Krishnamurti with Alain Naudé 7

Episode Notes

This conversation between Krishnamurti and Alain Naude was recorded in Malibu, California, in 1972. Subjects include: Is there any connection between the supernatural and religion? Is a religious life to lead a good life? A religious life is a life in which the self is not. We get caught in the so-called mysterious. But when the self is not, there is a greater, vaster mystery. Self-knowing is much more important than acquiring some kind of power. What place has meditation in religious life? Meditation is not control or a practice, it is not an effort to achieve an experience or to remain in a particular state of consciousness. If the self is, the religious life is not. Can one dissolve the self? Why are certain human beings entrenched in the myth of Jesus or Krishna? Attachment destroys freedom. Where there is freedom there is joy. It is that quality of mind that has this sense of joy and freedom that perceives. Meditation means freedom and joy to observe, without any attachment or partial perception.

Alain Naude was Krishnamurti’s private secretary in the 1960s. He met Krishnamurti in 1963 whilst a music lecturer and concert pianist. He gave up his teaching and performing in 1964 to work with Krishnamurti. Fluent in several languages, he was very helpful at international gatherings and in attracting younger audiences to Krishnamurti’s talks, at a time of cultural change in the West.


Alain Naudé: Sir, the mysterious has always preoccupied man; not only that but there is… in a sense everything we don’t know is mysterious. We are interested in new things – going to the moon and so on – but there is another dimension of the mysterious which has always been associated with religion. People throughout the ages have thought that the religious man can somehow wield supernatural powers. And in a general kind of way, this domain of the mysterious is called the occult, and we find in all religious thinking, in all religious texts throughout the world the assumption that goodness, religion, is in fact very much preoccupied with siddhis, or powers, with the supernatural in fact. Would you like to say something about that, please, sir.

Krishnamurti: Yes, sir.

AN: Even in the Bible we see that Christ, his goodness was challenged in the following way. They said, ‘If you claim to be a good man, make miracles.’ And is there any connection between these two things at all? Is occultism really the religious concern?

K: As you said just now, sir, man is seeking something mysterious. Man has gone to the moon. Before, the moon was a mysterious thing, now it’s like…

AN: …everybody’s backyard.

K: Yes, it’s in everybody’s backyard. Our life, as you see it round ourselves, is obvious, shallow, empty, and rather boring, and we seek something mysterious, beyond this. I have noticed, for example, great revolutionaries, great social reformers, somehow that doesn’t seem to satisfy them completely, they want something much more, much more mysterious, so they turn to religion hoping to find the mysterious in religion. And religions generally offer the mysterious.

AN: Yes. The religious schools of Greece were, in fact, called The Mysteries.

K: Mysteries, that’s right, in Greece.

AN: You find that in all ancient cultures these two things were indistinguishable – mystery and religion.

K: Yes. In Greece, probably in Rome, certainly in India, that has been…

AN: Also it is a fact that the Divine is the unknown.

K: So, is there something mysterious? That’s the question, isn’t it? Is there…

AN: Is there occult knowledge? Of course there is. That’s not the question.

K: No.

AN: There is occult knowledge, and perhaps we might talk about that. The question is whether that occult knowledge has anything to do with what you mean when you speak of the religious man or the religious mind or the religious life.

K: Or goodness.

AN: Or goodness. Is the primary issue of life, which we might call the religious concern, in any way contingent on mystery or occultism?

K: Obviously not, sir.

AN: Obviously to you, sir, but as we were saying, throughout the cultures of the world, this is not obvious.

K: No, no. You see, I am showing, sir, we are showing how man, bored with life, the superficial life, he wants something more mysterious.

AN: He wants the mysterious, yes.

K: He wants the mysterious. And then he begins to invent the mysterious.

AN: Or it is really there.

K: Or it is there, or it is not there.

AN: I think we are discovering, even the cynical scientific minds, I mean cynical, I mean hard to hoodwink, the scientific minds today are discovering absolutely that there is, what they call ESP, there is the occult.

K: They say yes.

AN: So this is a fact. The question is whether that has anything to do with what you mean by religion.

K: What do you mean by religion? What do you mean by a religious life? Can we put aside all the organised religions, what they call religious life?

AN: Yes.

K: Based on a belief, based on a conclusion or a concept, a formula, a discipline, a system, a dogma.

AN: It’s part of their cultural history, yes.

K: So, for me that is not a religious life at all.

AN: Of course not. Sometimes it’s a legal code and sometimes it’s enforced morality.

K: I mean that’s not religious life at all, whether it is a Christian religious life or a Hindu religious life or the Islam, and so on.

