exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity
1895 - 1986
|This lecture offers comprehensive summary of the process of coming to enlightenment. Krishnamurti discusses popular methods of controlling the mind and explains why these techniques produce a mechanical dullness and cannot take us to where we need to go.
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Editor’s prefatory comments:
Jiddu Krishnamurti has been an important teacher in my life. I began learning about the “true” and “false” selves about 15 years ago, and his insights served to inaugurate this vital area of enquiry.
He was the one to make clear that “guru” signifies merely “one who points,” not “infallible sage.” Pointing the way is what even the best teachers provide, but no more. One must walk the path of enlightenment alone, no one can do this for us.
Public Talk 4, Stanford University - 14 February 1969
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 [simplicity, without cosmetic adornment] which is not harsh. An austere mind is really a beautiful [symmetry, simplicity, unity, oneness] 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.
beauty is not in the thing
Jiddu Krishnamurti, September 24, 1967, London: “Like love, beauty is not the cultivation of thought. A thing of beauty is not beauty. Beauty is not in the thing, in the building, in the person; but there is that beauty which is not the result of conditioning, in which thought in no way interferes.”
The sense of beauty is an opinion, a judgment, concerning the good and the true.
Beauty issues not from one's “hardware” but “software,” the “programming.”
See more discussion in the “waves” article.
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 [popular] 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 [purport to] 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.
Editor's note: See William Barclay's writing, "why only the virtuous can find the truth."
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.
the Dazzling Darkness
In the “Omega Point” article featuring the symbolical meaning of lovers “touching foreheads,” we offered the concept of “the Dazzling Darkness.” Therein, a place of mystical "austerity" and starkness, we find a cosmic stillness and silence, a oneness and unitive relationship with all creation. It is where we find and recognize “the truth,” including the knowledge of the identity of one’s eternal romantic Twin Soul mate.
In the understanding of ourselves, obviously, lies 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 meditators 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 experience, 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 [chattering] 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 understand 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.
Editor's last word:
As I write these comments, I’ve reviewed about 30 of K’s lectures and, for the last 15 years, have considered myself a student of the enlightenment process.
I thought I knew something about how these things work. However, after reading the above discourse, I’m left with a sense that, to a certain extent, I need to begin again.
In my writings, I sometimes speak of breathing exercises which might quiet the mind. These, I think, have been of some value to me, and K, too, offers a small deference to this:
“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.”
But, for me, this has been a case of misplaced judgment of causation. The breathing really didn’t have all that much to do with my perceived benefit. It’s like the rooster crowing at dawn and believing that his singing makes the sun to rise. The real benefit in the breathing was the momentary “off switch” for the “chattering in the head.” But that can be accomplished without the breathing.
I’m now seeing more clearly that anything reduced to strict method and habitual practice becomes self-defeating. The mind learns to become “mechanical,” K says, and a dull mind becomes “even duller.”
Another way of saying all this is that deep breathing does, very temporarily, stop the “chattering in the head,” but then, as K wryly points out, so does repeating “Coca-Cola” a hundred times. When I saw that, I knew there was something missing in my deep-breathing program. There is a kind of quieting of the mind, which, as pyrrhic victory, causes dullness and damage in apparent success and becomes tantamount to defeat; what we want is a quieting of the mind which also heightens one's capacity to instantly access the totality of truth; at least, a glimpse of it.
It’s strange. We see photos of people sitting in “lotus” position; hands with palms turned upward as to invite the truth; the disciple muttering an obscure Sanskrit term. Looks very impressive, very disciplined and even religious, and surely this must be effecting some benefit with millions honoring this procedure as they do; but then, I used to think the same about attending a church service on Sunday morning. The fact of the matter is, the lotus-posture is bunk, and so is the muttering. It's not necessary, it's not how it works. All it does, like my breathing program, is to produce a mechanical, desensitized mind, incapable of accessing the totality of truth.
K’s remarks about “austerity” and “beauty” were something new for me. It’s “austerity” in the sense of “simplicity” and “lacking adornment.” I thought of Mortimer Adler’s essay on “Beauty” in which he pointed out that Beauty will possess a “symmetry, harmony, and unity.” Moreover, K’s “austerity” reminds me of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare.”
