Krishnamurti on Nature and the Environment

Episode Notes

‘We never have this feeling of wholeness, where the things of the sea and earth, the nature and the sky, is the universe, is part of us.’

This week’s podcast has seven sections. The first extract (2:12) is from Krishnamurti’s fourth talk in Madras 1979, titled ‘If one loses contact with nature’.

The second extract (8:28) is from the second question and answer meeting at Brockwood Park in 1980, titled ‘We are the greatest danger to the world’.

The third extract (12:14) is from Krishnamurti’s second question and answer meeting in Ojai 1985, titled ‘Are we struggling against our nature in seeking to change?’

The fourth extract (18:00) is from the first talk in Saanen 1978, titled ‘Observing natural sensation’.

The fifth extract (28:32) is from Krishnamurti’s fourth talk at Brockwood Park in 1983, titled ‘What is the origin of all life?’

The sixth extract (42:14) is from the second talk in Benares 1964, titled ‘Communion with nature’.

The final extract this week (51:26) is from a direct recording by Krishnamurti in 1983, titled ‘Will we ever live on this beautiful earth peacefully?’ This exclusive recording is presented here for the first time.

Part 1

If One Loses Contact With Nature

When one looks at one’s own life with all its extraordinary beauty, the vastness of what man has achieved technologically, one wonders why there has been so little beauty in one’s life. I mean by that word not merely the appearance of beauty, the decoration of the outer, but that quality of great communication with nature. If one loses contact with nature, one loses relationship with other human beings. You may read poems if you are so inclined, you may read all the beautiful sonnets and the lyrical swing of a lovely poem, but imagination is not beauty. The appreciation of a cloud and the love of light in that cloud, and a sheet of water along a dry road, or a bird perched on a single branch – all that enchantment we rarely see or appreciate or love because we are occupied with our own problems, with our own worries, with our peculiar ideas and fixations. We are never free. And beauty is this quality of freedom which is totally different from independence.

When you listen to all this, I wonder what you make of it. Whether we see a dog and love that dog or a rock or a stray cloud passing by, when we have not that sense of extraordinary communication with the world which brings about great beauty, we will become small human beings, mediocre, wasting our extraordinary life and losing all the beauty and the depth of existence. But I am afraid we must get back to realities, though that is also real, extraordinarily real – the branch, the shadow, the light on a leaf, the fluttering parrot, that is also actual, real. When we understand the swaying palm tree and the whole feeling of life, then there is a great sense of depth to beauty. But we are not interested in all that. Are you? I am afraid we aren’t. We will listen and let it slip by. It may sound romantic or sentimental, but beauty is not romantic, sentimental or emotional. It is something very, very solid, like a rock in the midst of a fast-flowing stream.

Krishnamurti in Madras 1979, Talk 4

Part 2

We Are the Greatest Danger to the World

Why is it that in the balance of nature there is always death and suffering? Why is it that man has killed fifty million whales? Fifty million – you understand? – and still Russia and Japan are killing whales. Man is killing every kind of species. The tigers are coming to an end, the cheetahs, the leopards and the elephants, for their tusks, for their flesh – you know all that. Is not man a much more dangerous animal than the rest of the animals? And you want to know why in nature there is death and suffering. You see a tiger killing a cow or a deer. That is their natural way of life. But the moment we interfere with it, it becomes real cruelty. You have seen, I am quite sure, baby seals being knocked on the head, and when there is a great protest against it, the unions say that we have to live that way. You know all this.

So where shall we start to understand the world about us and the world within us? The world within us is so enormously complex, but we want to understand the world of nature first. All that becomes our mania. Perhaps if we could start with ourselves – not to hurt, not to be violent, not to be nationalistic, but to feel for the whole of mankind, then perhaps we shall have a proper relationship between ourselves and nature. Now we are destroying the earth, the air, the sea, the things of the sea because we are the greatest danger to the world with our atomic bombs – you know all that, what is happening.

Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1980, Question and Answer Meeting 2

Part 3

Are We Struggling Against Our Nature in Seeking To Change?

The whole world of nature is a competition to survive. Is it not innate in humans to struggle for the same reason? And are we not struggling against our basic nature in seeking to change?

