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New Dehli 1948

New Delhi India 2nd Public Talk 28th November, 1948

To continue what we were talking about last Sunday, it seems to me that it is important to understand that conflict of any kind does not produce creative thinking. Until we understand conflict and the nature of conflict, and what it is that one is in conflict with, merely to struggle with a problem, or with a particular background or environment, is utterly useless. Just as all wars create deterioration and inevitably produce further wars, further misery, so to struggle with conflict leads to further confusion. So, conflict within oneself, projected outwardly, creates confusion in the world. It is there- fore necessary, is it not?, to understand conflict and to see that conflict of any kind is not productive of creative thinking, of sane human beings. And yet all our life is spent in struggle, and we think that struggle is a necessary part of existence. There is conflict within oneself and with the environment, environment being society, which in turn is our relationship with people, with things, and with ideas. This struggle is considered as inevitable, and we think that struggle is essential for the process of existence. Now, is that so? Is there any way of living which excludes struggle, in which there is a possibility of understanding without the usual conflict? I do not know whether you have noticed that the more you struggle with a psychological problem, the more confused and entangled you get; and that it is only when there is cessation of struggle, of all thought process, that understanding comes. So, we will have to enquire if conflict is essential, and if conflict is productive.

Now, we are talking about conflict in ourselves and with the environment. The environment is what one is in oneself. You and the environment are not two different processes; you are the environment, and the environment is you - which is an obvious fact. You are born into a particular group of people, whether in India, America Russia or England, and that very environment with its influences of climate, tradition, social and religious custom, creates you - and you are that environment. To find out if there is something more than merely the result of environment, you have to be free of the environment, free of its conditioning. That is obvious, is it not? If you look carefully into yourself, you will see that, being born in this country, you are climatically, socially, religiously and economically its product or result. That is, you are conditioned; and to find out if there is something more, something greater than the mere result of a condition, you have to be free of that condition. Being conditioned, merely to enquire if there is something more, something greater than the mere product of environment, has no meaning. Obviously, one must be free of the condition, of the environment, and then only can we find out if there is something more. To assert that there is or is not something more, is surely a wrong way of thinking. One has to discover, and to discover, one has to experiment.

So, to understand this environment and be free of it in ourselves, not only is it necessary to know all the hidden, stored up influences in the unconscious, but to know what we are in conflict with. As we have seen, each one of us is the result of environment, and we are not separate from environment. So, what is it that we are in conflict with? What is it that responds to environment? What is the thing we call struggle? We are in constant battle - but with what? We are struggling with the environment; and yet, since we are part of the environment, our struggle is only a process separating us from the environment. Therefore, there is no understanding of the environment, but merely a conflict. That is, to put it differently, if there is understanding of the environment without struggle, there is no self-consciousness. After all, you are self-conscious only when there is conflict. If there is no conflict, you are not conscious of yourself in action. You are conscious of yourself in action only when there is a conclusion, when there is frustration, when you want to do something but are prevented. When you want to achieve something and are blocked, there is frustration, and then only there is awareness of conflict or self-consciousness.

Now, what is it that we are struggling with? With our problems, are we not? What are the problems? The problems arise only in relation- ship, they do not exist independently of relationship. So, as long as I do not understand myself in relation to environment, which is my relationship with things, with property, with ideas, and with human being, whether my wife, my neighbour, or my particular group - as long as I do not understand my relationship with environment, there must be conflict. Environment is relationship, which is action with regard to things, people, and ideas. As long as I do not understand relationship, there must be conflict, and this conflict separates me as an entity different from the environment. I do not know if this is a little too abstract, and in any case we will discuss it further on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. But I think it is important to understand this point; because, if we can understand the significance of conflict, perhaps we shall approach the problem differently.

So, we do not understand environment, environment being relationship in action; and relationship exists only between yourself and things, people, and ideas. Since we do not understand environment, there is conflict, that is, self-consciousness, and therefore there is a process of separation between you and the environment. It is this conflict that creates separation; the individual as the `I' is born out of the conflict, and then the `I' wants to achieve, positively or negatively. So, conflict inevitably creates a separative process, creates the individual as apart from the group, from the community, and so on. This separative process of the `I' only emphasizes and strengthens the conflict which we see in daily life.

