Krishnamurti on Light

Episode Notes

‘When you are a light to yourself you are a light to the world, because the world is you and you are the world.’

This week’s episode on Light has five sections.

The first extract (2:45) is from Krishnamurti’s second talk in Madras 1965, titled ‘Observation and light go together’.

The second extract (20:54) is from the first question and answer meeting at Brockwood Park in 1981, titled ‘Can I be a light to myself?’

The third extract (32:44) is from Krishnamurti’s sixth talk in Saanen 1979, titled ‘A light not kindled at another’s lamp’.

The fourth extract (51:17) is from the seventh talk in Saanen 1976, titled ‘When you are a light to yourself, you are a light to the world’.

The final extract in this episode (1:10:17) is from the fourth talk in Amsterdam 1968, titled ‘In the light of silence’.

Part 1

Observation and Light Go Together

To resolve a problem, one must see the problem very clearly. Clarity and observation are necessary. To observe, there must be clarity, light – artificial light or sunlight. Outwardly, if you would see a leaf clearly, you need light and you must visually observe it. It is fairly easy to observe a leaf objectively, given a light, artificial or otherwise. But it becomes much more complex when you go inwardly, where one also needs clarity to observe. We may wish to observe the whole phenomenon of human beings – his sorrows his miseries, his everlasting conflict within himself; the greed, the despairs, the frustrations, the mounting problems, not only mechanical but human. There, too, one needs clarity, which is light, to see this mechanism within the human being.

To observe, choice is not necessary. When you see something very clearly, as you do this microphone or that tree or your neighbour sitting next to you, there choice is not necessary; conflict is not necessary. What brings about conflict within and without is when we do not see clearly, when our prejudices, our nationalities, our peculiar tendencies and so on block clarity, prevent light. And when there is light, you can observe.

Observation and light go together, otherwise you cannot see. You cannot see that tree, the trunk, the sides, the nature of it, the curve of it, the beauty of it and the quality of it unless there is a great deal of light. And your observation must be attentive. You may casually look at that trunk and pass it by. But you have to look at it, to observe it in detail, carefully, with a great deal of care and affection and tenderness; only then can you observe.

Then, observation with clarity needs no choice. I think we must understand this very clearly because we are going to go into problems or issues that need a great deal of observation, a great deal of detailed perception, seeing, listening.

We always deal with symptoms – like war, which is a symptom – and we think we understand the symptoms if we examine the cause or understand the cause. So between the symptom and the cause, we are everlastingly vacillating, backward and forward, not knowing how to deal with the cause. And even if we know how to deal with the cause, there are innumerable blocks, innumerable influences that prevent action.

So our issue then becomes very simple: to see very clearly, you need a great deal of light. And the light does not come except through observation, when you can see minutely every movement of your thought, of your feeling. And to see clearly, there must be no conflict, no choice.

We have to find a way of living in which war, inwardly or outwardly, is totally abolished. It is a strange fact, a phenomenon, that in a country like this which has preached for millennia, ‘Don’t hate, don’t kill, be gentle, be non-violent,’ there has not been one individual who has stood for what he thinks is right – which is not to kill – who has swum against the current and gone, if necessary, to prison or got shot. Please think about it, and you will see what an extraordinary thing it is, how much it reveals that not one of you said, ‘I won’t kill,’ not whisper to each other, ‘War is wrong, what is one to do?’ but say it out loud and if necessary go to prison, be shot and killed! Then you will say, ‘What will that solve?’ It solves nothing, but at least you are behaving; your conduct then is dictated by affection, by love, not by an idea. Do think about this in your spare time, why you have not stood for something which you have felt in your heart. Your scriptures, your culture, everything has said, ‘Be gentle, don’t kill another.’ It indicates – does it not? – that we live on ideas and words. But the word or the explanation is not the fact. The fact is: there is conflict within and war without.

There have been two and a half wars every year in the recorded history of man. The first woman must have cried and hoped that would be the last war – and we are still going on with wars. Here in the south, you may feel perfectly safe and say, ‘Let them fight it out in the north,’ or, ‘Let them fight in Vietnam, let others weep,’ as long as you are safe. But this is your problem, a human problem: how to bring about a change in the human mind and heart.

As we were saying, this problem, like every other problem, with its symptoms and causes, can never be solved unless we enter into a different area, a different field altogether. Inwardly, human beings have been caught in this wheel of everlasting suffering, conflict, misery, and they have always tried to solve it in relation to the present, in relation to the social, environmental, religious conditions. They have always dealt with the symptoms or tried to discover the causes, which means resistance. And when you resist, there is still conflict.