Don’t change. It’s very simple: if you want to remain as you are, carry on; nobody is going to prevent you. Religions have tried to civilise man. But they haven’t succeeded. On the contrary, some religions, like Christianity, have killed more people than anybody on earth. I don’t know if you have watched this. They have had two appalling wars, and they have killed millions. Not only Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung – these wars have destroyed. And if we carry on this way, not wanting to change, it’s all right.

But the question is: nature struggles to achieve light, like in a forest for example, and it is a struggle. The bigger and the stronger kills the weaker in nature. The tiger kills the deer, the lion kills some other thing. This goes on, this is part of nature. And the questioner says, if it is part of nature, why should we change at all? Because it’s intrinsic.

Why do we say it’s intrinsic? Why do we say there it is all right, and therefore it is all right with us too, and so why bother to change? It is part of us, part of nature, part of our existence – intrinsically this is what we are. And if that is so, that it is instinct, that it is innate in us – which one questions very deeply – then I can’t change anything. But why should we accept that it is innate in us? Is it my indolence that says, ‘For God’s sake, leave it all alone’? Is it my sense of exhaustion? Or we are supposed to be, as human beings, a little more intelligent, a little more reasonable, a little more sane, and we are supposed to use our sanity, our intelligence, our experience to live differently. To live differently. Perhaps that difference may be total, and not just remain as a mediocre person – which is now being encouraged for human beings, to remain mediocre, through their education and all the rest of it – I won’t go into it.

So is it mediocrity that is fighting us, that we hold on to and say, ‘We are slowly moving, it is all right’? Slowly moving towards the precipice. Or if you begin to question the whole process of our existence, using common sense, logic, reason, awareness – one questions intuition, that is rather doubtful because it may be one’s wish-fulfilment, calling it instinct or intuition – but one has to use logic in all this, not just say, ‘Well, it is innate.’

Krishnamurti in Ojai 1985, Question and Answer Meeting 2

Part 4

Observing Natural Sensation

We are inquiring seriously why human beings with this marvellous world around them, the beauty, the extraordinary nature, the quality of water, the birds, the sea and the land and the sky and the heavens above them, why they have reduced everything to this narrow little atom, small thing, and writing enormous books about it, and how to get rid of it, what to do, practise, meditate, sacrifice, deny, starve, fast, everything to get rid of the small ‘me’. The futility of sacrifice, the futility of denial of the ‘me’, and identifying itself with something else, with the family, with the nation, with a belief, with a god, with international… – umpteen forms of identification will not solve the problem. What will dissolve this thing that is so corrupting, that is always seeking power, position, authority, grabbing for itself everything, utilising knowledge as a means of further success, further power, further indulgence and so on?

Now can we factually observe not only the idea of ‘me’, the idea of the centre, but also observe the movement of the senses, the various senses, which is actually sensations? These sensations – touch, all the rest of it – these sensations exist, are actual. They must be; you cannot deny sensations. But when thought identifies itself with those sensations then the structure of the centre is beginning to be formed. Please, this is not an intellectual observation but just ordinary daily fact, if you observe the senses. One likes a particular form of food – or drink, smoking, drugs – and thought identifies itself with that particular food, and the taste of it, the smell of it, the delight of it, and with that identification, in that identification, the centre is formed. That is obvious.

Now can you observe – please listen to this; it is very interesting if you go into this – can you observe the movement of the sensations, whether it be sexual, whether it be taste, hearing or seeing, can you observe the movement of those ordinary natural sensations without identifying?

Am I saying something strange or neurotic or bizarre? It is very important to understand this because we will go into this problem of identification. Where there is no identification there is no centre. It is this constant identification with my senses, with my body, with my thoughts – the whole movement of identification; identification being attachment, inseparable attachment with all its associations, and so this identification is a movement of energy and that energy becomes more and more and more limited, which is the centre.

So we are asking: is there an observation of the senses without any form of thought identifying itself with a particular sensation? Sensations are natural. If you have no sensations you are utterly paralysed – perhaps most of us are, only in one particular direction, sexual or another direction. But we are talking of the movement of all senses, not one particular sense. If you see the logic of it, the reason of it, that the moment thought identifies itself with a particular sensation, or with all the sensations, that identification is the movement of building this vast energy into a narrow channel.

Have I explained? Have I made it clear? Not I – there is no speaker. Only in conversation between ourselves, as two human beings, we are discovering this. You are discovering, not the speaker. There is no speaker. So you are discovering that any form of identification, not only with the senses, with the family, with the nation, with ideas, with conclusions and so on, is the beginning of narrowing down this vast energy and limiting itself, therefore resisting the vast movement of life.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1978, Talk 1

Part 5

What Is the Origin of All Life?

