a matter of taming the burning desires and passions. The passions must be subjugated, brought under control; but surely, sir, meditation is something more than this, isn’t it? I am not quoting any authority, but I do feel that meditation is something far greater than merely laying the right foundation.’
That may be; but at the very beginning is the totality. It is not that one must first lay the right foundation, and then build, or first be free from envy, and then “arrive”. In the very beginning is the ending. There is no distance to be covered, no climbing, no point of arrival. Meditation itself is timeless, it’s not a way of arriving at a timeless state. It is, without a beginning and without an ending. But these are mere words, and they will remain as such as long as you don’t inquire into and understand for yourself the truth and the falseness of the meditator.
‘Why is that so important?’
The meditator is the censor, the watcher, the maker of “right” and “wrong” effort. He is the centre, and from there he weaves the net of thought; but thought itself has made him; thought has brought about this gap between the thinker and the thought. Unless this division ceases, so-called meditation only strengthens the centre, the experiencer who thinks of himself as apart from the experience. The experiencer always craving more experience; each experience strengthens the accumulation of past experiences, which in turn dictates, shapes the present experience. Thus the mind is ever conditioning itself. So experience and knowledge are not the liberating factors that they are supposed to be.
‘I’m afraid I don’t understand all this,’ he said, rather bewildered.
The mind is free only when it is no longer conditioned by its own experiences, by knowledge, by vanity, envy; and meditation is the freeing of the mind from all these things, from all self-centred activities and influences.
‘I realize that the mind must be free from all self-centred activities, but I don’t quite follow what you mean by influences.’
Your mind is the result of influence, isn’t it? From childhood your mind is influenced by the food you eat, by the climate you live in, by your parents, by the books you read, by the cultural environment in which you are educated, and so on. You are taught what to believe and what not to believe; your mind is a result of time, which is memory, knowledge. All experiencing is a process of interpreting in terms of the past, of the known, and so there’s no freedom from the known; there is only a modified continuity of what has been. The mind is free only when this continuity comes to an end.
‘But how does one know that one’s mind is free?’
This very desire to be certain, to be secure, is the beginning of bondage. It is only when the mind is not caught in the net of certainty, and is not seeking certainty, that it is in a state of discovery.
‘The mind does want to be certain about everything, and I see now how this desire can be a hindrance.’
What is important is to die to everything that one has accumulated, for this accumulation is the self, the ego, the “me”. Without the ending of this accumulation there is the continuity of the desire to be certain, as there is the continuation of the past.
‘Meditation, I am beginning to see, is not simple. Just to control thought is comparatively easy, and to worship an image, or to repeat certain words and chants, is merely to put the mind to sleep; but real meditation seems to be much more complex and arduous than I ever imagined.’
It is really not complex, though it may be arduous. You see, we don’t start with the actual, with the fact, with what we are thinking, doing, desiring; we start with assumptions or with ideals, which are not actualities, and so we are led astray. To start with facts, and not with assumptions, we need close attention; and every form of thinking not originating from the actual is a distraction. That’s why it is so important to understand what is actually taking place both within and around one.
‘Are not visions actualities?’
Are they? Let’s find out. If you are a Christian, your visions follow a certain pattern; if you are a Hindu, a Buddhist or a Muslim, they follow a different pattern. You see Christ or Krishna according to your conditioning; your education, the culture in which you have been brought up, determines your visions. Which is the actuality: the vision, or the mind which has been shaped in a certain mould? The vision is the projection of the particular tradition which happens to form the background of the mind. This conditioning, not the vision which it projects, is the actuality, the fact. To understand the fact is simple; but it is made difficult by our likes and dislikes, by of the fact, by the opinions or judgments we have about the fact. To be free of these various forms of evaluation is to understand the actual, the what is.
‘You are saying that we never look at a fact directly, but always through our prejudices and memories, through our traditions and our experiences based upon these traditions. To use your word, we are never aware of ourselves as we actually are. Again, I see that you are right, sir. The fact is the one thing that matters.’
Let us look at the whole problem differently. What is attention? When are you attentive? And do you ever really pay attention to anything?
‘I pay attention when I am interested in something.’
Is interest attention? When you are interested in something, what’s actually happening to the mind? You are evidently interested in watching those cattle go by; what is this interest?
‘I am attracted by their movement, their colour, their form, against the green background.’
Is there attention in this interest?
‘I think there is.’
