Krishnamurti on Health

Episode Notes

‘One has to have a very good, healthy body, and a brain that is capable of thinking rationally, healthily, objectively, efficiently, a brain that is absolutely quiet.’

This week’s episode on Health has seven sections.

The first extract is (2:46) from Krishnamurti’s seventh talk in Saanen 1970, titled ‘Yoga and health’.

The second extract (12:50) is from the second discussion in Saanen 1975, titled ‘Health implies wholeness’.

The third extract (21:35) is from the fourth question and answer meeting in Saanen 1980, titled ‘How do you meet pain?’

The fourth extract (32:19) is from Krishnamurti’s fourth talk at Brockwood Park in 1969, titled ‘Healing takes place when there is no ‘me’.

The fifth extract (35:42) is from the fourth talk in Madras 1985, titled ‘Our bodies are as misused as our brains.’

The sixth extract (46:00) is from Krishnamurti’s fourth talk in San Diego 1970, titled ‘The body has its own intelligence.’

The final extract (56:06) in this episode is from the seventh talk in Saanen 1971, titled ‘Harmony between the body, mind and heart’.

Part 1

Yoga and Health

A machine, a big dynamo that is working perfectly, ticking over, well-oiled, hardly makes any sound. It is only when there is friction, there is noise. So the brain and therefore the body, must be completely quiet. One has to find out whether your body can completely sit still, or lie still, without any movement – not force it – because the body and brain are interrelated; psychosomatically they function, not separately.

There are various practices to make the body still. Again these practices imply suppression: the body wants to get up and go away, walk, and one says, ‘No, I must sit quietly,’ and the battle begins, wanting to go out and wanting to sit still. And in this there is the whole thing called yoga.

I suppose you know the whole world is upside down, when one is concerned only with social activities, social reform, revolution, all the other things escape, or are put aside. But if you want to understand the whole business of life, you have to understand everything that is contained in it, human life, psychologically.

You will find dozens of yoga books all over the world, written by all the specialists. The word means to join together. The very word ‘join together’ is wrong, which implies duality. Therefore yoga has quite a different meaning, which we won’t go into now. Probably it was invented, this particular series of exercises and breathing, many thousands of years ago in India. It is to keep the glands, the nerves and the whole system functioning very healthily, without medicine, and keep it highly sensitive. And the body needs to be sensitive, otherwise you can’t have a very clear brain. You know, if you stuff yourself with wine, meat and all the rest of it, how can your brain function clearly? Your smoking, drugs and all the rest of it, become such superficial immediate satisfactions, without any understanding what is beyond it.

Now yoga is a certain kind of practice of exercises. Exercise, not something mysterious through exercises. One has to do it to keep the body supple. The brain has to have all the blood it needs, and therefore right breathing. You understand all these things? If I may be a little personal, we do it every day for two hours, regularly. Not the regularity of machinery – I won’t go into all that, it doesn’t matter.

So one has to have a very good, healthy, sane body, and therefore a brain that is capable of thinking rationally, healthily, objectively, non-personally, therefore efficiently, and a brain that is absolutely quiet, not mechanically made quiet. Now you can see the truth of this, the simple fact of it, that one needs to have a very good, healthy, sensitive, alert body, a brain that functions very clearly, non-emotionally, non-personally, and for such a brain to be absolutely quiet. You can see the fact of that, the simple logical fact of it. Now how is this to be brought about? How can the brain, which is so tremendously active, not only during the daytime but when you have gone to sleep, how can this brain be so completely relaxed and completely quiet? No method will do it, obviously. Please follow all this. No method. Do you see that? Because a method implies mechanical repetition, which stupefies the brain and therefore makes the brain dull. And during that dullness, you think you have marvellous experiences.