Now, what is creation? What is the beginning of all this? We are inquiring into that: the origin of the beginning of all life. Not only your life but the life of every living thing: the deep-down whales, the dolphins, the little fish, the minute cells, the vast nature, the beauty of a tiger.

Have you ever seen a tiger in a forest? No, of course not; you wouldn’t see it. It is really the most extraordinary animal. I won’t go into it, not this time. I nearly touched one, wild.

The life of man, from the minutest cell to the most complex man, with all his inventions, with all his illusions, with his superstitions, with his quarrels, with his wars, with his arrogance and vulgarity, with his tremendous aspirations and his great depressions – what is the origin of all this?

Now, meditation is to come upon this. Not you come upon it, but in that silence, in that quietness, in that absolute tranquillity, the beginning. Is there a beginning? And if there is a beginning, there must be an ending. That which has a cause must end. If I have cancer, the cause is the disease. I must be operated on. Then that would be the end of it, or it would kill me. Wherever there is a cause, there must be an end. That is a law, that is natural. So is there a causation at all for the creation of man, the creation of all this way of life? Is there a beginning of all this? How are we going to find out?

Religions have said there is God, and God is the beginning and the end of all things. That is a very easy way of solving the problem. The Hindus have said it in one way, perhaps the Buddhists too, and Christianity said: God – the fundamental belief that man was created four thousand, five hundred years ago. It seems rather absurd because four thousand five hundred years ago, the Egyptians invented the calendar. Which means they must have been extraordinarily advanced. And if you are a fundamentalist, then you’ll get angry with what is being said. And I hope none of us is any kind of fundamentalist.

So what is creation? Not the painter who creates the picture, not the poet, not the one who makes something out of marble. Those are all things manifested. Is there something which is not manifest? Is there something, because it is not manifested, that thing has no beginning and no end? That which is manifested has a beginning, has an end. We are the manifestations, aren’t we? Not of divine something or other – we are the result. We are the result of thousands of years of so-called evolution, growth, development, and we also come to an end. That which is manifested can always be destroyed. But that which is not, has no time.

Now we are asking: is there such a thing as something beyond all time? This has been the inquiry of philosophers, scientists and religious people, to find out that which is beyond the measure of man, which is beyond time. Because if one can find, come, discover that or see that, that is immortality. That is beyond death.

I wonder if you understand all this. Are you following all this, a little bit at least? Try to encourage me, please. But I don’t want your encouragement.

You see, man has really sought in various ways, in different parts of the world, through different beliefs, because when one has discovered that or realised that, life then has no beginning and no end. Therefore it is beyond all concepts, beyond all hope. It is something immense.

Now to come back to earth. You see, we never look at life as a tremendous movement, our own life as tremendously wide, deep, vast. We have reduced our life to such a shoddy little affair. And life is really the most sacred thing in existence. To kill somebody is the most irreligious horror – to get angry, to be violent with somebody. The speaker has been angry only once, and the person with whom he was angry has been reminding him, so he is still carrying on with the anger.

You see, we never see the world as a whole because we are so fragmented, we are so terribly limited, so petty. And we never have this feeling of wholeness, where the things of the sea, the things of the earth, the nature and the sky, is the universe, is part of us. Not imagined – you can go off in some kind of fanciful imagination and imagine that we are the universe. Then you become cuckoo! But to break down this small, self-centred interest, to have nothing of that, then from there you can move infinitely.

And meditation is this. Not just sitting cross-legged or standing on your head or doing whatever one does, but to have this feeling of complete wholeness and unity of life. And that can only come when there is love and compassion.

Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1983, Talk 4

Part 6

Communion With Nature

If you are not in communion with anything, you are a dead human being – if you are not communing with the river, with the birds, with the trees, with the extraordinary light of the evening, the light of the morning on the water, if you are not in communion with your neighbour, with your wife, with your children, with your husband. Communion. I mean by that, the non-interference of the past so that you look at everything fresh, anew. And that is the only way to be in communion, everything, so that you die to everything of yesterday. And is it possible? One has to find this out, not, ‘How am I to do it?’ That is such an idiotic question people always ask: ‘How am I to do this?’ It shows their mentality: they have not understood, but they only want to achieve a result.