A child is absorbed in a toy. Would you call that attention? The toy absorbs the interest of the child, it takes over his mind, and he’s quiet, no longer restless; but take away the toy, and he again becomes restless, he cries, and so on. Toys become important because they keep him quiet. It is the same with grownups. Take away their toys – activity, belief, ambition, the desire for power, the worshipping of gods or of the state, the championing of a cause – and they too become restless, lost, confused; so the toys of the grownups also become important. Is there attention when the toy absorbs the mind? The toy is a distraction, is it not? The toy becomes all-important, and not the mind which is taken over by the toy. To understand what attention is, we must be concerned with the mind, not with the toys of the mind.
‘Our toys, as you call them, hold the mind’s interest.’
The toy which holds the mind’s interest may be the master, a picture, or any other image made by the hand or by the mind; and this holding of the mind’s interest by a toy is called concentration. Is such concentration attention? When you are concentrated in this manner and the mind is absorbed in a toy, is there attention? Is not such concentration a narrowing down of the mind? And is this attention?
‘As I have practised concentration, it is a struggle to keep the mind fixed upon a particular point to the exclusion of all other thoughts, all distractions.’
Is there attention when there is resistance against distractions? Surely, distractions arise only when the mind has lost interest in the toy; and then there’s a conflict, isn’t there?
‘Certainly, there’s a conflict to overcome the distractions.’
Can you pay attention when there’s a conflict going on in the mind? When the toy absorbs the mind, there’s no attention; neither is there attention when the mind is struggling to concentrate by excluding distractions. As long as there is an object of attention, is there attention?
‘Aren’t you saying the same thing, only using the word object instead of toy?’
The object or toy may be external; but there are also inward toys, are there not?
‘Yes, sir, you have enumerated some of them. I am aware of this.’
A more complex toy is motive. Is there attention when there’s a motive to be attentive?
‘What do you mean by a motive?’
A compulsion to action; an urge towards self-improvement, based on fear, greed, ambition; a cause that drives you to seek; suffering that makes you want to escape, and so on. Is there attention when some hidden motive is in operation?
‘When I am compelled to be attentive by pain or pleasure, by fear or the hope of reward, then there’s no attention. Yes, I see what you mean. This is very clear, sir, and I am following you.’
So there’s no attention when we approach anything in that manner. And does not the word, the name, interfere with attention? For example, do we ever look at the moon without verbalization, or does the word moon always interfere with our looking? Do we ever listen to anything with attention, or do our thoughts, our interpretations, and so on, interfere with our listening? Do we ever really pay attention to anything? Surely attention has no motive, no object, no toy; no struggle, no verbalization. This is true attention, is it not? Where there is attention, reality is.
‘But it’s impossible to pay such full attention to anything!’ he exclaimed. ‘If one could, there wouldn’t be any problems.’
Every other form of “attention” only increases the problems, doesn’t it?
‘I see that it does, but what is one to do?’ When you see that any concentration on toys, any action based on motive, whatever it be, only furthers mischief and misery, then in this seeing of the false there is the perception of the true; and truth has its own action. All this is meditation.
‘If I may say so, sir, I have rightly listened, and have really understood many of the things you have explained. What is understood will have its own effect, without my interfering with its I hope I may come again.’
Consciousness is therefore a movement of the past to the future
There is in fact only one state, not two states such as the conscious and the unconscious; there is only a state of being, which is consciousness, though you may divide it as the conscious and the unconscious. Consciousness is always of the past, never of the present; you are conscious only of things that are over. You are never conscious or aware of the now. Watch your own hearts and minds and you will see that consciousness is functioning between the past and the future, and that the present is merely a passage of the past to the future. Consciousness is therefore a movement of the past to the future.
If you watch your own mind at work, you will see that the movement to the past and to the future is a process in which the present is not. Either the past is a means of escape from the present, which may be unpleasant, or the future is a hope away from the present. So the mind is occupied with the past or with the future and sloughs off the present. It either condemns and rejects the fact or accepts and identifies itself with the fact. Such a mind is obviously not capable of seeing any fact as a fact. That is our state of consciousness which is conditioned by the past and our thought is the conditioned response to the challenge of a fact; the more you respond according to the conditioning of belief, of the past, the more there is strengthening of the past. That strengthening of the past is obviously the continuity of itself, which it calls the future. So that is the state of our mind, of our consciousness: a pendulum swinging backwards and forwards between the past and the future.
From The Book of Life
VIDEO: Can consciousness be aware of its whole content?
Is consciousness individual?