So how is this brain, which is so tremendously active, which is never still because it is always chattering to itself or with others, judging, evaluating, liking, disliking, you know, turning over all the time, how can that brain be completely still? Do you understand the importance of a brain being still, the importance? Not what the speaker says is important, but for yourself, do you see the real importance, the extraordinary importance that this brain should be completely quiet? Because the moment it acts, it can only act in response to the past. It can only act in terms of thought, and therefore again the operation of the past. And only a brain that is completely still can observe.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1970, Talk 7

Part 2

Health Implies Wholeness

What does it mean to see the whole? I don’t know. I have gone into it a great deal, but I am still saying I don’t know. So I am willing to learn. I can only learn if I have leisure. I can’t learn if I am constantly moving, constantly offering opinions, judgements, evaluations. So I am going to learn; I am going to learn what it means to apprehend – apprehend means to take hold – what is meant by ‘whole’. So I have to understand the word first. The word means sanity, health, rational, clear thinking, and also the word means holy, rational, sane, objective, in which there is no emotional, sentimental, romantic, imaginative quality at all. So I have understood that word, the meaning of that word. Now, is the mind capable of seeing the whole – the whole being health, a good body, healthy body or unhealthy body, which doesn’t distort perception? I may have cancer or a disease, diabetes or whatever it is, but that physical condition doesn’t affect the clarity of perception, it doesn’t distort. That’s why we said health. And also ‘whole’ means sanity, and that means sane thinking. Can there be sane thinking if you believe in this and that and the other, if you are nationalist, if you have faith in something? So sanity implies non-belief, non-attachment, observing clearly ‘what is’ without any distortion, and therefore such a mind is a holy mind. So we have understood the meaning of that word.

I am asking, can thought see the whole, and we said no. And we have gone into it pretty thoroughly. So I am asking myself, can there be a perception of the whole? So I have to understand, learn what it means to perceive.

I want to learn, not to be told, not to accept. I want to learn because the moment you learn, it is yours, it is finished. So I must find out what it means to learn. I can only learn if I don’t know. So I really don’t know what it means to look at something wholly. So I am going to learn. I can only learn when there is curiosity. There can only be curiosity when I don’t know and want to find out. And learning implies leisure. I must have space, I mustn’t be crowded, I mustn’t have all kinds of problems shouting at me. So I must have leisure, and I must have it to learn. And I create it to learn. I create leisure in order to learn. If I say I have no leisure because I am occupied with my family, with my job, I don’t learn. But if you want to learn, you have to create leisure. That means also curiosity. You can only be curious when you don’t know. I don’t know Russian, and I am curious to learn. So I learn.

So I am learning what it means to observe totally – curiosity and driving interest. If I want to learn something, it doesn’t matter what, technology, to be a doctor, to be a good carpenter, I must have a driving interest in it, a sustained, driving interest. All this is implied in learning. I don’t know if you are capable of it, if you want it, if you really pursue it.

Then learning implies never accumulating what you have learnt as knowledge. I wonder if you see that. What am I doing with all of you? Why are you listening to me? Are you learning something from me? I doubt it! Learning implies a driving interest, curiosity and sustained energy. All that is implied in the word ‘leisure’. Now I am saying: is there a perception which sees the whole?

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1975, Discussion 2

Part 3

How Do You Meet Pain?

Question: I have cancer and find myself in the following dilemma: should I try to let medicine save my life, even if it may mutilate me, or should I live with this illness and pain and meet the consequences, which could be death, candidly without an operation?

Krishnamurti: Do you want me to decide this? This is a very serious question. We all have illnesses, pain, physical pain, perhaps some unbearable pain. And one may have cancer, which is extraordinary, I believe – very, very painful. Now first let’s inquire into how to meet pain. Are you interested in this? How to meet pain. How do you meet pain? Look at it. You have had pain, toothache, tummy ache, various kinds of headaches: pain. Now, how do you meet it? Rush immediately to a pill? Medicine? Aspirin? So how do you meet it?

All right, let’s make it much more simple. How do you meet a noise? A train goes by – four trains during the hour that we sit here – how do you meet that noise? We are talking, thinking over together, and this train rushes by – how do you receive it? Do you resist it, or let the sound go through you, and it is gone? Which is it that you do? I am not instructing you, please. I am not your guru; you are not my followers. I am not your authority, thank God. How do you meet this tremendous noise that is so disturbing? Do you let it come without any resistance and go on? Do you do that?

