Interview by Frank Waters

Episode Notes

Frank Waters was a well-known American author based in New Mexico. His books include novels, biographies, histories, and essay collections. Known as the Grandfather of Southwestern Literature, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize several times.

His interview with Krishnamurti took place in Malibu, California in 1972. Subjects include: what brings about receptivity? Speaking to the unconscious; the little self and the big self; how Krishnamurti’s teachings work; myth; the destruction of the planet; sleep; and kundalini.


Frank Waters: I will start with a question, if I may, sir.

Krishnamurti: Yes, sir. Oh, we’ll have some fun! (Laughs)

FW: When I came here two days ago, I happened to meet two people whom I’d known 35 years ago and both of these people told me they had been listening to your talks for 35 years, and what struck me, as well as some of these crazy questions that you were asked, these people showed no signs of having understood at all what you’ve been saying. Now the question that kind of comes to my mind is this: if a person is prepared, they get what you have to say immediately – in a flash they get the thing – and other people can go years or a lifetime and they don’t get it. Now the form my question would take: is there a natural – I hate to use the word evolution – but a long preparation before people are ready? In other words, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

K: (Laughs) Yesterday in the afternoon I saw a group of people and one of them was quite young – she’s probably first year in college and she’s already caught and very conditioned in a peculiar, self-satisfied, self-criticising, which gives her gratification, if you know what I mean…

FW: Yes, sir.

K: …and it was very difficult to move her out of that little groove. And perhaps that’s what happens with most people – don’t you think? – that they start out wanting to find out, wanting to live differently, wanting to have a different kind of life, affection and all the rest and suddenly find they are caught in a trap and can’t get out. And you are saying, are you, sir, that one needs a considerable preparation to understand what we’re talking about?

FW: Yes.

K: I’m not at all sure. I know people in India, in Europe, here, who have set out deliberately, ‘preparing themselves’ – in quotation marks – ‘studying’, ‘observing’, ‘meditating’ – all these in quotation marks – and somehow, though they think they have prepared themselves, it doesn’t seem to do a thing. I know friends whom I’ve known for, oh, 40 years – if anything are far worse. So is it a matter of preparation or is it a quality of mind that has really gone through a great deal of trouble, a great deal of pain, and not come to any conclusion, any barrier, any resistance, says, ‘Well, I have lived. Please, here it is’?

FW: Well I think that’s closer to what I had in mind, because I don’t mean by preparation an intellectual striving…

K: No, no, no.

FW: …to do it at all, but I mean that a person reaches a certain receptiveness and they don’t know how they reach it.

K: Yes.

FW: But there comes a point and everything opens up…

K: Opens up, yes.

FW: …and then they are ready. But until they get to that point all preparation won’t do a bit of good.

K: Therefore how does one come to that state of mind that is, as you called, receptive?

FW: Yes, that’s what I’m trying to get at.

K: Get at.

FW: Yes, that’s what I’m trying to get at.

K: Quite right.

FW: Now a small child I think is very open and receptive, and then they go to school…

K: …and then they are destroyed.

FW: …and all the pressure, and they rationalise everything – develop that mind until it rationalises everything – and then they can’t get anything. Because you can’t get this through…

K: …mentation, no.

FW: …mentation. Now, then there has got to come another stage, it seems to me.

K: How is one to be receptive? You know, I saw once, a lady came to see me who was the head of a health organisation in India – oh, high up – and she said, ‘You know, I’m a Catholic and I totally disapprove of sex’ – and she was the head of health – ‘And to reach God you must have no sex.’ And I said, ‘You mean to say you are condemning the whole world because of your…’ You follow? She was adamant about it, you couldn’t penetrate. So, what makes one receptive?

FW: If I could answer that I think I wouldn’t be here. (Laughs)

K: No, I think we’ll find out, sir. I think we’ll find out.

FW: You know?

K: Yes, I understand.

AN: Yes.

K: I think you understand. Is it suffering? Suffering and not finding a solution, not coming to a conclusion that says, ‘Well, I’ve gotten over my sorrow’?

FW: Well, I think that can be reached but I take the example again of a small, innocent child who has had no suffering. But they are receptive, aren’t they?

K: They are curious, they want to find out, they are eager.

FW: I remember a little girl of 6 and she asked me – we were sleeping out on the lawn at night, watching the stars and she said, ‘Where did I come from and who was I before I came here?’ Now this was 6.

K: Quite.

FW: She is a receptive child.

K: But we are grown up and we are not apparently receptive. And we have to deal not with children, with grown up people because they are shaping the world. And how does one make them receptive? We can put aside, sir, the politicians. They are not receptive. Nor the people who are deeply conditioned in a religious belief – that’s out – nor the people who have their vested interest in the army, navy or in business – they’re out. Then there are very few left.

FW: That’s right.

K: And how can one help them to be receptive? Or what makes them receptive? They have a beastly time in life. Is it suffering, is it a sense of dissatisfaction with everything?

FW: I think one, somehow, even without realising, has got to reach a dead end.