Our consciousness has been programmed as an individual consciousness. We are questioning whether that consciousness, which we have accepted as individual, is actually individual at all. Do not say, ‘What will happen if I am not an individual?’ Something totally different may happen. You may have an individual training in a particular trade or profession, you may be a surgeon, a doctor, an engineer, but that does not make you an individual. You may have a different name, a different form – that does not make individuality; nor the acceptance that the brain through time has affirmed: ‘I am an individual, it is my desire to fulfil, to become through struggle.’ That so-called individual consciousness, which is yours, is the consciousness of all humanity.
If your consciousness, which you have accepted as separate, is not separate, then what is the nature of your consciousness? Part of it is the sensory responses. Those sensory responses are naturally, necessarily, programmed to defend yourself, through hunger to seek food, to breathe, unconsciously. Biologically you are programmed. The content of your consciousness includes the many hurts and wounds that you have received from childhood, the many forms of guilt; it includes the various ideas, imaginary certainties; the many experiences, both sensory and psychological; there is always the basis, the root, of fear in its many forms. With fear naturally goes hatred. Where there is fear there must be violence, aggression, the tremendous urge to succeed, both in the physical and the psychological world. In the content of consciousness there is the constant pursuit of pleasure; the pleasure of possession, of domination, the pleasure of money which gives power, the pleasure of a philosopher with his immense knowledge, the guru with his circus – pleasure again has innumerable forms. There is also pain, anxiety, the deep sense of abiding loneliness and sorrow, not only the so-called personal sorrow but also the enormous sorrow brought about through wars, through neglect, through this endless conquering of one group of people by another. In that consciousness there is the racial and group content. Ultimately there is death.
This is our consciousness: beliefs, certainties and uncertainties, anxiety, loneliness and endless misery. These are the facts. And we say this consciousness is mine! Is that so? Go to the Far East, or the Near East, America, Europe, anywhere where human beings are; they suffer, they are anxious, lonely, depressed, melancholic, struggling and in conflict – they are just the same as you. So, is your consciousness different from that of another? I know it is very difficult for people to accept – you may logically accept it, intellectually you may say, ‘Yes, that is so, maybe.’ But to feel this total human sense that you are the rest of mankind requires a great deal of sensitivity. It is not a problem to be solved. It is not that you must accept that you are not an individual, that you must endeavour to feel this global human entity. If you do, you have made it into a problem which the brain is only too ready to try to solve! But if you really look at it with your mind, your heart, your whole being totally aware of this fact, then you have broken the program. It is naturally broken. But if you say, ‘I will break it,’ then you are again back into the same pattern. To the speaker this is utter reality, not something verbally accepted because it is pleasant; it is something that is actual. You may have logically, reasonably and sanely examined and found that it is so, but the brain which has been programmed to the sense of individuality is going to revolt against it. The brain is unwilling to learn; you are frightened of losing something.
Can the brain learn? That is the whole point. So now we have to go into this question of what learning is. Learning for most of us is a process of acquiring knowledge. I do not know the Russian language but I will learn it. I will learn day after day, memorizing, holding on to certain words, phrases and the meanings, syntax and grammar. If I apply myself I can learn almost any language within a certain time. To us, learning is essentially the accumulation of knowledge or skill. Our brains are conditioned to this pattern: accumulate knowledge and from that act. When I learn a language, there knowledge is necessary. But if I am learning psychologically about the content of my mind, of my consciousness, does learning there imply examining each layer of it and accumulating knowledge about it and from that knowledge acting – following the same pattern as learning a language? If the brain repeats that pattern when I am learning about the content of my consciousness, it means that I need time to accumulate knowledge about myself, my consciousness. Then I determine what the problems are and the brain is ready to solve them – it has been trained to solve problems. It is repeating this endless pattern and that is what I call learning. Is there a learning which is not this? Is there a different action of learning, which is not the accumulation of knowledge?
Meditation is essential to life
To understand this whole problem of influence, the influence of experience, the influence of knowledge, of inward and outward motives – to find out what is true and what is false and to see the truth in the so-called false – all that requires tremendous insight, a deep inward comprehension of things as they are. This whole process is, surely, the way of meditation. Meditation is essential in life, in our everyday existence, as beauty is essential. The perception of beauty, the sensitivity to things, to the ugly as well as to the beautiful, is essential – to see a beautiful tree, a lovely sky of an evening, to see the vast horizon where the clouds are gathering as the sun is setting. All this is necessary, the perception of beauty and the understanding of the way of meditation, because all that is life, as is also your going to the office, the quarrels, miseries, the perpetual strain, anxiety, the deep fears and love. The understanding of this total process of existence – the influences, the sorrows, the daily strain, the authoritative outlook, the political actions and so on – all this is life, and the process of understanding it all, and freeing the mind, is meditation. If one really comprehends this life then there is always a meditative process, always a process of contemplation, but not about something. To be aware of this whole process of existence, to observe it, to dispassionately enter into it, and to be free of it, is meditation.