AN: I think that is pretty clear, sir.

K: Very clear. If that is clear, then what is religious life? What is a life, in the daily process of living, what is a religious life? Would you say a religious life is to lead a good life? Not the good life of the advertiser.

AN: Recognised morality, because that changes from culture to culture, from time to time.

K: That can be brushed aside, too.

AN: Not the good which has an opposite, as you said the other day.

K: Oh, no. Good life, not a comfortable life.

AN: The life which has concern, which has affection, which has love…

K: Love, that’s it.

AN: …which is not acting for itself and from itself.

K: Therefore, a religious life is a life in which the self is not.

AN: Yes, sir. However, we do find this in every one of the great religions. To that extent, I would say they are not muck because they say, absolutely, he who would be…

K: Ah, go slow, sir, it’s very difficult. This is a very difficult point, because to lead a religious life means a life without the self.

AN: Yes, sir.

K: Now, what happens? Some of the… most of the religions recognise this.

AN: They state it, yes.

K: Therefore, what do they do?

AN: What they do afterwards, we see clearly, sir, is…

K: No, they replace the self by an idea…

AN: Yes, of selflessness…

K: …of selflessness, by…

AN: …with all the trappings attached to it.

K: …by a saviour, by a Master, and so on, which is…

AN: Yes, sir. That’s understood, sir.

K: No. Which is the transformation of the self…

AN: …into something which is the same.

K: …into the same.

AN: The self catches onto its own… it establishes its own security in another way.

K: Its own image, in a different form.

AN: Yes. That’s brushed aside.

K: Now that must be brushed aside.

AN: We have, sir, yes.

K: So what is a religious life? We say a religious life is one in which the self is absent.

AN: Yes.

K: And that’s one of the most difficult things. Now, that seems rather empty.

AN: Yes.

K: Wait, wait, wait. That seems rather empty.

AN: Many people would say, ‘I don’t find this too attractive,’ yes.

K: That’s it – attractive, not enough excitement, not enough…

AN: …glamour.

K: …glamour and all the rest of it. Therefore, they recognise a religious life is without the self but they want to express that feeling in siddhis, in powers, in various forms of mysterious…

AN: In other words, although pretending to get rid of the self, what they really want is the excitement and pleasure of the unknown and the powerful.

K: That’s right, sir. So…

AN: They are even more greedy than the businessman.

K: In a different way.

AN: Because the businessman cannot… he can’t do magic tricks.

K: So we are saying, a life without the self is really the most arduous, the most extraordinary, demanding life.

AN: And that is the religious life.

K: That’s the religious life.

AN: And there’s nothing else which is religion.

K: Nothing else. Now, wait a minute, sir. A religious life, in this sense which we are talking about, in understanding it, in living it, there are all these factors involved in it – powers, which are called siddhis, in Sanskrit, this power of healing…

AN: In the religious life, sir?

K: Wait a minute, sir.

AN: I thought you’ve just said that they had nothing to do with the religious life.

K: No, involved in it.

AN: How?

K: I’ll show you in a minute. I’ll show you in a minute. Because, as you are investigating into a religious life, in which the self is not, you find these things, siddhis…

AN: Where do you find them, in yourself?

K: In yourself.

AN: Or are they offered to you?

K: No.

AN: Does one find them around…

K: No.

AN: …or does one discover that one has these powers?

K: One has these powers.

AN: Yes.

K: It comes out like a…

AN: Like water from a well.

K: Water, yes – comes out. And one gets trapped in these.

AN: One pursues the by-product.

K: No, but they are very attractive, they are very demanding, they have their own vitality, their own urgency. I see a man suffering intensely, you can put your hands on him and help him to cure. And so…

AN: …and so it becomes the trade mark of the holy man.

K: Holy man – that’s all my point. You follow, sir?

Do you remember that lovely story of a teacher and his disciple? The disciple has been with the teacher for fifteen years and at the end of that period the disciple comes to the Master and says, ‘Look, Master, I have lived here for fifteen years and I have learnt nothing. You have taught me to be good, to behave properly, to love, to be kind, but that’s nothing. I’m sorry, I’m going away – I must find something more.’ So he comes back after five years and he says, ‘Master, I’ve found it, I’ve got it!’ And the Master says, ‘What have you got?’ ‘Do you see that river? I can walk on it.’ And the Master says, ‘You have taken five years to learn that, when there is a boat there where you can pay a penny to cross?’

AN: Yes.

K: That’s what we are all doing.

AN: Yes.

