Krishnamurti on the Sacred

Episode Notes

‘The things that have been put in the churches, temples and mosques are not sacred, but yet we worship them. We worship symbols created by thought and pray to them. We project that which is sacred according to our conditioning.’

This week’s episode on The Sacred has four sections.

The first extract (2:35) is from the second question and answer meeting in Ojai 1982, titled ‘Is thought sacred?’

The second extract (10:26) is from Krishnamurti’s sixth talk in Ojai 1982, titled ‘Is there anything sacred in life?’

The third extract (39:20) is from the seventh talk in Saanen 1975, titled ‘The sacred is mysterious’.

The final extract (47:31) in this episode is from Krishnamurti’s fourth talk in Madras 1974, titled ‘Everything becomes sacred’.

Part 1

Is Thought Sacred?

Is thought holy, sacred? Is thought, thinking, which has created architecture, the cathedrals, the most marvellous 10th, 12th century, extraordinary beauty? If you have been to some of those ancient temples, the ancient cathedrals in Europe, the extraordinary sense of vitality of those pillars, the beauty of the high ceiling. Thought has done all that. And thought also has created all the content within that structure, that marvellous stone structure. That’s obvious, isn’t it?

So what is sacred? That is, what is that which is holy, whole? If thought is sacred, then everything that it creates is holy: the cannon, the atom bomb, the killing of each other, the computer, the saviour – your saviour, not mine – the rituals, the beating of somebody. Then, if you once admit thought is sacred, everything it does is sacred. And thought has invented that which is not sacred and that which is sacred. It has divided the world as the world and that which is sacred, which is not the world – and the saint and the sinner.

So please, this is a very serious question, it is not just a casual question at the end of several other questions. It is very, very serious this, because thought is tearing man apart: the British, the French, the American, the Russian, the Argentine. So if you once admit or acquiesce or accept that thought, whatever it does, is sacred, then you have nothing to worry about. Then you will kill each other; you will carry on as you are. That may be what you want. That may be what humanity wants.

If you want to find out that which is most holy, you cannot measure it by words. To measure that which is measureless by words has no meaning. But to come upon that which is holy, sacred. Is love thought? Then is love desire? Without love, that which is sacred cannot be.

So all these explanations are not that which is. That which is eternal cannot be put into words. But when time and thought have come to an end, that which is most sacred is. But if you say, how am I to end my thought, how is time to stop, then you are back to the good old… But to find out, to go into it, what is thought, whether it can end. Thought cannot end as I am going from this place to that place, when I drive a car, or in the very usage of language, in communication. But inwardly, can time stop? Can thought come to an end? Not through control, not through will, but the urge to find out that which is from the beginning, which has no end. To go into it, to find out, requires… – this is real meditation, which is the whole movement of life.

Krishnamurti in Ojai 1982, Question and Answer Meeting 2

Part 2

Is There Anything Sacred in Life?

Religion is not the authoritarian, the accepted form of religion. The state religion, the religion of belief, of faith, of dogma, of rituals, of worship a symbol, that is not religion – obviously. So we are going to inquire into what religion is. We have inquired into fear, into the nature of that extraordinary thing called love, whether human beings can ever end their suffering, their misery, their anxiety, and also we should inquire together into what religion is.

Man worships. There are still those people in the East who worship a tree, who worship a mountain. They give it in India, in the Himalayas, a special peace, a special name. And they worshipped at one time the earth, the trees, the heavens, the sun – as the Egyptians did. But we consider all that illusion, nonsense. And as we are so terribly sophisticated, we worship a symbol, pray to that symbol, to that saviour or, as in India, it is another form of the same thing. Worship has been part of human life from the ancient of days. You may not worship a tree, but you go to the church or to a temple or a mosque, and there you pray, you worship. There is not much difference between the worship of a tree which is alone in a marvellous field of green earth, and the symbol that thought has created in the church, in the temple or in a mosque. There is not much difference between the two because man suffers, he is in trouble, he doesn’t know to whom to turn to, so he invents a comforting god, which is, thought invents a god and then worships that which he has invented. These are facts, whether you like it or not. You invent the whole rituals of Christianity, as in India. There are complicated rituals, and it is the invention of thought. And then thought says that is divine revelation.