From The Book of Life
VIDEO: Meeting life as it is today
Life is not permanent
There was a long, narrow pool beside the river. Some fishermen must have dug it, and it is not connected with the river. The river is flowing steadily, deep and wide, but this pool is heavy with scum because it is not connected with the life of the river, and there are no fish in it. It is a stagnant pool, and the deep river, full of life and vitality, flows swiftly along.
Now, don’t you think human beings are like that? They dig a little pool for themselves away from the swift current of life, and in that little pool they stagnate, die; and this stagnation, this decay they call existence. That is, we all want a state of permanency; we want certain desires to last forever, we want pleasures to have no end. We dig a little hole and barricade ourselves in it with our families, with our ambitions, our cultures, our fears, our gods, our various forms of worship, and there we die, letting life go by – that life which is impermanent, constantly changing, which is so swift, which has such enormous depths, such extraordinary vitality and beauty.
Have you not noticed that if you sit quietly on the banks of the river you hear its song – the lapping of the water, the sound of the current going by? There is always a sense of movement, an extraordinary movement towards the wider and the deeper. But in the little pool there is no movement at all, its water is stagnant. And if you observe you will see that this is what most of us want: little stagnant pools of existence away from life. We say that our pool-existence is right, and we have invented a philosophy to justify it; we have developed social, political, economic and religious theories in support of it, and we don’t want to be disturbed because, you see, what we are after is a sense of permanency.
Do you know what it means to seek permanency? It means wanting the pleasurable to continue indefinitely and wanting that which is not pleasurable to end as quickly as possible. We want the name that we bear to be known and to continue through family through property. We want a sense of permanency in our relationships, in our activities, which means that we are seeking a lasting, continuous life in the stagnant pool; we don’t want any real changes there, so we have built a society which guarantees us the permanency of property, of name, of fame.
But you see, life is not like that at all; life is not permanent. Like the leaves that fall from a tree, all things are impermanent, nothing endures; there is always change and death. Have you ever noticed a tree standing naked against the sky, how beautiful it is? All its branches are outlined, and in its nakedness there is a poem, there is a song. Every leaf is gone and it is waiting for the spring. When the spring comes it again fills the tree with the music of many leaves, which in due season fall and are blown away; and that is the way of life.
But we don’t want anything of that kind. We cling to our children, to our traditions, to our society, to our names and our little virtues, because we want permanency; and that is why we are afraid to die. We are afraid to lose the things we know. But life is not what we would like it to be; life is not permanent at all. Birds die, snow melts away, trees are cut down or destroyed by storms, and so on. But we want everything that gives us satisfaction to be permanent; we want our position, the authority we have over people, to endure. We refuse to accept life as it is in fact.
The fact is that life is like the river: endlessly moving on, ever seeking, exploring, pushing, overflowing its banks, penetrating every crevice with its water. But, you see, the mind won’t allow that to happen to itself. The mind sees that it is dangerous, risky to live in a state of impermanence, insecurity, so it builds a wall around itself: the wall of tradition, of organized religion, of political and social theories. Family, name, property, the little virtues that we have cultivated – these are all within the walls, away from life. Life is moving, impermanent, and it ceaselessly tries to penetrate, to break down these walls, behind which there is confusion and misery. The gods within the walls are all false gods, and their writings and philosophies have no meaning because life is beyond them.
Now, a mind that has no walls, that is not burdened with its own acquisitions, accumulations, with its own knowledge, a mind that lives timelessly, insecurely – to such a mind, life is an extraordinary thing. Such a mind is life itself, because life has no resting place. But most of us want a resting place; we want a little house, a name, a position, and we say these things are very important. We demand permanency and create a culture based on this demand, inventing gods which are not gods at all but merely a projection of our own desires.
A mind which is seeking permanency soon stagnates; like that pool along the river, it is soon full of corruption, decay. Only the mind which has no walls, no foothold, no barrier, no resting place, which is moving completely with life, timelessly pushing on, exploring, exploding – only such a mind can be happy, eternally new, because it is creative in itself.
