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Colombo 1957

Colombo 5th Public Talk 27th January 1957

As I have been pointing out during these talks here, it is surely very important, especially when the world is in such a grave crisis, that we should understand the true significance of religion; because religion, it seems is the only basic solution to all the problems of our existence. I do not mean the religions of dogma, of organized belief, which only condition the mind. To me, they are not religion at all. They are like any other propagandistic organization which merely shapes the mind according to a particular pattern of thinking.

To inquire into the whole question of what is true religion, one must first understand what behaviour is. To me, behaviour is righteousness. But most of us spend our energy and our thought in arguing over what kind of belief we should hold concerning reincarnation and the various other problems involved in religion; we do not start with the fundamental issue. The foundation of right inquiry is surely behaviour, which is righteousness; and righteousness is not merely the cultivation of virtue. A man who cultivates virtue ceases to be virtuous; a man who practises humility is no longer humble. The cultivation of humility is arrogance. Similarly, cultivated virtue only leads to respectability. We must have virtue, because virtue is essential to all real inquiry, but not the cultivated virtue which is a self-centred activity. What is important is to meet the whole movement of that virtue which is not self-centred and which, if we pursue it deeply, not only at the conscious but also at the unconscious level, does lead to that which is beyond the measure of the mind. This is true religious inquiry, and I think it is very important to understand it.

Most of us are involved in some form of organized belief, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Communism, and so on; and when we are caught in the net of these organizations, whether political or so-called spiritual, we are more concerned, are we not?, with what we believe than with how we live our life. What matters, surely, is not to find out what is the ideal way of living, but rather to discover for ourselves the pattern of behaviour in which the mind is caught and to see the true significance of such behaviour.

Righteousness has nothing whatever to do with organized conduct; because organized conduct, which is social morality, has produced this great confusion and chaos in the world. Society accepts envy, greed, ambition, cruelty, the ruthless pursuit of one's own fulfilment; it admits and justifies the possibility of killing on a large scale. The soldier who kills more than the others in battle is a hero in the eyes of society; and when a society professing a particular religion sanctions killing on a vast and inhuman scale, then obviously the religion which it professes has failed.

To understand righteousness it is necessary to step out of the pattern of society. By society I do not mean the organized means of communication, of supplying food, clothing, shelter, and so on, but the whole psychological or moral issue which is involved in society. A person who seeks to inquire into what is true religion obviously cannot belong to a society which accepts greed, envy, the pursuit of personal ambition, the search for power, fame, and all the rest of it. To belong to a society based on cruelty and the pursuits of self-interest, and still be religious, is obviously impossible. Yet organized religions throughout the world. have condoned such a society. Organized religions do not insist that you step out of greed, envy, ruthlessness. They are far more concerned with what you believe, with ritual, organization, property, and all the rest of the confusion, paraphernalia and rigmarole that exist in and around every organized religion.

So a man who would inquire into what is true religion must lay the foundation of righteousness by being without envy, without ambition, without the greed for power. This is an actual possibility, I am not being idealistic. Ideals and actuality are incompatible. A man who pursues the ideal of non-violence is indulging in violence. He is concerned, not with ceasing to be violent, but with ultimately arriving at a state which he calls non-violence. Being violent, the mind has an ideal of non-violence which is over there in the distance; it will take time to achieve that state, and in the meantime the mind can continue to be violent. Such a mind is not concerned with getting rid of violence, but with slowly trying to become non-violent. The two states are entirely different, and I think it is very important to understand this fact. The ending of a quality such as violence or greed is not a matter of time, and it does not come about through ideals; it has to be done immediately, not through time. We get caught up in the gradualism of ideals when we are concerned with time.

Please do not jump to conclusions or say "Without ideals I shall be lost", but rather listen to what is being said. I know all the arguments, all the justifications of ideals. Just listen, if you kindly will, without a conclusion, and try to understand what the speaker is talking about; do not block your understanding by saying "I must have ideals".

Ideals have existed for centuries. Various religious teachers have talked of ideals, but they may all be wrong and probably are. To adhere to an ideal is obviously to postpone freeing the mind from violence, greed, envy, ambition and the desire for power. If one is concerned, as one should be, with righteousness, which is the foundation upon which rests all true inquiry into what religion is, then one must investigate the possibility of ridding the mind of violence, of greed, of envy, of acquisitiveness, not at some time in the distant future, but now. It is entirely possible for the mind to be free immediately of these and all the related qualities that society has imposed on us - or rather, that we have cultivated in our relationship with each other which is society.