I do not know if you have not noticed in Asia, which includes India, and here, divine revelation plays an extraordinary part. But that divinity is brought about by thought. The interpreter of that divinity is the priest. He thinks, and his thought has created various forms of rituals. So we are asking, is religion all this? Is religion based upon books, the printed word? Where religion is based on a book, whether it is the Christian, Hindu or Muslim, or the Buddhist, then there is dogma, the authority of the book becomes all-important; there is bigotry, narrowness of mind. Both the Muslim world and the Christian world are based on books: the Koran and the Bible. In India, fortunately for them, they have got a hundred books, a hundred gods – no, more than that – three hundred thousand gods! Don’t please laugh, this is very serious. It sounds funny. And there they are tolerant, which means they put up with anything: false gods, true gods, any kind of illusion, any kind of assertions of any so-called religious man. Here in the West, as in the Muslim world, the book plays an extraordinarily important part. And therefore those who believe in the book, deeply convinced by every word in that book, become bigoted, dogmatic, assertive, aggressive, and if they are not semi-civilised, they will kill. This is happening in the world.

So is religion, the word religion, the etymological meaning of that word, is unknown. It arises from certain Latin words, which we will not go into, but it actually means, according to certain dictionaries, the capacity to gather all your energy to discover, to come upon that which is true. That is the root meaning of that word. So we are gathering our energy, all our energy, not a specialised energy which is the energy of thought, the energy of emotions, the passionate energy to inquire into what is truth. And to go into it deeply, we must inquire also into what is thought, which has invented all the religions in the world.

All the rituals, all the dogmas, the beliefs, the faiths, it is the result of thought. There is nothing divine about anything. Thought can say what I have invented is divine, but thought is not sacred, is not holy. So it is important to go into this question of what is thought. We have gone into it previously, but the more you look at it, the more you inquire into the very nature of thought, the more complicated, the more it demands a subtle mind. It demands a quickness of mind, not a mechanical mind, not a mind that accepts, not a mind that acquiesces. But a mind that is doubtful, questioning, demanding, has this great energy. And when you give this total energy, not an energy which is partial because you are interested in some form of entertainment, in some form of relief, in some form of comfort – then it is all partial energy – whereas if you demand totally to understand the nature of human mind, why we live the way we are living, destroying the earth, destroying ourselves, wars, misery, then you have to give all your energy. And where there is this total energy, complete passion to understand, to find out a way of living which is totally different from mechanistic, repetitive way…

So we have to go into this question deeply once again: what thought is, why thought plays such an extraordinarily importance in our life, in our relationship. Is thought love? Please inquire with the speaker; really the speaker is putting your question; it is not his question. You are putting this question for yourself. Thought has created the marvellous cathedrals, magnificent structures in Europe, and some of them here, and thought also has put all those things inside the cathedrals and churches and temples and mosques. So one asks: is thought sacred? Because it has put all this in these buildings, then you worship it. I wonder if one sees the illusion of this, the ironic, actual deception, that thought has invented the symbol, the ritual, the host, and the different things in India and Asia; thought has been responsible for all this, some of it being copied from the ancient Egyptians, from India, and so on. And then thought, having created this marvellous structure in stone, then inside it is all the symbols, the agony, and in the Asiatic world a different symbol, then thought says you must worship that.

So we are asking, is thought sacred in itself? Or is thought merely – please listen to it, you may not agree; do not agree but inquire – is thought a material process? If it is not sacred, then it is a material process. But thought has invented these: heaven and hell, the saviours of the world according to different religions, their rituals – it is all the result of thought. And then thought turns around and says you must worship it. So we must find out for ourselves, not according to any authority in spiritual or religious matters. There is authority of the surgeon – that is a totally different matter. But to discover, to come upon that which is eternal, if there is such thing as eternity, your mind must be free in all spiritual matters, in all psychic matters, that is, in the psychological realm, which is you. There must be total freedom to find out.

So we are going to inquire together the nature of thought. If you have no thought at all, you live in a state of amnesia, blankness. But that is a rare form of disease. But most human beings throughout the world, whether they are Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, communists, and so on, the common factor is thought. They all think, whether they are extremely poor, uneducated, or the highly sophisticated, accumulated professor, or the cunning politician, or the highest authority of the church, and so on – they all think, as each one of us does in our daily life. And that thought dominates our life. So it is very, very important, if one may point out, to understand the whole movement of thought. It has created great poetry, great painting, great sculpture, literature, and thought is necessary to do business, to drive a car, and so on.

What is thought? What is its origin, the beginning of thought? You are asking the question, not the speaker. Please, apply your own minds, brain, to inquire into this question because thought dominates every action in our life. Thought is the determining factor in relationship. So what is that thing called thought, the thinking machinery and the origin of it?