So, the problems which every human being has, with their symptoms, with their causes, cannot be solved unless each human being moves to a different dimension altogether, to a different inquiry. And that is what we propose to do. We know there are wars. We know that as long as there are sovereign governments, politicians, geographical divisions, armies, nationalism, religious divisions – Muslim, Hindu, this or that – you are going to continue wars, even though computers are coming in to tell you, ‘Don’t do it; it is no longer profitable to kill somebody else for your country.’ Computers, the electronic brains, are going to dictate what you should or should not do, and your activity is altogether different when a machine dictates.

So our problem then is: is it possible to look and to live and to understand all these problems from a different area altogether, from a different field, from a different dimension? Please don’t draw a conclusion: God, inner self, higher self or the atman. All those words have no meaning at all because you have had them for thousands of years. All your scriptures have talked about them, and yet you, as a human being, are in conflict, in misery; you are at war outwardly and inwardly. The war inward is competition, greed, envy, trying to get more – the battle is going on everlastingly within you. And you try to answer these problems, these symptoms, by trying to find out their causes and hoping by some chance to resolve those causes – the communist’s way of doing it, the socialist’s way of doing it, or the religious way of doing it. But the fact is that the human being has never, except perhaps for one or two, resolved the problem of conflict.

To understand this problem, we must have a different mind – not this stale, dead mind. The mind is always active about symptoms, answering the symptoms and saying that it has resolved the problem. We need a new mind, a new mind that sees, and it can only see when there is light – which means a mind that has nowhere, consciously or unconsciously, any residue of conflict. Because it is this conflict within that brings darkness.

Krishnamurti in Madras 1965, Talk 2

Part 2

Can I Be a Light to Myself?

If I cannot depend on anybody to heal my wounds, my state of psychological health, I have to look to myself. I cannot depend on anybody. When I say that, am I frightened? Please inquire with me into this question. When I say to myself, ‘I must stand alone, nobody can help me’ because I have realised, I have been through various gurus, studied, prayed, meditated, and at the end of it all, I am what I have been when I started. So logically, sanely, I observe that nobody can help me. It is not that I become cynical; it is a fact.

Am I willing to stand alone? I need companionship, I need to talk to somebody, but they are not going to become my gurus. They will be my friends, and I will talk about it. But I realise deeply I cannot depend. I depend on the postman, the milkman and so on, but inwardly there is no dependence because I realise also that attachment, which is to give myself over to a guru, that very attachment leads to corruption. I don’t know if you have noticed this: any form of attachment, to any person, to any belief, to any ideas, to any country and so on must inevitably breed corruption. So I realise all that. So what am I to do?

Can I be a light to myself? I am not a light to myself now; I am a confused entity. Personally, I am not – we are talking about it together. I am a confused entity, and you tell me, ‘Be a light to yourself. I understand that very well, logically, intellectually, but I am not a light to myself because I am terribly confused, deeply wounded, unhealthy psychologically. I am unbalanced, neurotic, romantic, sentimental. So I take all that in. I am all that. So what am I to do?

To study myself, I must have a book about myself, and you are willing to give me that book. And I refuse that book because what you write is myself. You are writing out of your confusion, like most psychiatrists. Sorry, I hope there aren’t any here! So I have to have a mirror in which I can see myself.

I hope you are following all this. We are talking together. We are investigating the question. I have to have a mirror in which I can see exactly what is going on, and no hardware store is going to supply that mirror, no shop, no guru. I have pushed aside all that. So I must have a mirror in which I see myself accurately, without any distortion. What is that mirror? We are inquiring, please – I am not telling you; we are inquiring. That mirror is relationship, relationship with my neighbour or with my wife. That is the only relationship I have. In that relationship, which is the mirror, I see myself as I am: jealous, anxious, frightened, possessive, attached, hurt, anxious. The more I am anxious, the more I am attached – my family becomes all important. So in that whole relationship, I begin to see myself accurately as I am: my sexual demands, my arrogance, my vanity, the ugliness of what I am. Or I assume that I am extraordinarily beautiful – but the mirror shows me I am not!

