Krishnamurti on Nothingness

Episode Notes

‘It is only out of nothingness that creation takes place; out of that emptiness is that creation that is the summation of all energy.’

This week’s episode on Nothingness has six sections.

The first extract (2:50) is from Krishnamurti’s fourth talk in London 1962, titled ‘Nothingness is not something mysterious’

The second extract (7:18) is from the fourth talk in Saanen 1978, titled ‘We are frightened to be nothing.’

The third extract (23:30) is from Krishnamurti’s fourth talk in Saanen 1975 titled, ‘In nothingness is complete security.’

The fourth extract (41:12) is from the seventh talk in Saanen 1980, titled ‘Our culture says, Be something.’

The fifth extract (54:55) is from Krishnamurti’s fourth talk in Madras 1973, titled ‘From nothingness comes the creative flowering of life.’

The final extract in this episode (1:10:19) is from the fifth talk in Bombay 1962, titled ‘In nothingness is communion’.

Part 1

Nothingness Is Not Something Mysterious

Questioner: You have described to us a nothingness, a state of emptiness. Can you tell us something of the great truth that might fill this emptiness?

Krishnamurti: First of all, the nothingness is not something mysterious. It is the denial, without motive, of everything, of the whole psychological structure of society. If you deny without motive, without ambition, you are left with an emptiness, aren’t you? If you are no longer ambitious, no longer driven by the desire for fame or success, no longer escaping from fear – if you have died to all that, cut through it, then, as I pointed out, there is an emptiness, a state of negation. And the questioner asks: what great truth will fill this emptiness?

Now, are we merely exchanging words, talking theoretically, or have you, without any influence, urging or compulsion, completely broken away from the psychological structure of society? You may have given up one ambition and are keeping another ambition going. You may have partially got rid of fear and are still clinging to certain beliefs. But when you are completely free from the psychological social structure, then there is an emptiness; there is neither tomorrow nor yesterday, nor is there an observer who is observing.

If you have not come to that point, then any verbal communication about what is beyond is merely theoretical; it has no value because the word is not the thing. So, if you don’t mind, we won’t discuss what lies beyond that state of emptiness. It becomes merely a speculative amusement.

Krishnamurti in London 1962, Talk 4

Part 2

We Are Frightened To Be Nothing

Can you, as a human being, non-identify yourself with another? Not only with another but with ideas, with a group, with a sect, with a guru, with the whole business of it. Which means you are free. Out of that freedom, there is attention. How can I be attentive if I have identified myself with you? You may be most affectionate, most kind; I may want your kindness because I am lonely, I feel desperate. So I identify. You encourage me. You say, ‘That is nothing, you will get over it tomorrow, old boy – get on with it’ – you give me comfort, you give me sex. So, instinctively, I identify myself with you. The moment you identify yourself with another, you bring about a separation. Obviously. So when there is separation, there must be conflict.

So can you find out now, sitting here, not tomorrow, not when you go home – actually now – find out if you have identified yourself with her or him. And extend that identification extensively – ideas, beliefs, dogmas, with Jesus or Buddha, this or that, or ideologically, nationally and so on. Begin with the nearest and expand. We are apt to begin extensively but not near.

So can you find out if you are identifying yourself with another? The moment you use ‘my girl’ or ‘my boy’ you are caught. So the ‘my wife’, the ‘my girl’, the ‘my husband’ – the words are driving you because those words are emotionally explosive. So you are being driven by words. Whereas if you are free from identification, and therefore from the emotional content of ‘My wife, my husband, my girl or boy’, then you can use words normally, unemotionally, sanely. I wonder if you get all this!

