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Chapter 11 - 14th February 1969 - 4th Public Talk at Stanford University
Chapter 11 - 14th February 1969 - 4th Public Talk at Stanford University
This is our last talk. Do you still wish the subject of meditation to be talked about, as was previously suggested?
Krishnamurti: Before we go into it, I think we should consider the question of passion and beauty. The word "passion" is derived from a word meaning "to suffer", but we are using that word in a sense different from either sorrow or lust. Without passion one cannot do very much, and passion is necessary to go into this very complex question of what meditation is. In the sense we mean - and perhaps we may be giving it a different significance - passion comes when there is the total abandonment of the "me" and the "you", the "we" and the "they", and when, with that abandonment, there is a deep sense of austerity. We do not mean the austerity of the priest or the monk, whose austerity is harsh, directed and sustained through control and suppression. We are talking about a passion that is the outcome of an austerity which is not harsh. An austere mind is really a beautiful mind. Beauty, again, is rather a complex question. In our lives there is so little of it: we live here in a beautiful building surrounded by a lovely wood with marvellous old trees, with the skies blue and with lovely sunsets, but beauty is not the essence of experience. Beauty is not in the thing that man alone has created. To perceive what is deeply beautiful, there must not only be a silence of the mind but also great space in the mind. I hope all this does not sound rather absurd, but I think it will become intelligible as we go along.
We have so very little space in ourselves. Our minds are limited, narrow, shallow, concerned about ourselves and committed to various forms of activities - social, personal, idealistic and so on. While there is a certain space between the observer and the thing observed and also around and within this wall of resistance which constitutes the "me", there is another space that is not bound by either the centre or by the wall of resistance. And that space, together with beauty and passion, is essential for an understanding of what meditation is. And, if you will, we will go into that.
Now the West has its own word, "contemplation", but I do not see this as being the same as meditation as it is understood in the East. First of all, then, let us discard what is generally understood by the word meditation, that is, that through meditation one receives a great result, a great experience. Later we may examine the truth or falseness of that idea. The meaning of the word meditation is to ponder, think over, consider, examine in a deeper sense, to feel one's way into something not completely understood, to feel one's way into the mystery and the secret recesses of one's own unexplored mind and depths of feeling. Meditation then, in the real meaning of that word, has its own peculiar beauty, and we are also talking about it as quite one of the most extraordinary things in life - if one knows all that it means. Such meditation transcends all experience. It is not a mystical, romantic or sentimental affair; it needs, rather, a tremendous foundation of righteousness, of virtue and order. Also, one has to understand the whole question of experience. And so one has to go not only verbally into it, but also feel one's way into something that cannot be conveyed by mere words. It is not some visionary, mystical state induced by thought, but something that comes about naturally and easily when the foundation of righteous behaviour is laid. Without that foundation, meditation becomes merely an escape, a fantasy, a thing that one enjoys as a means to some fantastic measures and experiences.
So we are going to go into this question of meditation. And one should, because it is as important as love, death and living - perhaps much more - because out of that meditative mind there comes an understanding of what truth is. Initially we should, I feel, be quite clear as to the falseness or truth of what is generally accepted about meditation both in the East and, lately, here in this country. In the East, it is generally understood as a practice in which there is control of thought, such control being based on a particular method or system. There are numbers of these systems in India and also in the Buddhist world, including Zen. Systems and methods are offered in the practising of which one comes to that state of silence in which reality is revealed. That, in general, is what is understood by the various forms of meditation.
Are you interested in all this? I cannot think why because I am really not interested in it all (Laughter).
