Saanen 5th Public Talk 3rd August 1961
I would like to talk over with you this morning a rather complex subject; but before I begin to do that, I think, as I have said previously, that a certain amount of seriousness is necessary. Not the seriousness of a long face, or of eccentricity, but that compulsive insistence to go to the very end, yielding where it is necessary, but nevertheless continuing. I want to deal this morning with a subject which needs all your seriousness and attention; the Orient calls it meditation, and I am not at all sure that the Occident fully understands what is meant by that word. We are not representing the Occident or the Orient; but we are trying to find out what it is to meditate, because for me that is very important. It encompasses the whole of life, not just a fragment of it. It deals with the totality of the mind, and not only a part of it. Most of us, unfortunately, cultivate the fragment and become very efficient in that fragment. To go into the whole process of unravelling and revealing the dark recesses of one's own mind, exploring without an object, not seeking an end, coming to the total comprehension of the whole mind and, perhaps, going beyond, is for me meditation.
I would like to go into rather hesitantly because each step reveals something. And I hope that we, all of us, will not merely remain at the verbal level or the level of intellectual analysis, not merely emotionally, sentimentally gather up some tit-bits, but, being somewhat serious, go to the very end of it. And it may be necessary to continue with it the next time.
We are all something, not only at the physical level but at the intellectual level and in the deeper levels of one's consciousness. We are always seeking happiness, comfort, security, prosperity, and certain dogmas,. beliefs in which the mind can settle down and be comfortable. If you observe your own mind, your own brain, you will see that it is always seeking and never being satisfied, but always hoping somehow to be satisfied permanently, everlastingly. We are seeking physical well-being; and most of us, unfortunately, are satisfied to remain with physical comforts, a little prosperity, a little knowledge, with mediocre relationships, and so on. If we are dissatisfied, as perhaps some of us are, with physical things, then we seek psychological, inward comforts and securities, or we want greater intellectual outlets, more knowledge. And this seeking, searching is exploited by all the religions throughout the world. The Christians, the Hindus and the Buddhists offer their gods, their beliefs, their securities which the mind accepts, and being conditioned thereby it seeks no further. So our seeking is canalized, exploited. If we are thoroughly miserable, dissatisfied with the world and with ourselves, with our lack of capacities, then we try to identify ourselves with something greater, something vaster. And when we find something which satisfies us for the time being, we soon find ourselves shaken out of it, only to search further.
This process of discontent, of holding on to something until we are shaken loose from it, does breed, does it not?, the habit of following, the habit of creating an authority for ourselves - the authority of the churches and of the various priests, saints, sanctions and so on, which exists throughout the world.
Now, a mind that is crippled by authority - whether it be the authority of a religion, of capacity, of experience, or of knowledge - can never be free to find out. The mind must surely be free to discover. And one of the immense problems is to free the mind from all authority. I do not mean the authority of the policeman and the law. Going on the wrong side of the road will obviously lead to accidents, and if you break the law you will find yourself in jail. Shunning authority at that level, not paying taxes and so on, is too silly and absurd. I am talking of the authority which is self-created or imposed by society, by religion, by books and so on, because of our desire to find, to seek.
So it seems to me that one of the essential things, an absolute necessity, is for the mind to free itself from all sense of authority. It is very, very difficult, because each word, each experience, each image, each symbol leaves its mark as knowledge which becomes an authority. You may shun outer authority, but each one of us has his own secret authority, the authority which says,`I know'. Authority, the following of a pattern, breeds fragmentary action. One may be very good at music or at some other thing, but whatever it may be it is still fragmentary action. And we are talking of a total action in which the fragment is included. This total action covers the whole of life - the physical, the emotional, the intellectual. It is the action which comes into being when one has gone deeply into the unconscious and uncovered all the dark secrets of one's own mind, and when the mind comes out of that cleansed. It is that total action which is meditation. So it requires a great deal of arduous work, an inward looking, to uncover all the by-paths and lanes of authority which we have established for ourselves throughout the centuries, and in which we are constantly wandering. It is one of the most difficult things, to be free - to forget everything that one has known, inwardly of yesterday; to die to every experience one has had, pleasurable, painful. But only then is the mind free to live, to act totally.