K: Which means what? That’s just it. But you see, we never reach a dead end, as you call it, because all these rational people have supplied the answers to everything around me. Are we saying that a man who hasn’t come to any end, who hasn’t come to any conclusion, caught in any concept, it’s only such a person is capable of reception? But they are… all the world is this. I’ve talked a great deal in India and there are very, very few – from what… I may be mistaken and I hope I am – very, very few who haven’t a concept. You understand, sir?

FW: Yes. Yes, I do.

K: Who haven’t an image in which they are caught. So, what brings about receptivity? If you have great affection, a sense of great love, nature – you understand? – beauty in human… if you have it and I’m not receptive, I am not capable of… I am capable of a great deal of rationalisation – perhaps you do affect me, deep down. I may not be conscious of it.

FW: Yes.

K: I may not be able to put it into action or put it into words but I’ve already felt you. And that may be the only thing one can do. You talk not to my rational mind but my unconscious.

FW: Yes, I think that’s true.

K: To my subtler depths.

FW: Do you think that’s shown by all these foolish questions you’re asked after a talk? You reach these people…

K: Yes.

FW: …down here where they feel it but they can’t rationalise it.

K: Immediately – yes.

FW: Yes.

K: And they’re going to rationalise it presently because it is too disturbing.

FW: You plant the yeast for it to work later.

K: Yes.

FW: Yes.

K: That maybe – unless you are very old and, you know, absolutely brutalised; then there is no answer to it – but it may be on the depths of the unconsciousness, your love, your friendship, your sense of beauty, your sense of adoration of nature and all that, that will affect me. And I think that’s generally what happens.

FW: In reading through a lot of your answers to questions, some of these questions, sometimes I was confused because they are very rational, involved questions and you try to answer them rationally, it gives rise to more rational questions, so it’s all tied up in a knot. Whereas what you’ve really done to just let it stand and stop this, is that appeal to deeper depths and let it rest.

K: Yes, yes. I think that is what takes place. I remember talking to a man who was dying. He wanted to live very much. To him death was something dreadful. And he was dying and he wanted… he was already deeply in politics and he wanted to live because he wanted to become a minister or some blah – you follow? – something or other; and he wanted to live. So, there were two things: the desire to live and knowing that he was dying. The doctors assured him. He said, ‘Please, help me to live. I don’t want anything. I know the moment I leave I can make my way.’ I said, ‘Sir, I mean, it’s obvious you’re dying. Be quiet. For God’s sake, be quiet. See what happens.’ He said, ‘But I can’t. I want to live, I’ve got to…’ You follow, sir? The desire to live was much harder, much stronger than the fact of death. And I saw him several times and one day he said to me, ‘You’re quite right, I must be quiet. Then perhaps I’ll get well.’ I think it does operate that way. You have to have both the rational and, if we may call it, irrational – not put together by rationality.

FW: Yes.

K: These two have to walk together.

FW: If you can’t get this rationally and you get it through here, what in us understands? Now, it’s not the sensory apperceptions that we have – the five senses become aware – and it’s not an intellectual thing…

K: No.

FW: …so what is it? What is it within us?

K: That…

FW: …understands – yes.

K: Do you think we have closed all the windows? Or we have left a window half open of which you are unconscious, and through that little aperture comes fresh air? We generally close all our windows. Perhaps there is one corner which we have not even thought about.

FW: And what comes in? The whole comes in.

K: Yes, yes.

FW: You can’t have a little part come through. So the whole thing comes in. It’s there.

K: Yes.

FW: And that’s what understands.

K: Yes.

FW: Could you equate that to a… I guess they call it in India, the Self. Or is that something else to your…

K: No, no, we’ll have to be careful.

FW: Yes.

K: In India, as in the West, the idea… In India they think there is a super self – they call it the atman – the super entity which exists in darkness. The darkness is my conduct – you know, all that – outward layers. And it is that that is appealed to. It is that that begins to say yes. Right, sir? You know. It is that that begins to break down.

FW: Yes.

K: I am not sure it works that way.

FW: Yes.

K: That is still a rationalisation.

FW: Yes, you can’t put these things into words, no.

K: No. They have rationalised it very, very cleverly, thought it all out most beautifully. I met the other day, not last winter, the winter before last, an old gentleman who was 110 who was a teacher, a school teacher, and he gave it all up and became a monk; studied, studied, studied, studied, studied – you know? And when you ask him a question, out it pours – words, words, words. Sir…

No, no, please.

FW: I didn’t want to interrupt but this business of the Self has so many connotations because, well, we call the ego the self, with a little ‘s’ and then…

K: The big ‘S’.

FW: …this mysterious thing with the big ‘S’. So you never know, most people don’t know just what self you’re alluding to.

K: I think to say big Self or little self is still self.

FW: Well, yes, the ego is only a small part of the whole so it must be part of the Self.

K: No, no. Wait a minute, sir, no. When we use the word Self, either we are saying the self is the whole world, the whole of life without any division – and that may be called God, Brahman, or any name given to it – which is still the product of my thought, or the product of those people who have said there is a Brahman, there is a super soul. Now, it is still within the field of rationalisation, within the field of thought.