Now if you have pain – and the speaker has had part of it, like every human being – do you allow it to end, or you want to end it with some medicine? Say you sit in the dentist’s chair – the speaker has done quite a bit of it – you sit in the dentist’s chair and he drills. Do you associate the pain and identify yourself with the pain? Of course, if the pain is too intense, he gives you some kind of novocaine, or whatever he gives you. But if it is not too unbearable, do you observe the pain without identifying yourself and say, ‘My God!’ Which do you do? Is it immediate identification with the pain? Or disassociation, and observing. When you have pain, you instinctively hold, if you are sitting in that chair. But if you don’t identify with the pain, you can put your hands out quietly and bear it without too much… Which means, is it possible to disassociate oneself from the actual movement of pain? Inquire into it. Don’t say it is or it is not – find out for yourself how much, how far, how deeply one can not identify: ‘I am in great pain’ – you follow?

Now, the questioner has cancer – I am sorry – and asks if he should take medicine or have an operation, or bear with it? I know people who have cancer. I have seen them, and they don’t want to go on the table to be operated. They bear with that enormous pain. Does that pain affect the brain, which has its own capacity to protect itself? I don’t know if you have gone into this; I am just pointing out. Do you understand what I am saying? If one has great, unbearable pain, the brain has its own capacity to protect itself against pain. The brain specialists are inquiring into this, finding out. I have talked to some of them – they are finding out that the brain has the capacity through chemical reactions to protect itself against. Not too much pain, but some pain. Don’t accept my word for this. The speaker has found out long ago that the brain has the capacity to protect itself against danger, against pain, against a certain amount of grief. Beyond that, the brain becomes unconscious; there is giving up.

And the questioner asks: what shall I do? How can the speaker decide this? Perhaps I can hold his or her hand for a while, but that is not going to solve the problem. Either one has a great sense of not identifying with the pain – but it is impossible when you have tremendous pain – and if one can bear without operation the extraordinary pain that one has, one must also be aware that it might injure the brain. Do you understand what I am saying? Haven’t you noticed this in yourself, that you can bear pain up to a point? Which is, the brain has the capacity to bring about chemical responses which will safeguard it against pain, but if you have too much pain, of course that is impossible.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1980, Question and Answer Meeting 4

Part 4

Healing Takes Place When There Is No ‘Me’

Most of us have had pain of some kind – intense, superficial, or pain that cannot be cured. What effect has pain on the psyche, the brain or the mind? Can the mind meditate, disassociating itself from pain? Can the mind look at the physical pain and observe it without identifying itself with that pain? If it can observe without identifying itself, then there is quite a different quality to that pain.

I do not know if you have observed that if you have a toothache or stomach ache, one can somewhat disassociate oneself. One does not have to rush to the doctor or take a pill; one observes it with detachment, with a feeling of looking at it as though one was outside it. Surely that helps the pain, doesn’t it? The more you are attached to the pain, the more intense it is. So that may help to bring about this healing, which is an important question and which can only take place when there is no ‘me’, no ego or self-centred activity. Some people have a gift for it; others come upon it because there is no ego functioning.

Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1969, Talk 4

Part 5

Our Bodies Are as Misused as Our Brains

One thing is absolutely certain, which is that we are all going to die. Whether you like it or not, that is an absolute, irrevocable fact. You and the speaker are going to die one day. I hope not in a few days, but many, many years later. So we ought to talk over together as two friends, not agreeing or disagreeing, but looking at it all, the living and the dying.

What is living? What is it that we call living? Please, this is a discussion, this is a dialogue between you and the speaker, so work it out. What do you call living? Is living this constant struggle, constant conflict, seeking power, status, position, and not being, perhaps, able to get it, and living in constant battle with oneself? And the living is what we call anxiety, attachment. Living is going to the office, whether it is the highest minister of this country or the lowest clerk, going to the office every day for fifty years of your life, from 9 to 5, being insulted, pushed around – unless you are the top executive. That is also what we call life, the responsibility of earning a livelihood with money to support your family and educate them. And the education is pretty rotten, as it is in this country, and elsewhere too, because they are merely emphasising memorising, and making them into machines. You are programming them to be mathematicians, to be engineers, to be scientists, and so on. They offer a means of livelihood, and then you spend eight hours of the day for the rest of your life, and then retire to die. This is a fact. Seeking God, seeking peace, seeking some kind of shelter, some kind of way of living that is not so utterly shallow, empty – this is what we call living.