To do this requires an awareness without choice, a passive awareness in which all the secret longings, urges, compulsions, wishes and desires are revealed; where the mind does not choose but merely observes. The moment you choose, you have subtly established authority, and therefore the mind is no longer free. To be aware inwardly of every movement of thought, the implications of every word, the significance of every desire, wish; and not to deny or accept, but pursue, watch choicelessly - this does free the mind from authority. It is only when the mind is free that it can discover what is true and what is false, and not before; and this freedom is not at the end but at the beginning. Therefore, meditation is not a process of controlling, disciplining, shaping the mind by desire, by knowledge.
I hope you are following all this. Probably some of it is new to you, and you may reject it. You know, to accept or reject indicates the incapacity to follow what another is saying to the very end; and since you have taken the trouble to come all the way here, I feel it would be absurd for you just to say, `He is right' or `He is wrong'. So please listen to find out, not what your own mind thinks, but if the speaker is saying something false or true; to see the false in the truth or the truth as the truth, factually. This is impossible if you have read some book on meditation or on psychology and are comparing what is said with what you know. Then you are off on a side-line, you are not listening. But if you listen, not with effort, but because you want to find out, then you will find there is a certain joy in listening. I feel the very act of listening to what is true is the key. You have to do nothing except actually to participate in listening - which is not to identify. In meditation there is no identification, no imagination.
So, when the mind begins to understand the whole process of its own thinking, then you will see how thought becomes authority; you will find that thought, based on memory, knowledge, experience and the thinker who guides thought, becomes the authority. So. the mind has to be aware of its own thoughts, the motives from whence they have arisen, the cause of them. And you will find, as you enquire very deeply, that the authority of thought ceases altogether.
So one must lay the right foundation upon which to build the house of meditation. Obviously, every form of envy, which is essentially comparison - you have something beautiful and I have not; you are clever and I am not; you have a gift and I have not - all this must go. The mind that is envious - envious of possessions, envious of capacity - cannot go very far, nor can a mind that is ambitious. Most of us are ambitious; and a mind that is ambitious is always wanting to be successful, wanting to fulfil, not only in this world but inwardly. A mature mind knows no success and no failure.
So the mind must be totally free, not just casually free, in fragments, but wholly free. And that too is very arduous. It means cleansing the mind that has been educated for centuries to compete, to want to succeed.
You know, to be free of envy is not a matter of time. It is not a matter of gradually getting rid of envy, or creating the opposite and identifying yourself with that opposite, or trying to bring about an integration with the opposite, all of which implies a gradual process. If you are ambitious and establish the ideal of no ambition, then to cover the distance, to achieve the ideal you must have time. For me, that process is utterly immature. If you see something clearly, it drops away. To see envy totally with all the implications of it - which surely is not very difficult - does not take time. If you look, if you are aware, it opens itself up rapidly; and the seeing of it is the dropping of it.
Obviously a mind that is envious, ambitious, self-centred, cannot see the fullness of beauty; it cannot know what love is. One may be married, one may have children, one may have houses and perpetuate one's name; but a mind that is envious and ambitious cannot know love. It knows sentiment, emotionalism, attachment; but attachment is not love.
And if you have gone that far, not merely intellectually or verbally, you will find there is the flame of passion. Passion is necessary. And with that flame of passion one can see the mountains and the long slopes with green trees, one can see the misery everywhere, the appalling divisions man has created in his urge for security; one can feel intensely, but not self-centredly. So this is the foundation; and having laid the foundation, the mind is free; it can proceed, and perhaps there is no further proceeding. So unless this totality is completely established in the mind, all seeking, all meditation, all following of the word, whoever has said it, leads only to illusion, to false visions. A mind that is conditioned in Christianity may obviously have visions of Jesus, but such a mind lives in illusions based on authority; and such a mind is very limited and narrow.
So if one has gone that far, inwardly, it must be of the immediate - it is not for the day after tomorrow, or next month, but actually at this present moment. The words I am using do not express the actuality; the words are not the thing. And if you are merely following the speaker you are not inwardly following yourself. So meditation is essential. Meditation is not sitting cross-legged, breathing in a certain way, repeating phrases or following a formula; those are all tricks, though you may get what the system offers. But what you will get will be a fragment, and so useless. Surely, one can see at a glance the whole process of discipline, following and conformity, and drop it on the instant because one understands it completely. But the immediacy of understanding is prevented when the mind is lazy. And most of us are lazy; that is why we prefer methods, systems which tell us what to do.