There are systems invented by the swamis, yogis, maharishis and all the rest of them; meditations upon a series of words and their meanings, or on a phrase, a picture, an image or some quotation which is supposed to have great meaning. And there is also what is called "mantra yoga", which has been introduced into this country and in which you repeat certain Sanskrit words which the guru gives to the disciple in secrecy. These you repeat three or four times a day, or a hundred or a thousand times, whatever it is, thus quieting the mind and enabling you to transcend this world into a different world. Obviously the repetition of a series of words - whether in Sanskrit, Latin, English, or even, if you will, Greek or Chinese - would produce a certain quietness in the mind, a certain quality in the repetitive word tending to make a mind, which is already dull, even duller (Laughter). No, Sirs, please don't laugh; it is quite serious because this is one of the things, with variations, that is practised a great deal in the East, the idea being that a mind that wanders endlessly is made quiet by repetition. So then the word becomes very important, especially when it is in Sanskrit, because that is an extraordinary language, possessing a certain tonality and quality; and it is hoped that thereby you achieve something. Now you can repeat a word like "Coca-Cola" or "Pepsi-Cola, - whatever you will - and you will also have an extraordinary feeling (Laughter). So you can see that such repetition as is being done not only in the East, but also in the Catholic churches and monasteries, makes the mind rather shallow, empty and dull. It does not bring to it a sensitivity, a quality of perception. Again, the man who repeats, sees what he wants to see. So we can discard that particular form of what is called meditation - and discard it intelligently, not because someone says so, but because one can see that, by repetition, the mind obviously must become rather dull and insensitive. Please know that the speaker is in no way persuading you to any particular method or system - he doesn't believe in it; there is no method for meditation, as you will see presently,
Then again, other systems lay down a whole series of postures, as a result of which, if you sit rightly, cross-legged and breathing deeply, you will silence the mind. There is a story of a great teacher who is pottering about in the garden when a disciple approaches and sits down, assuming the ordained posture, and looks to the master to instruct him further. So the master sits beside him and, as he sits, he watches the disciple who, by now, has closed his eyes and begun to breathe deeply. Whereupon the teacher asks, "What are you doing, my friend?" The disciple replies, "I am trying to reach the highest consciousness". Then the teacher picks up two pebbles and begins to rub them together. And as he rubs, the disciple, who is on the highest plane of consciousness, opens his eyes and, upon observing what the master is doing, asks, "Master, what are you doing?" The master replies, "I am rubbing two stones together to make one of them into a mirror". So the disciple laughs and says, "Master, you can do that for the next ten thousand years and you will never make a mirror out of a stone". Whereupon the master retorts, "You can sit like that for the next ten thousand years and you will never achieve what you want!"
So there are these systems of breathing and right posture. It is obvious that, in sitting straight or lying down flat, the blood flows more easily to the head, whereas too much bending tends to restrict the flow - that is the idea of sitting straight. Breathing regularly does bring about more oxygen in the blood and therefore quieting the body, and we can gauge the importance or unimportance of it. The idea is that if you practise the method laid down by the guru, you will daily achieve a greater degree of understanding, or of silence, getting closer to heaven, closer to the greatest thing on earth or beyond the earth. The guru is supposed to be enlightened and knows more than the disciple. The word "guru" in Sanskrit means the one who points; like a signpost, he just points. He doesn't tell you what to do. He doesn't even take you by the hand and lead you: he just points the way, leaving you to do with it what you will. But that word has become corrupted by those who use it for themselves, because such gurus offer methods.
Now, what is a method, a system? Please follow this closely because by discarding what is false - that is, through negation - one finds out what is true. That is what we are doing. Without negating totally that which is obviously false, one cannot arrive at any form of understanding. Those of you who have practised certain systems or forms of meditation can question it for yourselves. When you practise something regularly day after day, getting up at two and three in the morning as the monks do in the Catholic world, or sitting down quietly at certain times during the day, controlling yourself and shaping your thought according to the system or the method, you can ask yourself what you are achieving. You are, in fact, pursuing a method that promises a reward. And when you practise a method day after day, your mind obviously becomes mechanical. There is no freedom in it. A method implies that it is a way laid down by somebody who is supposed to know what he is doing. And - if I may say so - if you are not sufficiently intelligent to see through that, then you will be caught in a mechanical process. That is, the daily practising, the daily polishing, making your life into a routine so that gradually, ultimately - it may take five, ten or any number of years - you will be in a state to understand what truth is, what enlightenment and reality are and so on. Quite obviously no method can do that because method implies a practice; and a mind that practises something day after day becomes mechanical, loses its quality of sensitivity and its freshness. So again one can see the falseness of the systems offered. Then there are other systems, including Zen and the various occult systems wherein the methods are revealed only to the few. The speaker has met with some of those but discarded them right from the beginning as having no meaning.