So can one not identify? And why do you identify? Why? Is it that through identification with another you are escaping from yourself? Go into it, please. Are you? Or you may identify yourself with another because you are lonely or you are frightened to be nothing. To be absolutely empty, psychologically. I don’t mean biologically, food – I don’t mean that. Are these the reasons that you have never asked this question? And if you ask this question, is it that you are frightened to face yourself as you actually are? Therefore identification with another becomes a means of escape from what you are. So then you ask: what are you? Of course you are your name, your form, the body, the organism, the face, but that is of a biological or physiological nature. So what are you? Are you not the result of all the structure and the movement of thought? Don’t say, ‘I am the higher self.’ If you do say that, that is part of thinking. Or if you say, ‘I am divine inside, covered up with a lot of muck,’ that is also thinking. So are you, apart from your face and curly hair, or dark brown skin, black or purple or whatever it is – apart from that, stripping yourself of words, are you not the result of words? ‘I am British’ – or French, ‘I am a Russian,’ ‘I am a Catholic,’ ‘I follow this guru’ – so are you not the result of thought? And we said thought is limited.

So what you are is very limited. That limited entity says, ‘I am this, I am that,’ ‘I have got millions of dollars,’ or ‘I have a jolly good life,’ or ‘I have a miserable life’ – I am this or that but it is still in the narrow, limited area of thought.

The Hindus, the ancient Hindus invented a very good thing. They called it the Atman, the higher self, the supreme thing. And that supreme thing is still born out of thought. But people are so gullible, so unreasonable, like to live in illusions and make-belief – they accept all this.

So we are saying: when you strip yourself of your conclusions, of your words, of your experience, what are you? You are nothing. You are empty. So consciously or unconsciously, the feeling that you are nothing, you get frightened of it and then you begin to identify. Then you fill that emptiness – at least you think you can fill that emptiness with lots of ideas, with lots of relationships, with lots of knowledge, etc., etc.

Now just a minute: can you, can thought, can the mind observe that emptiness and not move away from it? That is… we must understand something here. Are you getting tired? If you are, it is all right. We must go into something else here, which is: most of us are accustomed, according to tradition and conditioning, to be active, to do something. So we are accustomed to what is called positive action. Anything that is not positive action is called negative action. Our brains, our minds, our habits are to act according to this positive action, to do something. I am afraid, I must control it; I am greedy – I either act to fulfil it or control it. So most of us are trained to act, which is called positive. And in that positive action, there is also negative action, which is not to do anything about it – go off to sleep or cover it up or run away from it. But there is another action which has nothing to do with the positive – which is no action at all. The one is to act: I am lazy – I must get up, force myself; I must do yoga – I don’t want to do it this morning but I must do it, it’s good for me. You know the word ‘yoga’ – I won’t go into it now, sorry; we will go into that another time. That is an exploiting, moneymaking concern, that word.

So we are trained, our habit, our tradition, our conditioning is to do something about what we feel. And in that positive action, there is negative action – not to do anything about it, just to leave it alone, run away from it. Now there is, we are suggesting – inquire into it; please don’t accept it – we are saying there is another kind of action unrelated to the positive, which is non-action. We will go into that in a minute. The non-action is not the opposite of action. Positive action is very limited because it is based on thought, whereas non-action, not being related to the opposite, is entirely different – which we will inquire into presently.

So our question is now this: one has heard, if you have paid attention to it, one has heard that identification with another brings about separation because that identification with another is based on your own emptiness, on your own loneliness, on your own desire to escape from yourself. But in escaping from yourself, your loneliness is always there. It is always there. You may identify yourself with another, but it is there. Therefore that creates separation, and hence quarrels – all the rest of it follows: divorce and everlasting struggle in relationship. Now can you observe this identifying process and the cause of identifying without any positive action, without doing something about it?

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1978, Talk 4

Part 3

In Nothingness Is Complete Security

Thought wants to be secure. The brain demands complete security because only then can it function rationally. So it has sought security in knowledge, in science, in relationship, in conclusions. And it hasn’t found security in any of this, in the church, in none of it. You must have security – then your brain functions clearly, objectively, is highly sensitive. Now where do you find it? Is it out there or somewhere else?