There is a certain form of laziness which is very good - it is a certain passivity. To be passive is good, because then you see things very clearly, sharply. But to be physically or mentally lazy makes the mind and body dull, so that it is incapable of looking, seeing.
So, having laid the foundation - which is actually denying society and the morality of society - one can see that virtue is a marvellous thing, it is a lovely thing, it is a pure thing. You cannot cultivate it, any more than you can cultivate humility. Only the vain man cultivates humility; and to make an effort to be humble is most stupid. But one comes upon humility easily, hesitantly, when the mind begins to understand itself, all the dark, unexplored corners of one's consciousness. In self-knowing you come upon humility; and such humility is the very ground, the very eyes, the very breath through which you see, tell, communicate. You cannot know yourself if you condemn, judge, evaluate; but to watch, to see `what is' without distortion, to observe as you would observe a flower without tearing it to pieces, is self-knowing. Without self-knowing all thought leads to perversion and to delusion. So in self-knowing one begins to lay the foundation of true virtue, which is not recognizable by society or by another. The moment society or another recognizes it, you are in their pattern, and therefore your virtue is the virtue of respectability, and so no longer virtue.
So self-knowing is the beginning of meditation. There is a great deal more to be said about meditation; this is only an introduction, as it were, it is only the first chapter. And the book never ends; there is no finishing, no attaining. And the marvel of all this, the beauty of it all is that when the mind - in which is included the brain, everything - has seen and emptied itself of all the discoveries it has made, when it is entirely free of the known, without any motive whatsoever, then the unknowable, that which cannot be measured, may perhaps come into being.
Question: I don't quite understand that freedom must be at the beginning and not at the end, because at the beginning there is all the past, and not freedom.
Krishnamurti: You see, sir, this involves a question of time. Will you be free at the end? Will you be free after many days, many centuries? Please, this is not a question of arguing with you, or your accepting what I am saying; we have to see it. I am conditioned as a Hindu, as a Christian, as a Communist or what you will; I am shaped by society, by events, by innumerable influences. Is the unconditioning a matter of time? Do please think it over. If you say it is a matter of time, then in the meantime you are adding more and more conditioning, are you not?
Sir, look at this. Every cause is also an effect, is it not? Cause and effect are not two separate static things, are they? What was the effect becomes the cause again; it is a chain continually undergoing modification, being influenced, maturing, diminishing or increasing through time, and so on. You are conditioned as an Englishman, a Jew, or a Swiss, or whatever it is, and do you mean to say that it takes time to see the absurdity of it? And seeing the absurdity of it, does it take time to drop it? You see, we do not want to see the pernicious nature of it because we like it, we have been brought up on it. The flag means something to us because we derive benefit from it. If you say, `I am no longer a Swiss', or this or that, you might lose your job, society might throw you out, you might not be able to marry off your son or daughter respectably. So we cling to it all, and that is what prevents us from seeing it immediately and dropping the thing.
Look, sir. If I have been working all my life to achieve, to become famous, to be successful, do you think I am going to drop it? Do you think I am going to drop the profit of it, the prestige, the name, the position? One can drop it immediately if one really sees the absurdity of it all, the brutality, the ruthlessness of it in which there is no affection, no love, but only self-calculated action. But one does not want to see it, and therefore one invents excuses, saying, `I will do it eventually, in time but please do not disturb me just now'. That is what most of us are saying, I am afraid. Not only the gifted, but we who are ordinary, mediocre people - we are all doing this. To cut the string does not take time. What it needs is immediate perception, immediate action, as when you see a precipice, a snake.
Question: How can we see so clearly and forget every experience?
Krishnamurti: Must you not have an innocent mind to see anything clearly? Obviously every experience shapes the mind, adds to the conditioning of the mind; and through all that conditioning we try to see something new. I am not saying there is something new, that is not the point. But if the mind wishes to see if there is something totally new, something that is creation, surely it must have an innocent mind, a young, fresh mind. I am not saying that we must forget every experience; obviously you cannot forget every experience. But one can see that the additive process of experience makes the mind mechanical, and a mechanical mind is not a creative mind.
August 3, 1961
Saanen 5th Public Talk 3rd August 1961
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