Krishnamurti on Yoga
‘If you are doing yoga there must be no effort at all, no forcing the body. If you force the body it is not yoga.’
This week’s episode on Yoga has six sections.
The first extract (2:30) is from the fourth talk at Brockwood Park in 1972, titled ‘The origins of yoga’.
The second extract (5:36) is from the fourth talk in Amsterdam 1971, titled ‘Which is more important, a healthy body or a healthy mind?’
The third extract (12:23) is from Krishnamurti’s fourth discussion at Brockwood Park School in 1970, titled ‘Yoga without effort or control’.
The fourth extract (24:45) is from the first question and answer meeting at Brockwood Park in 1979, titled ‘Can yoga awaken deeper energy, called kundalini?’
The fifth extract (35:25) is from Krishnamurti’s third talk in Ojai 1985, titled ‘The highest form of yoga’.
The final extract in this episode (42:28) is from the sixth talk in Ojai 1980, titled ‘There is only one yoga’.
The Origins of Yoga
There is the fashionable thing now – yoga. You know all about it, don’t you? Yoga means, as it is translated now, joining, yoking two separate things together. I am sure it had quite a different meaning at the beginning. Yoga probably meant harmony, not bringing two things together, the soul and the body and the atman – you know all the rest of it.
I once saw at a station in India a beggar doing yoga most beautifully. They were throwing coins to him from the railway carriages. He was doing the most complicated yoga with the greatest of ease. And that yoga has been brought to the Western world to make people healthy, happy, young, find God – everything is involved in it now.
Originally, from what I have been told, there was a certain weed, a certain leaf in the Himalayas which only very few people chewed, and it kept their brains and minds tremendously alert. As the vine or bush disappeared, they had to invent a system called yoga which kept all the glands perfectly healthy, operating efficiently. And that is how yoga came into being, which is exercises.
Also in it is involved a way of life, not just doing some silly little exercises, a way of life in which there are no drugs, there is morality, all the rest of it.
Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1972, Talk 4
Which Is More Important, a Healthy Body or a Healthy Mind?
Krishnamurti: Are you saying that I am making yoga ridiculous?
Q: Yes sir.
K: You know, yoga means unity of perception – I’m not making it ridiculous – unity of perception. And there are various forms of yoga, from what one has heard in India. Part of that yoga is exercises, what they call asanas, postures, which are to keep the body perfectly healthy. The postures, the yogic exercises are meant to cultivate and keep healthy the various glands. And in that, man naturally has given great deal of meaning. That is, you must practise yoga, exercise often, clearly, stand on your head, all the rest of it.
If I may be little bit personal – I hope you don’t mind – I do it every day for an hour and a half. Therefore I can’t be ridiculing it. I do it not to attain enlightenment, to see something greater than the mind; the speaker does it purely for exercise.
You know, once we were travelling in India on a train and we came to a station. And just outside that station, which was very dirty, on a dirty little field, a man was doing perfect yoga, standing on head, doing the whole thing so beautifully. He was thin as a rake and doing it perfectly. And people were throwing coins to him. He was a beggar.
You see, a mind that may be stupid, vulgar, petty can do yoga, breathe, all the things, you know, perfectly, stand on your head superbly, sit in a perfect posture, but the mind will still be shoddy, will still be envious. So which is more important, to keep the body perfectly healthy, which is necessary, or to have a mind that is full of delight and clarity and does yoga too? Whereas most of us want physical perfection – do yoga and become young. So we are not ridiculing it; we are showing the whole picture.
Yoga also says control, do various things. And if you never read a book, if you had to find out entirely everything by yourself – and you have to because you have to stand alone because a mind that is completely alone, only such a mind can meet that which is not contaminated.
Q: But how to reach there? There is a Mount Everest, we all see it, but how to get it there?
K: We see Mount Everest and it is easy to climb, or rather difficult, but we don’t see the other – how do we get there? First by denying everything man has put together and foisted on you. Because unless one understands oneself, which we went into yesterday, knowing oneself, knowledge becomes an impediment to reality. There is no system to get there. If there was a system and you practised it, your mind would become mechanical.