Is it a waste of life? I am asking. We are asking each other this question. This way of living, with all the complications of that, always wanting more and more and more, this is what we call living, trying to meditate, and preparing for meditation, sitting in the right posture, breathing rightly, hoping to control your mind, your thoughts, playing with all that stuff. And our bodies are being misused as our brains.

Have you watched your own body? That is, our bodies are an extraordinary instrument, most intricate, anatomically, how through long centuries of millennia upon millennia, our bodies have been prepared through evolution. And it is the most astonishing machine, and how we neglect it! And each one of us knows this, and we neglect it, we disregard it; we never take proper exercise, yoga. I must be careful of that word – you can get hooked, hooked to the word ‘yoga’, and all the practices involved in it, and spend days and years being concerned with that, hoping to achieve some kind of… But exercise is necessary for the body. The speaker does it every morning for an hour – yoga and other forms of exercises. And we are accustomed to one kind of food, and we stick to that. You understand all this, I don’t have to go into it.

So your body, really if you have gone into it, is the most amazing instrument, like the brain. And through long usage, it wears itself out. And the organism dies when we are 90, 50, through accident, through misuse, through old age. The body, the organism may last a hundred or a hundred and ten years, but the organism comes to an end. That is what we call death.

Then we ask ourselves: what is it that lives, if I die? We know the body goes. And our life may have been wasted. Have you ever asked yourselves whether you are wasting your life? Please ask it now, and find out for yourself whether you are wasting it.

Krishnamurti in Madras 1985, Talk 4

Part 6

The Body Has Its Own Intelligence

Silence of the mind is beauty in itself. To listen to a bird, to the voice of a human being, to the politician, to the priest, to all the noise of propaganda that goes on, to listen completely silently, then you will hear much more, you will see much more.

Now, that silence is not possible if your body, the organism, is not also completely still. If your body, the organ, with all its nervous responses, all the fidgeting, the ceaseless movement of fingers, the eyes, you know, the restlessness of the body, that must be completely still. Have you ever tried sitting completely still without a single movement of the body, including the eyes? Do it sometime and you will see. You may do it for five minutes or two minutes, that’s good enough. Don’t say, ‘How am I to keep it for ten minutes or an hour?’ – don’t, that’s greed. For two minutes is enough. In those two minutes, the whole of this thing is revealed if you know how to look. So the body must be still because then the flow of the blood to the head becomes more. If you sit crouched and sloppy, then it is more difficult for the blood to go to the head.

The body has its own intelligence which the mind has spoilt. Thought has destroyed. Thought seeks pleasure, therefore tasty foods, overeating, indulging, sexually, all the ways, compelling the body to do certain things – if it’s lazy, force it not to be lazy, or take a pill to keep awake. That way we are destroying the innate intelligence of the organism. And when you do that, the organism becomes insensitive. And you need great sensitivity, therefore one has to watch what one eats – I won’t go into all that business, it is up to you. If you overeat, you know what happens. You know all the ugliness of all that. So we need a body that is highly sensitive, greatly intelligent – and therefore love, which doesn’t become pleasure, love then is enjoyment, it is joy. Pleasure always has a motive; joy has none, it is timeless. You can’t say, ‘I am joyous.’ The moment you have said it, it is gone. Or if you seek the cause of that joy, you want it repeated, and therefore it is no longer joy.

So there are these three things essential: the intelligence of the body, the capacity, the fullness of love, without the distortions of pleasure – which doesn’t mean there are no pleasures, but which doesn’t distort the mind.

You know, most of us have pain, physical pain in some form or another. And that pain generally distorts the mind, doesn’t it? ‘I wish I hadn’t it, I wish I were better’ – you know, spend years, days, thinking about it. So when the body has pain, watch it, observe it, and not let it interfere with the mind. You are following all this? Do it.