Is not thought born out of memory? You remember where you live, the distance to be covered from here to where you are going. That is knowledge, and that knowledge has been acquired through experience. So the beginning of thought is experience, knowledge, memory, stored up in the brain. This is a fact, not an exotic or absurd illusion. You remember something that happened yesterday, pleasurable or not, and that remembrance is stored in the brain, recorded in the brain, and from that record thought comes into being. So thought, whatever it does, is not sacred. It is a material process. Even some of the scientists agree to what the speaker has been saying for many years. They have experimented on rats, pigeons, guinea pigs and dogs but they don’t experiment upon themselves. We are also matter, and science is concerned with matter. And if thought is a material process, and thought, whatever it does, whether in the religious field or in the business field, or in preparing for wars through a gathering of armaments, is the result of thought.

Thought has divided people into this type of religious person, this type of human being who lives in certain part of the world, and so on. It is thought that has divided human beings. And thought, because of its divisive nature, because thought is never complete, because it is born of knowledge, and knowledge is never total about anything – therefore thought is always limited and separative because… – I won’t go into all that. It is separative. Where there is separative action, there must be conflict: between the communists, socialists and capitalists, between the Arab and the Jew, between the Hindu and the Muslim, and so on. These are all the divisive processes of thought. And where there is division – that is a law – there must be conflict.

So nothing that thought has put together, whether in a book, in the church, in the cathedrals, in the temples or in the mosques, is sacred. No symbol is sacred. And that is not religion; it is merely a form of thoughtful, superficial reaction to that which is called sacred.

So we are going to find out, if we can this morning, giving our attention, our whole attention to inquire what is sacred, if there is anything sacred at all.

The intellectuals throughout the world deny all this – they are fed up with the religions, with their illusions and all that. They discard; they are rather cynical about the whole affair because religious organisations throughout the world have great property, enormous wealth, great power. All that is not spiritual, all that is not religious.

So as we said, the word ‘religion’, the etymological meaning is unknown, but also the dictionary makes it clear that to inquire into what truth is, one must gather all energy, the capacity to be diligent, to act, not according to a certain pattern but to diligently observe your thoughts, your feelings, your antagonisms, your fears and to go far beyond them, so that the mind is completely free.

Now we are asking: is there anything sacred in life? Not invented by thought, because man, from time immeasurable, has always asked this question: is there something beyond all this confusion, misery, darkness, illusions, beyond the institutions and reforms – is there something really true, something beyond time, something so immense that thought cannot come to it? Man has inquired into this, and only apparently very, very, very, very few people have been free to enter into that world. And the priest from ancient of times comes in between the seeker and that which he is hoping to find. He interprets, he becomes the man who knows, or thinks he knows, and he is side-tracked, diverted, lost.

So if we want to inquire into that which is most holy, which is nameless, timeless, one must obviously belong to no group, no religion, have no belief, no faith, because belief and faith are accepting as true something which does not or may not exist. That is the nature of belief: taking for granted, accepting something to be true. When your own inquiry, your own vitality, energy has not found out, you believe. Because in belief is some form of security, comfort. But a man who is seeking merely psychological comfort, such a man will never come upon that which is beyond time.

Krishnamurti in Ojai 1982, Talk 6

Part 3

The Sacred Is Mysterious

Mankind has always sought something sacred, knowing that nothing in this world is sacred – this world in which there is all the movement of agony, suffering, lack of love, despair, anxiety, competition, ambition, ruthlessness – anything, we are saying now, anything that thought has created is not sacred, obviously. The things that have been put in the churches, in the temples, in the mosques are not sacred, but yet we worship them. We worship the word, the symbol, created by thought, and we pray to that. So we project that which is sacred according to our conditioning. If I was born in India – tradition and all the rest of it – I project that sacredness in something called… in a statue or something, a symbol, in the temple. And communists deny all that, but they have their own sacredness which is the state – for that they are willing to sacrifice, kill, you know, all the rest of it. So anything that thought has put together is not sacred – your Christ, your Jesus, your saviours, the Hindu gods – nothing!

So in meditation because the mind is absolutely quiet and therefore compassionate, is there something sacred? If you do not find it, life has no meaning. You understand? Has your life any meaning? Except pleasure, money and power? That has very little meaning. Your daily existence has very little meaning, and you try to find a meaning by joining communes, this or that, doing something, which is still the movement of thought. So when you see totally, when you perceive totally, all the movement of thought, and that whatever thought creates is nothing sacred.

