The Flame of Attention
New Delhi 4th Public Talk 7th November, 1982
This is the last talk. I wonder if you are glad of it!
We ought to talk over together, as we have done in the last three meetings, about isolation of nationalities, which are creating one of the causes of war, and the isolation of each individual from the rest of mankind. We also talked about how hatred, specially in this country, is spreading more and more. We also discussed how human beings get hurt, and that wound we carry all our lives, and its consequences, we went into that too. And we talked about relationship, which is the most important thing in life. Why in that relationship there is always conflict. Without relationship there is no life, life is a movement in relationship. We went into that very carefully. And we talked about various images and illusions and myths that man has created, and how these images, illusions, are destroying humanity - the illusion of nationality, the illusion of our own special gods, the illusions of past people who have given some kind of advice, which we don't live. And also yesterday we talked about fear, whether it is possible for humanity, for each one of us, to entirely and completely be free of fear. We went into that very, very carefully: what are the contributory causes of fear, and we pointed out the various streams that bring the great river of fear. And humanity, which has lived on this earth for millions of years, perhaps not as we are now, but perhaps only forty thousand years, we have never been able to be rid of fear; we have pursued pleasure, not only sexual pleasure, the pleasure of possession, domination, the pleasure of attachment, the pleasure of power.
And I think it is necessary this evening to talk about suffering, whether there is an end to suffering, or must humanity, that is you and all of us, maintain and nourish suffering. And also we ought to talk over together, if time will allow, the meaning of death, because that is part of our life. And we should go into the question of religion, what is implied in religion, what is a religious mind, and meditation.
So we will talk over together as two friends, friends who have known each other for some time, not opposing each other, not defending, or accusing, but enquiring, probing, gently because it is only one discovers what is truth when there is no certainty. Those who begin with certainty end up in uncertainty. Those who begin with uncertainty, questioning, asking, doubting, probing, those only end up with absolute certainty, not relative certainty, but absolute certainty. So please as two friends don't start with certainty, don't be sure that god exists, that your particular religion is all right, that all the books, the so-called sacred books are right, and hold on to them. They have no meaning in life.
We are enquiring together into the question of suffering. What is suffering, whether it can end, and if there is suffering can there be love. And human beings throughout the world have suffered incredibly, the last two world wars and the previous five thousand years in which there have been wars practically every year. Man, woman, has shed innumerable tears. This is not sentiment, or romantic imaginary state, this is actuality. Man has suffered, and he is going on suffering: the poor in this country, the disease, the pain and the anguish of human existence. Life isn't pleasant, life is a turmoil, agony. One becomes more and more aware of all this. One begins to see very clearly that all human beings bear the same burden, share the same sorrow, not a particular sorrow, not the sorrow of one's son dying, or brother dying, or the wife or the husband leaving, but the sorrow which man has accumulated for thousands of years. We are concerned with the understanding of that sorrow. Please don't translate this statement that we are concerned with individual, my sorrow. Your sorrow is the sorrow of mankind, the sorrow of all human beings whether they live in Russia, America, or China, or in this unfortunate country. We are dealing, questioning, asking, the cause of sorrow, the pain of sorrow, the grief, the anxiety that comes with sorrow, the utter loneliness of sorrow. You understand?
Like pleasure, sorrow is narrowed down as mine, but we forget when we are concerned with our own particular sorrow, we neglect, we disregard, we are not concerned with the sorrow of mankind. Because our consciousness, as we talked about some meetings ago, our consciousness is the consciousness of humanity. One must understand this very clearly because in understanding the nature of our consciousness, that is what we are, our pain, our loneliness, our depression, our joys, our beliefs, are shared by all humanity. They may believe in one kind of god and you may believe in another kind of god, but belief is common, belief is general, and that is our consciousness, that's what you are - the language you speak, the food you eat, the climate, the clothes, the education, the constant repetition of certain phrases, the loneliness, the ultimate fear of death, is the ground on which all humanity stands. And you are that humanity. My friend and I are talking together, and I am pointing out to my friend who is sitting with me, as you are sitting there, that this consciousness is not individual, it is the consciousness of all mankind, with their myths, superstitions, with their images, fears and so on. This is important to understand, not intellectually, not verbally, but to understand this with your heart, with your mind. Because when we come to the question of what is death we must first understand the nature of our consciousness, the nature of what you are actually, not what you should be - what you actually are in daily life. And that actuality is shared by all and every human being in the world.