So, through close examination, understanding and intelligence, one can discard the mere repetition of words and one can discard altogether the guru - he who stands for authority, the one who knows as against the one who does not know. The guru or the man who says he knows, does not know. You cannot ever know what truth is because it is a living thing, whereas a method, a path, lays down the steps to be taken in order to reach truth - as though truth is something that is fixed and permanent, tied down for your convenience. So if you will discard authority completely - not partially but completely, including that of the speaker - then you will also discard, quite naturally, all systems and the mere repetition of words.
Having discarded all that, perhaps we can now proceed to find out what the meditative mind is. As we pointed out, there must be a foundation of righteous behaviour, not as the pursuit of an idea which is considered righteous, the practising of which in daily life becomes mere respectability and therefore far from righteous. That which is respectable, accepted by society as moral, is not moral: it is unrighteous. Do you accept all this?
Do you know, Sirs, what it means to be moral, to be virtuous? You may dislike those two words, but to be really moral is to end all respectability - the respectability which society recognizes as being moral. You can be ambitious, greedy, envious, jealous, full of violence, competitive, destructive, exhorted to kill, and society will consider all that moral and therefore very respectable. We, however, are talking of a different morality and virtue altogether, something which has nothing to do with social morality. Virtue is order, but not order according to a design or blueprint, something laid down by the church, by society or by your own ideological principles. Virtue means order. Order means the understanding of what disorder is and freeing the mind from that disorder - the disorder of resistance, of greed, envy, brutality and fear. And out of that comes a virtue which is not something cultivated by thought, as humility is something that cannot be cultivated by thought. A mind which is vain can endeavour to cultivate humility, hoping thereby to mask its own vanity, but such a mind has no humility. Similarly virtue is a living thing that is not the result of a practice, that is not dependent on environmental influence; it is a behaviour which is righteous, true and deeply honest. Most of us are dishonest. Those who have ideals and pursue them are essentially dishonest because they are not what they are pretending to be. So, one has to lay this foundation, and the manner in which it is laid is of greater importance than understanding what meditation is: indeed, this very manner of laying is meditation. If in that laying, there is any resistance, suppression or control, then it ceases to be righteous because in all that effort is involved; and effort, as we said yesterday, comes about only when there is contradiction in oneself.
So, is it possible for the mind to recognise that the morality practised in the world is not really moral at all; and, in the understanding of that, the seeing of its envy, greed and acquisitiveness, to be free of it without effort? Do I make myself clear? That is, seeing the totality of envy, not just a particular form of it but the whole meaning of it, seeing it not only as an idea but in actuality, then that very act of seeing frees the mind from envy. And therefore, in that freedom, there is no conflict. Righteousness, then, cannot be the outcome of conflict and is not the result of a drilled mind. In a mind which understands what it is to learn (which is the understanding of "what is"), the learning itself brings about its own discipline; and such discipline is extraordinarily austere. So there it is: if you have laid the foundation in that manner, then we can proceed, but if you are not virtuous in that deep sense of the word, then meditation becomes an escape, a dishonest activity. Even a stupid mind, a dull mind, can make itself quiet through drugs or the repetition of words, but to be righteous demands a great sensitivity and therefore a great austerity - not of the ashes and loincloth variety, which again is a pretension and an outward show - but to be inwardly and deeply austere. Such austerity has great beauty: it is like fine steel.
In the understanding of ourselves, obviously, lie the beginnings of meditation. This understanding of oneself is quite a complex affair. There is the conscious mind and the unconscious - the so-called deep or hidden mind. I don't know why such great importance has been given to the unconscious. It is the treasure of the past - if that can be called a treasure. The racial inheritance, the tradition, the memories, the motives, the concealed demands, urges, desires, pursuits and compulsions. The conscious mind obviously cannot, through analysis, explore all the unconscious, those deep, hidden, secret layers of the mind, because it would take many years. Moreover, a conscious mind that undertakes to examine the unconscious must itself be extraordinarily alert, unconditioned, sharp and of unbiased perception. So it becomes quite a problem. It is said that the unconscious reveals itself through dreams and intimations, and that you must dream, otherwise you would go mad. Does one ever ask why one should dream at all? We have accepted that we must dream. As you know, we are the most tradition-bound people; despite being very modern and greatly sophisticated, we accept tradition and are "yes-sayers". We never say "no", never doubt, never question. Some authority or specialist comes along and says this or that and we promptly agree, saying, "Right, Sir, you know better than we do". But we are going to question this whole matter of the unconscious, the conscious and dreams.
