Krishnamurti on Sleep and Dreams

Episode Notes

‘When the brain is quiet in sleep, rejuvenation of its whole structure takes place and a quality of innocence comes into being.’

This week’s episode on Sleep and Dreams has four sections.

The first extract (2:29) is from Krishnamurti’s second talk at Brockwood Park in 1969, titled ‘Can we understand ourselves by analysing our dreams?’

The second extract (31:12) is from the second talk at Brockwood Park in 1972, titled ‘The mind tries to create order through dreams’.

The third extract (36:56) is from Krishnamurti’s fourth talk in San Diego 1970, titled ‘Attention during sleep’.

The final extract in this episode (43:48) is from the seventh talk in Saanen 1970, titled ‘Can the brain be completely quiet in sleep?’

Part 1

Can We Understand Ourselves by Analysing Our Dreams?

One of our major problems is to be sufficiently sensitive, not only to one’s own idiosyncrasies, fallacies and troubles, but also to be sensitive to others. Living in this mechanical world – job, success, competition, ambition, social status and prestige – such living makes for insensitivity to psychological dangers. One is aware of the danger of physical insecurity – not having enough money, proper health, clothes and shelter, and so on – about all that one is fairly sensitive, and naturally so, but we are hardly aware of our inward psychological structure. One feels that one lacks the finesse, sensitivity and intelligence necessary to deal with the inward problems.

Why is it that we are not as aware of the psychological dangers as we are of the physical ones? We are well aware of the outward dangers – a precipice, poison, snakes, wild animals, or the dangers of war, the destructive nature of it. Why is it that we are not completely aware inwardly of the psychological dangers, such as nationalism, the conflict within oneself, the danger of ideologies, concepts and formulas, the danger of accepting authority of any kind, the danger of this constant battle between human beings, however closely they may be related? If some of us are aware of those dangers, how do we deal with them? Either we escape from them, suppress them, try to forget them, or leave it to time to resolve them. We do all this because we do not know what to do. Or if we have read a great deal, we try to apply what others have said. So there is never a direct contact with the problem. It is always through trying to overcome these psychological dangers, or suppressing them, trying to force ourselves to understand them; it is never a direct communion with the issue. And of course, the whole modern structure of psychology, the psychologists and analysts, tell us what we are. They ask us to study the animal so that we will understand ourselves better. Obviously, we are the result of the animal, but we have to understand ourselves not through the animal or through Freud or Jung or any other specialist, but by actually seeing what we are – understanding it, not through some other person’s eyes but with our own eyes, with our own heart, our own mind. And when we do that, all sense of following another, all sense of authority, comes to an end. I think that is very important. Then we do something directly, for its own sake, not because somebody else tells us. And that is the beginning of what it means to love.

So, can we be aware of, or become sensitive to, the psychological dangers we have so carefully cultivated? When we do become aware of them, how are we to deal with them? Are they to be dissolved through analysis, through introspection? Do we understand the dangers of the psychoanalytical process, whether done by a professional or by oneself? Do the dangers disappear? Does time dissolve them, or are they dissolved by escaping, by suppression, transmutation, or by ignoring them through boredom?

As the person to be analysed is conditioned, so also is the analyser, whether it be a professional or not – conditioned by his background, by his particular idiosyncrasies and his knowledge of what Jung or Freud or some other modern expert has to say about it. If the professional cannot help us to completely dissolve the psychological danger in which we live, then what are we to do? If analysis is not the way, because that involves time and if you analysed yourself very carefully, step by step, your analysis must be so free, without any prejudice or bias, each experiment, each testing must be so complete that the next analysis does not carry over the knowledge of the past. Otherwise, you are using that which is dead to try to understand that which is living. All this involves time, and if one has to analyse everything every day, one has neither the time nor the energy. One might be able to do it towards the end of one’s life, but by then life is finished.

One might try to understand oneself through one’s dreams. Probably most of us dream a great deal, and it is said that unless we dream, we may go mad and that dreaming is a necessary part of existence. But one must question this understanding of oneself through dreams. They, again, need interpretation, and who is to interpret them – the professional or yourself? Such interpretation must be done very carefully and correctly. Are you capable of that?

