London 4th Public Talk 23rd October 1949
For the past few weeks we have been discussing the problem of self-awareness and self-knowledge. It is so obviously essential to know oneself completely. And to know oneself, is not a withdrawal from life, but rather, the understanding of relationship - relationship with things, with people, with ideas. And, experience can be understood only through self-knowledge; experience is not apart from self-knowledge.
Unfortunately, most of us do not seek self-knowledge, but cling to experience. And we use experience as a measure to discover truth, to discover reality, or God, or what you will. So experience, with most of us, has become the standard of valuation.
But does experience reveal truth, or whatever name you like to call it? Surely, experience is a distraction, a process away from oneself. That is, most of us are so unaware of the total process of our existence; we do not see that we are running away from ourselves. In ourselves, whether we admit it or not, consciously or unconsciously, there is a state of poverty, an emptiness, which we try to cover up, from which we try to run away. And in the process of covering it up, we have various experiences; we cling to various points of view, beliefs. And these distractions, which are obviously away from ourselves, are experiences. That is, one is aware, consciously or unconsciously, of a sense of emptiness in oneself, a sense of being nothing a sense of being insufficient. Most of us are aware of it; but we are not willing to face it, not willing to understand what it is; we try to run away from that state of emptiness, that state of nothingness, either through holding on to property, through name, through position or family, through people, or through knowledge. This flight from ourselves is called experience; and, to these escapes we cling, and therefore the means of escape become much more important than the understanding of ourselves. The means of escape from our` own state offer happiness, and therefore experience becomes a hindrance to the understanding of what is.
That is, to put it differently, most of us are aware that we are lonely; and to escape from that loneliness, we turn on the radio, or read a book, or cling to a person, or become addicted to knowledge. This escape from what is, gives us various experiences; and to these experiences we cling. Then property, name, position, prestige, become extraordinarily important. Similarly, the person becomes important, whether the one or the many, the individual or the group, the society. And likewise knowledge, as a means of escape from ourselves, becomes extraordinarily important.
So, we cover up that emptiness, that loneliness, through knowledge, through relationship, and through possessions; therefore, possessions, relationships, and knowledge become extraordinarily important - because without them we should be lost. Without them we are face to face with ourselves as we are, and to escape from that, we resort to all these means, and are caught in the experiences of these escapes. We use those experiences as a standard, as a measure, to discover reality. But reality, or God, is the unknown; it cannot be measured by our experience, by our conditioning; and to come to it, we must put aside all escapes and face what is - which is our loneliness, our extraordinary sense of being nothing. Because we are empty, though we do not like to acknowledge it; and we have therefore surrounded ourselves with things through which we escape from ourselves.
So, experience is not a measure, is not the way to reality; because, after all, we experience according to our belief, according to our conditioning; and that belief is obviously an escape from ourselves. To know myself, I need not have any belief: I only have to watch myself, clearly and choicelessly - watch myself in relationship, watch myself in escape, watch myself in attachment. And one has to watch oneself without any prejudice, without any conclusion, without any determination. In that passive awareness, one discovers this extraordinary sense of aloneness. I am sure most of you have felt this - the sense of complete emptiness which nothing can fill. It is only in abiding in that state, when all values have utterly ceased; it is only when we are capable of being alone and facing that aloneness without any sense of escape - only then does reality come into being. Because, values are merely the result of our conditioning; like experience, they are based on a belief, and are a hindrance to the understanding of reality.
But, that is an arduous task, which most of us are unwilling to go through. So we cling to experiences - mystical, superstitious, the experiences of relationship, of so-called love, and the experiences of possession. These become very significant, because it is of these that we are made. We are made of beliefs, of conditioning's. of environmental influences: that is our background. And from that background, we judge, we value. And when one goes through, understands, the whole process of this background, then one comes to a point where one is utterly alone. One must be alone to find reality - which does not mean escape, withdrawal from life. On the contrary it is the complete intensification of life; because, then there is freedom from the background, from the memory of the experiences of escape. In that aloneness, in that loneliness, there is no choice, there is no fear of what is. Fear arises only when we are unwilling to acknowledge or see what is.