Why should you dream at all? Obviously because during the day your conscious mind is so occupied with the job, with the quarrels, with the family, the various items of possible amusement. All the time it is chattering away endlessly, talking to itself, counting - you know all that it does. And so at night, when the brain is somewhat quieter, and the whole body more peaceful, the deeper layers are supposed to project their contents into the mind, giving hints and intimations of what it hopes you will understand, and so on. Have you ever tried, during the day, to be watchful without correction, aware without choice, watching your thought, your motives, what you are saying, how you are sitting, the manner of your usage of words, your gestures - watching? Have you ever tried? If, during the day, you have watched without attempting to correct, not saying to yourself, "What a terrible thought that is, I mustn't have it", but just watching, then you will see that having uncovered, during the day, your motives, demands and urges, when you come to sleep at night, your mind and your brain are quieter. And you will also find, as you go into it very deeply, that no dreams are possible. As a result, when it wakes up, the mind finds itself extraordinarily alive, active, fresh and innocent. I wonder if you will attempt to do all these things or whether all this is just a lot of words. Then there is the other problem. The mind, as we have it, is always calculating, comparing, pursuing, driven, endlessly chattering to itself or gossiping about somebody else - you know what it does every day and all day long. Such a mind cannot possibly see what is true or perceive what is false. Such perception is only possible when the mind is quiet. When you want to listen to what the speaker is saying - if you are interested - your mind is naturally quiet: It ceases to chatter or think about something else. If you want to see something very clearly - if you want to understand your wife or your husband, or to see the cloud in all its glory and beauty - you look, and the looking must be out of silence, otherwise you cannot see. So, can the mind, which is so endlessly moving, chattering, chasing and taking fright, ever be quiet? Not through drill, suppression or control, but just be quiet?
The professional mediators tell us to control. Now control implies not only the one who controls but also the thing controlled. As you watch your mind, your thought wanders off and you pull it back; then it wanders again and again you pull it back. So this game goes on endlessly. And if, at the end of ten years or whatever it is, you can control so completely that your mind does not wander at all and has no thoughts whatever, then, it is said, you will have achieved a most extraordinary state. But actually, on the contrary, you will not have achieved anything at all. Control implies resistance. Please follow this a little. Concentration is a form of resistance, the narrowing down of thought to a particular point. And when the mind is being trained to concentrate completely on one thing, it loses its elasticity, its sensitivity, and becomes incapable of grasping the total field of life.
Now is it possible for a mind to have this sense of concentration without exclusion, and yet without resorting to subjugation, conformity or suppression for purposes of control? It is very easy to concentrate; every schoolboy learns it - though he hates doing it, he is forced to try to concentrate. And when you do concentrate, you are surely resisting; your whole mind is focussed on something and if you train it day after day to concentrate on one thing, naturally it loses its sharpness, its width, its depth, and it has no space. So the problem then is: can the mind possess this quality of concentration - although that really isn't the word - this quality of paying attention to one thing without losing the total attention? By "total attention" we mean that attention which is given with your whole mind, in which there is no fear, no pain, no profit-motive, no pleasure - because you have already understood what the implications of pleasure are. So when the mind thus gives attention completely - that is, with your heart, your nerves, your eyes, your whole being - then such attention can also include attention given to one small item. When you wash dishes, you can give complete attention to it without this resistance, this narrowing down associated with ordinary concentration.