Do you understand what I am talking about? You should, because all this is part of real education and, when you understand it, your whole life will be transformed, your relationship with the world, with your neighbour, with your wife or husband, will have a totally different meaning. Then you won’t try to fulfil yourself through anything, seeing that the pursuit of fulfilment only invites sorrow and misery. That is why you should ask your teachers about all this and discuss it among yourselves. If you understand it, you will have begun to understand the extraordinary truth of what life is, and in that understanding there is great beauty and love, the flowering of goodness. But the efforts of a mind that is seeking a pool of security, of permanency, can only lead to darkness and corruption. Once established in the pool, such a mind is afraid to venture out, to seek, to explore; but truth, God, reality or what you will, lies beyond the pool.
Do you know what religion is? It is not the chant, it is not in the performance of puja, or any other ritual, it is not in the worship of tin gods or stone images, it is not in the temples and churches, it is not in the reading of the Bible or the Gita, it is not in the repeating of a sacred name or in the following of some other superstition invented by men. None of this is religion,
Religion is the feeling of goodness that love which is like the river living moving everlastingly. In that state you will find there comes a moment when there is no longer any search at all; and this ending of search is the beginning of something totally different. The search for God, for truth, the feeling of being completely good – not the cultivation of goodness, of humility, but the seeking out of something beyond the inventions and tricks of the mind, which means having a feeling for that something, living in it, being it – that is true religion. But you can do that only when you leave the pool you have dug for yourself and go out into the river of life. Then life has an astonishing way of taking care of you, because then there is no taking care on your part. Life carries you where it will because you are part of itself; then there is no problem of security, of what people say or don’t say, and that is the beauty of life.
The right kind of education
Education as it is at present in no way encourages the understanding of the inherited tendencies and environmental influences which condition the mind and heart and sustain fear, and therefore it does not help us to break through the conditioning and bring about an integrated human being. Any form of education that concerns itself with a part and not with the whole of man inevitably leads to increasing conflict and suffering.
It is only in individual freedom that love and goodness can flower; and the right kind of education alone can offer this freedom. Neither conformity to the present society nor the promise of a future utopia can ever give to the individual that insight without which he is constantly creating problems.
The right kind of educator, seeing the inward nature of freedom, helps each individual student to observe and understand his own self-projected values and impositions; he helps him to become aware of the conditioning influences about him, and of his own desires, both of which limit his mind and breed fear; he helps him, as he grows to manhood, to observe and understand himself in relation to all things, for it is the craving for self-fulfilment that brings endless conflict and sorrow.
VIDEO: How do I educate my young child?
Teaching is the greatest profession in life
Society, the culture in which we live, demands that the student must be oriented towards a job and physical security. This has been the constant pressure of all societies: career first and everything else second; that is, money first and the complex ways of our daily life second. We are trying to reverse this process, because man cannot be happy with money only. When money becomes the dominant factor in life, there is imbalance in our daily activity. I would like the educators to understand this very seriously and to see its full significance. If the educator understands the importance of this, and in his own life has given it its proper place, then he can help the student, who is compelled by his parents and society to make a career the most important thing. I would like to emphasize this point – to maintain at all times in these [Krishnamurti] schools a way of life that cultivates the total human being.
As most of our education is the acquisition of knowledge, it is making us more and more mechanical; our minds are functioning along narrow grooves, whether it is scientific, philosophical, religious, business or technological knowledge that we are acquiring. Our ways of life, both at home and outside it, and our specializing in a particular career, are making our minds more and more narrow, limited and incomplete. All this leads to a mechanical way of life, a mental standardization, and so gradually the state, even a democratic state, dictates what we should become. Most thoughtful people are naturally aware of this, but unfortunately they seem to accept it and live with it. This has become a danger to freedom.
Freedom is a very complex issue and to understand the complexity of it, the flowering of the mind is necessary. Each person will give a different definition of the flowering of the mind depending on his culture, on his education, experience, religious superstition – that is, on his conditioning. Here we are not dealing with opinion or prejudice, but rather with a non-verbal understanding of the implications and consequences of the flowering of the mind. This flowering is the total unfoldment and cultivation of our minds, our hearts and our physical well-being; that is to have complete harmony in which there is no opposition or contradiction. The flowering of the mind can take place only when there is clear, objective, non-personal perception, when it is not burdened by any imposition upon it. It is not what to think but how to think clearly. For centuries, through propaganda and so on, we have been encouraged in what to think. Most modern education is that, and not the investigation of the whole movement of thought. Flowering implies freedom. A plant requires freedom to grow.
We will deal with the awakening of the heart, which is not sentimental, romantic or imaginary, but is of goodness which is born out of affection and love; and with the cultivation of the body, the right kind of food, proper exercise, which will bring about deep sensitivity. When the mind, the heart and the body are in complete harmony, then the flowering comes naturally, easily and in excellence. This is our job, our responsibility as educators. Teaching is the greatest profession in life.