Now, is it possible to live without conflict? Because, conflict invariably increases the separative process, and therefore there is no way out of it. There is a way out only when conflict ceases. Is it possible to live without conflict? To find out if it is possible to live without conflict, we must understand what we mean by living. What do we mean by living? Surely, we mean the process of relationship, because there is no living in isolation. Nothing can live in isolation. By living we mean, do we not?, the extensive process of relationship, relationship in action. Now, is it possible to understand relationship, and not create out of relationship a conflict? Is it possible for relationship to be without conflict? please see the importance of this, that as long as there is conflict, there is no creative thinking and living. Conflict only accentuates separation and further strengthens the conflict. Is it possible to live, to be in relationship, without conflict? I say it is possible only if you understand relationship and do not resist it. That is, I have to understand my psychological relationship with things, with people, and with ideas. Is it possible to understand that conflict, and is conflict necessary for understanding? That is, do I have to struggle with the problem to understand the problem? Or is there a different approach?

I say there is a different approach to the problem of conflict, with which you can experiment for yourself, and that is to understand the significance of conflict. That is, when I struggle with a problem, a human problem or even an abstract problem of mathematics or physics, the mind is kept in agitation, it is worried. Surely an agitated, worried mind is incapable of understanding. Understanding comes when the mind is non-violent, not when it is in battle with a problem. We have problems with regard to property, with regard to people, and with regard to ideas, and shall deal with these on the following Sundays; but the first thing to realize, it seems to me, is that no form of conflict produces right understanding. It is only when I understand a problem that it ceases, and to understand a problem I must not only think about it, but be capable of leaving it alone. I do not know whether you have noticed that when you have a problem you worry over it like a dog over a bone. You think about it all day long, and at the end of the day you are exhausted and you put it aside, you sleep on it; and then suddenly you find the answer. This happens to most people. Surely, it is very simple. The conscious mind, worrying over the problem, is not capable of looking at it completely without seeking an answer. The conscious mind wants an answer to that problem; therefore, it is not concerned with the problem, but with the answer. The conscious mind not only wants an answer, but it does not want to go into the whole problem itself. Therefore, the conscious mind is avoiding the problem, and looking for an answer. But the answer is in the problem, not away from it. So, there must be the investigation of the problem completely, without seeking an answer, so that the mind can be quiet, still. I will presently take this up with regard to our relationship with people, with things, and with ideas, and see if we cannot be free of our problems immediately without going through the conflict which only confuses the problem.

Now I am going to answer the questions given to me. The repetition of truth prevents the understanding of truth, which means that repetition of truth is a hindrance. Truth cannot be repeated. You can read a book about truth, but mere repetition of a statement from the book is not truth. The word `truth' is not truth, the word is not the thing. To find that which is truth is to experience directly, independently of the word. So, in considering these questions, please let us bear in mind that we are undertaking a journey together to discover things together; therefore, there is no danger of the relationship of pupil and teacher. You are not here as the spectator to watch me play; we are both playing, therefore neither of us is exploiting the other.

Question: What is meditation, and how to do it?

Krishnamurti: As it is an enormous and very complex problem, let us go very carefully into the whole question. First of all, let us approach it negatively; because, to think positively about something we do not know is to continue the problem, and we do not know what meditation is. We have been told the way we should meditate, how we should concentrate, what we should do and not do, and all that; but that cannot be meditation. So, we must approach the problem of meditation negatively to find out what it is. To approach it positively and say this or that is meditation, is obviously repetition, because you have been told what meditation is and you are merely repeating what you have been told. Therefore it is not meditation, but mere repetition. I do not know if you follow what I am talking about. Perhaps it will be clearer as we go along. If we can see what meditation is not, then there ii a possibility of finding out what meditation is. Surely, that is the way of investigation and rational approach. So, let us find out.

Now, concentration is not meditation. We shall see what that means. Concentration implies exclusiveness, I hope you are interested in all this, because to discuss with somebody who is not interested is rather a trial for me as well as for you who are not interested. I shall tell you why you should be interested in this question: because it opens up an enormous field in human consciousness. Without understanding that consciousness, you have no basis for action. To me, to join parties, repeat slogans, and so on, has no meaning. In understanding this problem of meditation, I am understanding the whole problem of living. Meditation is not apart from living, as I shall show presently.