So, having seen the necessity for laying the foundation naturally, without any distortion, without any effort and discarding all authority, we can now consider the search by the mind for experience. Most of us lead such a dull, routine life of obviously very little meaning, that, through various forms of stimuli including drugs, we constantly seek wider and deeper experiences. Now, when one has an ex- perience, the recognition of it as an experience shows that you must already have had it, otherwise you would not recognise it. So the Christian, conditioned as he is to the worship of a particular Saviour, when taking drugs or seeking some great experience through different ways, will obviously see something coloured by his own conditioning, and therefore what he sees will be his own projection. And although that may be most extraordinary, with great luminosity, depth and beauty, it will still be his own background being projected. Therefore the mind that seeks experience as a means of giving significance and meaning to life, is, in reality, projecting its own background, whereas the mind that is not seeking because it is free, has quite a different quality.
Now all that has been observed, from the beginning of this talk until now, is part of meditation; to see the truth as we go along; to see the falseness of the guru, the authority, the system; to lay the foundation of a behaviour which is not the mere outcome of environment and in which there is no effort at all. All that implies a quality of meditation. When one is at that point, having understood this whole business of living in which there is no conflict at all, one can then proceed to inquire into what silence is. If you inquire without having done all the previous things, your silence will have no meaning whatsoever, for without a true understanding of beauty, of love, of death and of virtue, a mind must remain shallow, and any silence that it produces will be silence of death. But if you have taken the journey with the speaker this evening, as I hope you have, then we can proceed to ask, "What is silence, what is the quality of silence?" Remember that if one wants to see anything very clearly, without any effort and without any distortion, the mind must be quiet. If I want to see your face, if I want to listen to the beauty of your voice, if I want to see what kind of person you are, my mind must be quiet and not chatter. If it is chattering and wandering all over the place, then I am unable to see either your beauty or your ugliness. So silence is necessary for such seeing, as night is necessary for the day; also that silence is neither the product of noise nor of the cessation of noise. That silence comes naturally when all the other qualities have come being.
You know, Sirs, in that silence there is space, but not the space that exists between the observer and the thing observed - as, for instance, between me and this microphone (without which I could not see it). A silent mind has great space not created by either the object or the observer. I do not know if you have ever watched what space is: there is space displaced by and around this microphone; there is space around the "me" and around the "you". Whenever we say "we" and "they", there is this space which we have created around ourselves. When you say you are Christian, Catholic, Protestant or Communist, there is space according to how you thus limit yourself, and that space inevitably breeds conflict because it is limited and because it divides. But when there is silence, there is not the space of division, but quite a different quality of space. And there must be such space, as only then can come that which is not measurable by thought - that immensity, that which is supreme and which cannot be invited. A petty mind, practising indefinitely, still remains petty. Most people who are seeking truth are actually inviting truth, but truth cannot be invited. The mind has not enough space and is not sufficiently quiet. So meditation is from the beginning to the end, and in meditation lies the skill in action.
So, all this is meditation. If you can do this, the door is open, and it is for you to come to it. What lies beyond is not something romantic or emotional, something that you wish for, something to which you can escape. But you come to it with a full mind which is intelligent, sensitive and without any distortion. You come to it with great love, otherwise meditation has no meaning.
Questioner: In the middle of your talk you mentioned that although meditation wasn't what you wanted to talk about, it was necessary to talk about it. Was there some other subject?
Krishnamurti; Sir, what didn't interest me was the explanation of the obvious, the obvious being the methods, the systems, the repetition of words, the gurus - all so obvious. What is important is not to follow anybody but to under- stand oneself. If you go into yourself without effort, fear, without any sense of restraint, and really delve deeply, you will find extraordinary things; and you don't have to read a single book. The speaker has not read a single book about any of these things: philosophy, psychology, sacred books. In oneself lies the whole world, and if you know how to look and learn, then the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either that key or the door to open, except yourself.
Questioner: Is there a reason for being?
Krishnamurti: Why do you want a reason for being? (Laughter). You are here. And because you are here and don't understand yourself, you want to invent a reason. You know, Sir, when you look at a tree or the clouds, the light on the water, when you know what it means to love, you will require no reason for being: you are, there is. Then all the museums in the world and all the concerts will have only secondary importance. Beauty is there for you to see, if you have the mind and the heart to look - not out there in the cloud, in the tree, in the water, in the thing, but in yourself.