Is intelligence personal?
Is intelligence personal? Is intelligence the result of book knowledge, logic, experience? Or is intelligence the freedom from the division of thought, the division which thought has created?
Seeing this logically and not being able to go beyond it, it remains with it; it does not try to struggle with it or to overcome it. Out of that comes intelligence.
What is intelligence? Can intelligence be cultivated? Is intelligence innate? Does thought see the truth of conflict and division, or is it the quality of mind that sees the fact and is completely quiet with the fact? Completely silent, not trying to go beyond it, overcome it or change it, but is completely still with the fact. It is that stillness that is intelligence. Intelligence is not thought. Intelligence is this silence and is therefore totally impersonal. It does not belong to any group, to any person, to any race, to any culture.
VIDEO: What is intelligence?
Intelligence is creative
You must find out what intelligence is. We use that word very freely; but by merely talking about intelligence you do not become intelligent. The politicians keep on repeating words like intelligence, integration, a new culture, a united world, but they are mere words with very little meaning. So do not use words without really understanding all that they imply.
We are trying to find out what intelligence is – not merely the definition of it, which can be found in any dictionary, but the knowing of it, the feeling of it, the understanding of it; for if we have that intelligence it will help each one of us as we grow to deal with the enormous problems in our life. Without that intelligence, however much we may read, study, accumulate knowledge, reform, bring about little changes here and there in the pattern of society, there can be no real transformation, no lasting happiness.
Now, what does intelligence mean? I am going to find out what it means. Perhaps for some of you this is going to be difficult; but do not bother too much with trying to follow the words; try instead to feel the content of what I am talking about. Try to feel the thing, the quality of intelligence. If you feel it now, then you will, as you grow older, see more and more clearly the significance of what I have been saying.
Most of us think that intelligence is the outcome of acquiring knowledge, information, experience. By having a great deal of knowledge and experience we think we shall be able to meet life with intelligence. But life is an extraordinary thing, it is never stationary; like the river, it is constantly flowing, never still. We think that by gathering more experience, more knowledge, more virtue, more wealth, more possessions, we shall be intelligent. That is why we respect the people who have accumulated knowledge, the scholars, and also the people who are rich and full of experience. But is intelligence the outcome of the “more”? What is behind this process of having more, wanting more? In wanting more we are concerned with accumulating, are we not?
Now, what happens when you have accumulated knowledge, experience? Whatever further experience you may have is immediately translated in terms of the “more”, and you are never really experiencing, you are always gathering; and this gathering is the process of the mind, which is the centre of the “more”. The “more” is the “me”, the ego, the self-enclosed entity who is only concerned with accumulating, either negatively or positively. So, with its accumulated experience, the mind meets life. In meeting life with this accumulation of experience, the mind is again seeking the “more”, so it never experiences, it only gathers.
As long as the mind is merely an instrument of gathering, there is no real experiencing. How can you be open to experience when you are always thinking of getting something out of that experience, acquiring something more?
So the man who is accumulating, gathering, the man who is desiring more is never freshly experiencing life. It is only when the mind is not concerned with the “more”, with accumulating, that there is a possibility for that mind to be intelligent. When the mind is concerned with the “more”, every further experience strengthens the wall of the self-enclosing “me”, the egocentric process which is the centre of all conflict. You think that experience frees the mind, but it does not. As long as your mind is concerned with accumulation, with the “more”, every experience you have only strengthens you in your egotism, in your selfishness, in your self-enclosing process of thought.
Intelligence is possible only when there is real freedom from the self, from the “me”, that is, when the mind is no longer the centre of the demand for the “more”, no longer caught up in the desire for greater, wider, more expansive experience. Intelligence is freedom from the pressure of time. The “more” implies time, and as long as the mind is the centre of the demand for the “more”, it is the result of time. So the cultivation of the “more” is not intelligence. The understanding of this whole process is self-knowledge. When one knows oneself as one is, without an accumulating centre, out of that self-knowing comes the intelligence which can meet life; and that intelligence is creative.
Look at your own life. How dull, how stupid, how narrow it is, because you are not creative. When you grow up you may have children, but that is not being creative. You may be a bureaucrat, but in that there is no vitality, is there? It is dead routine, utter boredom. Your life is hedged about by fear, and so there is authority and imitation. You do not know what it is to be creative. By creativeness I do not mean painting pictures, writing poems or being able to sing. I mean the deeper nature of creativeness which, when once discovered, is an eternal source, an undying current; and it can be found only through intelligence. That source is the timeless; but the mind cannot find the timeless as long as it is the centre of the “me”, of the self, of the entity that is everlastingly asking for the “more”.