So I am asking you if you are ever in contact with anything, and with yourself – if you are ever in contact. Not with your higher self and lower self and all the innumerable divisions that man has created to escape from the fact. And to find out, not to be told, not how to come to this total action – there is no ‘how’, there is no method, you cannot be told, thank God. You have to work for it. No, I am sorry, I don’t mean that word work: people love to work – that is one of our fantasies that we must work to achieve something. You can’t work when you are in a state of communion. There is no working; it is there, the perfume is there; you don’t have to work.

So ask yourself, if I may request of you, to find out for yourself whether you are in communion with anything. When you are in communion with a tree… You know, have you ever been in communion with a tree? Do you know what it means? To look at a tree and to have no thought, no memory interfering with your observation, with your feeling, with your sensibility, with your nervous state of attention, so that there is only the tree, not you who are looking at that tree. Probably you have never done this because to you a tree has no meaning – the beauty of a tree has no significance at all. For to you beauty means sense, sexuality, and so you have shut out the tree, nature, the river, people, and you are not in contact with anything, even with yourself. You are in contact with your own ideas, with your own words, like a human being in contact with ashes. You know what happens when you are in contact with ashes? You are dead, you are burnt out.

So the first thing one has to realize is to find out what the total action is which will not create contradiction at any level of our existence. It is to be in communion, communion with yourself – not with the higher self, not with the atman, God and all that tommyrot, but to be actually in contact with yourself, with your greed, envy, ambition, brutality, deception, and then from there move. Then you will find out for yourself – find out, not to be told, which has no meaning – then you will find out for yourself that there is a total action only when there is complete silence of the mind, from which there is action.

You know, most of our minds are noisy, everlastingly chattering to itself, soliloquising or chattering about something, or trying to talk to itself to convince itself of something – it is always moving, noisy, and from that noise we act. And any action born of noise produces more noise, more confusion. But if you have observed or learned – observed and learned – what it means to communicate, the difficulty of communication, the non-verbalisation of the mind that communicates and receives communication, then as life is a movement, is an action, you will move on naturally, freely, easily, without any effort, to that state of communion. And that state of communion, you will find, if you inquire more deeply, is not only communion with nature, with the world, with everything about you, but also communion with yourself. To be in communion with yourself means complete silence so that the mind can be silently in communion with itself about everything. And from there, there is a total action. It is only out of emptiness there is the action which is total and creative.

Krishnamurti in Benares 1964, Talk 2

Part 7

Will We Ever Live on This Beautiful Earth Peacefully?

One saw a bird dying, shot by a man. It was flying with a rhythmic beat and beautifully, with such freedom and lack of fear, and the gun shattered it. It fell to the earth, and all the life had gone out of it. A dog fetched it and the man collected other dead birds. He was chattering with his friend and seemed so utterly indifferent. All that he was concerned with was bringing down so many birds, and it was over as far as he was concerned.

They are killing all over the world. Those marvellous, great animals of the sea, the whales, are killed by the million, and the tiger, and so many other animals are now becoming endangered species. Man is the only animal that is to be dreaded.

Some time ago, staying with a friend high in the hills, a man came and told the host that a tiger had killed a cow last night, and would we like to see the tiger that evening? He could arrange it by building a platform in a tree and tying up a goat, and the bleat of the goat, of the small animal, would attract the tiger, and we could see it. We both refused to satisfy our curiosity so cruelly. But later that day, the host suggested that we get the car and go into the forest to see the tiger if we could.

So towards evening, we got into an open car with a chauffeur driving us, and went deep into the forest for several miles. Of course, we saw nothing. It was getting quite dark, and the headlights were on, and as we turned round, there it was sitting right in the middle of the road waiting to receive us. It was a very large animal, beautifully marked, and its eyes, caught by the headlights, were bright, scintillating. It came growling towards the car, and as it passed just a few inches from the hand that was stretched out, the host said, ‘Don’t touch it; it is too dangerous, be quick for it is faster than your hand.’ But you could feel the energy of that animal, its vitality; it was a great dynamo of energy. And as it passed by, one felt an enormous attraction towards it. And it disappeared into the woods. Apparently, the friend had seen many tigers and had helped long ago in his youth to kill one, and ever since he had been regretting the terrible act.