So we are going to find out when the mind is completely quiet and therefore that quality of great compassion, then is there anything that is sacred? That is, not supernatural – when the mind doesn’t project anything, then the mind is still. If it doesn’t project according to its conditioning that which is called sacred, then the mind is still. Now, in this stillness is there anything sacred? Or is there anything sacred, holy, out of this silence?

You know, there is mystery. All religions have said there is a mystery – don’t go… you cannot go beyond a certain point, logically, sanely. That is why they have created temples that are very, very dark. The cathedrals have coloured windows and all the rest of it, but it is very dark, quiet, hoping thereby to create through thought a sense of great mystery or great myth.

When you understand this movement of thought as a whole, you have no myth, you have no mystery, no inquiry, through reality, a mystery. So when you have put away all that, then is there a mystery which thought cannot touch? That which is mysterious, not in the sense of the mystery that thought has created, that great sense of mystery which scientists are also inquiring into. That mysterious thing is sacred. It has no symbol, no word. You cannot experience it because if you experience there is still the experiencer who is the centre, who is the ‘me’ that will experience; therefore still division. That division is still the movement of thought. So the experience of ‘it’ is not possible, but it is there when the mind has gone through this whole business of existence with clarity, in which there is no fear, and the understanding of that enormous thing called death and suffering. And out of that comes great compassion.

Then when the mind is totally still in this compassion – your mind cannot be still without this compassion, do understand this – then out of that comes something mysterious, which is the most sacred.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1975, Talk 7

Part 4

Everything Becomes Sacred

As we said, the things that thought has put together as sacred are not sacred. They are just words to give significance to life because life as you live it is not sacred, is not holy. The word ‘holy’ comes from being whole, which means healthy, sane and therefore holy – all that is implied in that word. So a mind – please follow all this – a mind that is functioning through thought, however desirous it be to find that which is sacred, is still acting within the field of time, within the field of fragmentation. So then can the mind be whole, not fragmented? This is all part of the understanding of what is meditation.

Can the mind, which is the product of evolution, the product of time, the product of so much influence, so many hurts, so many travails, such great sorrow, great anxiety – it is caught in all that, and all that is the result of thought. And thought, as we said, is fragmentary by its very nature. And mind is the result of thought, as it is now. So can the mind be free of the movement of thought? Can the mind be completely non-fragmented?

Can your mind be non-fragmented? Can you look at life as a whole, as a whole? That is, you know what whole means, don’t you? Need I go into that? You know it. Don’t waste time on that kind of stuff. Can the mind be whole? Which means without a single fragment. Therefore diligence comes into this. A mind is whole when it is diligent, cares, attentive. To have care means to have great affection, great love. Which is totally different from the love of a man and a woman which is lustful, sexual, all that which we went into the other day, into which we won’t go now.

So the mind that is whole is attentive and therefore cares, and this quality of deep abiding sense of love. Such a mind is the whole. That you come upon when you begin to inquire what is meditation. Then we can proceed to find out what is sacred. Please listen; it is your life. Give your heart and mind to find out a way of living differently. Which means when the mind has abandoned all control. It does not mean that you lead a life of doing what you like, yielding to every desire, to every lustful glance or reaction, to every pleasure, to every demand of the pursuit of pleasure, but to find out whether you can live a daily life without a single control. That is part of meditation.

That means one has to have this quality of attention, that attention which has brought about the insight into the right place of thought. Thought is fragmentary, and where there is control there is the controller and the controlled, which is fragmentary. So to find out a life, a way of living without a single control, requires tremendous attention, great discipline. Not the discipline that you are accustomed to, which is merely suppression, control, conformity, but we are talking of a discipline which means to learn. The word ‘discipline’ comes from the word ‘disciple’. The disciple is there to learn. Now, here there is no teacher, no disciple – you are the teacher and you are the disciple, therefore you are learning. That very act of learning brings about its own order. Now thought has found its own place, its right place. So the mind is no longer burdened with the movement as a material process, which is thought, which means the mind is absolutely quiet. It is naturally quiet, not made quiet. That which is made quiet is terrorised; that which happens to be quiet, in that quietness, in that emptiness, a new thing can take place. So can the mind, your mind, be absolutely quiet without control, without the movement of thought? It will be quiet naturally if you really have the insight which brings about the right place for thought. From there, thought has its right place. Therefore the mind is quiet.