So the body, the mind, including the brain and the heart, which is supposed to be love, all that must be in total harmony. Now, what is the point of all this, what is the point of this kind of life, this kind of harmony? What good is it in this world where everybody is suffering, and one or two people have this ecstatic life? What is the point of it?

I wonder who is asking this question. If you are asking this question, ‘What is the point of it?’ it has none whatsoever. But if you have this extraordinary thing going in your life, then it is everything. Then you will become the teacher, the disciple, the neighbour, the beauty of the cloud – you are all that, and that is love.

Krishnamurti in San Diego 1970, Talk 4

Part 7

Harmony Between the Body, Mind and Heart

The mind has found that where there is silence not put together by thought and discipline, practice and all that terrible horror, but seeing, seeing that thought cannot possibly go beyond itself because it is the result of the past, and where the past is functioning it must create division and therefore conflict, sorrow and all the rest of it, seeing that and remaining completely still with that. You know, it is like being completely still with sorrow. Somebody whom you love or for whom you care, whom you have looked after, cherished, loved, been concerned with, when that person dies there is the shock of loneliness, despair, a sense of isolation; everything falls around you – in that sorrow, to remain with it, not seeking an explanation, the cause, why should he go and why not I – to remain completely still with it. To remain with it completely still is intelligence. And that intelligence can then operate in thought, using knowledge. And that knowledge and thought will not create division.

So the question arises from that: how is the mind, your mind, which is so endlessly chattering, which is so endlessly bourgeois, caught in a trap, struggling, seeking, going after the masters and gurus, and disciplining, how is that mind to be completely still?

Now, you know harmony is stillness. Harmony, not discord; harmony between the body, the heart and the mind. Complete harmony. That means the body, your body, must not be imposed upon by the mind, disciplined by the mind, disciplined by the mind when it likes a certain kind of food, tobacco, drugs, the excitement of all that, being controlled by the mind. Then it is an imposition. Whereas the body when it is sensitive, alive, has its own intelligence, not spoilt. One must have such a body, terribly alive, sensitive, active, not drugged. And also one must have a heart – not excitement, not sentiment, not emotion, not enthusiasm but that sense of fullness, you know, depth, quality, vigour. That can only be when there is love. And a mind that has immense space. Then there is harmony.

Now how is the mind to come upon this? I am sure you are all asking this. Perhaps not sitting there, but when you go home, when you walk, when you are looking – how can one have this sense of complete unity, integrity, without any sense of distortion, division, fragmentation – the body, the heart and the mind? How do you think you can have it? Now, you see the fact of this, don’t you? You see the truth of it, that you must have complete harmony in yourself, the mind, the heart, the body. It is like having a clear window, unspotted, without a scratch, unsullied. Then as you can look out through the window, you can see everything without any distortion. Now, how can you have that?

Who sees this truth? Who sees the truth that there must be this harmony, complete harmony? As we said, when there is harmony, there is silence. When one of the three becomes distorted, there is trouble, there is noise. But when the mind, the heart and the organ are completely in harmony, there is silence. Now, who sees this fact? Do you see it as an idea, as a theory, as something you should have? If you do, then it is all the function of thought. Then you will say, ‘Tell me what the system is, what kind of system I must have to get this; I will practise, I will deny, I will discipline, I will cook myself brown.’ All that is the activity of thought. But when you see the truth of this – the truth, not what ‘should be’ – when you see that is the fact, it is so, then it is intelligence that sees it. Therefore it is intelligence that will function and therefore bring about this state, not thought.

So thought is of time. Intelligence is not of time. So intelligence is immeasurable – not the scientific intelligence, not the intelligence of a technician, not the intelligence of a housewife, not the intelligence of one who knows a tremendous lot. Those are all within the field of thought and knowledge. And it is only when the mind is completely still – and it can be still; you don’t have to practise, control; it can be completely still, and when it is, there is harmony, there is vast space and silence. And it is only then the immeasurable is.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1971, Talk 7

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