K: Getting caught in…

AN: …the occult.

K: …in the occult, in the so-called mysterious. But, when the self is not, there is…

AN: …no danger.

K: …there is a greater, vaster, mystery.

AN: Yes. That’s the real occult.

K: That’s the real thing.

AN: Yes, the real hidden.

K: I’ve seen, one has seen, that one can read thought. One has seen one can…

AN: …tell the future.

K: …tell the future, heal people. But the danger of all that…

AN: …is the strengthening of the self.

K: The self. If you fall into the trap of any of these, you do not lead a religious life.

AN: That’s beautiful, sir. Unfortunately, at present, in California, the pursuit of the occult is rampant.

K: Of course, because…

AN: Quite recently, there has been a great fuss about some Institute, which in the most blatantly commercial way, is training people with all kinds of – in the most superficial way, by the way, very superficially, training people…

K: …to be good.

AN: No, training people to develop all kinds of…

K: Oh, my!

AN: …superficial occult powers. And it’s taken for granted that this has something to do with the good. And so these greedy people go there, and through certain exercises, through breathing, through self-hypnosis…

K: Sir, this is as old as the hills, this thing, sir.

AN: …they either achieve, or think that they achieve, some sensation or some kind of occult power, and they think that this is good.

K: So you see, sir…

AN: They don’t even do it properly.

K: No. To lead a really religious life, with all its responsibilities, is to lead a good life – the flowering of goodness, which cannot exist if there is the self.

AN: Yes, sir.

K: And that life has an extraordinary sense of otherness, a sense of non-being in the world though you live in the world.

AN: Yes. That life itself will repudiate wielding powers.

K: But you see, sir, the desire for power – political, religious, spiritual, occult – is so strong.

AN: Yes.

K: A man who has money; the power of money is so strong.

AN: One sees it in the eye, in the voice, in the step.

K: That’s just it.

AN: Yes, sir. So to be nothing.

K: So you see, the saints try to lead a religious life without understanding the self, and therefore substitute the self by a symbol, by the cross. You follow? The symbol becomes extraordinarily important.

AN: Yes, and they kill for it. In other words, the symbol becomes the self.

K: That’s why the understanding, the self-knowing is much more important than acquiring some kind of power.

AN: Siddhi.

(Pause in recording)

AN: Sir, if we may, this brings us to another question, which is related to what you have been saying. You have told us that the religious life is a life with the understanding and the ending of the self. You have told us that it isn’t magic powers, however noble they appear to be. In the religious life, one finds the word meditation quite often used. And this word meditation is as popular today as this concern with the occult. You use the word meditation also, sir. Would you mind telling us how the meditation which you mean, is part of the religious life which you speak of?

K: Sir, meditation is generally understood as practising some system.

AN: It is rampant, yes. People sit this way, they sit that way.

K: There are dozens and dozens and dozens of groups and schools of meditation, with their systems, with their gurus, with their bosses, with their concentrated camps, and all the rest of it.

AN: Yes, concentrated camps! (Laughs)

K: Concentrated camps.

AN: Concentration camps.

K: You see, religion and meditation or contemplation have always gone together. You find this in India, tremendously.

AN: Nearly all the people who call themselves religious are going to tell you, ‘Ah, we agree with you entirely. Meditation to us is a technique’ – and they use this awful word – ‘a technique to end the self.’ And this technique might be repeating some formula or some other…

K: …mantras.

AN: Goodness knows.

K: Yes. You see how very absurd that is, because the technique, the practise of technique is a furthering of the self, that’s all – is the strengthening of the self.

AN: The one that is practising the technique is the one that is supposed to disappear.

K: Yes. It’s so obviously…

AN: The robber becomes a policeman, pretending to get robbers.

K: So, let us see now…

AN: Would you speak of meditation and the religious life, please, sir?

K: Yes. What place has meditation in religious life? What is meditation? That’s the really important… We said what is religious life.

AN: Surely, when we’ve said what is the religious life, meditation cannot be different from that.

K: That’s just it.

AN: Because if there is meditation and then the religious life, there is this awful ridge between the two.

K: But, sir, we have more or less analysed what is…

AN: In fact, there can be no difference between life and the religious life. It isn’t that one has life on Saturday and the religious life on Sunday. So life, religion and meditation, and love and beauty, must be the same thing.

K: Of course. So, sir, we analysed, more or less, looked into the question of a religious life. Now, what is meditation?

AN: It must be the living of the religious life.

K: What is meditation, really? Is it different from the life of selflessness?

AN: If it is different from that life then it is selfish.