Therefore, it is essential for reality to come into being, to set aside the innumerable escapes that one has established, in which one is caught up. After all, if you observe, you will see how we use people - how we use our husbands and wives, or groups, or nationalities - to escape from ourselves. We seek comfort in relationship. Such a search for comfort in relationship brings certain experiences and to those experiences we cling. Also, to escape from ourselves, knowledge becomes extraordinarily important; but knowledge is obviously not the way to reality. Mind must be completely empty and still, for reality to come into being. But a mind that is rattling around with knowledge, addicted to ideas and beliefs, ever chattering, is incapable of receiving that which is. Similarly, if we seek comfort in relationship, then relationship is an avoidance of ourselves. After all, in relationship we want comfort, we want something to lean on, we want support, we want to be loved, we want to be possessed - which all indicates the poverty of our own being. Similarly our desire for property, for name, for titles, for possessions, indicates that inward insufficiency.
When one realizes that this is not the way to reality, then one comes to that state when the mind is no longer seeking comfort, when the mind is completely content with what is - which does not mean stagnation. In the flight from what is, there is death; in the recognition and awareness of what is, there is life. So, experience based on conditioning, the experience of a belief, which is the result of escape from ourselves, and the experience of relationship - these become a hindrance, a block; they cover up our insufficiencies. And it is only when we recognise that these things are an escape, and therefore see their true value - only then is there a possibility of remaining quiet, still, in that emptiness, in that loneliness. And when the mind is very quiet, neither accepting nor rejecting, being passively aware of that which is - then there is a possibility for that immeasurable reality to be.
Question: Is there, or is there not, a Divine Plan? What is the sense of our striving if there is not one?
Krishnamurti: Why do we strive? And what are we striving after? What would happen if we did not strive? Would we stagnate and decay? What is this constant striving to be something? What does this strife, this effort, indicate? And, does understanding come through effort, through striving? One is constantly striving to become better, to change oneself, to fit oneself to a certain pattern, to become something - from the clerk to the manager, from the manager to the divine. And, does this striving bring understanding?
I think the question of effort should really be understood. What is it that is making the effort, and what do we mean by "the will to be"? We make an effort, do we not?, in order to achieve a result, in order to become better, in order to be more virtuous, or less of Something else. There is this constant battle going on in us between positive and negative desires, one superseding the other, one desire controlling the other - only we call it the higher and the lower self. But, obviously, it is still desire. You can place it at any level, and give it a different name; it is still desire, a craving to be something. There is also the constant strife within oneself and with others, with society.
Now, does this conflict of desires bring understanding? Does the conflict of opposites, the want and the non-want, bring clarification? And is there understanding in the struggle to approximate ourselves to an idea? So, the problem is not the strife, the struggle, or what would happen if we did not struggle, if we did not make an effort, if we did not strive to be something, psychologically as well as outwardly; the problem is, how does understanding come into being? Because, when once there is understanding, there is no strife. What you understand, of that you are free.
How does understanding come into being? I do not know if you have ever noticed that the more you struggle to understand, the less you understand any problem. But, the moment you cease to struggle and let the problem tell you the whole story, give all its significance - then there is understanding; which means, obviously, that to understand, the mind must be quiet. The mind must be choicelessly, passively, aware; and in that state, there is understanding of the many problems of our life.
The questioner wants to know if there is, or if there is not, a Divine Plan. I do not know what you mean by a "Divine Plan." But we do know, do we not?, that we are in sorrow, that we are in confusion, that confusion and sorrow are ever on the increase, socially, psychologically, individually and collectively. It is what we have made of this world. Whether there is a Divine Plan or not, is not important at all. But what is important is, to understand the confusion in which we live, outwardly as well as inwardly. And to understand that confusion, we must begin, obviously, with ourselves - because we are confusion; it is we who have produced this outward confusion in the world. And to clear up that confusion, we must begin with ourselves; because, what we are, the world is.
Now, you will say, "Well, it will take a very long time in this way to bring about order in the world." I'm not at all sure that you are right; because, after all, it's one or two who are very clear, who understand, that bring about a revolution, a change. But we are lazy, you see; that is the difficulty. We want others to change, we want circumstances to change, we want the Government to order our lives, or some miracle to take place that will transform us. And so, we abide with confusion.
So, what is really important, is not to inquire if there is or if there is not a Divine Plan; because, over that you will waste speculative hours, proving that there is or there is not. That becomes a game for the propagandists. But what is important, is really to free oneself from confusion; and that does not take a long period of time. What is essential is to see that one is confused, that all activity, all action which springs from confusion, must be confused also. It's like a confused person seeking a leader: his leader must also be confused. So, what is essential, is to see that one is confused, and not try to escape from it, not try to find explanations for it: be passively, choicelessly, aware. And then you will see, that quite a different action springs from that passive awareness; because, if you make an effort to clarify the state of confusion, what you create will still be confused. But, if you are aware of yourself, choicelessly, passively aware, then that confusion unfolds, and fades away.