So what is shown in the mirror is far more important than what I should be. The mirror doesn’t show me what I should be. That is the beauty of that mirror. That mirror shows me exactly what I am. I may turn away from it, I may escape from it, which we generally do, but if I say to myself, ‘Nobody can help me,’ then I am looking at that mirror, and that mirror is showing ‘what is’ not ‘what should be’. And perhaps I don’t like ‘what is’. And the psychologist and others say, ‘Express yourself as you are, immediately,’ and again I depend. So I am all the time aware that people are trying to brainwash me according to their own pattern, and I refuse. And I begin then to have a great deal of vitality, naturally. I see ‘what is’ not ‘what should be’, which is the future. I see exactly the present. The present, what I am, in that mirror of relationship. What I see is me; I am not different from what is shown there. That which is seen is me; I am not different from that. That is clear, obviously, but my thought says, ‘No, I am different from that. I won’t accept that.’ That thought says, ‘I am different, so I must control it, I must shape it.’ So the battle begins. The battle begins: the struggle, the conflict, all the travail that goes on when I refuse to acknowledge actually what is shown in the mirror. What is shown in the mirror is me; I am not different from that. That is a tremendous realisation because thought is always saying, ‘You are different, you know more,’ and so on. So there is a division between that which is seen in the mirror and that which thought has accumulated in the past, which is the observer, the witness, the seer.

Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1981, Question and Answer Meeting 1

Part 3

A Light Not Kindled at Another’s Lamp

One of the main reasons for the ugliness in the world is that all of us, most human beings, probably 99%, are fragmented, broken up. When one realises this, that one is in a state of fragmentation, one is cognisant of it, aware without any choice – it is so. It is not that the speaker is imposing this on you, but it is a fact. And can that mind which is fragmented, can that heart which is also caught up in various romantic, emotional, sentimental, illusory nonsense, can that mind ever come to this, to find a solution that is everlasting?

How shall we find it? Is it dependent on another? Follow this carefully. Can another, however much he may think he is lord and this, that and the other, can another lead you or help you to that? Please ask this question. Can a group, can a community, can a series of ideas or conclusions help you to that? Or one must be a light to oneself. Not the light which has been kindled at the other’s lamp or candle or fire.

Are you following this? Please, give your heart to understand all this. Which means not only your heart, your mind, your brain.

Freedom is not acting according to whatever you like – that is too childish, which is what is happening in the world because everybody is doing what they want. And any prevention, any restraint on that is considered a lack of fulfilment. Therefore permissiveness in every direction, religiously, socially, morally, is encouraged. And this permissiveness, that is, doing exactly what one likes, or saying, ‘It appeals to me, I feel good in that,’ denies freedom. We are talking psychologically, not freedom from law, from the policeman, from taxes, but freedom from the dependence on another psychologically, because the other, when he instructs you from his knowledge, from his position, from his status, that knowledge is still part of ignorance because knowledge can never be complete. Therefore it is always part of ignorance. Right? I wonder if you see that. Of course.

Knowledge can never be whole, can never be complete, total, and therefore in it there is ignorance. When you realise that, when you see that, that you cannot possibly… in matters of the spirit, in matters of the psyche, in the matters of deep religious inquiry, there is completely no dependence on anybody. That is freedom, with its responsibility to be a light to oneself. Are we like that? Because we are going together to find out, please, find out for ourselves, not at the behest of another, not stimulated by another, not encouraged by another, but find out for oneself totally, completely, which is not egotistic, so that one can be a light to oneself.

Are we together in this? Not agreeing, not being cornered in a tent, and therefore you are forced to agree or being stimulated by the speaker with his intensity – if you are, then it is just a flame that can be blown out by the next wind.

So having said all this, is your mind – your mind being your brain, your senses, the quality of thinking, knowing its limitation, being prepared – not prepared, I won’t use the word ‘prepared’ because preparation implies time – that is one of our pet theories, that we need time to be a light to oneself – are our minds after listening to all this, even though you are listening for the first time – and it is when you are actually listening for the first time that you are really paying attention. You know, it is like looking at the sunset or the sunrise: the beauty and the extraordinary light is never the same. You can see it day after day, day after day, month after month, and you never say, ‘Well, I have seen it once, it is enough.’ If we have paid attention to what has been said – and what is being said is not a repetition – beauty is never that which is constantly happening, it is always new. A marvellous classical painting, or if you listen to music, it is new all the time. But our minds get so dulled by words and by the repetition of words, we say, ‘I am bored with it. You have said all that before.’ But if you listen, there is always something new, like the sunset, like the evening star, like the waters of a river.