K: Yes.

AN: Therefore, it is not meditation.

K: So it’s not. Is it a way of overcoming or abandoning or going beyond the self?

AN: If it is a way…

K: Go slow. I am asking, sir.

AN: …time is involved.

K: So we say, as time and effort is involved, that is not a religious life.

AN: And will. Which come from the self.

K: Therefore, it is still part of the self. The pursuit in meditation to control thought is still part of the self – right? – because the controller is the self, wishing to…

AN: Yes, effort it is involved.

K: That’s right. Meditation, in the sense of achieving enlightenment or realising some experience, transcendental or other experience…

AN: Or insight.

K: …is still the observer in operation.

AN: The self.

K: The self. So, meditation is not control, meditation is not a practice, meditation is not an effort to achieve a glorious experience, or to remain in a particular state of consciousness.

AN: Projected from memory.

K: Memory, and all the rest of it.

AN: Pursued through effort.

K: So we say all that is not meditation. Because you can see why it is not – logical, it’s sane, it’s balanced. And that’s not meditation.

AN: Yes. It cannot be.

K: Obviously it is not.

AN: Opinion is not involved at all.

K: It’s not. But, a man sees the truth that as long as the self is, the religious life is not. Then how is he to dissolve the self?

AN: That’s the only question, sir.

K: That’s the only question. Is the self to be dissolved through effort? We say no.

AN: Because the self makes effort.

K: Yes. So, is the dissolution of the self through meditation? Obviously it is not. Because in meditation, when there is an observer who is wishing to dissolve the self…

AN: Who is meditating.

K: …he is the self. Call him super-self or whatever it is, it is the still the self. The self can divide itself into myriad parts…

AN: And self is thinking.

K: …saying, ‘I am the higher self,’ or, ‘I am that’ – it is still the self.

AN: It’s fancy.

K: So how is a mind which really ‘wishes’ – let me put it in quotes – to lead a life without the self, how is that to be… to come by?

AN: How is the self ended?

K: A different kind of meditation is necessary. Not the meditations which we have talked about – that must be completely set aside. A different kind of meditation – what is that? I want to lead… one wants to lead a religious life. One sees the truth that there is no religious life as long as the self is. And one sees all the tricks the self plays.

AN: Yes.

K: One is aware of all the things that self creates in order to achieve a selfless life – which is still part of the self. Now, how does one come to this perception? Seeing the powers, siddhis, are not a religious life; seeing that caught in dogmas, beliefs, rituals is not a religious life; seeing that any form of siddhi, power, position, prestige, healing is not a religious life, what is…

AN: Seeing that all these tricks are not meditation, although they call it meditation.

K: What is that thing that sees?

AN: You said: How is one to come to this perception that the religious life…

K: No. Sir, look – one sees the religious life is not the ritual life, the dogmatic life, the life of…

AN: Yes, orthodoxy or effort.

K: All that – effort. What is the mind that says, ‘This is not it’?

AN: This is clear understanding.

K: Be careful. What do you mean by that word? What is that state of mind that says, ‘I see that is false. I see that is illusion. I see this is worthless. I see religion is none of these things’? What is it…

AN: Several things are involved.

K: Yes, that’s just it.

AN: First of all, it’s impersonal.

K: No, don’t yet translate it too quickly. Wait, sir. Don’t be so… What is it? What is the thing that says, ‘This is not’?


When you say, ‘This is not,’ in that, there is great joy. When you say… when the mind sees that siddhi, power, ritual, is not, it is seeing from a state of joy.

AN: And freedom.

K: A state of joy – and therefore… freedom comes with joy. Now, how does this happen? To say…

AN: Are you saying: How does this right perception come about?

K: How does this joy, which perceives the truth…

AN: Or are the two together?

K: That’s it.

AN: Is it the joy that perceives or the perception that is joyful? It’s the same thing.

K: Don’t divide it. We are examining. It is out of this perception that says… perception says: This is not. And that perception is entrenched, or is with joy. There is no battle, there is no conflict, there is no saying, ‘Oh, how am I to get rid of this?’

AN: It is harmonious and free, and easy.

K: So, what is that perception? How does it come? How does it come – listen to this, sir – to a person who has devoted his life, his energies, studied immensely, sacrificed everything – wife, family, position – and caught in some stupid little ritual, stupid little self-contained meditation, practising some silly system? All systems are silly, but I mean…

AN: Yes.

K: Now there he is. He wants to lead a really religious life, and he gets caught in it.

AN: Yes.

K: To such a man, if you say, ‘Look, this is not it.’ To him this is a tremendous blow.