So when we are enquiring into the nature of sorrow we are not discussing your particular narrow little pain and agony, but the agony of mankind of which you actually are. So this enquiry is not selfish, this enquiry opens up tremendous possibilities. So please kindly listen, find out for yourself the nature of sorrow, why human beings all over the world have gone through torture of sorrow.
What is sorrow? And why has mankind never put it off, thrown it off? Please ask this question of yourself: why you must have some kind of sorrow, some kind of grief, pain, the sorrow of loneliness, though you may be married, have children, we are lonely people, we have separated ourselves so enormously that we feel when there is a great grief you realize how lonely you are. So we are asking, is one of the causes of sorrow, this loneliness. Please enquire, go into it with the speaker. Loneliness is the result of our daily life, each one of us is completely convinced that he is a separate soul, separate entity, and all his activity is self-centred, from the highest to the lowest it is self-centred, selfish. And the daily activity of this self-centredness, will inevitably bring about sorrow, loneliness, separatism, division. And we are asking, is this isolation in our way of thinking, in our way of life, is that one of the causes of sorrow? And is attachment the cause of sorrow? I am attached to my wife, to my son, to my memories, to my beliefs, to my experience, I am attached to them. I believe, and I am attached to that belief, and when that belief is questioned, doubted, shaken, there is uncertainty, pain. And is that one of the causes of sorrow?
So is it possible to be free of all beliefs, not one particular belief, or one particular ideal, but to be totally free of all ideals, all beliefs? Please don't say, if one is free of beliefs and ideals what do you replace it by. That's a wrong question. See the truth that any belief, any ideal, divides people. It is not an actuality. I don't believe the sun rises and the sun sets, it is so, it is a fact. But I believe that god exists, or doesn't exist, I believe in certain ideologies - communism, socialist, conservatism, whatever it is, capitalist - I believe in certain ideology for which I am willing to fight, kill people. So to be entirely, completely free of all beliefs because that is freedom. And we believe because it gives us a sense of security. You may believe in god, as most of you do, because it gives you a sense of protection, guidance, security. The mind has invented, the brain has invented various forms of security - nationalism, religious figures, the various so-called sacred books, they all give a certain quality of security. And actually there is no security in it at all, it is an illusion. So to realize that belief, ideals and so on are very, very destructive, they separate man from man. And to see the truth of it is to become intelligence. And only in intelligence there is complete security, not in your beliefs, in your myths and ideas.
So to discover this intelligence, and that intelligence is not yours or the speaker's, it is intelligence. That is, to see the false as false, and end the false. To see 'what is' actually, not imaginatively, don't run away from it, to see actually what we are, and explore into it. And in that exploration there is the awakening of intelligence.
So we are asking is sorrow, the cause of sorrow, the pain, the anguish, is it brought about by our isolation of mind, of thought, of action? And is sorrow the result of our daily attachment, how we are attached to people. Please wake up to all this, see the truth of all this. And to explore what is the nature of attachment: it breeds anxiety, fear, pain, jealousy, hatred, all these are the consequences of attachment. If I am attached to my wife, or to my husband, see the consequences of it, you depend on each other, and so that dependence gives a form of security, and when that person leaves, or dies, or runs away from you, you are then in pain, in agony of suspicion, hatred, and sorrow. Don't you know all this? This is nothing new, all this, this is the everyday fact of life. It may not happen to you but it is happening to others, millions of others. In their relationship there is sorrow, fight, agony. And we are asking is attachment one of the causes of this sorrow. I am attached to my son and he dies, and then I invent various forms of comfort. I never remain with sorrow. You understand all this? To remain with it, not escape with it, not seek comfort, not run off to some form of entertainment, religious or otherwise, but to look at it, live with it, understand it, the nature of it. When you do, sorrow opens the door to passion - not to lust, passion. You are not passionate people because you have never understood the nature of sorrow and the ending of sorrow. We have become very dull, we accept things, we accept sorrow, we accept fear, we accept being dominated by politicians, by your guru, by all the books and tradition. That means you never want to be free. And you are frightened to be free, frightened of the unknown, so you invent various forms of consoling illusory images and hopes.