FW: And it’s not within the field of instinct, of feeling, then.

K: Instinct also is quite… a little bit dangerous too.

FW: Yes, yes.

K: Intuition is dangerous too. Sir, whether it is the super Self or the little self, why are we concerned with the super Self, the self with a big ‘S’? I don’t know anything about it, actually. I imagine, I want it, I hope it exists, I pray for it because I live a stupid, monstrous life and I hope someday that I’ll capture that. So it is still my longing for something which I call the big Self. When the little self has understood and wiped itself out there is something which… why should we call it anything? I don’t know if I’m…

FW: No, I think that’s right – if you can wipe out the little self…

K: And that’s all that matters. That’s all that matters.

FW: …your problems are over.

K: That’s all.

FW: Yes.

K: You see, they don’t tackle that – you follow, sir? – they go after all the other things except this.

FW: Yes, you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first base. This is it. (Laughs) That’s what you’re saying.

K: I don’t quite follow the baseball terminology.

FW: (Laughs) Well it is a game they play and a man hits a ball and he has to run from this spot clear up there. So he can’t reach second base and still keep his foot on the first one, you know?

K: (Laughs) Quite, quite, quite.

FW: But I’m still trying to get at what is it understands, in a word?

K: I think, sir, understanding takes place when my mind is really quiet.

FW: There is nothing then that really understands.

K: There is nothing to understand.

FW: But once you wipe out this lower self…

K: Yes, it’s like a…

FW: …then it takes place.

K: Yes.

FW: It’s there.

K: Yes.

FW: Yes. Now…

K: You see, that’s one of the most interesting things. They all say you must wipe out the self. They know that is the real barrier and yet somehow it doesn’t happen.

FW: Well the small self is the mind and thought.

K: Mind, the whole way of living.

FW: So to wipe out the small self you’ve got to stop thought, erase thought.

K: Yes.

FW: Yes.

K: But, you see, therefore they introduce another factor into this: to stop that thought there must be a higher agency that stops it.

FW: I think you brought that out in the talk yesterday.

K: Yes, yes.

FW: Yes. If you have the higher agency doing it…

K: That agency is still the… it’s part of the – yes. No, if you could go a little bit… What makes one receptive? What is it that really makes one enter into a stream, into a life which is – you know? What? As you said, that you met those two people, for 35 years they have – etc., etc., – and they haven’t got a thing. Why?

FW: Well I think what would help to make you receptive – I don’t know what the answer is – but it’s the diminution of the little self, because we’re so selfish.

K: I know.

FW: So bound up within ourselves that we can’t see the other person or the little area outside.

K: Outside – I know. But what will…

FW: But will do this.

K: What will do this?

FW: Yes.

K: Because probably 99% of the people are that way. And they control the world, they shape the world. And the 1%, they may talk, they may be receptive, they may… perhaps they do affect the deep unconscious of the 99. I mean, after all, the Jesus myth is that. And I think that it is so, the Buddhists, the Hindus, they have done such propaganda – you know what I mean? Wasn’t there a time when on the television or on the radio there was subliminal advertising, advertisements, commercials?

FW: I think there was, yes.

K: And it was stopped?

FW: Yes.

K: There it is. How dangerous all this is, sir. We have become so clever.

FW: Yes, I think that is a very, very dangerous thing, to tamper with somebody like that. It’s bad enough to appeal to reason. In thinking of this same thing, receptiveness, now I’m thinking of our Indians, out traditional Indians that were very instinctively receptive.

K: In America, those – yes.

FW: Yes, in America, here. And then they were like the small child I was thinking about. Now they are becoming like white people because they are developing that rationality and they are losing this.

K: The real…

FW: …feeling.

K: Feeling – quite.

FW: So these people are going to be, if they are not now, in a very bad state.

K: Yes, sir.

FW: Even Indians have a name for some of these people becoming so. They call them apple Indians.

K: Apple Indians?

FW: Red on the outside and white on the inside.

K: (Laughs) That’s quite good.

FW: (Laughs) So we have more and more of these people that are losing that fine thing that they had now and they are becoming like white. Now if I would set two or three of them down to listen to you talk, do you think you would reach them through rationality?

K: I doubt it.

FW: I don’t think so. I think you would have to appeal to that inner thing, that wordless thing, to reach them.

K: You see, sir, I have met some monks in India – they have come to see me. They have taken vows of silence, vows of celibacy, you know, all the rest of it.

FW: Yes.

K: And they are one of the most difficult people to talk to. You follow?

FW: Yes.

K: Because they know what you’re saying is right – here, mentally, logically and so on – but the vows, the determination, the wall they have built around themselves is almost impenetrable. I’m showing the other side – the receptive, and the people who want to be receptive and train themselves to be receptive are…

You weren’t there the other day. I met… three or four people came to see me who I’ve known, who are involved in the various societies to which I belonged, and so on, at one time – or rather, I didn’t belong; it doesn’t matter – and they could not break. They were established there and they were caught there and you could talk your head off, and yet they say, ‘You’re perfectly right, this is what…’ You follow, sir?