When you understand all this, not just verbally, but deep down, then you will find that with awakened intelligence there comes a creativeness which is reality, which is God, which is not to be speculated about or meditated upon. You will never get it through your practice of meditation, through your prayers for the “more” or your escapes from the “more”. That reality can come into being only when you understand the state of your own mind, the malice, the envy, the complex reactions as they arise from moment to moment every day. In understanding these things there comes a state which may be called love. That love is intelligence, and it brings a creativeness which is timeless.
From Life Ahead
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What love is not
Love is not desire. It is a great thing to find out this for oneself. And if love is not desire then what is love? Love is not mere attachment to your baby, love is not attachment in any form; love is not jealousy, ambition, fulfilment or becoming; love is not desire or pleasure. The fulfilment of desire, which is pleasure, is not love. So I have found out what love is. It is none of these things. Have I understood these elements and am I free of them? Or I just say, 'I understand intellectually, I understand verbally, but help me to go deeper'? I can't; you have to do it yourself.
The root of fear
What is fear? If we can understand the question and problem of desire then we will understand and be free from fear. ‘I want to be something’ – that is the root of fear. When I want to be something, my wanting to be something and my not being that something creates fear, not only in a narrow sense but in the widest sense. So as long as there is the desire to be something there must be fear.
Freedom from the self
Freedom from the self, and therefore the search of reality, the discovery and the coming into being of reality, is the true function of man. Religions play with it in their rituals and rigmarole – you know, the whole business of it. But if one becomes aware of this whole process, then there is a possibility for the newly awakened intelligence to function. In that, there is not self-release, not self-fulfilment, but creativeness. It is this creativeness of reality, which is not of time, that sets one free from all the business of the collective and the individual. Then one is really in a position to help create the new.
Attachment and freedom
You can never be attached to a living thing any more than you can be attached to the river or the sea because the living thing is moving, eternal, in a state of continual motion. So when you say you are attached to your son or daughter, your husband or wife, if you can very carefully look within yourself you will see that you cannot be attached to a living person because that person is constantly changing, moving, in a state of turmoil. What you are attached to is your picture of that person.
What is compassion?
Compassion is not the doing of charitable acts or social reform; it is free from sentiment, romanticism and emotional enthusiasm. It is as strong as death. It is like a great rock, immovable in the midst of confusion, misery and anxiety. Without this compassion no new culture or society can come into being. Compassion and intelligence walk together; they are not separate. Compassion acts through intelligence. It can never act through the intellect. Compassion is the essence of the wholeness of life.
What do we mean by education?
The right kind of education is not concerned with any ideology, however much it may promise a future utopia: it is not based on any system, however carefully thought out, nor is it a means of conditioning the individual in some special manner. Education in the true sense is helping the individual to be mature and free, to flower greatly in love and goodness. That is what we should be interested in, and not in shaping the child according to some idealistic pattern. The highest function of education is to bring about an integrated individual who is capable of dealing with life as a whole.
The meaning of death
Can we know and understand the full meaning of death? That is, can the mind be completely nothing, with no residue of the past? Whether that is possible or not is something we can inquire into, search out diligently, vigorously, work hard to find out. But if the mind merely clings to what it calls living, which is suffering, this whole process of accumulation, and tries to avoid the other, then it knows neither life nor death. So the problem is to free the mind from the known, from all the things it has gathered, acquired, experienced, so that it is made innocent and can therefore understand that which is death, the unknowable.
What brings disorder in relationships?
Life is a movement in relationship and in that relationship there is disorder. We must examine closely why we live in such disorder in our relationships with each other, however intimate or superficial. To understand the full meaning of relationship with each other, however close, however distant, we must begin to understand why the brain creates images. We have images about ourselves and images about others. Why is it that each one has a peculiar image and identifies himself with that image? Is the image necessary? Does it give one a sense of security? Does not the image bring about the separation of human beings?
The transformation of consciousness 1: The Challenge
If you are at all serious you have to find out whether human beings, that is you and I, can bring about a total revolution in ourselves psychologically. When you change not at a superficial level but fundamentally, you affect consciousness, because you are the world and the world is you.
The transformation of consciousness 2: The Process
How do you see the totality of something? You never see the totality of anything if there is a previous conclusion about it. So I do not know what the totality of my consciousness is. That is a fact not a supposition. Though we talk a great deal about the unconscious and the conscious, actually when you look at yourself do you see the whole content or parts of it? You only see parts of it, don't you? So the observation of the part denies the whole. If I am concentrated on my problems, my ambitions, my country, my god, I can't see the whole. I can only see the whole when I am not concerned with the part; the part is included but I am not concerned with it. Then in that perception, though there are parts, I see the totality of it, which means my mind is free to observe.