Righteousness or behaviour is not something to be gained, to be arrived at, but it must be understood from moment to moment in the actuality of daily living. That is why it is important to have self-knowledge, to know how you think, how you feel, how you act, how you respond to another. All that indicates the manner of your approach to life, and therein lies the foundation of righteousness, not in some Utopia, ideal or organized belief. The actual foundation must be laid in our daily living. But most of us are not concerned with that; we are concerned with the label which we call religion.

If you and I as individuals really put our minds to this, we shall see that change does not come about through ideals, through time, through pressure and convenience, or through any form of political activity, but only through being deeply concerned with bringing about a radical transformation in ourselves. Then we shall discover that it is possible to free the mind from violence, greed, and all the rest of it, not in time, but outside of time; because virtue or righteousness is not an end in itself. If virtue is an end in itself it becomes a self-centred activity leading to mere respectability; and a mind that is merely respectable is imitative, it conforms to a pattern and is therefore not free.

Virtue is merely a matter of putting the mind in order, like putting a house in order, and nothing more than that. When the mind is in order, when it has clarity and is without confusion, with conflict, then it is possible to go further. But for a man who is seeking power who is burning inwardly with ambition, greed, envy, cruelty, and all the rest of it - for such a man to talk about religion and God, is arrant nonsense, it has no meaning. His God is only the God of respectability. That is why it is important to lay the foundation of righteousness, which is to step out of the present society. Stepping out of society does not mean becoming a hermit, a monk, or a sannyasi, but being without greed, without envy, without violence, without the desire for position and power. The moment you are without those things you are out of time, out of the society which is made up of them. So the real revolution is religious, it is this stepping out of the present society, not remaining within the field of society and trying to modify it. Most revolutions are concerned with the modification of society, but to me that is not revolution at all; it is merely the perpetuation of the past in another form. The religious revolution is the only revolution, which is individually to step out of this complex society based on envy, greed, power, anger, violence and brutality in the relationship between human beings.

It is only when the mind is free from violence, and from all this business of trying to cultivate virtue, that it is capable of inquiring into what is truth, what is God - if there is God. It does not assume anything. When the mind is capable of such inquiry, that inquiry is devotion. Devotion is not attachment to some idol, to some picture, person, or symbol. But when the mind has freed itself from envy and greed, when it has put its own house in order, which is virtue, and is therefore capable of inquiring to find out what is true and whether there is something beyond the measure of the mind - then that inquiry, that perseverance is true devotion, without which there is irreverence and disrespect.

So the man who would be religious cannot belong to any organized belief, which only conditions the mind, but must be concerned with behaviour, which is righteousness - his own behaviour, not that of others. Most of us are so eager to reform others and so little concerned with the transformation of ourselves. What matters is not how others behave, your friend, your wife, or your husband, but how you behave.

If you consider this matter really seriously, you will find that education comes to have quite a different significance. What we call education now is merely a process of being trained to earn a livelihood as a lawyer, a doctor, a soldier, a businessman, a scientist, or what you will, and that is all most of us are concerned with. Such education is obviously very superficial, and so our lives are equally superficial. But if we understand this inquiry into what is true religion, into what is reality, God, then we shall help the children, the coming generation, to grow in freedom so that they do not become machines in the routine of an office, or mere bread-winners, but are able to throw off the tyranny of organized belief, the tyranny of governments, and thereby to reshape the world. Then the whole structure, not only of our education, but of our culture, of our behaviour, of our relationship, will be entirely different. Again, this is not an ideal, a thing to be vaguely hoped for in the future.

So it seems to me very important that those of us who are serious - and I hope there are some who are serious - should be concerned with the understanding of ourselves. This is not a self-centred activity. It becomes a self-centred activity only when you are concerned with the understanding of yourself in order to arrive somewhere: in order to achieve freedom, to find God, not to be jealous, and so on. If you are concerned with God, or with sex, or with the attainment of power, your mind is occupied; and an occupied mind is obviously self-centred, though it may be occupied with God. You have to understand the whole process of self-knowledge, that is, you have to know yourself; and you cannot know yourself if you are not aware, observant, conscious of your words, of your gestures, of your manner of speech in relationship with another. To be aware in your relationship with another is to observe the way you talk to women, the way you talk to your wife, to your children, to the bus conductor, to the policeman; it is to see how respectful you are to the governor, and how contemptuous you are of the servant. To be aware is to be conscious of the operation of your own mind; but you cannot be aware if you condemn what you discover.