FW: Yes. Yes, sir.

K: And probably that is the real fact, that you talk rationally, explain logically and all the rest of it but actually you’re touching people at a deeper level without their knowing it. Perhaps something will happen unless they are hardboiled and gone.

I’ll tell you – this is very interesting. I used to know a man – he’s dead now – very, very rich, multi-millionaire. He used to come and see me several times and he said one morning he came – he said, ‘You know, I’m getting terribly disturbing dreams, which I never had before. I’ve listened to you for the last fortnight and they are getting worse and worse and worse. What am I to do? I said, ‘Why are you…’ You follow, sir? (Laughs) And at the end, after a fortnight, he never came.

FW: Yes.

K: That was the end of that. (Laughter)

FW: I was just on the point of hearing you say, ‘I told him not to come’. (Laughter)

K: Yes, I did. I did.

FW: You had done the work, yes. (Laughs) Planting the time bombs.

K: I think it works that way.

FW: Yes. We were talking at lunch yesterday about the emergence of a new group.

K: Yes.

FW: I got thinking last night. You know all over, our Indians here in the United States, in Mexico, Guatemala and so on, all have this tradition, the myth of four successive worlds, like the Buddhist cosmography – you see, four successive worlds.

K: Like the Hindus – quite, quite.

FW: And it’s about time, according to old belief, for the emergence of…

K: …a new world.

FW: …the fifth world.

K: Quite.

FW: Now, this is a mythological parallel, of course, but apparently each world represented a stage, up like a staircase, like steps of a pyramid which follows this same thing. So we are ready for the fifth. Now they call this an emergence. Now what you’re talking about is the same thing.

K: Yes.

FW: The emergence is beginning to happen.

K: Yes, sir.

FW: See, we are entering a new stage. And this gets back to the beginning of our conversation – the progressive stages. That is the thing that bugs me, that there must, it seems to me, be a progressive stage to the time when we get to a receptiveness.

K: You know the Hindus have that idea too.

FW: Yes.

K: There were a whole group of people who brought me up, all the rest of it – they said a new race was going to be born in California. Listen to it, it’s quite interesting. They called it The Sixth Root Race, and so on – terminology – and this is what they believed. I mean firmly, it’s not just a… ‘And the World Teacher is going to come to that race. And that World Teacher is already manifesting, is already here.’ You follow, sir, this peculiar…

FW: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

K: I didn’t know the… Do you feel, sir, as you’ve lived so long in the west of America – Arizona and California – that there is a new group coming into being? Not group, a new mind, a new…

FW: A new world.

K: New people.

FW: Oh, yes. Yes, I think it’s under way now. I think the whole group hasn’t congealed…

K: No, no, no. No, I hope not.

FW: They’re not aware but all over the nucleus of this is…

K: …taking place.

FW: They are forming, yes.

K: Quite.

FW: They’re really in existence now. I think of a parallel of… read from history in the beginning of the Christian era when people met in caves and catacombs, little separate groups, you see, and I think now all these cells in big cities, small groups all over the country, talking about the same thing and they’re interested. They already have an emotional relationship.

K: Relationship – quite, quite.

FW: So I think this, as the Indians call it, the emergence is taking place.

K: What part do they play in it?

FW: The Indians?

K: Or they are finished?

FW: I don’t know what part they will play because they’re becoming so rational. And at the same time they are trying to hang on to their old traditions, so this makes conflict.

K: Yes, sir.

FW: This makes a terrible, emotional split and it’s resulted in some village, of a schism, an actual schism between the two groups. They cannot reconcile so it’s ruining several pueblos, as it would ruin ourselves, this terrible split, you see.

K: I know.

FW: There is a strange difference in some of these Indian mythologies, and I think Chinese, because I gather from them that they believe that such a conflict between opposite polarities – the conflict is what gives motion and energy in life. And I gather from you, is only can we get that energy with the cessation of conflict.

K: Quite, quite.

FW: Yes. How would you reconcile these two points of view? Are there two different energies? Is one a destructive energy?

K: Sir, I was thinking about this this morning, too. The only energy one knows is this energy of conflict – me and you, in myself broken up, friction, struggle, battle – you know? The division in me is the fragmentation of energy, fighting each other – you know? – I want this and I don’t want that. That’s one kind of energy. That’s the only energy I know. Now when that energy, which is brought about through friction, comes to an end – if there is no friction in me there must be quite a different kind of energy.

FW: Now that was the energy you referred to yesterday.

K: Yes.

FW: Yesterday in your talk, yes.

K: I think one touches that when you are really a great mathematician – you follow? – a great scientist. You touch that and translate into some beastly little mechanical thing – I don’t know… – into mathematics, you know, various inventions and rationalisations.

FW: Electric toothbrush.

K: Yes, yes. (Laughter)

FW: Well this old Chinese and Mexican belief in movement, change and conflict…

K: But, sir, that’s what the communists believe.