You know, the word ‘leisure’? Leisure, to have leisure. Have you had leisure at any time? In leisure, you learn. We have, sitting here, leisure, for an hour or whatever it is, and you are learning – not from the speaker but together we are learning. So we are learning together in leisure the futility of security in the projections of thought – whether it is God, whether it’s… – whatever it is. So having leisure means learning. Now I want to learn. We have to learn. We want to learn where there is security, absolute security, not variable security. If one has that, the whole problem of fear ends – the total fear, both physiologically as well as psychologically.

Our minds are active, chasing one thought after another. Our minds, in their movement of thought, has gaps between thoughts, an interval, a time interval, and thought is always trying to find a means where it can abide. Abide in the sense hold. What thought creates, being fragmentary, is total insecurity. Therefore there is complete security in being completely nothing, which means not a thing created by thought. Do you understand this? To be absolutely nothing. Which means total contradiction to everything that you have learnt, everything that thought has put together. To be not a thing. If you are nothing, you have complete security. The man who is becoming, wanting, desiring, pursuing – in that there is complete insecurity.

So after listening for an hour, see the nature of time, which is movement of thought – apart from the chronological time – see that action is never complete, always fragmented, and therefore action can only be complete when there is total security – and see the whole nature of fear as the movement of thought, as the achievement of an ideal or living in the past, in the romantic, idiotic, sentimental past – or living in knowledge, which again is fragmentary and therefore never complete. Action means to act completely now – the active present. That can only take place when there is complete security. The security that thought has created is no security. This is an absolute truth. And the absolute truth is when there is nothing. When you are nothing.

Now what happens in our relationship when you are nothing? You know what it means to be nothing? No ambition, which doesn’t mean you vegetate. No competition, no aggression, no resistance, no barriers built by hurt – you are absolutely nothing. Then what is it to be related to another? Have you ever thought about all this, or is it all so tragically new?

Our relationship now is unstable. It is not stable and therefore it is a perpetual battle, perpetual division, each seeking their own pursuits, own enjoyments – you know, isolated. That relationship, being insecure, must inevitably bring division and therefore conflict. Now, when in that relationship there is complete security, there is no conflict. But you may be completely nothing, and I might not, therefore what takes place? You are nothing psychologically: inwardly you are completely secure because there is nothing, and I am still fighting, quarrelling, insecure, confused. What is our relationship, between you and me? This is what is going on – you understand?

Not certainty created by thought – that is no certainty. Like a man saying, ‘I believe in that,’ and establishing his relationship in a belief, and therefore that belief is conditioning, and breeds fear and therefore division. Here it is entirely different. You have perceived, realised, understood, seen the truth that in this nothingness there is complete security – and I haven’t. What takes place between you and me? Come on, investigate it. You have affection, love, compassion born of this tremendous unshakeable stability, and I haven’t. I am your friend, your wife or husband – what takes place? What do you do with me? You understand? What do you do with me? Hit me on the head, cajole me, talk to me, comfort me, tell me how stupid I am? What will you do? You understand, this is…

Now, look at it differently. Let’s look at it differently. There are about fifteen hundred or twelve hundred of us in this tent. And some of you – at least I hope so – have listened very carefully, given your attention, care, affection, and you realise that you are the world and the world is you – not verbally but profoundly; the truth of it. We will discuss later what truth is and what reality is, and what is the relationship between reality and truth – we’ll go into all that later. So you are the world, and the world is you. You realise that and you realise, see the immense and imminent responsibility to change radically because you have listened, not argued, not opinionated. You see the truth of it. Then what is your relationship with the rest of the world? Fifteen hundred or twelve hundred of you listen to all this, see it, are aware of it, given your deep committed concern, because you are serious people, I hope – and when there is that fundamental transformation, what is your relationship with the world? It is the same question – what do you do? Or do you wait for something to happen? If you wait for something to happen, nothing will happen.