Now after saying all this about sorrow, looking at it, when my son dies, I realize why I am attached to him, that I have lost him for ever, and remain with that sorrow. You understand? It is like a flower, it blooms, it opens up and it withers away, it dies at the end of the day - it may die at the end of a week, but it withers away. You must give it an opportunity to flower: the flowering of sorrow and the ending of sorrow, then you have passion, you have vitality, energy, drive.
Where there is sorrow there can be no love. Your books may talk about it, your Gita - do they talk about love? I question it - do they? Just investigate sir, don't tell me they do, that means nothing. A mind, a brain that is in agony, that is lonely, self-centred, how can it love? Love is not emotion, love is not sentiment, a romantic, fanciful, comforting thing. It is tremendously vital, as strong as death. And when there is sorrow, love is not. And as most human beings in the world suffer, and never resolve the problem of suffering, so they do not know what it is to love. We have now reduced love to pleasure - sexual, attachment, and so on, various forms of pleasure. So we have to ask is love pleasure, is love desire, is love thought, can love ever be cultivated? Of course not. And without love, this sense of compassion, the flame of it, the intelligence of it, life has very little meaning. You may invent a purpose for life, perfection, and you know, all the rest of that business, but without this fundamental beauty of life, life has no meaning. Actually your life, when you look at it, going to the office every day for the next fifty years, what does it all mean? Getting a little money, a little power, breeding children, the wrong kind of education, and so perpetuating this incredible cruelty in the world. You may read all the books in the world, all the museums in the world, listen to talks like this from a different kind of speaker, but if there is not this quality, that extraordinary sense of beauty with its great sensitivity, life has very little meaning; even for the top people, the princes of the land, the people in power, without this they become more and more mischievous, more and more chaotic in the world. You hear all this, and do you love anybody? Or does that love contain jealousy, possessiveness, domination, attachment? Then that's not love, it's just a form pleasure, entertainment.
So where there is sorrow there cannot be love, and therefore no intelligence. Love has its own intelligence, compassion has its quality of this pure unadulterated intelligence. When there is that, this intelligence operates in this world. That intelligence is not the result of thought. Thought is a small affair. So when you hear all this, when you see the truth of all this, if you do, does the perfume, the sense of loving completely another, or will you go back to the old routine?
And also we ought to talk over together the question of death. Which is not a morbid question, which is not a useless question; like love, like pain, sorrow, fear, death is part of our life. You may postpone it, you may say, I have ten years more to live, but at the end of it there is death waiting. Again all humanity fears death, or they rationalize it away, saying that death is inevitable, what comes out of the earth dies in the earth. And together you and the speaker are going to enquire into the nature of dying, what does it mean, why we are so frightened of it.
First, as we said, to understand the depth and the full significance of that extraordinary incident which is called death, we must enquire, or rather we must understand the nature of our own consciousness. Do you understand this? The nature of what you are. If you don't understand what you are actually, not descriptively or merely explanatory, but actually what you are, if you don't understand that then death becomes a dreadful thing. Then you may worship death in different forms, which some do. So first before we can go into the question of death we must understand ourselves, what we are. What are you? A name, a form, man or woman, with certain qualities, certain tendencies, idiosyncrasies, desires, pain, anxiety, uncertainty, confusion, and out of this confusion you invent something permanent, the absolute, the Brahman, or god. But what actually you are is the movement of thought. That thought may invent that you have got the spark of divinity in you, but it is still the movement of thought. So what are you, apart from your physical reactions, man and woman, differently educated, rich and poor, actually when you look at yourself, what are you? Aren't you all these things? Don't invent something, that you have some great divinity in you - that's just an invention, it's not an actuality. If there is something permanent in you, then why seek permanency somewhere else? You understand my question? Oh, you don't follow all this.