We are asking you – together – if our minds and therefore our hearts, our whole being, senses, the quality of the senses which are not divided, which are together, and thought and thinking, knowing that it is limited, fragmented, always of time, and a brain that is the result of millennia, conditioned, full of memories, knowledge, experience, like a computer – but of course it is much more capable than a computer; the brain has invented the computer, but the brain also is active like a computer – so we are saying the whole of this, can we inquire with this quality of mind? Or just be in a state of observation, just to observe without the observer. Because the observer is the past, the observer is the result of all the experience, senses, responses, reactions, memories – he is that. To observe without the observer, so that there is only pure observation, not distorted, not broken up, not the result of choice, like and dislike, you know, just to observe.

Then in that state of pure observation, is there one act, one insight, one total perception of something that will resolve all these problems? There is. Now, careful! The speaker says there is. You know nothing about it, naturally. If you are aware of it, you wouldn’t be here. The speaker says – and please listen carefully – it is not authority, it is not the result of experience, it is not the result of accumulated knowledge, it is none of that. The speaker says there is a solution, a way out of all this terrible confusion and misery and fear, torture and terror. So don’t accept it.

Where are you at the end of this? Please, I am asking this, the speaker is asking this very seriously. We have talked for twenty minutes, an hour, forty minutes, fifty minutes – at the end of it, what is the quality of your mind that is capable of receiving something? You say, ‘Yes,’ and the ‘yes’ is your own discovery, your own light, your own total attention which you have given to find this out.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1979, Talk 6

Part 4

When You Are a Light to Yourself, You Are a Light to the World

I am not telling you how to meditate – that is too silly, too infantile. Because one of the first things is that one must be free, to be completely a light to oneself. A light to oneself. This light cannot be given by another, nor can you light it at the candle of another. If you light it at the candle of another, it is just a candle; it can be blown out. But whereas if we could find out what it means to be a light to oneself then that very investigation of it is partly meditation.

So we are going together to investigate first what it means to be a light to oneself and see how extraordinarily important it is to have this light. We are so accustomed, and our conditioning is to accept authority – the authority of the priest, the authority of a book, the authority of a guru, the authority of someone who says he knows, and so on. In all spiritual matters, if I may use that word ‘spiritual’, in all those matters there must be, and there should be, no authority whatsoever because otherwise you cannot be free, you cannot be free to investigate, to find out for yourself what meditation means.

So if you are really deeply interested in this question, because this question – meditation, not how to meditate, that is again too childish, but the movement of meditation, the act of meditation, the flow of meditation – to discover what it means, this question of authority, that is, to find out from another what and how to meditate, is one of the questions of authority. Where there is authority, there can be no freedom. As in the tyrannical world of dictatorship, the totalitarian state, there is no freedom, in the same way, there is no freedom from authority. That is, the word ‘authority’ means one who originates something. The author, the word ‘author’ comes from ‘the one who begins something, originates something’, and the rest of the people follow it, make it into an authority, and then it is dead. So one must be very careful if you really want to go into this question of meditation, to be completely, wholly, inwardly free from all authority, from all comparison. I don’t know if you can do it, including that of the speaker – especially that of the speaker, that is me, because if you follow what he says, it is finished.

Therefore one must be extremely aware of the importance of authority in one direction, that is the doctor, the scientist, all the rest of it, and understand the total unimportance of authority inwardly. Whether it is the authority of another, which is fairly easy to throw off, or whether it is the authority of your own experience, knowledge, conclusions, which becomes your authority, which then becomes your prejudice. So one must be equally free from the authority of another, and also one must be free from conclusions, which become one’s own authority, from one’s own experience – we shall go into that word ‘experience’ presently – free from one’s own understanding, ‘I understand, therefore I am right.’ All those are forms of authority. You understand how difficult this is going to be if you really want to go into this extraordinary complex question. Otherwise you can never be a light to yourself. When you are a light to yourself, you are a light to the world, because the world is you and you are the world. I wonder if you see that.

So that is the first thing to understand: that there is no one to guide you, no one to tell you that you are progressing, no one to tell you that or to encourage you. You have to stand completely alone in meditation. Do you understand what it means? And this light can only come to yourself when you understand or investigate into yourself what you are. That is self-awareness, to know what you are – not according to psychologists, not according to some philosophers, not according to the speaker, but to know, to be aware of your own nature, of your own structure, of your own thinking, feeling – find out the whole structure of it. Therefore self-knowing becomes extraordinarily important. Not the description given by another, but actually ‘what is’, what you are, not what you think you are or what you think you should be, but what actually is going on. You know how difficult that is? Have you ever tried it? To be aware actually what is taking place, inside, inside the skin as it were.