Krishnamurti in Amsterdam 1971, Talk 4
Yoga Without Effort or Control
If you are doing yoga, there must be no effort at all, no forcing the body at all. If you force the body, it is not yoga. So to do something without effort – it doesn’t matter if you take a week to touch the floor. Standing straight without bending the knees, to touch the floor take a week or longer but don’t make an effort. The moment you make an effort you are forcing the muscles, therefore the muscles become taut, become distorted. Whereas you say, ‘All right, I am going to do this thing very slowly, take time, give attention to it.’
So, I want to live a life without any control – sexually, pleasure; the whole of life to be without control but yet highly disciplined because I see any form of control implies effort. That is the thing first you must understand before you understand meditation; that is why I am talking a great deal about it. Effort: I must get up, I am lazy, I must force the body, I must go for a walk, it is good for it, I must drive it, I must not be angry – all the musts and should imply control. Control implies suppression, conformity to a pattern, whether that pattern be the social pattern or a pattern which you yourself have developed in order to do something. Freedom implies freedom itself, not freedom from something. Therefore, to live a life which is completely free, and that means no control.
Can you live a life here in this place, daily, without any control, and yet be punctual for your meals – get up at the right time so as to do your exercise, whatever you do, study, without the least effort? Effort implies duality, contradiction, wanting, not wanting, and therefore distortion. So the mind that lives without effort is a mind that has no distortion whatsoever. Therefore, no nationality, no belief in any organised religion, or the beliefs which religious organisations have imposed on man for thousands of years.
So unless you really understand very clearly what it means to make effort, what is involved in effort, meditation becomes a process of control and direction. That is not meditation at all. So first understand that, what it means, what the implications of effort and control are. You know what is implied? First, there is a controller and the thing to be controlled. The controller thinks it is more intelligent than the thing to be controlled, more beneficial, more profitable, it will lead to greater happiness, and so on, so on, so on. Therefore it says, ‘I must control.’ In control is involved suppression. I control my anger. That means I suppress my anger and so anger returns. When you suppress something, it is there, and it will come out when you are not watching it.
So control implies direction, division, suppression and imitation. I control in order to achieve something. Therefore, in that is involved the whole problem of time: I will achieve something in the future. Unless this is very clear, what is implied in control, your trying to meditate is a form of distraction. Then it is a form of self-hypnosis. So first we must discuss what is implied in control; we must learn together what is implied. Communication means together – together learning, together working, together creating. So here we are trying to learn together. I am not trying to tell you what to do – that would be fatal because then you will copy it and therefore you begin to suppress what you think, what you feel, and you will imitate. So, all that implies effort.
Now, here we all trying to learn together what is implied in control. We are not saying it is right or wrong, good or bad; we are learning what is implied in it, what the significance of it is, what the meaning of it is. And all human beings are brought up to control. From childhood they are told don’t do this, do that, must be this, should be that. So they are trained from childhood to control and so the mind is conditioned to control. And so when the mind is told no control it says, ‘All right, I will do what I want.’ Which is, what it wants to do is still within the pattern of its own conditioning, therefore it is not free. So I have to learn the implications of control. I am not going to say, ‘I am going to do what I like,’ but I am learning, therefore I am watching. The moment I watch, either I watch in order to control, or I watch in order to learn. What is it you are doing now? Are you listening, watching to learn, or to control?
You are conditioned to control, aren’t you? Are you aware of it? What are you going to do about it when you hear somebody come along and say, ‘What an extraordinary… why do you live that way – control, control – what for?’
Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1970, Discussion 4
Can Yoga Awaken Deeper Energy, Called Kundalini?
Question: Will the practice of yoga as it is being done in Europe and America help to bring about a spiritual awakening? Is it true that yoga will awaken deeper energy, which is called kundalini?
Krishnamurti: From the sublime to the ridiculous! The so-called yoga which the West and part of the East, in India, was invented around the seventeenth and eighteenth century, the exercises, in order not only to have a very good, healthy body, through force, through discipline, through control, in order to awaken so-called higher energy. Seventeenth, eighteenth century. The real yoga, which is called Raja Yoga, king of yogas, is to lead a highly moral life. Not morality according to circumstances, according to culture, but true ethical activity in life – not to hurt, not to drink, not to drug yourself, the right amount of sleep, the right amount of food, clear thinking, and acting morally, doing the right thing – I won’t go into all that, what is right and wrong. As far as I understand, after talking with a great many scholars, they never mentioned exercise. They say exercise normally, walk, swim, all that, but their emphasis was a very moral life, a mind which is active.