So you actually see the truth that you are the world and the world is you, not as a theory, a verbal assertion but an actuality, and you see the extraordinary importance that when you basically transform yourself, you will affect the whole of consciousness of the world – bound to. And won’t you, if you are completely, wholly secure in the sense we are talking about, won’t you affect me who am uncertain, lonely, despairing, clinging, attaching, in attachment – won’t you affect me? Obviously you will. But the important thing is that you listening see this, the truth of this – then it is yours, not somebody else’s, giving you something.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1975, Talk 4

Part 4

Our Culture Says, Be Something

Now, where there is freedom what takes place? Where there is freedom from all commitment, from all authority, from all illusions, images, conclusions, what is the state of your mind? You understand what I am saying? Find out. Don’t look at me – find out – it is your daily life.

You see, we are so afraid to be nothing. Our culture, our education, everything says, ‘Be something’ – either in the business world or in the religious world, or in the entertainment world, on the football field: ‘Be something.’ And when consciousness with all its content is empty, if that is possible – doubt that; that is yourself, doubt your vanity, why you are vain, why you are stuck in a belief, holding on to some past experience, past remembrances – when the mind is free, which is, when all your travail is not, what is there?

When you give up smoking, without going off into some other form of smoking, when you end smoking, or when you end a certain pleasurable habit, when you end attachment, what is there? Is that what we are afraid of?

I am attached to you. If I end it, what have I? So if I end my vanity, my conclusion, my belief, my gods – you know, longing, longing, longing – if I end all that, what happens? You are following all this? Do it, please. End your particular attachment now – don’t bother about your wife or husband, your girl, saying, ‘All right, for the moment at least I’ll be free of attachment.’ What takes place there in the mind? There is a certain freedom, isn’t there? And a sense of nothingness.

Now. Not a thing. Nothingness means not a thing. The word ‘thing’ comes from ‘res’ – I won’t go into all that – which is, thought which has put there – thing is the movement of thought. Thought is a material process – we have been into all that. A material process because thought is the response of memory, memory which is experience, knowledge. This experience, knowledge, memory is stored in the cells of the brain, and therefore it is matter. It is a process of matter. We won’t go into matter for the moment – I have discussed this question with scientists, so I won’t enter into that for the moment.

So when there is not a thing, it means the movement of thought has come to an end. That is, if you can do it now, sitting here in this tent, knowing that you are attached, whether to a guru, or whatever you are attached to, end it. Not say, ‘Well, why should I end it?’ I have explained all that – you should end it because the consequences of attachment are fear, anxiety, jealousy, hatred, being wounded psychologically, building a wall around yourself, isolating yourself and so on, so on, so on. That is a fact. You don’t have to doubt it. Don’t take time to doubt it, it is not worth it. It is there. And if you end it, it means thought has no other movement than ending itself.

Now, the ending of thought is the ending of time because thought is a movement. Time is a movement – from here to there physically. It takes time to go from here to your house, or chalet, to your tent or whatever it is. To cover that distance needs time. And thought is a movement. Any movement is capable of being measured. So what is measured? That which can be measured is the thing created by thought and by time.

Now look, it takes one from here to go to one’s home perhaps two hours, or ten minutes, and so on – which can be measured by the distance, mileage, time. And also thought can be measured. Have you noticed that? It can be measured. Need I explain it? Oh, for God’s sake, come on. Explain it to yourself – I don’t have to explain!

Look, you can measure thought when you are saying, ‘I will become.’ ‘I will become,’ which is, I am not what I should be, but I will become that. That is projected by thought. The ideal, whatever it is, projected by thought. So to arrive at that is the movement of thought from ‘what is’ to ‘what should be’. That is the measure.

Now, the word ‘meditation’ means also not only to ponder, to think over, to inquire profoundly, but also it has a meaning from Sanskrit too: to measure. To measure. And in meditation, measurement must come to an end. Which means no measurement, which is comparison. ‘I was before I came to you…’ – your guru – ‘You have given me the system and I am practising. Where am I today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow?’ You follow? How childish it all is!