You will find that out of this self-knowledge comes a well-ordered mind, - which is being virtuous, not becoming virtuous. Such a mind is capable of stillness because it is no longer in contradiction with itself, it is no longer driven or driven by desire. To be still requires a great deal of energy, and energy is depleted when the mind is self-contradictory, when it is not aware of its own operation, which means there is no self-knowledge. There is the depletion of energy as long as desire pulls in different directions; but such depletion of energy ceases when there is total self-knowledge. Then you will find that the mind, being full of energy, is capable of being completely still; and a still mind can receive that which is eternal.

Many questions have been sent in - questions about sex, about organized belief, about what kind of education the serious parent should give to his children, and so on. It is obviously impossible to answer all of them, because each question is very complex and cannot just be answered `yes' or `no'. Life has no `yes' or `no' answers. However, during these talks, representative questions have been dealt with, and if you care to go into what has already been said, I think you will find the answer to your particular question. Books have been printed, and you may be interested in them - or you may not. That is your affair. But if you have sufficiently paid attention to what has been said, I think you will answer your questions for yourself. To find the right solution to a problem, no effort is required. Effort denies the understanding of the problem. Whereas, if you are really serious about inquiring into the problem, then you will find that the problem resolves itself.

Question: Religions have prescribed certain practices in meditation for ones spiritual growth. What practice do you advocate? Can right meditation be helpful in one's daily life?

Krishnamurti: Meditation is a very complex and serious problem, and I shall go into it step by step. With out meditation, life is merely a matter of environment, of circumstances, of pressures and influences, and therefore has very little significance. Without meditation, there is no perfume to life. Without meditation, there is no compassion, no love, and life is then merely a thing of sensation. And without meditation, the mind is not capable of finding out what is true.

Before we ask how to meditate, or what meditation is? And the very inquiry into what is meditation, is meditation. Please listen to what I am saying, if you will, because this is very important. As I said, a mind that is incapable of meditation, is incapable of understanding life. It is because we do not know what meditation is that our life is so stupid, superficial, made up of mere achievements, failures, successes, misery.

So, to find out what is meditation, is meditation; and this evening you and I are going to inquire into it together. To ask how to meditate when you do not know what meditation is, is too immature. How can you practise what you do not know? The books, the priests, the teachers will tell you what meditation is - and they may all be mistaken, because they are all interpre- ters. An interpreter is a traitor. Please listen, sirs, don't laugh it off. An interpreter is a traitor because he is interpreting according to his conditioning. Truth does not want any interpretation. There can be no interpreter of what is true, because it is you who have to find out what is true. We are now going to find out together the truth about meditation; but if you do not follow step by step, giving your whole attention to it, you will not understand what meditation is. I am not saying this dogmatically, but you will have to see the truth of it for yourself.

Prayer which is a supplication, a petition, either conscious or unconscious, is not meditation, even though such prayer may be answered. The mechanism by which prayer is answered is something which we won't go into now, because it is too complex and would require another half-hour to explain. But you can see that prayer which is a supplication, a petition, a demand, a begging, is not meditation because you are asking something for yourself or for somebody else.

Then you will find also that the process of controlling the mind is not meditation. Please listen to this, don't throw it out and say "What nonsense!" We are inquiring.

Now, what is the way of concentration in so-called meditation? You try to fix your mind on an idea, on a thought, on a sentence, on a picture or an idol made by the hand or by the mind, but other thoughts constantly creep in. You spend your time fighting them off, till after years of practice in controlling the mine you are able to suppress all ideas except one, and you think you have achieved something. What you have achieved is the technique of suppressing, sublimating, or substituting one idea for another, one desire for another; but in that process is involved conflict; there is a division between the maker of effort and the object he hopes to achieve through effort. This effort to control the mind in order to achieve a result - peace, bliss, nirvana, or whatever it be - is self-centred activity, and nothing more; therefore it is not meditation. This does not mean that in meditation the mind is allowed to wander as it likes. Let us go into this slowly.

We see the truth that a mind which is merely concerned with control, with discipline, with suppressing its own thoughts, is making itself narrow; it is an exclusive mind, and such a mind is incapable of understanding what is meditation. A mind that suppresses part of itself and concentrates on the idea of peace, on an image made by the hand or by the mind, is obviously afraid of its own desires, its own ambitions, its own feelings of envy, greed, and so on, and in suppressing them, such a mind is not meditating; though it may repeat a thousand mantrams, or sit silent and alone in some dark forest or mountain cave, it is incapable of understanding meditation.