Can you listen, as the soil receives the seed, and see if the mind is capable of being free, empty? It can be empty only by understanding all its projections and activities, not off and on, but from day to day, from moment to moment. Then you will find the answer; then you will see that change comes without your asking, that the state of creative emptiness is not a thing to be cultivated – it is there, it comes darkly, without any invitation, and only in that state is there a possibility of renewal, newness and revolution.
A perception free of time
If you actually perceive the narrowness of the spirit and the increasing slavery of the mind, you will find that out of that perception comes energy. It is this energy, born of perception, that shatters the petty, respectable, fearful mind. Perception is the way of truth.
What is our responsibility in the world?
You must be well aware of what is happening in the world. There is a revolt against the established order because what is called established order is nothing very great. What has the older generation built, for which, please bear in mind, each one of us is responsible? Each one of us is responsible for every war, whether it is in the East or West. Each one of us is responsible for the confusion, misery and ugliness going on in the world. When we emphasise the individual, it is not an emphasis on the individual as opposed to society. One who is very serious is neither an individual nor concerned with society but is outside the field of individuality and the structure of society – an entirely different human being. The individual is society, and society is the individual – they are indivisible.
The art of looking, listening, learning
The art of seeing, listening, watching, is not a thing to be cultivated; it is not a question of evolution and gradual growth. When one is aware of a danger, there is immediate action, the instinctual, instantaneous response of the body and memory. From childhood, one has been conditioned that way to meet danger, so the mind responds instantly to prevent physical destruction. We are asking whether it is possible to act in the very seeing, in which there is no conditioning at all. Can a mind respond freely and instantly to any form of distortion and therefore act? That is, perception, action and expression are all one; they are not divided, broken up. The very seeing is the acting which is the expression of that seeing.
The search for meaning
Your daily living, when you look at it very deeply, has no meaning. You are striving, wanting money, position, prestige, and when you do have it, what is it? You have not found out for yourself if life has real meaning. You ask what the purpose or goal of life is, rather than the meaning. The purpose can be invented by clever people, or you can invent purpose out of your misery, confusion and conflict. But the purpose is not the meaning. The meaning is to find out for yourself by looking at yourself, the depth of your heart, the depth of your feelings, the depth of your thought.
What is our relationship to nature?
If you lose relationship with nature, you lose relationship with humanity.
Can the mind be free of conditioning?
Self-knowledge, or the learning about yourself every day, brings about a new mind. You have denied the old mind. Through self-knowledge, you have denied your conditioning totally. The conditioning of the mind can be denied only when the mind is aware of its operations, how it works, what it thinks, what it says, its motives.
There is another factor involved. We think it is a gradual process, that it will take time to free the mind from conditioning. We think that it will take days or years to uncondition our conditioned mind, gradually, day after day. This implies acquiring knowledge in order to dissipate conditioning, which means you are not learning but acquiring. A mind that is acquiring is not learning. A mind that uses knowledge to achieve a sense of liberation must have time. Such a mind thinks it must have time to free itself from its conditioning, which means it is going to acquire knowledge, and as the knowledge expands, it will become freer and freer. This is utterly false.
Through time, through the multiplication of many tomorrows, there is no liberation. There is freedom only in the denial of the thing seen immediately.
What will you do with your life?
Don’t you want to find out if it is possible to live in this world richly, fully, happily, creatively, without the destructive drive of ambition and competition? Don’t you want to know how to live so that your life will not destroy another or cast a shadow across their path? We think this is a utopian dream which can never be brought about in fact, but I am not talking about utopia; that would be nonsense. Can you and I, who are ordinary people, live creatively in this world without the drive of ambition which shows itself in various ways as the desire for power and position? You will find the right answer when you love what you are doing. If you are an engineer merely because you must earn a livelihood, or because your father or society expects it of you, that is a form of compulsion; and compulsion in any form creates contradiction and conflict. Whereas if you really love to be an engineer or a scientist, or if you can plant a tree, paint a picture, or write a poem, not to gain recognition but just because you love to do it, then you will find that you never compete with another. I think this is the real key: to love what you do.
A selection of books by Krishnamurti representing the breadth and depth of his work, edited from public talks, dialogues and his own writings.
A collection of text and visual quotations selected from books and archive transcripts at Krishnamurti Foundation Trust.
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