AN: Yes.

K: He can’t understand it. So you begin to see…

AN: He might kill you.

K: Of course, he might kill me, he might burn me, as they wanted. I know. I never told you of that – it doesn’t matter. What was I going to say? Yes, I’ve got it – just a minute, sir.

So, perception of the truth that all these are false, can only come when the mind is really not attached to anything – not attached to any experience it has gained, to any knowledge, to any prejudice, to any formula – not attached. That’s the first requirement of perception. Which doesn’t mean it must be detached. Detachment comes only when you’re attached. Then you practise detachment.

AN: Which, again, is attachment. It depends, also, how the word is used.

K: Yes. So why is the mind attached – to any of them, or a belief, whatever it is – why is the mind attached? Because any attachment denies freedom; and it is only in freedom you can see. Right?

AN: Yes.

K: So, why is the mind attached?

AN: The mind is attachment.

K: No, go into it, sir, a little more. Why am I attached to a formula? Why are certain human beings entrenched in the myth of Jesus or Krishna – you follow? – why?

AN: Many, many things are involved.

K: Why? Attached – not to; what they are attached to.

AN: Yes. Many things are involved.

K: What are they?

AN: It’s like an onion. Each skin is the onion and yet…

K: No, I’m not sure. I’m not sure.

AN: Well, there’s fear, there’s habit, there’s anxiety…

K: Wait, sir – the root of fear, the root of anxiety, the root of insecurity, the root of…

AN: …there’s greed…

K: All that.

AN: …there’s aggression. It’s all the same thing.

K: The same. But it all springs from a certain root.

AN: A centre.

K: From a centre, from a sense…

AN: …of self.

K: Don’t use those words because we’ll… Now, what is that? Why is there this attachment? If we could find that then these things will drop off, naturally. I don’t have to struggle not to be a Catholic – you follow? – it’s finished.

AN: Are you asking: What is the essential root of attachment?

K: Because I see where there is attachment there is no freedom, and therefore there is no joy. It is only when freedom and joy function, are together, there is real perception.

AN: So we have, in a sense, a vicious circle. Freedom and joy saw the folly of attachment, but there is no freedom and joy because there is attachment.

K: Now why am I attached? What is the root of this thing that makes me attached to things, to people, to ideas? You follow? My guru – you follow? However absurd, however childish, however their gods and their saviours are, it’s too childish.

AN: Yes.

K: Why are they attached? They know, intellectually, it is stupid and yet they are attached.

AN: Yes. They are attached sometimes in order to not be attached.

K: So, why is the mind attached? Is it that the mind feels that it must be occupied?

AN: That’s not all of it, sir.

K: I am just beginning to examine. Of course it’s not all of it. Because without occupation, mind feels égaré, lost, empty.

AN: Yes. Rather in a panic, yes.

K: So it says: I must be occupied.

AN: It fidgets.

K: Is it because, basically, deeply, there is the fear of not being? Which is the fear of deep loneliness, emptiness, a sense of… lost, in a sea. Unless there is a rudder, one feels lost.

AN: Yes.

K: So, occupation, sense of deep loneliness, deep uncertainty, deep insecurity – all these force me to get attached, force the mind to get attached. Can the mind be free of this sense of despairing loneliness? And so we go back to that. So to fill that loneliness I do all these things. And if I really face that loneliness, look at it, go into it, understand it, not try…

AN: Challenge it.

K: Look at it, then the mind goes beyond it. So, I am attached because of this. And without solving this, mere detachment has no value at all. Right?

AN: One must get the root of it.

K: The root of it. So, attachment destroys freedom. And where there is freedom there is joy, and therefore it is that quality of mind that has this sense of joy and freedom that perceives. So, it perceives its own attachment and therefore it is free of the attachment, without any analysis, without any conflict.

AN: It understands.

K: Right – it’s finished.

AN: Yes.

K: So meditation then is none of these things, but understanding the ways and the means, the action of the self, which in its desire, in its pain, in its anxiety, in its guilt, in its sorrow, says: I cannot find a way out, therefore I’ll be attached. And the way out is not in the things you are attached to but…

AN: …in the ending of attachment.

K: …in the ending and the understanding of attachment because you have gone deeply into the cause of attachment – which can be perceived instantly, the cause, without analysis. So meditation has quite a different meaning, because it means really, freedom and joy to observe, without any attachment, without any partial perception – this is mine and that’s yours, this is the way I look, this is the way you look. There is no division.

That’s enough.

Krishnamurti in Malibu, 28 January 1972

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