FW: Yes.

K: Communists say there is thesis and antithesis and out of these two comes synthesis, and the synthesis produces another antithesis. And so you keep going, going, going, going, going, forever and ever and ever. That’s a battle, forever and ever.

FW: Yes, that’s good. I’m glad you mentioned this because this is what has happened in mythology throughout the whole periods of four worlds, four eras. There is always this conflict.

K: That’s just it.

FW: You see? And it takes place on one level, one world, and then of course it’s resolved, a balance is reached for a moment…

K: Quite – and then back again.

FW: …and then it’s back again, only reversed – you see?

K: That’s right, that’s right. Sir, has mythology any place at all? Take for instance, the Hindu mythology is enormous. You have no idea the complexity of it. The Greeks had it. The Catholics have it. And that seemed to keep society together.

FW: Well, mythology appeals to the… down here.

K: Yes. Wait a minute, sir.

FW: Oh, excuse me. Pardon me.

K: This myth has held people together. In India it was the myth of Brahman, all kinds of myths, that people said, ‘I must pay respect to, I must worship, I must behave, I must prostrate myself to that.’ So that has held them for many, many centuries, and that is gradually breaking down. In this country there is no myth at all. There is the myth of science and technology, going to the moon, but the real myth that held people together is absent in this, America. And so people are breaking up and trying to create a new myth – I don’t know if… – which science has destroyed. And science is trying to place a new myth, hoping to bring the broken-up human beings together again. And so has myth a place at all? Myth in the sense an imagination, ideals? You follow? Myth. The Greeks had, you know, Jupiter…

FW: I think myth does have a great deal of value because it appeals to the lower levels…

K: Yes, sir, but look at it around the other way – they are the inventions of thought.

FW: Are they the inventions of thought?

K: After all, the – what? – Jupiter, Zeus, Neptune. You follow?

FW: Yes, I was just trying to think. Yes.

K: They deified the skies – thunder – which the Indians have done, Hindus have done, and that held them together. And to go back to a new myth, which may hold people together for a while, it will again break up. I don’t know if I’m conveying, if I’m making myself clear.

FW: Yes, I get what you mean but I have probably a different idea of myth. Myth was created long after. After the fact.

K: Yes, after the fact.

FW: After the fact, you see?

K: Wait, wait, wait. Myth – I looked up in the dictionary – means a fable, a story, a traditionalised ideation – an event which took place say 300 years ago now become an idealistic, coloured, beautiful, lovely. It may have been the most stinking thing but now it becomes the most marvellous thing.

FW: So you think one myth only creates another?

K: And divides.

FW: As the product of thought – that’s the point.

K: Yes.

FW: That’s the thing I don’t know, because my idea of myth was not a product of thought but…

K: There is thunder.

FW: Yes.

K: That’s a fact. I am frightened; I will be destroyed by that. Therefore I pray to thunder and I deify thunder as Jupiter hurling thunder bolts. And I make a statue of Jupiter and there it is. Athena was the goddess of wisdom.

FW: Well then we have no myth now to hold us together, but what’s holding us together, if we had a myth, would be illusionary then, wouldn’t it?

K: That looks like it.

FW: Yes, yes.

K: And is there a way of holding people together without illusion, without the myth which man has invented? I think there is, sir. That is it. You see, that is the new group, new race, new whatever…

FW: To hold them together without illusion, without myth – that’s the point.

K: That’s the point.

FW: The cessation of thought which creates myth. Yes, that’s very good.


K: You see, when we were children in the family of Brahmins, the mother said don’t kill. Don’t kill a fly because if you do, you’ll suffer next life. Behave now so that you will be better next life. Don’t talk when the elders talk. Sit quiet, meditate. You follow? Be gentle, don’t hurt, you are a Brahman. You follow? That myth held people, made people behave. Now, the Brahman says, ‘What the hell are you talking about? I do what I want.’ You…

FW: Yes, I get it. Yes.

K: And also the myth, I mean, in India and in Europe, especially among the Catholics, certain types, God is tremendously important.

FW: We may have a myth starting, a modern myth starting, because this space exploration and landing on the moon…

K: Oh.

FW: …has given rise to the science fiction stories of a great, mechanical, robot universe.

K: Quite.

FW: This is controlled by rationality. It becomes more and more and more excessive until you have a godhead of excessive rationality.

K: (Laughs) Yes, sir.

FW: Now, this is the modern myth, I think, if there is such a thing developing. So the only way to counteract that would be again to appeal to those lower, subliminal parts of each of us, instead of through rationality. That is why I like your answers to questions that are involved from a tormented people. They’re not very rational questions.

K: No, no.

FW: And you can’t very well get into a long rational answer. But instead of that, when you answer them on something very simple, references you do to the trees and the birds, it brings them right down off of that…

K: …perch.

FW: …little post.

K: Yes (laughs).

FW: You see? This is good, it settles in here. So I hope you do more of that.