So as we said, begin with uncertainty, begin with not knowing, which is what we are. You know that very well. You know your face when you look in the mirror, that's what you are. But also inwardly you are all the struggle, the pain, the conflict, the misery, the confusion, that's what you are actually. That is the state of all human beings. So your consciousness is not yours. It is the common ground on which all human beings stand and share. If that is clearly, the truth of it is clearly seen, then what is death? You follow all this? Death is the ending of everything - my pleasure, my memory, my experience, my attachments, ideals, beliefs, all that ends. That's what you are. That ends. But we don't like the ending. To us ending is pain. So we begin to invent, search for comfort in reincarnation. That's what most of you believe, don't you. You have never asked what it is that incarnates next life. What is it that incarnates? Your memories? Your experiences? Your hopes? A better life, better house, becoming a great ruler? This is what you are now, you are going to incarnate next life. If you really actually, deeply believed, felt that the next life you are going to be born, then what you are doing now is all important. Right? What you are doing now, what you think, what you feel, how you react, because that is going to be born rightly, correctly, happily next life. You don't believe, you just believe in reincarnation, it's not an actuality. Actuality is your life now, and we are unwilling to face it.
So death is something to be avoided. We always ask, what happens after death, but we never ask what happens before death. You understand my question? What happens now in our life, what is our life? Working, working, working, office, money, pain, striving, climbing the ladder of success. That's our life. And death puts an end to all that. So please listen to all this. Is it possible while living to end - end your attachment, end your belief. I know you can't end your bank account, if you have one, but to end. You understand the beauty of ending something voluntarily, without motive, without pressure.
So in ending there is a new beginning. If you end, the doors are open, but you want to be sure before you end that the door will open so you never end. End your motive. So the understanding of death is to live a life psychologically, begin inwardly, end it.
And also now we ought to talk over together religion and meditation. What is religion? The origin of that word is rather doubtful, etymologically speaking, the origin, the beginning, the root meaning of that word, is very doubtful. One has looked up various dictionaries, but the root meaning of it is uncertain. So we will accept the word religion, what we generally call religion. What is religion for most of you? Belief, rituals - if you are a Christian, belief in a saviour, in a particular saviour, with all the rituals, with all the marvellous dressing, the beautiful architecture inside the churches, the great cathedrals. I do not know if you have seen a cardinal performing a mass, it is really a great sight, great beauty, the utter precision, to impress the poor people. And that's belief, dogma, rituals, your daily puja, if you do puja daily, and above all you believe in god. That's what you call religion, which has absolutely nothing whatever to do with your daily life. All religions, organized or unorganized religions, have said, don't kill, love somebody. So you go on killing, you go on worshipping false gods, which is your nationalism, your tribalism, the Sikh, the Muslim, the Hindu, it's all tribalism. So you are killing each, and that's what you all call religion. Isn't that so?
So to find out the nature of a religious mind you must put away all those childish things. Will you? Of course not. You will go on, do your puja, your ceremonies, become slaves to the priests. Religions has become a form of entertainment. That entertainment may be very sacred, as you consider, but it is still entertainment because it is not affecting your life in any way. So can you put away all that and not belong to any so-called religion, neither be a Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Muslim, leave all that - that's propaganda of centuries. Like a computer you have been programmed. Of course you are. When you say, 'I am a Hindu', you have been programmed for the last five thousand years. So when you are enquiring into the nature of religion, you must be free from all this. Will you? No, of course not. Because then when there is freedom from all that is false, illusory, then you begin to enquire into what is meditation - not before. You understand? A mind in conflict, a brain in struggle, cannot possibly meditate. You may sit down quietly for twenty minutes every day, or every afternoon, night, whatever it is, but if the brain is in conflict, pain, anxiety, lonely, sorrow, what is the value of your meditation?
So we are going to enquire into what is meditation. Not how to meditate, you have asked how to meditate, which is to give you a system. Right? A method, a practice. Do you know what practising does every day to your brain? Repeating, practising, your brain becomes dull, mechanical, not active, alive, full of vitality - it is tortured, making effort to achieve some silence, some state of experience. That's not meditation, that's just another form of achievement, like a politician becoming a minister. In your meditation you want to achieve illumination, silence, it's the same pattern repeated only you call it religious, the other calls it political achievement - not much difference.