You understand what the word ‘silence’ and ‘quiet’ mean? You know, you can make the mind quiet by taking a drug, by repeating a mantra or a word, constantly repeating, repeating. Naturally your mind will become quiet. Such a mind is a dull, stupid mind and you call that transcendental meditation or whatever you like to call it. And there is a silence between two noises, there is silence between two notes, there is silence between two movements of thought. There is the silence of an evening when the birds have made their noise, chattering and have gone to bed, and there isn’t a flutter among the leaves, no breeze – there is absolute quietness, not in a city but when you are out with nature, when you are among the trees or sitting on the banks of a river. Then silence descends on the earth, and you are part of that silence. So there are different kinds of silence, but the silence we are talking about, the quietness of a mind, that silence is not to be bought, it is not to be practised, it is not something you gain, a reward, a compensation for an ugly life. It is only when the ugly life has been transformed into the good life – ‘the good’; I mean not having plenty, but the life of goodness, the flowering of that goodness, the beauty – then the silence comes.

Also you have to inquire: what is beauty? I am afraid in this country you have lost touch with nature. Though in your books nature is mentioned, you, the modern man, here, sitting there, have lost touch with nature, and therefore because having lost touch with nature, you have also lost touch with man, with your neighbour. So you have to find out what beauty is.

What is beauty? Have you ever gone into this question? Will you find it in a book and tell me or tell each other what the book says beauty is? What is beauty? Did you look at the sunset this evening as you were sitting there? The sunset was behind the speaker – did you look at it? Did you feel the light and the glory of that light on a leaf? Or do you think beauty is sensory, sensuous, and a mind that is seeking sacred things cannot be attracted to beauty, cannot have anything with beauty because beauty implies the woman in this country, therefore suppress it, therefore only concentrate on your little image which you have projected from your own thought as the good? So you have to find out.

If you want to find out what meditation is, you have to find out what beauty is. Beauty in the face, beauty in character – not character; character is a cheap thing that depends on your environmental reaction. The cultivation of that reaction is called character. The beauty of action, the beauty of behaviour, conduct, the inward beauty, the beauty of the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you gesture – all that is beauty. And without having that, meditation becomes merely an escape, a compensation, a meaningless action. And there is beauty in frugality. There is beauty in great austerity – not the austerity of the sannyasi but the austerity of a mind that has order, a mind that has understood the disorder it lives in – as you do; the disorder, and out of this disorder you create a pattern of order. That is not order; order comes when you understand the whole disorder in which you live and the understanding of that disorder. Out of that disorder naturally comes order, which is virtue. Therefore virtue, order is supreme austerity. Not the denial of three meals a day or fasting or shaving your head and all the rest of that business.

So there is order, which is beauty. There is order, there is beauty of love, beauty of compassion. Also there is the beauty of a clean street, of good architectural form of a building. There is beauty of a tree, the lovely leaf, the great big branches. To see all that is beauty – not merely going to museums and talking everlastingly about beauty. So silence of a quiet mind is the essence of that beauty. Because it is silent and because it is not the plaything of thought, then in that silence comes that which is indestructible, which is sacred. And in the coming of that which is sacred, then life becomes sacred. Your life becomes sacred. Our relationship becomes sacred. Everything becomes sacred because you have touched that thing which is sacred.

Then we have also to find out in meditation if there is something or if there is nothing which is eternal, timeless. Which means, can the mind, which has been cultivated in the area of time, find out, come upon or see that thing that is from everlasting to everlasting? So it means, can the mind be without time – though time is necessary to go from here to there and all the rest of it? Can that mind, that very same mind which operates in time, going from here to there, not psychologically, but physically, can that mind be without time? Which means, can that mind be without the past, without the present, without the future? Can that mind be in absolute nothingness? Don’t be frightened of that word.

You know, have you ever looked at an empty cup, when you pour your coffee into it? Before you pour, have you watched it, have you seen the emptiness of it? Because it is empty, it can receive. Because it is empty, it has got vast space. Have you observed in your own mind if you have any space at all there? Just space, you know, a little space, or is everything crowded? Crowded by your worries, by your sex or no sex, by your achievements, by your knowledge, by your ambitions, fears, your anxieties, your pettiness – it is crowded, and how can such a mind understand or be that state of being or having that enormous space?

Space is always enormous. I don’t know if you understand all this. A mind that has no space in daily life cannot possibly come upon that which is eternal, which is timeless. That is why meditation becomes extraordinarily important. Not the meditation that you all practise – that is not meditation at all – but the meditation of which we are talking about transforms the mind. Only such a mind is the religious mind. Only such a religious mind can bring about a different culture, a different way of life, a different relationship, a sense of sacredness and therefore great beauty and honesty. All this comes naturally without effort, without battle, without sacrifice, without control, and this is the beginning and the ending of meditation.

Krishnamurti in Madras 1974, Talk 4

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