Cruelty in every form is now spreading in the world. Man has probably never been so cruel as he is now, so violent. The churches and the priests of the world have talked about peace on earth; from the highest Christian hierarchy to the poor village priest there has been talk about living a good life, not hurting, not killing a thing; especially the Buddhists and Hindus of former years have said, ‘Don’t kill the fly, don’t kill anything, for next life you will pay for it.’ That was rather crudely put, but some of them maintained this spirit, this intention not to kill and not to hurt another human being. But killing with wars is going on and on. The dog so quickly kills the rabbit. Or the man shoots another with his marvellous machines, and he himself is perhaps shot by another. And this killing has been going on for millennia upon millennia. Some treat it as a sport, others kill out of hatred, anger, jealousy, and organised murder by the various nations with their armaments goes on. One wonders if man will ever live on this beautiful earth peacefully, never killing a little thing, or being killed, or killing another, but live peacefully with some divinity and love in his heart.

In this part of the world, which we call the West, the Christians have perhaps killed more than anyone else. They are always talking about peace on this earth, but to have peace one must live peacefully, and that seems so utterly impossible. There are arguments for and against war, the arguments that man has always been a killer and will always remain so, and there are those who maintain that he can bring about a change in himself and not kill. This is a very old story. The endless butchering has become a habit, an accepted formula, in spite of all the religions.

One was watching the other day a red-tailed hawk, high in the heavens, circling effortlessly, without a beat of the wing, just for the fun of flying, just to be sustained by the air currents. Then it was joined by another, and they were flying together for quite a while. They were marvellous creatures in that blue sky, and to hurt them in any way is a crime against heaven. Of course, there is no heaven; man has invented heaven out of hope, for his life has become a hell, an endless conflict from birth to death, coming and going, making money, working endlessly. This life has become a turmoil, a travail of endless striving.

One wonders if man, a human being, will ever live on this earth peacefully. Conflict has been the way of his life, within the skin and outside the skin, in the area of the psyche and in the society which that psyche has created. Probably love has totally disappeared from this world. Love implies generosity and care, not to hurt another, not to make another feel guilty, to be generous, courteous, and behave in such a manner that your words and thoughts are born out of compassion. Of course, you cannot be compassionate if you belong to organised religious institutions – large, powerful, traditional, dogmatic, that insist on faith.

There must be freedom to love. That love is not pleasure, desire, or a remembrance of things that have gone. Love is not the opposite of jealousy, hate and anger. All this may sound rather utopian, idealistic, something that man can only aspire to. But if you believe that, then you will go on killing. Love is as real, as strong, as death. It has nothing to do with imagination or sentiment or romanticism, and naturally it has nothing to do with power, position and prestige. It is as still as the waters of the sea and as powerful as the sea; it is like the running waters of a rich river flowing endlessly, without a beginning or an end. But the man who kills the baby seals or the great whales is concerned with his livelihood. He would say, ‘I live by that; that is my trade.’ He is totally unconcerned with that something which we call love. He probably loves his family, or he thinks he loves his family, and he is not very much concerned with how he gains his livelihood. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why man lives a fragmentary life: he never seems to love what he is doing – though perhaps a few people do. If one lived by the work one loves, it would be very different –one would understand the wholeness of life.

We have broken up life into fragments: the business world, the artistic world, the scientific world, the political world and the religious world. We seem to think that they are all separate and should be kept separate. So we become hypocritical, doing something ugly, corrupt in the business world and then coming home to live peacefully with our family. This breeds hypocrisy, a double standard of life. It is really a marvellous earth.

That bird sitting on the tallest tree has been there every morning, looking over the world, watching for a greater bird, a bird that might kill it, watching the clouds, the passing shadow, and the great spread of this rich earth, these rivers, forests and all the men who work from morning until night. If one thinks at all, in the psychological world, it is to be full of sorrow.

One wonders too if man will ever change, or only the few, the very, very few. Then what is the relationship of the few to the many? Or what is the relationship of the many to the few? The many have no relationship to the few. The few do have a relationship.

Sitting on that rock, looking down into the valley, with a lizard beside you, you daren’t move in case the lizard should be disturbed or frightened. And the lizard too is watching.

And so the world goes on: inventing gods, following the hierarchy of god’s representatives. And all the sham and the shame of illusions will probably go on, the thousand problems getting more and more complex and intricate. Only the intelligence of love and compassion can solve all problems of life. That intelligence is the only instrument that can never become dull.

Krishnamurti, Direct Recording in Ojai 1983

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