And modern yoga – the meaning of the word you all probably know, I have talked to the scholars too, and they say it doesn’t quite mean that, which is to join. The meaning of the word yoga is to join, join the higher with the lower, or the lower with the higher. Modern yoga – I don’t know why I am talking about all this nonsense – I don’t know why they call it yoga; it should be called just exercise, but that wouldn’t appeal to you! You have to pay money to learn yoga, to breathe properly and all that. You can practise yoga, the exercises of different kinds. The speaker has done some of it for years, taught by the experts. Fortunately they didn’t charge because they also thought I was an expert! Sorry. I am not an expert, and so they soon deserted me. Or I deserted them. You can do this kind of yoga exercise for the rest of your life; you won’t awaken spiritual insight, nor will the awakening of a higher energy come into being.
You know, in the East they have a word for this, called kundalini. Some of you probably have read or been caught in that word. But most people, as far as I have discussed with them, who have gone into this matter very deeply, they are always quoting somebody else, back to the original mischief maker. Sorry! And none of them – please believe me, none of them – have awakened this thing. They talk about it; they have certain experiences which they call by this name. I have discussed with them very seriously and what they are talking about is a certain form of increasing energy – to do more mischief. I mean that. By eating the right food, by control, by breathing properly, etc., etc., etc., you have more energy, naturally, and that gives you a sense of superiority, that you are enlightened and so on.
But there is a different form of yoga – I won’t go into it because you are all eager; I am not touching it! – that can only happen when the self is not. Then there is a totally different kind of energy to keep the mind fresh, young, alive, and that can only come when there is absolutely no sense of the self. Obviously, because the self, the ‘me’, the centre, is in constant conflict – wanting, not wanting, creating dualities, opposing desires – this constant struggle that’s going on. As long as that struggle is going on, there is a wastage of energy, obviously. When that struggle is not, there is a totally different kind of energy taking place.
There is the story of a man, a philosopher or a patriarch, who was a well-known teacher. A disciple comes to him and said, ‘Master, teach me how to meditate.’ The disciple sits up in the right position, you know, and closed his eyes and begins to breathe very deeply, trying to capture the higher webs and vibrations and all the rest of it. So the master picks up two pieces of stone and rubs them. And keeps on rubbing them. And the disciple opens his eyes and says, ‘Master, what are you doing?’ He said, ‘I am trying to make out of these stones a mirror so that I can look at myself.’ And the disciple says, ‘Master, you can never do that.’ He says, ‘In the same way, my friend, you can sit like that and breathe like that forever, but you will never…’ – got it?
Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1979, Question and Answer Meeting 1
The Highest Form of Yoga
Everybody seems to be terribly interested in yoga. They want to keep young and beautiful. Shall we begin with that? I thought you would be interested in it! Yoga has now become a business affair like everything else. There are teachers of yoga all over the world, and they are coining money, as usual.
Yoga at one time, I’ve been told by those who know about this a great deal, was only taught to the very, very, very few. Yoga doesn’t mean merely to keep your body healthy, normal, active, intelligent, it also means – the meaning of that word in Sanskrit means ‘join together’. Joining the higher and the lower. I don’t know who joins it, but that is the tradition. And also there are various forms of yoga, but the highest form is called Raja Yoga, which is the king of yogas. That system, or that way of living was concerned not merely with physical wellbeing but also, much more strictly, psychologically. There was no discipline, no system, nothing to be repeated day after day, but to have a brain that is in order, that is all the time active but not chattering, but active. The speaker is interpreting all this; probably they wouldn’t tell you all this. The speaker has talked to various scholars and pundits and real yoga teachers. There are very few of them now.
So to have a very deeply orderly, moral, ethical life, not just merely take various postures but to lead a very moral, ethical, disciplined life, that was the real meaning of the highest form of yoga. Thereby you kept the body healthy. The body was not of primary importance. What was of primary importance was to have a brain, a mind, a wellbeing, that is clear, active – not in the sense of movement but in itself active, alive, full of vitality. But now it has become rather shallow, profitable and is becoming mediocre. The speaker was taught many years ago something that could not be taught to another. Let’s leave it at that, shall we? Is that enough talk about yoga?
Questioner: Could you go into it more?