We observe through the knowledge of the past, so what you have acquired as an experience, or what you have gathered from another, with that knowledge you examine, therefore you are examining yourself from the background of the past. Therefore you are not actually observing ‘what is’. So there must be freedom to observe. And then in that observation, the whole structure and the nature of oneself begins to unroll.

Are you following all this? Please give, for this morning at least, an hour’s attention. Very few people will tell you all this – they have self-interest, they want to form organisations, groups – you follow? – the whole structure of that business. So please, if you don’t mind, give your complete attention to what is being said.

So to understand oneself there must be observation, and that observation can only take place now. The now is not the movement of the past which observes the now. See the difference? I can observe the now from the past, from my past conclusions, prejudices, hopes, fears and all the rest of it, which is the observation from the past of the present, and think I am observing the now. But the observation of the now can only take place when there is no observer who is the past. So observation of the now becomes extraordinarily important. As we said the other day, the movement of the past, meeting the present must end there. That is the now. But if you allow it to go on, then the now becomes the future or the past, but never the actual now. I hope you understand all this.

So observation can only take place in the now, in the very doing of it when you are angry, when you are greedy – to observe it as it is. Which means not to condemn it, not to judge it, but to watch it and let it flower and disappear. You understand the beauty of it? We are accustomed, traditionally we are educated to suppress or to move within a certain direction. What we are saying is to observe your anger, greed, your sexual demands, whatever it is, and to observe without the past so that the anger flowers and disappears, withers away. And when you do that, you will never be angry again. I don’t know if you have ever done these things, but do it sometime and you will discover it for yourself. To allow, through observation in which there is no choice, just to observe your greed, your envy, your jealousy, whatever it be, in the very observation of it, it is flowering and undergoing a radical change. The scientists are saying that too: when you examine through a microscope, in the very act of observation of the cell or whatever it is, it undergoes a change. The very observation without the background brings about a change.

So, to be aware of oneself without any choice, and to see what is actually happening in the now, is to allow the whole movement of the self, the ‘me’, to flower. And as you observe, it undergoes a radical transformation – if there is no background, if there is no observer who is the background.

You have got this somewhat? Have you understood it? Good – go at it!

So in doing that, obviously authority has no place. The man who says, ‘I know, I will do this or do that’ – that is out, completely, forever. So there is no intermediary between your observation and truth. We are going to find out presently what truth is, if it can at all be described. So in doing that, one becomes a light to oneself, so then you don’t ask anybody at any time how to do something. In the very doing, which is the observing, there is the act, there is the change.

So that is the first thing to learn – because we are learning – the first thing to learn is that one has to be a light to oneself. And it is extraordinarily difficult to resist the tradition that you must be guided. That is why gurus from India are multiplying like ugly mushrooms all over the world. Please, sorry, because they are really bringing old tradition and putting it in different words and offering it. It is the old. In India, it has been going on for thousands of years. I have seen many of the so-called top gurus. They have come to see me, and they leave with great respect, but they go on their own way.

So freedom to observe, and therefore no authority of any kind, is essential.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1976, Talk 7

Part 5

In the Light of Silence

So meditation is the understanding of life, which is to bring about order. Order is virtue, which is light, which is not to be lit by another, however experienced, however clever, however erudite, however spiritual. Nobody on earth or in heaven can light that, except yourself in your own understanding and meditation. And to die to everything within oneself, for love is innocent and fresh, young and clear.

Then, if you have established this order, this virtue, this beauty, this light in oneself, then one can go beyond. Which means then the mind, having laid order, which is not of thought, then the mind becomes utterly quiet, silent – naturally, without any force, without any discipline. And in the light of that silence, all action can take place, the daily living, from that silence.

If one has or if one were lucky enough to have gone that far, then in that silence there is quite a different movement, which is not of time, which is not of words, which is not measurable by thought because it is always new. It is that immeasurable something that man has everlastingly sought. But you have to come upon it; it cannot be given to you. It is not the word, not the symbol – those are destructive. But for it to come, you must have complete order, beauty, love, and therefore you must die to everything that you know psychologically, so that your mind is clear, not tortured, so that it sees things as they are, both outwardly and inwardly.

Krishnamurti in Amsterdam 1968, Talk 4

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