If one questions the necessity of dreaming, a totally different avenue may open up. During the day, there are all these strains and stresses, the ugly quarrels, the nagging, the fears, the bullying of others and so on – there is this constant and conscious everyday struggle. Why should these struggles continue when one goes to sleep? Sleep may have a totally different meaning altogether – I think it has. Why cannot the brain, which has been so active throughout the day, protecting itself, thinking and planning, rest completely quiet when it goes to sleep so that when it wakes up the next morning it is rejuvenated, fresh and unburdened?

I do not know if you have experimented with this – not according to the experts but for yourself. If you have gone into it sufficiently deeply, I am sure you will have found that a brain that is so quiet, so relaxed, so extraordinarily alert and orderly, arrives at a different state altogether. I think sleep has great significance in this way, but if sleep is a constant process of thought, of movement and reaction of the brain, then that sleep is a disturbance, and in that there is no rest.

So is it possible not to dream at all, knowing that unless there is order in our daily existence, we must dream, as that is a way of receiving intimations from the unconscious? So can the brain be so awake during the day, so free to observe and examine all its own reactions, its conditioning, its fears, motives, anxieties, guilts, neither suppressing nor avoiding anything, so awake that there is order? It is extraordinarily interesting if you go into all this yourself, not letting somebody else do it for you. You see, unless there is order, the brain is disturbed, which means a neurotic state because a disorderly life is a neurotic state. And the more disorderly it is, the more the dreams and tensions go on. The brain demands order because in order there is security. Any animal constantly shaken and disturbed will feel very insecure and go mad also.

So the brain demands order – not order according to a design or blueprint, or what society calls order. What society regards as order is actually disorder. The brain needs order to be completely secure. It must be secure, not in the sense that it must resist, guard or isolate itself, but it is only secure and orderly when there is tremendous understanding. Otherwise, when you go to sleep, there is a great deal of disturbance, with the brain continuing to try to put things in order.

Dreams, analysis and time do not solve our psychological dangers and problems. Time is postponement. Time is involved as the distance between the fact and the idea of ‘what should be’ – I will eventually become good. All this involves time. When thought creates time, it brings about disorder. Time is actually a form of laziness. But in the face of physical danger, you don’t have time or use time, saying, ‘I will act later.’ You act immediately.

So time, analysis, dreams, suppression, sublimation, or any form of escape from, or conflict with the problem, does not solve it. Then what is one to do?

I don’t know if you have faced the problem by facing the issue, that is, through negation. We have said analysis is not the way. We have understood what is implied in it, not because somebody has said so, but we have examined it, experimented with it and observed it. Then we have put it aside. Through negation of what is considered the positive, we can then face the fact. Now, are we prepared to put aside this whole technique of analysis and introspection completely? In that question, a great deal is involved, especially as most of us live in the past. We are the past. What happened yesterday shapes the present, and so tomorrow. Every day we are being reborn in the shadow of yesterday. In asking whether the mind can be made fresh, it is essential to view this whole question of analysis with clarity, and find out for ourselves where memory, which is the past, and the action of memory is necessary; also where it is totally unnecessary and dangerous.

Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1969, Talk 2

Part 2

The Mind Tries To Create Order Through Dreams

Then will dreams teach? We are asking this question because we are trying to expose the unconscious, bring it all out, the content, because the content makes the consciousness. The house is what it contains. And it contains so much, so many contradictions, so much information, you know, it is a jumble, and therefore utterly confused.

Will dreams clear the basic fear of existence, the basic fear of not being, not becoming, not fulfilling, not trying to achieve? And what are dreams? One has to learn all about all this, please, not from me, because you dream. Why do you dream? Pleasant or unpleasant dreams, nightmares and so on – why do you dream at all? The experts say you must dream because otherwise you will go insane. Probably that is true because dreams try to bring about order. They indicate that there is disorder – let’s put it that way; better. Dreams indicate that there is disorder, and during the day you are unconscious of your disorders because you are caught up in so much activity, chattering, talking, you know, going to the office and quarrelling and bullying, and all the rest of it that goes on. During the day, you are caught in a routine which breeds disorder, and one is not aware of it. And during the night, when you sleep, dreams are the continuation of that disorder in which the mind is trying to bring order.