I said that concentration is not meditation. What do we mean by concentration? I do not know if. you have ever tried to concentrate. When you try to concentrate, what are you doing? You are choosing one interest among a great many, and trying to focus your attention on that particular interest. It is not an interest really, but you think you ought to be interested in it. That is, you think you ought to meditate about higher things and that is one interest among a great many; so, you choose to concentrate on it and exclude all other interests. That is what actually takes place when you concentrate. Therefore, such concentration is an exclusive process. Now, what happens when you are trying to concentrate on a picture, an image or an idea? What is happening? Other thoughts come in, and you try to brush them aside; and the more you brush them aside, the more they come in. So, you spend your time in resisting, and in trying to develop a particular idea. This process is called concentration, the effort to fix your mind on one interest which you have chosen and exclude all other interests. That is what we mean by concentration.

Now, to understand something you must give your full attention to it, full attention being attention that has no obstruction. You must give your whole being, and then you understand something. But what happens when you try to concentrate and at the same time resist? You are trying to follow along a certain track, but your mind is continually going off in another direction, and you are not giving your full attention. You are giving only partial attention, and therefore there is no understanding. Therefore, concentration does not help towards understanding, and it is very important to understand this point. Where there is exclusiveness of attention, there must be distraction. If I try to force my attention to focus on one thing, then the mind is resisting something else. That resistance is distraction. Therefore, where there is conflict between attention and distraction, there is no concentration at all. It is a battle, and that battle goes on until the mind, weary of the struggle, settles upon the chosen interest. Surely, to settle upon the chosen interest is not meditation. It is merely craving, the resistance and exclusiveness of choice. Such a mind is a dull mind. Such a mind is insensitive, it is incapable of response, because it has spent itself in resisting, excluding, wasted its energy in the conflict between distraction and attention. It has lost its elasticity, the power to reveal glory; therefore it is a decadent mind and is incapable of quickness and pliability. So, meditation is not concentration.

Now, meditation is not prayer. Let us examine what we are doing when we pray. What actually takes place, psychologically, when we pray? What do we mean by prayer? The repetition of certain phrases, supplication and petition. When I pray, I petition a higher entity, a higher intelligence, to clear up my vision, to free me from a difficulty, to help me to understand a problem, or to grant me comfort or happiness. So, prayer generally implies supplication or petition either to be helped out of one's difficulty, or to receive a response - which I shall explain presently. Now, I do not know if you have prayed. Probably some have. What happens when you pray? Don't deny it by saying it is nonsense, because millions pray, and they must receive a response, otherwise they would not do it. Whether or not that response is truth, we are going to find out. Now, what happens when you pray? By repeating certain phrases or words, by repeating certain charms, the mind becomes quiet. So, part of the function of prayer is to drug the mind into quietness, because when the mind is quiet, it is able to receive. That is, by sitting down or kneeling, by clasping one's hands and repeating certain phrases, the mind naturally subsides; and in that quiet state, it is capable of receiving. Now, what does it receive? It receives the answer it is seeking; and then I say that God has spoken to me, that my prayers have been answered and I have found a way out of my difficulties. Therefore I say that in prayer I find reality. But what has actually happened? The superficial conscious mind, which has been agitated, becomes quiet; and in that quiet state it is capable of receiving the intimations of the hidden, of the unconscious mind, and those intimations are the things which I want. Can these answers be from God or reality? Surely, it is a most extraordinary idea we have, that God is so awfully interested in us that when we have by our greed, envy and violence created a mess in the world, we have only to pray and he will answer. That is the way a Hitler prays, the Catholics pray, the Allies pray - and this country also prays to God. Where is the difference? We all want an answer that will be gratifying; and since prayer is a means of gratification, the answer will be gratifying. Whether you call it the inner voice, or the voice of reality, it is always gratifying. Therefore, prayer is a means of quietening the mind in order to find or receive gratification. As long as the mind is seeking gratification, it is not in search of reality. As long as the mind is seeking comfort, refuge, it is not capable of receiving the unknown; it is capable of receiving only that which is known, which is its own self-projection. That is why prayer is gratifying and why it finds a gratifying answer.