So we are going to enquire together, it doesn't matter if we go over an hour, what is meditation. Are you tired?
K: You must be, don't tell me you are not - well, it's up to you. What is meditation? What does that word mean? The word, the meaning of the word. If you look up in a dictionary you will find it means to ponder over, to think over, to be concerned, to look, to ponder over. That's what it means. That's what the dictionary says. And the word 'meditation' also implies measurement, to measure. Right? We are going to go into this. First the word implies to be able to think clearly, not with confusion, not personally, but objectively, clearly, to think, which we have done, if you have followed very carefully, during the last three talks. So it needs clarity. And meditation also means measurement, to measure. We are always measuring, which is comparing - I am this, I will be that, which is a form of measurement. I will be better - the word 'better' is measurement. You are following all this? You so easily nod your heads, please don't. That is to compare yourself with another is a measurement. When you tell your son, or somebody, you must be like your elder brother, that's measurement. So we live by measurement. We are always comparing. That's a fact, isn't it. So our brain is conditioned to measure - I am this today, I hope I will be different in a year's time - not physically but psychologically. That is a measurement.
Now to live without measurement is part of meditation, totally completely free of all measurement. Not, I am practising this, I will achieve something in a year's time - that is measurement, which is the very nature of one's egotistic activity. In schools we compare, in universities we compare, and we compare ourselves with somebody who is more intelligent, more beautiful physically. There is this constant measurement going on. Either you know it consciously, or you are not aware of this movement of measurement.
So meditation is the ending of measurement, ending of comparison, completely. You understand this? See what is implied in it. That there is no psychological tomorrow. Yes sir. Tomorrow is the measurement of 'what is' in time. Do you understand all this? So measurement, comparison, and the action of will must end completely - there is no action of will in meditation. Every form, every system of meditation is an activity of the will - will, I will meditate, I will sit down quietly, control myself, narrow down my thoughts, practise - that is the action of desire which is the essence of will.
So in meditation there is no activity of the will. You understand the beauty of all this? When there is no measurement, no comparison, not achieving, not becoming, there is the silence of the negation of the self. There is no self in meditation, not, 'tell me how to meditate, I have tried the Zen meditation, the Tibetan form of meditation, the Buddhist form of meditation, the Hindu, and the latest gurus who offer systems of meditation', they are all forms of the action of will, which is a form of desire.
So a mind, a brain that is in the act of meditation, which is the whole of life is meditation, not one period when you meditate - meditation is the whole movement of living. But we have separated - at least you have separated meditation from your life. It is a form of relaxation, take a drug. If you want to repeat, repeat Coca-Cola, or any other Cola, it is the same effect, it dulls the mind. Whereas meditation, when there is no measurement, when there is no action of the will, and the brain is in entirely free from all systems, then there is great sense of freedom. And in that freedom there is order, absolute order, and that you must have in life. Then in that state of mind there is silence, not invented silence, not the seeking of silence, not wanting, desiring to have a quiet mind. That's too childish. But when there is this freedom from measurement, which is the activity of the self, to become something more and more and more, then in that freedom of absolute order there is silence.
Then is there something sacred, not invented by thought? There is nothing sacred in the temples, in the mosques, in the churches - they are all the inventions of thought. So when you discard all that, is there something sacred? That is, nameless, timeless, something that is the outcome of great beauty, and total order, which begins in our daily life. That's why meditation is the movement of living, it's life. If you don't understand the basis of all this, that is, our life, our everyday reactions, our behaviour, all that, your meditation has no meaning whatsoever. You can sit on the banks of the Ganga, or some kind of place, do all kinds of tricks with yourself, that's not meditation. Meditation is something that is of daily life, it is a movement of life. And when there is in that movement freedom, order, and out of that flowers a great silence and then only then, if you have come to that point, one finds there is something absolutely sacred.
The Flame of Attention
New Delhi 4th Public Talk 7th November, 1982
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.