K: (Laughs) Yes. You see, to come back to the point, as you raised it, if there is this new myth of the rational, against which the younger generation is fighting, saying well, that’s all – you know – we’ll drink, we’ll take LSD, this, that, in order to experience something super. So the old and the new is going to meet and battle.

FW: Yes.

K: The young are as much in illusion as the other. I don’t know…

FW: Yes.


K: Is there, in the American Indian, an inclination to take drugs and all that, or smoke?

FW: No, they don’t take drugs very much. They have one: peyote.

K: Peyote.

FW: They do take the peyote, but fortunately it’s used only by one big tribe, the Navahos, and they follow through the ceremonial ritual of smoking it. So it’s not individual.

K: It’s not a daily habit.

FW: No, no.

K: No, no, no.

FW: No, the white people and Spanish people are the ones who take drugs, yes.

K: Yes. Sir, you’ve lived in this country, you’ve seen here a great many things happening – wars, racial riots and all the dreadful violence – what do you think is the outcome of all this?

FW: Well, sir, I don’t know. We have the myth of the kind American who has established a melting pot here for all races.

K: Yes, yes, yes.

FW: But when you look at the fact…

K: I know.

FW: …I think that the American is the most violent killer of all people.

K: Oh, sir, did you see how they are killing baby seals?

FW: Oh, yes. The way they killed off by calculated genocide, the whole Indian race almost.

K: Yes, absolutely.

FW: And then right down in the South, these terrible lynchings, for no reason, to kill off the blacks. Then you had the Great Yellow Peril. You see? Till we’ve almost got to the point where the only American, true American, is the Methodist, Republican Methodist. (Laughter)

K: Quite.

FW: And then that is developing into factions now. So where is the true American?

AN: And the animals.

FW: Yes.

K: Oh, sir! You know they…

FW: They’re killing off the animals, now we’ve started in on the complete pollution of the air and the seas and the rivers. We just are destructive from the very start. And I don’t know where this terrible destruction is going to end because it is so far advanced, I don’t think anything can stop it.

K: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

FW: But I think the only thing that is of any hope is out of the vast ruin will emerge, as you say…

K: …a new…

FW: …this new group, this new race that is emerging.

K: Are we saying, sir, the new race or new group or new mind has no illusion, has no myth, has no quality of conflict?

FW: That’s to be hoped for, yes. (Laughs)

K: And therefore gentle people. And therefore gentle people – you follow?

FW: Yes, yes. If there’s no conflict there’s no violence. Yes.

K: Sir, do you think people in authority realise how serious all this is?

FW: Here in America?

K: Or anywhere. I mean, in England or in France.

FW: Oh, I think the poorer countries realise it. They’re out of food, you see?

K: I understand that. In India, they’re out of food.

FW: Yes.

K: Millions are starving in Africa. I understand that, but I mean, take America, the power that be, the industrialists, the politicians, whether left or right or centre, do they realise what’s happening? Sir, two years ago I came here, three years ago, and those hills were extraordinarily beautiful. Look what they’re doing to them.

FW: Yes.

K: Do they realise this, sir? That’s all I’m…

FW: I think they only realise one thing and that is this industrialisation is such a monster, that it has an appetite that’s growing daily for resources and people. And that is getting bigger and bigger. And that appetite for coal, timber, rivers, water, animals and people’s brains and energies, is growing all the time.

K: But you’d destroy the world.

FW: I saw a phrase I liked: the polluted planet.

K: Polluted planet.

FW: (Laughs) It’s got to that extent. I hate to be pessimistic but…

K: Sir, suppose you went to talk to some of these big politicians. Would they listen to you? Or would they say, ‘We know. We can’t help it. We are caught in this’? Would they say, ‘All right, let us stop this’?

FW: Well, here again you have a thing. Now, a great politician and a very important post in the government signed for this black lake or black mesa.

K: What’s that?

FW: Strip coal mining, where they just rip up that whole Indian land for miles and pollute all the Southwest corridor. And he signed that and yet a month after he was out of office, he wrote a book saying we must preserve the beautiful scenery.

K: What the…

FW: Now, there is a…

K: Oh!

FW: Well, it’s a…

K: They first murder and then say we must stop murder.

FW: Yes. It doesn’t only make you mad but you must have a little pity when you think of the conflict in the man that can do these two opposite things. You know? Some day these are going to meet and this is going to destroy them, and I think that is what is happening to most of our industrialists.

K: Last winter I met a cabinet minister and he said, ‘You know what they’re doing; I’m utterly opposed. I don’t know why I stand this; I’m so deadly opposed to it.’ The next day he gets up and says quite the opposite.

FW: Yes.

K: You see, sir, but don’t they know what this is all leading to? Blind are they? Or is it like an engine that is running, lost its brakes, is running, running, running, catching, swallowing everything?

FW: Yes.


K: You know, sir, in the Vedas – you know what Vedas are, the old…

FW: Yes, sir.

K: This is predicted. Actually – I was told, I’ve not read it – exactly what’s going on. How the earth is going to be destroyed – you follow?

FW: Yes.

K: It’s there, word for word, it’s all written.

FW: Yes.

K: And out of this there’s something new coming.