You will see, if you will experiment with this - and it will not take a long period of time, because time is not involved in it at all - that clarification comes into being. But you must give your whole attention, your whole interest, to it. And I am not at all sure that most of us do not like to be confused - because in the state of confusion you need not act. And so we are satisfied with the confusion; because, to understand confusion, demands action which is not the pursuit of an ideal or an ideation.
So, the question whether there is, or whether there is not, a Divine Plan, is irrelevant. We have to understand ourselves and the world we have created: the misery, the confusion, the conflict, the wars, the divisions, the exploitations. All that is the result of ourselves in relationship with others. And if we can understand ourselves in relationship with others, if we can see how we use others, how we try to escape from ourselves through people, through property, through knowledge and therefore give immense significance to relationship, to property, to knowledge - if we can see all that, be aware of it passively, then we shall be free from that background which we are. Then only is there a possibility of finding out what is. But, to spend hours speculating whether there is a Divine Plan or not, striving to find out about it, lecturing about it, seems to me so infantile. For, peace does not come into being through conformity to any plan, whether the plan is left, right, or divine. Conformity is mere suppression, and in suppression there is fear. Only in understanding can there be peace and tranquillity; and in that tranquillity, reality comes into being.
Question: Does understanding come to one suddenly, unrelated to past effort and experience?
Krishnamurti: What do we mean by past experience? How do you experience a challenge? After all, life is a process of challenge and response, is it not? - the challenge always being new, otherwise it is not a challenge. And our response is inevitably the outcome of the background, of our conditioning. So, the response, if it is not adequate, full, complete with regard to the challenge, must create friction, must create conflict. It is this conflict between the challenge and the response that we call experience. I do not know if you have ever noticed that, if your response to the challenge is complete, there is only a state of experiencing, not the remembrance of an experience. But, when the response is not adequate to the challenge, then we cling to the memory of the experience.
It is not so difficult; don't be so puzzled. Let us explore it a little more, and you will see. As I said, life is a process of challenge and response - at all levels, not at one particular level; and as long as that response is not adequate to the challenge, there must be conflict. Surely, that is obvious. And conflict invariably prevents understanding. Through conflict, one cannot understand any problem, can one? If I am constantly quarrelling with my neighbour, with my wife, with my associates, it is not possible to understand that relationship. It is possible to understand only when there is no conflict.
And does understanding come suddenly? That is, can conflict cease suddenly? Or, must one go through innumerable conflicts, understanding each conflict, and then be free of all conflict? That is, to put the problem differently, behind this question I'm sure there is another question: "Since you have been through the various fogs, confusions, conflicts, belief in Masters, in reincarnation, the various societies, and so on and so on, must I not also go through them? Since you have been through certain phases, must I not also go through those phases, in order to be free?" That is, must we not all experience confusion, in order to be free of confusion?
So, the problem is, is it not?, does understanding come through following or accepting certain patterns, and living through those patterns in order to be free? Say, for example, at one time you believed in certain ideas; but now, you have pushed them aside, you are free and have understanding. And I come along and see that you have lived through certain beliefs, and have pushed them aside and gained understanding. So I say to myself, "I will also follow those beliefs, or accept those beliefs, and eventually I will come to understanding." Surely, that is a wrong process, is it not? What is important is to understand. Is understanding a matter of time? Surely not. If you are interested in something, there is no question of time. Your whole being is there, concentrated, completely absorbed in that thing. And it is only when you want to gain a result that the question of time comes in. So, if you treat understanding as an end to be gained, then you require time, then you talk about "immediate" or "postponed." But, understanding, surely is not an end-process. Understanding comes when you are quiet, when the mind is still. And if you see the necessity of the mind being still, then immediately there is understanding.
Question: What, according to you, is true meditation?
Krishnamurti: Now, what is the purpose of meditation? And what do we mean by meditation? I do not know if you have meditated; so, let us experiment together to find out what is true meditation. Don't listen merely to my expression of it; but together we'll find out and experience what is true meditation. Because, meditation is important, isn't it? If you do not know what is right meditation, there is no self-knowledge; and without knowing yourself, meditation has no meaning. To sit in a corner or walk about in the garden or in the street, and try to meditate, has no meaning. That only leads to a peculiar concentration, which is exclusion. I'm sure some of you have tried all those methods. That is, you try to concentrate on a particular object, try to force the mind, when it is wandering all over the place, to be concentrated; and when that fails, you pray.