So measurement, which means comparison: inwardly comparing oneself with the past or with the future or with an example. No measurement, you see, no illusion, no image and the absolute cessation of will – you follow what strict demand it requires to meditate? It isn’t something so easy: you sit like that and go off into some kind of nonsense. This demands tremendous attention, great depth of inquiry in yourself, into yourself. Therefore you have that tremendous sense of order, which means no conflict whatsoever.

Then if you have come to that – and I hope some of you will, and you must – then we can go into what is meditation. That is, when there is freedom and therefore the absence of all that, there is love, which is not pleasure, which is not desire. We went into that the other day. Without that love, without that compassion – and because there is freedom there is intelligence – without that, don’t meditate. Then you are playing with something dangerous which is not worth it.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1980, Talk 7

Part 5

From Nothingness Comes the Creative Flowering of Life

The next problem or question in meditation is: what is silence? Why is it necessary for the mind to be silent? Not at peace – that is a dreadful word to use in meditation when in your daily life you are not peaceful. In your daily life, you are violent, ambitious, greedy, envious, anxiety, fearful, and you want peace. So, as in daily life you have no peace, don’t seek in meditation peace. That has no meaning; that is just pretension. It is like my talking about not being corrupt, having my hand in another man’s pocket.

So what is silence, and why is it necessary for the mind to have a completely quiet, silent mind? Please find out. Why should you have a silent mind, a really quiet mind? A mind that is not occupied with God, with unhappiness, with your job, with your wife, husband, a quiet, unoccupied, totally silent mind – why should you have it?

(Sound of barking) Do you listen to that dog? Wait, wait. Silently? Listen to it completely silently, which means without any resistance, without any irritation, just listen to it. When you listen quietly, there is no resistance, there is no irritation, you do not identify yourself with the dog and the barking of it – your mind is quiet.

Now, when you are listening, I hope as you are listening to the speaker, to hear what he is saying, your mind must be quiet. That is ordinary courtesy, ordinary politeness, and ordinary rational necessity, if you want to listen to what the speaker is saying. So a quiet, silent mind is necessary to listen. To see something, a tree, to see the movement of the breeze and the leaves, you have to look. And if your mind is not looking wholly, then you can’t look. So, a quiet mind and a silent mind are necessary, a mind that is not filled in with words, with ideas, with speculations, conclusions, fears. A mind must be silent without any invitation. If you invite silence, it is not silence, is it? Do you see this?

I have heard you say to me: only when you are silent you can hear the dog; when your mind is quiet, you can see the leaves moving. So I have heard that, and I want to see the tree, the leaves moving, so I practice, to be silent. And such practice of silence is no silence; it is death. And that is what has taken place with all of you. You are dead people because you are second-hand people. You repeat endlessly what others have said, and perform puja, rituals galore, and your life is utterly unhappy.

Therefore meditation is all through the whole days of our life. And when there is order, which is virtue, a behaviour which is not contradictory, which is whole, then a mind that is completely quiet, completely still, without direction, without control, such a mind has immense energy because in it there is no friction. And then only because in space there is no direction, there is no time.

I wonder, have you understood it, somebody?

There is space between here and the place I live. To get from here to there in that space, time is necessary. Time is necessary. But in space there is no direction, there is no time. Get this, please! Therefore in that space, there is only the present, and time then is a mere physical fact – catch a train, catch a bus, go from here there, and so on. But when there is no controller and the controlled, when there is no direction, space is beyond the content of consciousness.

No, don’t agree, don’t nod your head in agreement; you don’t understand this.