Krishnamurti: Or you want me to tell you what I was taught? I’m sorry, I can’t tell you. It is not to be taught to the casual. It is something that you do, perhaps every day as the speaker does for an hour, to have perfect control of your body, so that you are watchful – I won’t use the word ‘control’ but to watch your body, not make any movement, any gesture which is not observed. There is no unnecessary movement of the body. But it is not controlled – that is where the difference is.
May we drop that subject and go on to something else? I know you are reluctant because perhaps you consider yoga to be something to be practised day after day to develop your muscles, have a muscular body. It is not that at all; it is something you live all day long, something you watch, observe, be clear about.
Krishnamurti in Ojai 1985, Talk 3
There Is Only One Yoga
So meditation is not something you practise. It is the understanding of the whole movement of life – the sorrow, the pain, the anxiety, the aggression, the loneliness. Otherwise, if the mind isn’t free of all that, your meditation is worthless.
You know, these gurus that have come from India have brought over their many, many forms of systems, superstitions and concepts. There is the Tibetan meditation, the Zen meditation, the meditation to awaken – I am just using their phraseology; don’t jump on me – meditation to awaken their kundalini. Various forms of yoga. Yoga, the real meaning of that word, is to join. That is, to join, according to them, the lower material existence to the highest.
The practices of yoga – you know, you breathe, take various postures and all that – was invented about the seventeenth or eighteenth century by a man or a group of people who wanted occult powers. Which is, through control, through forcing, through direction, they said through this we might awaken extra sensory perception. I am putting it into modern words. And they have been practising it. But there is only one yoga, which is called Raja Yoga, in which there is no practice, no artificial exercises – walking, swimming, natural, and a tremendously moral life in which there is integrity. That is real yoga, not this thing that you play along with.
When you understand the nature of a system in meditation, you understand all the systems, whether it is the Tibetan, Zen, or your own particular kind of native guru – not the imported gurus but your own native ones – if you understand one system of theirs, you have understood all the systems with regard to meditation. Which is, they are based essentially on control, concentration, practice. Do this and that every day, that is, including Zen, to make the mind more and more dull, which is to repeat, repeat, repeat.
These gurus also come along and give you what they call a mantra. You have heard about all this; I am sorry you are burdened by all this business. The word ‘mantra’ means, the root of it – ‘man’, ‘tra’ – two different words – the first word, ‘man’, means meditate or ponder over not becoming. Not to become something. ‘Tra’ means to put away all self-centred activity. Mantra means meditate or ponder over, be concerned with, not becoming. Don’t become anything. You may become something in the material world, but don’t become inwardly anything. And if you have any self-centred activity, put away that. That is the real meaning of that, and look what they have reduced it to.
So systems, whether Tibetan, Burmese, Zen, Hindu or Christian, when there is a repetition, which means you repeat hoping to achieve something, and that system is invented by your guru, or your super-guru and so on, and you merely follow. That is, follow some authority. Therefore your mind becomes infantile, narrow, mechanical, without any substance behind it. So when you understand one system – finished. You don’t have to go to Japan to understand Zen Buddhism, or go to India, or all the rest of it.
The word ‘Zen’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘dhyana’. It went first after the Buddhist period, or during the Buddhist period, to China. A monk carried it there. And as the Chinese and the Japanese probably couldn’t pronounce ‘dhya’, they turned it into ‘Zen’. And that has become almost sacred!
So meditation is the ending: the ending of your greed, the ending of your attachment.? Because then only the mind is free; then only the mind has no problems. It is only such a mind that can go beyond the mind with its consciousness. The consciousness is made up of all the content. The content makes consciousness: your greed, your envy, your anxiety, your loneliness, your beliefs, your attachments, your pursuit of safety – all that – your violence – is the content of our consciousness. And to go beyond, to find out, or rather, to see, to observe if there is something beyond all this, the mind must be completely free of all its content. This is rational, this is not illogical. Then the mind is empty. Emptiness is full of energy. That they are also saying, the scientists. When the mind is empty, there is nothing. Nothing, which means not a thing created by thought. Such a mind, being empty, that mind is full of energy. You don’t know about it. Don’t go into it. Unless you have done all the other things, it is just a lot of words.
Then is there something beyond energy? What is the origin of energy? Not God – all that has been set aside completely. Is there something beyond this energy, the origin of this energy? There is if a mind is totally empty, knows compassion and love. Such a mind will come upon it.
Krishnamurti Ojai 1980, Talk 6