FW: That is the good thing. I think that always from the ruins springs up something new.

K: But if you have polluted the air, if you have polluted the rivers beyond all repair. You see, sir, you go to south India or any part of India, they’re cutting down trees for fuel. The Government says this is our forest, you must not cut. They go on cutting. You know? And so less rain. India at one time was the most fertile, heavily wooded land. You go now. There is a particular tree called chinar which was brought from Persia by the Moguls – a marvellous tree, marvellous, huge, lovely tree, and it is forbidden to destroy it. So you know what they do? At night or sometime they cut a ring round it.

FW: Oh.

K: Nobody knows who has done it. Oh, no, sir. The pity of it all. You know what I mean? Men could be… What’s the good of talking about it? No wonder.


What time is it, sir?

(Pause in recording)

AN: Would you repeat that, sir?

K: How does the American Indian regard sleep and dreams?

FW: They go by dreams all the time. They always depend on dreams and they seem to dream all the time. It’s amazing how they dream.

K: To them is sleep important?

FW: Not too important.

K: Ah, no. If they dream they must have sleep.

FW: Yes. Some of these have so many religious ceremonies that last so long, I think they are dozing half the time.

K: Yes.

FW: You see? So if they are at that stage between dreamless sleep and the dream state and waking, those two areas, so what they say is a vision may be a dream or a dream may be one of these half wakeful visions. And they do not differentiate between the two. Everything is a dream. But they have so many. They go by these.

K: You see, in America, I notice more and more, sleeping is becoming a problem.

AN: How, sir?

K: Because they are taking drugs to sleep.

FW: Oh, you mean natural sleep, yes.

K: And sleep is tremendously important. You see, sir? And if you are inducing sleep through narcotics, whether it is harmless or not, you breach the whole world of inquiry, of perception. I don’t know if…

FW: Yes, sir.

K: Because the other night – I don’t know if you saw it on television – a man walks up and down and his wife is in bed asleep and he can’t sleep, and the commercial says take this and you’ll sleep – some pill or some liquid or other. And I said to myself, look what happens – this man competes, works, comes home tired and can’t sleep and his brain is never quiet – you follow, sir? – never rested, never peaceful, never looks at the yellow hills. And sleeps, induced sleep, and then the brain is tired, goes back – you follow?

FW: Well an Indian friend of mine has an important post in his pueblo. He couldn’t sleep. He was worried, so worried. So he gets up and goes down to the stream and he stands on the earth in his bare feet and listens to the water and looks up at the stars until he feels that he’s planted right in the earth, you see? And that water of the stream, he can hear it going through him, all over. And then he can see the stars, you see, that have the influence too. And in a little bit he is oriented to where he is, see? Then he’d go back and sleep. Now that gets into another thing. If the Indian is embodied for his awareness of his world, would be of the world of nature of which he is a part, but now that world of nature is being taken away. Now, of what would he be aware?

K: I know, that’s just it.

FW: You see? He can’t put his feet on the pavement and he can’t listen to the roar of traffic because he’s disoriented, so what world can he be part of, you see? That is the thing.

K: And the other night on television there was an old Indian, an American Indian, got down off his horse and he said, ‘This is my earth,’ in the woods, and there was a lake in front of him – it was Lake Tahoe – he said, ‘This is my lake. I drink water from it. And this is my sky.’ You follow, sir? He said it with such extraordinary feeling. An old man – he said, ‘Now you are going to destroy all that.’

No, what I’m trying to find out, sir, from you is, when the whole of America, the white America, is so driven, so horrendously active daily, his brain has no capacity to live – you follow, sir? – to look, to relax, to say, ‘What a beautiful day it is.’ What’s going to happen to the man? Heart attack, of course, and all the rest of it.

FW: What’s going to happen to the man is going to be this dreadful thing that happened down here on the road through Arizona, the main highway. They had a big cage there in front of a store and in that they had an antelope.

K: Oh my God!

FW: But over, above the store was mounted a loudspeaker playing rock music.

K: Oh! And that poor deer, antelope?

FW: Night and day.

K: What happened?

FW: Well we called up the state…

K: Cruelty to animals.

FW: …cruelty to animals, and they said they’d do something about it but they came out there about three or four days later. And it’s all open territory, it’s an old antelope and buffalo range, a great range, so they set that little antelope loose and it got out there with hundreds of miles to run in but, you know, that poor little thing just ran around in a circle, the same circle of the cage. I don’t know what happened. Now that’s what’s going to happen to these men.

K: That’s just it.

FW: You see? With that noise going all the time – that noise is going on in his head.

K: Oh my God!

AN: Quite right.

K: Sir, this is Christianity – you follow, sir?

FW: I’m not a Christian, I’m a pagan.

K: Quite, quite.

FW: Yes. You know.

AN: There are Christians here?

K: No, because… Sir, Christianity never emphasised the fact, don’t kill. Never. They put it in the Bible, you know, but don’t kill. They blessed the cannons, they blessed the war ships. You follow, sir?