So, concentration is not meditation, and prayer is not meditation. Nor is devotion meditation, obviously. What are you devoted to? When you say, 'I am of a devotional nature, I am devoted to something', what do you mean by devotion? You are devoted to something which in return gratifies you; you are not devoted to something which creates trouble. You are devoted to something that pleases you, that brings satisfaction, a sense of security, of well being, that makes you sentimental; and that thing which you are devoted to is a projection of yourself. What you are devoted to gives you subtle satisfaction, positively or negatively, and therefore your devotion is not meditation.

Then what is meditation? If concentration, prayer, and devotion are not meditation, then what is meditation? Obviously, meditation begins with the understanding of oneself. To understand yourself is to be aware of yourself in action, which is to see what is actually taking place when you concentrate, when you pray, when you are devoted. It is a process in which you are discovering yourself. You can discover yourself only in relationship, which is action. After all, if you see what is happening when you concentrate, then you are discovering the ways of your own thinking; when you look into concentration, you begin to discover yourself in operation, and therefore through concentration you are beginning to understand yourself. Similarly, you begin to see yourself in operation when you are praying, or when you are feeling devotion. As you discover all the implications of prayer and devotion, you begin to understand yourself. So, when you trace the process of thought with regard to concentration, with regard to prayer, with regard to devotion, you are discovering yourself in relation to those things; and all this is a process of meditation.

So, meditation is the beginning of self-knowledge - knowledge of oneself as one is, and not as one should be. The desire to be something else is a barrier to seeing yourself as you are. Meditation is awareness, without condemnation, of every thought, every feeling, every word. The moment you condemn, you put into motion another thought process, and self-discovery ceases. After all, as I said, meditation is a process of self-discovery, and that self-discovery is without an end. Therefore, meditation is an eternal, timeless process. To understand that which is timeless, which is unknown, which is real, which cannot be put into words - to realize that, the thought process must be completely understood; and it can be understood, not in abstraction, not in isolation, but only in relationship. There is no such thing as isolation. A man who sits in an enclosed room, or withdraws to a jungle or a mountain, is still related, he cannot escape relationship. And it is only through relationship that I am capable of knowing myself, and therefore knowing how to meditate.

Meditation, then, is the beginning of understanding, meditation is the beginning of self-knowledge. Without meditation, there is no self-knowledge; without self-knowledge, there is no meditation. So, you must begin to know what you are. You cannot go far without beginning near, without understanding your daily process of thought, feeling and action. In other words, thought must understand its own working; and when you see yourself in operation, you will observe that thought moves from the known to the known. You cannot think about the unknown. That which you know is not real, because what you know is only in time. To be free from the net of time is the important concern, not to think about the unknown; because you cannot think about the unknown. The answers to your prayers are of the known. To receive the unknown, the mind itself must become the unknown. The mind is the result of the thought process, the result of time, and this thought process must come to an end. The mind cannot think of that which is eternal, timeless; therefore the mind must be free of time, the time process of the mind must be dissolved. Only when the mind is completely free from yesterday, and is therefore not using the present as a means to the future, is it capable of receiving the eternal. That which is known has no relationship with the unknown. Therefore you cannot pray to the unknown, you cannot concentrate on the unknown, you cannot be devoted to the unknown. All that has no meaning. What has meaning, is to find out how the mind operates, it is to see yourself in action. Therefore, our concern in meditation is to know oneself, not only superficially, but the whole content of the inner, hidden consciousness. Without knowing all that and being free of its conditioning, you cannot possibly go beyond the mind's limits. That is why the thought process must cease, and for this cessation there must be knowledge of oneself. Therefore meditation is the beginning of wisdom, which is the understanding of one's own mind and heart.

This is a matter of life and death; because, if you understand what I have been saying, it will produce a revolution in your life, a devastating experience. But if it is merely verbal, a casual amusement instead of going to the cinema, then you can go on merely listening without disturbance. But if you know how to listen, you will be tremendously moved, and therefore a revolution is possible. So, Sir, please do not merely listen to the words, for words have very little meaning. But most of us are fed on words without any substance, we cannot think without words; and to think without words is negative thinking, which is the highest form of thinking. That is not possible when words are important, when the word is the end. Take the word God. When the word God is used you get very excited, you get psychologically thrilled, which means that the word is important, and not the thing the word represents. So, you are caught in the net of words. The man who is seeking the real does not confuse the word, the language, with that which it represents.