I do not know if you have not noticed that if you bring order out of disorder, that is, understand disorder, not superimpose upon disorder what you think is order, but if you understand disorder, out of that comes order. And the brain needs order; then it can function well, it is protected. And order gives it tremendous security; then it can function beautifully. So, in dreams the mind is trying to bring about order. But if during the day you are aware of the disorder, and because you are aware there is order, then you will find that sleep becomes quite a different thing. Then the mind is quiet, the brain is quiet, it is not everlastingly working, working, working.

You are following all this? Learn, please learn.

So that the brain is quiet, refreshed, young and therefore clear, and it can meet the day afresh because it has established order out of disorder.

Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1972, Talk 2

Part 3

Attention During Sleep

The waking mind, the mind that is awake during the day, functioning along the lines in which it has been trained; the conscious mind, with all its daily activities, continues during sleep, the same activities. Have you noticed it? In most of the dreams, there is action going on, some kind or other, some happening, which is the same as the daily living. So your sleep is a continuation of the waking hours.

Are you following all this? Are you getting tired at the end of the talk? I’m surprised you are not tired – you must have had a hard day, and this is not entertainment; this is real work, work that you have never done before. Therefore it must be exhausting.

So sleep is a continuation of the waking hours. And we give a lot of mysterious hocus-pocus to dreams. And then these dreams need to be interpreted. And you have all the professionals interpreting the dreams for you – which you can yourself observe very simply if you watch your own life, your own life during the daytime.

So the question is: why should there be dreams at all? Though the psychologists say, from what they have told us, that you must have dreams, otherwise you will go insane. But when you have observed very closely your waking hours and all your activities, the self-centred, the fearful, the anxious, the guilty, you know, watching it, attentive all day, then you will see that when you go to sleep, you sleep, you have no dreams because during the day you have watched every movement of thought – the mind has been watching, attentive to every word. You work it out – you will see the beauty of it, not the boredom of watching but the beauty of watching.

So when the mind is attentive during the day, then there is attention in sleep. It doesn’t matter whether you understand or not, I’ll go on, because somebody, someday will understand this. And it is important to understand it because, you see, the conscious mind, the mind that is daily attentive, watching itself, cannot possibly touch something entirely different. Though in sleep, it is attentive. And that is why meditation, the thing that we have talked about during this hour, becomes extraordinarily important and worthwhile, full of dignity, grace and beauty, when you understand attention, not only during waking hours but also during sleep. Then the whole of the mind is totally awake.

And beyond that, every form of description is not the described. Therefore don’t talk about it. All that one can do is point to the door. And if you are willing to go, take a journey to that door, it is for you to walk – beyond that, nobody can describe the thing that is not nameable. Whether that nameable is nothing or everything, doesn’t matter. Anybody who describes it doesn’t know. And one who says he knows, does not know.

Krishnamurti in San Diego 1970, Talk 4

Part 4

Can the Brain Be Completely Quiet in Sleep?

So one has to have 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, can’t you, 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? You understand what I mean?

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 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 of the past. It can only act in terms of thought, and therefore again the operation of the past. And only such a brain that is completely still can observe.

One can observe a cloud, a tree, a flowing river, with a fairly quiet brain. You can see those mountains, the extraordinary light on those mountains, and the brain can be completely still. You have noticed this, haven’t you? Now, how has that happened? How does the mind, facing something of extraordinary magnitude, like a very, very, very complex machinery, like a marvellous computer or a magnificent sunset or a mountain, how does it become completely quiet, for even a split second?

Have you noticed when you give a child a good toy, how the toy absorbs the child? Then the child is concerned with it, playing with it and, you know, he is absorbed by the toy. In the same way, the mountain, the beauty of a tree, the flowing waters, absorb the mind and makes the mind by its greatness still. That is, the brain is made still by something. Now, can the brain be quiet without an outside factor entering into it? And because they haven’t found a way, therefore they say: grace of God, prayers, faith, absorption in Jesus, in this or in that. And we see all that, this absorption by something outside – a dull, a stupefied mind can do this.

We are trying to find out, can this happen: this quiet, free brain that is completely quiet, without any interference. You have understood the question? If it is not quiet, one of the factors is dreams.

You are following all this? Is this too much? Tant pis – if you don’t understand, it is up to you.