AN: Sir, would you like to speak about that perception you were talking about in sleep? I feel that it would be nice to go into that, if you would. You said the other day, three things were related – sleep, energy and kundalini.

FW: Yes, I would like to…

AN: Kundalini.

FW: I would like to hear of that.

K: You’ve heard about that kundalini?

FW: I know kundalini, what it is.

K: You’ve heard about it?

FW: Yes.

K: First of all, sir, it should never be talked about.

FW: Correct.

K: It should be… if you’re interested, I’ll talk a little bit about it.

FW: Very much. Very much.

K: The whole idea is: all energy is seated round here.

FW: Yes.

K: And to release that energy, of course there must be absolutely righteous behaviour – be good, don’t hurt. You follow?

FW: Yes, sir.

K: Never get angry, never think about yourself. Otherwise, if that is released and you are selfish, you’re going to destroy.

AN: Yourself, first.

K: Yourself and the world. If you are sexual and if that’s released you will be a monster, sexually. And if you are at all greedy, violent – equally vicious. So, don’t touch that or come near it or think about it till this… till you are right; till you are a real human being, as it were. And sleep is not only restful for the body but for the mind to be quiet. Which means the brain cells themselves must be quiet. You understand? Not ending of thought – the brain cells must be absolutely still, without dreaming.

FW: That’s in the low state of dreamless sleep.

K: Yes.

FW: Below the state of dreaming. A dreamless sleep.

K: And you see, sir, the brain being very quiet, its very quietness creates its own energy. Not the energy of memory or the energy of competition, conflict – that’s finished. Therefore when the brain is quiet it renews itself in a new kind of energy. I believe scientists have talked about it a little bit.

FW: I’ve seen the curves that they have drawn… (inaudible)

K: I haven’t seen anything about it.

FW: Yes, yes.

K: I mean, I’m talking about myself, I’m not talking of anybody else.

FW: Yes.

K: So there is this energy through sleep, renewing itself all the time. Which is the energy which kundalini is supposed to awaken.

FW: Oh.

K: So, don’t touch that at any price till this is right. You follow, sir?

FW: Yes I do. Yes.

K: Till you are really founded in goodness. Till you are really in your heart of hearts, are really good. Others may do you damage, others may take you to court, do anything they like, but you are established there. And then perhaps the other thing will come naturally. But if you pursue the other, then you’re in for trouble.

FW: Yes, I understand.

K: And there are people now from India peddling kundalini.

AN: Yes.

K: You understand, sir?

AN: Trying to release an energy which is…

K: For these monstrous people. One of them came to see me – do you remember that gentleman?

FW: I’ve seen these advertisements, yes. kundalini yoga union.

K: Sir!

AN: It’s really blasphemous.

FW: Yes.

AN: Because it tries to manipulate that which is of the highest.

FW: Yes, releasing all this evil.


AN: Sleep. Kundalini and dreams. There were the three things that were related.

K: Yes.

AN: Energy.

K: Energy.

AN: Sleep, kundalini, energy.


K: You see, some of the monks or sanyasis in India want to awaken this. Some of them do – you know, the whole idea. You see, they are traditional Hindus, traditional in rituals and, you know, all that, and this becomes a monstrous energy in which they using for this. (Laughs)

FW: Yes.

K: It’s like generals having super power.

AN: Which is just what’s happened.

FW: Yes, it’s what’s happening.

K: Yes, sir.

AN: And that is the tragedy of the world.

FW: Yes.

AN: Is that those who are not prepared are in a position to mobilise great resources.

FW: That’s witchcraft.

AN: Yes, it’s witchcraft – exactly.

K: (Laughs) Yes, sir.

AN: It is witchcraft.

FW: Yes, it is.

K: It is, it is.

FW: Yes, it is.

AN: It is witchcraft.

K: You see, that’s why those people who, they say, as you become good you’ll have powers – clairvoyance, etc., etc. Don’t touch them. You may have them but don’t go – turn your back on them. I’m sure the Indians of America have that feeling too.

FW: Yes, they do. Yes. And I notice the same thing, this very strong, intricate ritualism, as it gradually breaks down, witchcraft…

K: …slips in.

FW: …is coming up again, you see. And now they even have a…

K: My God!

FW: …witchcraft ceremony. It’s still secret but a ceremony is developing.

K: Quite.

FW: So I’ve always believed that witchcraft is the obverse side of the coin of religion.

K: Quite.

AN: Yes.

FW: Of ritualism.

K: How extraordinary this is, you know? You find all this in India, all of this, going on now.

AN: Witchcraft is going on quite a lot in India. Here too.

K: Here too.

FW: Among people who are not Indian.

AN: Yes.

K: That’s why, sir, when one sees all this, apart from – I’m not depressed, I see it like that horrible building on that hill – there it is. One feels one has to become much more – you follow? – boiling with all this.


FW: I would like to cut this all out of my knowledge and just work on myself.

K: Yes, sir.

FW: That’s all I can do.

K: Yes, sir.


Right, sir.

Krishnamurti in Malibu, 27 March 1972

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