I hope you don't mind if I answer another question.

Question: Does not interest in a thing, a person, or an idea, bring about an effortless but none-the-less exclusive concentration on the object of interest?

Krishnamurti: I have not seen the question before, so I am going to think it out with you. The questioner wants to know, if I interpret him rightly, when one is interested in something, is there not effortlessness and at the same time exclusive attention? That is, when I am interested in understanding a problem and pay attention to it, is that attention not exclusive? The second point is, if one has interest, is there not effortlessness?

Now, what do we mean by interest? Can we honestly say that we are interested in only one thing? Obviously, that would not be a true statement. We are interested in many things. Our attention is focussed sometimes on one thing, sometimes on another. Whenever a particular interest attracts our attention it creates a disturbance, and then we pay attention. That is what actually takes place. That is, I have many interests, I am an entity of many masks. From among these entities with many interests, I choose one, thinking that it will help me. What happens when I do so? When I am concentrating my attention, I am really excluding other interests. Surely, when I focus my attention on one interest, my attention is exclusive; therefore, though I am interested in other things, I try to shut them out. That is, I have many interests, and I choose one interest and try to fix my attention on it; and when I do that, I create resistance, which means a state of struggle, of pain. There is effortlessness only when there is an understanding of all the interests, and not the exclusive choice of one interest; because, after all, you are not made up of one interest. You are the total of many variable and multiple interests, and these are being modified all the time; and to choose one interest and focus your mind upon it is to make the mind narrow, petty and exclusive. Such a mind cannot understand. Whereas, a mind that sees the significance of each interest as it arises from moment to moment is capable of extensive awareness, extensive feeling. Look at what is happening in the hall right now. You are paying attention to what I am saying. You are not exclusive, are you? You are listening to the truth of what is, which is an obvious fact, so your awareness is extensive and not limited. You are just allowing yourself to see and enjoy. There is no effort, but your attention is fully focussed without any resistance or exclusion. It is an extraordinary thing if you go into it. We are extensive, and yet we can pay attention to the particular. Concentration on the particular destroys extensive awareness, whereas if you are capable of being extensively aware, then you can give attention to the particular without resistance. I do not know if you see the beauty of it. Sir, that is love, isn't it? Love is extensive, therefore you can give love to the particular. But most of us have not this extensive love, and therefore we go to the particular, and the particular destroys us.

So, there is attention which is effortless, which alone brings about understanding, when the multiple and variable interests are taken together and understood. But when the attention is focussed on one interest to the exclusion of other in- terests, such attention is exclusive and destructive, it makes the mind narrow and is therefore a deteriorating factor. The narrow mind may produce immediate results, but it cannot understand extensively; but when the mind is extensive, it can include the particular also. This elasticity, pliability, swiftness of the mind, cannot come about if there is resistance; therefore, one has to be aware of and understand the many interests, and not resist them. As each interest comes up, look at it; don't condemn or justify it, but go into it, absorb it fully and completely. It does not matter whether it is a sexual interest, the desire to be somebody, or any other interest. Go into each interest and feel its implications, think it out; and then you will find that the mind is capable of being extensively aware of every interest, seeing the implications of it immediately without going into it step by step. Surely, such a mind is essential for understanding the real, because the real, that which is true, is not exclusive. The mind is exclusive because we have trained it to deal only with the particular, forced it to focus on one interest and exclude other interests. Therefore, it is incapable of receiving that which is limitless. Though you may read about the limitless, and repeat what you read, by doing so you are merely hypnotizing yourself. Whereas, if you can look at each interest without condemnation or justification, without identifying yourself, if you can be aware of its whole content, then you will see that the mind, being free, is both swift and very slow. It is like a high-powered and perfectly balanced engine - though it can run at great speed, it can go very slowly also. It is only then that the mind is capable of receiving the intimations of the real. Whereas, a mind that is exclusive, limited, conditioned, can never understand that which is eternal. To understand the eternal is to understand oneself. When there are multiple interests, we have to understand each interest as it arises, and only then can there be that freedom in which the real is discovered.

November 28, 1948


New Dehli 1948

New Delhi India 2nd Public Talk 28th November, 1948

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