The brain is active all day, endlessly. The moment it wakes up till it goes to sleep, it is on the move. And when you go to bed and go to sleep, the activity of the brain is still going on. The activity of the brain is dreams. The same movement of the day is carried on during sleep, and therefore the brain has never a rest, never a moment it says, ‘I’ve finished, it is over,’ because it is carrying on the problems which it has accumulated into sleep. And when you wake up, those problems go on. It is a vicious circle. So a brain that is to be quiet must have no dreams at all. Because when the mind is quiet during sleep, there is a totally different quality entering into the brain, into the mind. We will go into that a little later if you are interested.

So we are asking: how does it happen that the brain, which is so tremendously, eagerly, enthusiastically active, can naturally, easily, without any effort and suppression, be quiet? I’ll show it to you.

As we said, during the day it is active endlessly. The moment you wake up, you look out of the window and say, ‘Oh, awful rain,’ or, ‘It’s a marvellous, lovely morning, but too hot.’ You have started. At that moment when you look out of the window, not to say a word. Not suppressing words. To realise that by saying, ‘What a lovely morning, what horrible rain,’ this or that, the mind has started, the brain has started. But if you watch out of the window and not say a word – which doesn’t mean you suppress the word but just to observe without all the memory of the past rushing – just to observe. So there you have the clue. There you have the key. To observe without the old brain responding. Therefore, when the old brain doesn’t respond there is a quality of the new mind, a new brain coming into being.

You can observe the hills, the mountains, the river, the valleys, the shadows, the lovely trees, and the marvellous cloud full of light, the glory beyond the mountains – to look at it without a word, without comparing. But it becomes much more difficult when you look at your neighbour, at your wife, your husband, another person. There, you have already got the images established and it becomes much more difficult to observe your wife, your husband, your neighbour, your politician, your priest, or whatever it is, absolutely without an image – just to observe. And you will see when you so observe, so clearly see, the action becomes extraordinarily vital. Therefore it becomes a complete action which is not carried over the next minute.

You are meeting this? You understand?

One has problems: not sleeping well, quarrelling with the wife – you know, problems, deeply, superficially. And we carry these problems from day to day – dreams, the repetition of these problems, the repetition of fear, pleasure – problems over and over and over again. That obviously stupefies the mind, makes the mind dull. The brain too. Now, is it possible to end the problem as it arises? Not carry it over.

I have a problem. Somebody has insulted me. I am taking the most silly problem. At that moment, the old brain responds instantly, saying, ‘You are also.’ Now, before the old brain responds, to be aware of what the man or woman has said, something which is unpleasant – to have an interval between what he has said and the response of the old brain. To have a gap so that the old brain is responding slowly; doesn’t immediately jump into the battle.

So if you watch during the day the movement of thought in action – thought is action, and if you watch that and you realise that it is breeding problems, and problems are something which are incomplete, which had to be carried over – if you watch that with a brain that is fairly quiet, then you will see action becomes instantaneous, so there is no carrying over of a problem. No carrying over the insult or the praise, or something, you know, a problem, carrying over the next minute. It is finished.

So when you go to bed, when there is sleep, the brain is no longer carrying on the old activities of the day. It has complete rest, and therefore the brain then being quiet in sleep, there takes place not only rejuvenation of the whole structure in itself but a quality of innocency comes into being. Because only the innocent mind can see what is truth. Not the complicated mind, not the philosopher, not the priest, not the brain that is constantly repetitive, mechanical. The innocent mind is the brain as well as the body, the mind, the whole entity – not entity – the whole being – not even the being: it is that whole thing in which the body, the heart, the brain, the mind, the whole of that – if there is this alertness, watchfulness during the day, and when there is sleep there is a certain quality of innocency that happens. And it is only this innocent mind which has never been touched by thought, It is only such an innocent mind that can see what is truth, what is reality, if there is something beyond measure. That is meditation, not all the phoney stuff.

Therefore to find, to come upon this extraordinary beauty of truth with its ecstasy, you must lay the foundation. The foundation is the understanding of thought which breeds fear and sustains pleasure. The understanding of order, and therefore virtue, and therefore the freedom from all conflict and aggression and brutality and violence. That is the foundation. Without that, you can play tricks. And what you will have are the tricks of the conjurer. But if one has laid this foundation on freedom, then there is this sensitivity which is supreme intelligence. And from that, the whole life one leads becomes entirely different.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1970, Talk 7

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