So, if one really wants to understand what is right meditation, one must find out what are the false things which we have called meditation. Obviously, concentration is not meditation - because, if you observe, in the process of concentration there is exclusion, and therefore there is distraction. You are trying to concentrate on something, and your mind is wandering off towards something else; and there is this constant battle going on to be fixed on one point while the mind refuses and wanders off. And so we spend years trying to concentrate, to learn concentration, which is mistakenly called meditation.
Then there is the question of prayer. Prayer obviously produces results, other- wise millions wouldn't pray. And in praying, obviously the mind is made quiet; by constant repetition of certain phrases, the mind does become quiet. And in that quietness there is a certain intimation, certain perceptions, certain responses. But that is still a part of the trick of the mind - because, after all, through a form of mesmerism you can make the mind very quiet. And in that quietness there are certain hidden responses arising from the unconscious and from outside the consciousness. But, it is still a state in which there is no understanding.
And, meditation is not devotion - devotion to an idea to a picture, to a principle; because, the things of the mind are still idolatrous. One may not worship a statue, considering it idolatrous and silly, superstitious; but one does worship, as most people do, the things of the mind: and that is also idolatrous. And, to be devoted to a picture or an idea, to a Master, is not meditation. Obviously, it's a form of escape from oneself. It's a very comforting escape, but it's still an escape.
And this constant striving to become virtuous, to acquire virtue through discipline, through careful examination of oneself and so on, is obviously not meditation either. Most of us are caught in these processes; and since they do not give understanding of ourselves, they are not the way of right meditation. After all, without understanding yourself, what basis have you for right thinking? All that you will do, without that understanding of yourself, is to conform to the background, to the response of your conditioning. And such response to the conditioning is not meditation. But to be aware of those responses, that is, to be aware of the movements of thought and feeling, without any sense of condemnation, so that the movements of the self, the ways of the self, are completely understood - that way is the way of right meditation.
Meditation is not a withdrawal from life. Meditation is a process of understanding oneself. And when one begins to understand oneself, not only the conscious but all the hidden parts of oneself as well, then there comes tranquillity. A mind that is made still, through meditation, through compulsion, through conformity, is not still. It is a stagnant mind. It is not a mind that is alert, passive, capable of creative receptivity. Meditation demands constant watchfulness, constant awareness of every word, every thought and feeling, which reveals the state of our own being, the hidden as well as the superficial; and as that is arduous, we escape into every kind of comforting, deceptive thing, and call it meditation.
If one can see that self-knowledge is the beginning of meditation, then the problem becomes extraordinarily interesting and vital. Because, after all, if there is no self-knowledge, you may practise what you call meditation and still be attached to your principles, to your family, to your property; or, giving up your property, you may be attached to an idea and be so concentrated on it that you create more and more of that idea. Surely, that is not meditation. So, self-knowledge is the beginning of meditation; without self-knowledge there is no meditation. And as one goes deeper into the question of self-knowledge not only does the upper mind become tranquil quiet, but the different layers of the hidden are revealed. When the superficial mind is quiet, then the unconscious, the hidden layers of consciousness project themselves; they reveal their content, they give their intimations; so that the whole process of one's being is completely understood.
So, the mind becomes extremely quiet - is quiet. It is not made quiet, it is not compelled to be quiet by a reward, by fear. Then there is a silence in which reality comes into being. But that silence is not Christian silence, or Hindu silence, or Buddhist silence. That silence is silence, not named. Therefore, if you follow the path of Christian silence or Hindu or Buddhist, you will never be silent. Therefore, a man who would find reality must abandon his condition completely - whether Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or of any other group. Merely to strengthen the background through meditation through conformity brings about stagnation of the mind, dullness of the mind; and I'm not at all sure that's not what most of us want - because it's so much easier to create a pattern and follow it. But to be free of the background demands constant watchfulness in relationship.
And, when once that silence is, then there is an extraordinary creative state - not that you must write poems, paint pictures: you may or you may not. But that silence is not to be pursued, copied, imitated - then it ceases to be silence. You cannot come to it through any path. It comes into being, only when the ways of the self are understood, and the self, with all its activities and mischief, comes to an end. That is, when the mind ceases to create, then there is creation. Therefore, the mind must become simple, must become quiet, must be quiet - the "must" is wrong: to say the mind must be quiet, implies compulsion. And the mind is quiet only when the whole process of the self has come to an end. When all the ways of the self are understood, and therefore the activities of the self have come to an end - then only is there silence. That silence is true meditation; and in that silence the eternal comes into being.
October 23, 1949
London 4th Public Talk 23rd October 1949
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