So, having discovered that control is not meditation, you begin to ask yourself what are these jumbling thoughts that precipitate themselves one on top of another, that wander all over the place like monkeys, or flutter after each other like butterflies. There is now no question of controlling them, because or you see that you are the various thoughts and contradictory desires which are endlessly pursuing each other. These thoughts, these contradictions, these desires are part of you; you are not different from them, any more than the qualities of the diamond are different from the diamond itself. Remove the qualities of the diamond, and there is no diamond; remove the qualities, the thoughts of the mind, and there is no mind. So meditation is obviously not a matter of control. But if you do not control your thoughts, then what? Then you begin to inquire into your thoughts. Do you understand, sirs? The mind is no longer suppressing thought, but inquiring into the motive, the background of its thought; and you will find that this inquiry into its own thought has an extraordinary effect on the mind. Then the mind ceases to manufacture thought. Please do understand this. When you begin to inquire into the whole process of thinking without suppressing, condemning, or justifying anything, without trying to concentrate on one thought by excluding all other thoughts, then you will find that the mind is no longer manufacturing thought. Please do listen. The mind manufactures thought through sensation, through memory, through the object which it wants to achieve; but the moment it begins to inquire into the process of thinking, it ceases to produce thought, because then the mind is beginning to free itself from that whole process. In this free movement of the mind as it inquires into its own pursuits and sorrows, the mind begins to understand itself, and that understanding comes from self-knowledge.

So you have seen that prayer - which involves conditioning, demand, petition, fear, and so on - is not meditation. Nor is there meditation when one part of the mind which you call the lower self, is dominated by another part of the mind which you call the higher self, or the Atman. This contradiction in the mind is caused by the fact that one desire is controlling another, and that is obviously not meditation. Nor is it meditation to sit in front of a picture and repeat japams, mantrams. What happens when you sit quietly and repeat certain phrases? Your mind becomes hypnotized, does it not? Your mind gradually goes to sleep, and you think that you have attained bliss, a marvellous peace. It is only in your daily life that you can find out what meditation is, not in the repetition of certain words and phrases.

Now, if praying, chanting, sitting in front of a picture, controlling thought, is not meditation, then what is meditation? The mind has moved away from the false, because it has seen the truth in the false. Do you understand, sirs? The mind has seen the truth that control is false, and this truth has liberated it from the desire to control. Therefore the mind is free to inquire into the process of thinking, which leads to self-knowledge. That is, the mind begins to understand itself when it is just watching its own operation without condemnation, judgment, or evaluation; and then you will find that the mind becomes very quiet, it is not made quiet. Generally you try to make the mind quiet; all your religious books, your priests, tell you to train the mind to be quiet, to practise quietness. The mind that has practised quietness, that has trained itself to be still is like a monkey that has learnt a trick. You cannot have stillness through desire. You have to understand desire, not escape from or suppress it. Because desire is always contradictory, you have to understand it; and in the process of understanding desire, you will find that the mind becomes completely still the totality of the mind, not just the superficial layer which is occupied with your daily living. Do you understand, sirs? To have ambition, envy, greed; the desire for power, and yet talk about meditation, is to be in a state of illusion. These two are incompatible, they don't go together.

It is only when there is self-knowledge, which is to have an understanding of your daily living, your daily relationships, that the mind becomes quiet without being forced or disciplined to be quiet. Then you will find that the mind is completely still - the totality of it, the unconscious as well as the conscious. The unconscious, which is the sum total of all your traditions, your memories, your motives, your ambitions, your greed, is far more conservative than the conscious mind, far more effective in its desires and pursuits; and it can be understood only through self-knowledge. When through self-knowledge the mind is completely still, in that stillness you will find there is no experiencer to experience, because the experiencer and the experienced are the same. To realize this requires a great deal of attention, inquiry, discovery. The observer and the observed, the watcher and the watched are one, they are not two separate entities. The thinker is not different from the thought, the two are essentially the same, though for various reasons - convenience, security, permanency, and so on - thought has made the thinker separate and permanent.

So, if you have followed this inquiry into what is meditation, and have understood the whole process of thinking, you will find that the mind is completely still. In that total stillness of the mind, there is no watcher, no observer, and therefore no experiencer at all; there is no entity who is gathering experience, which is the activity of a self-centred mind. Don't say "That is samadhi" - which is all nonsense, because you have only read of it in some book and have not discovered it for yourself. There is a vast difference between the word and the thing. The word is not the thing; the word `door' is not the door.

So, to meditate is to purge the mind of its self-centred activity. And if you have come this far in meditation, you will find there is silence, a total emptiness. The mind is uncontaminated by society, it is no longer subject to any influence, to the pressure of any desire. It is completely alone; and being alone, untouched, it is innocent. Therefore there is a possibility for that which is timeless, eternal, to come into being.

This whole process is meditation.

January 27, 1957.


Colombo 1957

Colombo 5th Public Talk 27th January 1957

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