You know what consciousness is? You are conscious, aren’t you? When you are hurt, you become conscious of your hurt, or when you are enjoying something tremendously, you are conscious that you are. Your consciousness contains… the consciousness is its content. Don’t learn this, observe it. Now, the content of consciousness is ambition, violence, greed, envy, power, seeking power, position, cheating, corruption – all that is the content of your consciousness, as your furniture, as your house, as your name. That is the content. In that content, we move; all thought moves. That is, thought is the movement of the known. The movement of the known is time. Now, in meditation there is the complete emptying of the mind of the known. The known is the ‘me’.

You can know yourself very well, can’t you, if you applied your mind: your greeds, your envies, your purposes, your attachments and detachments, and the fears and pleasures, the past experiences, remembrances – you know, the memories are the known. The known is the ‘me’, isn’t it? The ‘me’ is the content of my consciousness. It is very simple, don’t complicate it. You don’t have to study fat books about this, you can see it yourself. My consciousness is my struggles, my conflicts, my purposes, my technique, my talent, my desires – that is the content of my consciousness. All thought is within the boundaries of that consciousness. And in meditation, when you come to the real beauty of it, the depth of it, is the freedom from the totally known, though operating in the known.

Ah, you won’t get this. It doesn’t matter.

So, in that quality of mind, time has come to an end. Thought is not projecting anything. Therefore there are no visions, no gods, no – nothing. That nothingness is not emptiness. That nothingness is the creative flowering of life, of total life. That is the very essence of something that is unnameable. But the mind cannot come to it with any kind of will, with any kind of desire, through any kind of ritual, slogans, mantras and Ramas and Sitas and God knows what else. It can only come when you lead a righteous life, now, not tomorrow; every day of your life. When there is no friction between you and another, that is, when you have relationship with another, not through your images of it, but relationship, when you have this immense feeling of compassion, love, that is beauty, when that is there as a root, as a tree has its root deep in earth, unless your feet are firmly in there, unshakable, then in that, out of that grows the beauty of silence which is not cultivable, which is timeless and therefore something beyond all words.

Krishnamurti in Madras 1973, Talk 4

Part 6

In Nothingness Is Communion

Action born of reaction breeds sorrow. Most of our thoughts are the result of the past, of time. A mind that is not built on the past, that has totally understood this whole process of reaction, can act every minute totally, completely, wholly.

Please do listen. What I am going to say will probably be rather difficult, so listen as though you are far away. I am going to talk about something which you will come to, if you have gone through all this sweetly, with pleasure. When you have gone through the whole process of action born of reaction, and denied it with enchantment, with joy, not with pain, then you will see that you will come naturally, easily to a state of mind that is the very essence of beauty.

You must understand beauty. A mind that is not beautiful, that is not enchanted by a tree, by a flower, by a lovely face, by a smile; which does not stand by the sea and watch the restless waves; which has no sense of beauty – such a mind can never find love or truth. And you have been denied that beauty because that beauty demands passion. That beauty demands all your energy, a complete, undivided attention; and that complete undivided attention is negation, is a state of negation.

It is only out of nothingness that creation takes place; out of that emptiness there is that creation which is the summation of all energy. And you cannot come to it. You must leave yourself far away. You must lose yourself far away, forget yourself. You must come to it unspotted, without a remembrance, without thought, without a memory. Because there is nothing you can experience. There is no experiencing. If you are seeking experience, then you are still caught in the known, in the things of yesterday.

I am talking of a mind that is not lazy, that has no self-pity, that has no memory except the mechanical memory of living – where it lives, going to the office and doing the mechanical things of life. Such a mind has no psychological memory, and therefore no experiencing. Therefore there is no challenge. And it is only that mind which is itself the reality, which is itself creation. And that is beauty.

Beauty is not in a face, however refined it is. Beauty is something which is not put together by man. Beauty is not the result of thought, of feeling. Beauty is that communion with everything without reaction, communion with the ugly and with the so-called beautiful. And that communion is out of nothingness. And in that state, there is that beauty which is love.

Krishnamurti in Bombay 1962, Talk 5

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