What is K talking about with this “austerity” and “beauty”? He said “to be inwardly and deeply austere” gives rise to a sense that “austerity has great beauty: it's like fine steel.” - it's like a cold blade, like Euclid’s geometry, a creature of austere precision and exactitude, an architectonic glimpse of “Beauty bare.”
What does all this mean? When the mind is stilled, but not via constraint; when the student knows virtue and righteousness, but not as the world defines these; when the spirit is freed from the disorder of resistance, fear, and greed; then, in a hot flash of insight, sometimes, we begin to perceive a glimmer of the totality of truth, the very structure of reality. When we do, it will come to us with “austerity” and “beauty.”
But how shall we quiet the mind? If not with deep-breathing methods, by what means? This is tricky because it’s very easy to slip over the line again into some new-and-improved technique to achieve enlightenment. Penalty flags fall when we try to do that because all methods dull the sensibilities, imply that the truth is static and can be captured, and then we end up worse for our trouble.
But we have to do something, don’t we? I think we do, but it’s not "something" in the ordinary sense of the term, it can't be “bottled and sold” as an exact and precise technique because the “truth is a pathless land” and "a living thing." So, there’s no one sure-fire way to get to it.
Even so, what are we to do? K gave us certain guidelines, but they're not “the seven laws of success” brought down from the holy mount. He didn’t want to offer anything that might be construed as “the one, true holy doctrines” of attaining enlightenment. But let’s recall what he did say:
“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? … 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 [have] uncovered … your motives, demands and urges…”
As I review what he said, comparing it to what I thought I knew, I believe I now see his point. Before I say more I’d like to reference a comment by Peter Russell on the “Life 1-Minute” page. He said, to the effect, “For me, meditation has become simpler and simpler over the years. I used to have all these strict methods, but today all I do is notice what’s going on in my head - simply notice.”
Yes, “simply notice.” This is what K is saying here. It’s not about trying very hard to discipline the mind to have “good thoughts.” That doesn’t work but instead produces an inner conflict. K said, do not say, “What a terrible thought that is, I mustn’t have it.” Rather, like Russell, our part is “just watching.”
How does this work? Why is it good? I think it works this way: When we internally “shine a spotlight” on the offending thought, when we immerse it in a heightened sense of awareness, we rob the dysfunctional ego of its power. As K said, by “just watching” we “uncover … motives, demands, and urges.”
It’s doesn’t sound like much: “simply notice” what the mind is doing. How would that ever work? However, I thought about this and concluded, “Whatever the thing is that we’re supposed to do to evolve ourselves and become enlightened, it has to be really easy; or, if not totally easy, at least it has to be a very simple process to understand.” In other words, it needs to be something anybody could do. You don’t need a PhD, you don’t have to read the bible in the original Greek, you don’t have to walk on water or have an IQ of 250 – all you have to do is “simply notice,” to take note of what’s going on in your head. Anybody can do this.
Yes, to "simply notice" doesn't sound like much. How could this turn us into a truly good person? Instead, we want to work hard, become diligent, engage in much service, put out great effort. But effort per se cannot make us good.
The "truth is a living thing"; the truth within, the sacred consciousness, is our life and goodness; our core essence is light, says the Gospel Of Thomas, and therefore we do not need to "become good" so much as to realize its presence deep within.
If there's light within, why is it so hard to access? The ego will try to derail us. It will fight for its life and control over us, and will connive to upset one's plans to become sane. See my articles on “surrender and acceptance” and “zen” for more on this.
“Simply notice,” in my opinion, has three parts, and I’d like to share this with you:
(1) Notice the negative energy, not the bad image: This is important. The ego will attempt to dredge up from the depths of the psyche the most terrible images it can manage in order to “take you over.” We don’t like these images, and we don’t want to dwell on them and give them strength. So, how to deal with this? The answer, I believe, when the terrible image rises to meet you, do not fight it, as such, do not “concentrate” on getting rid of it directly, for that would produce a sense of internal conflict via resistance. Do not focus on the bad image, but, instead, immediately shift your attention to the underlying energy that comes with it. We can pretty well guarantee that it will be some form of fear. Focus on the fear that you feel. See what it's made of. Do not fight it, just notice it. Allow it to have its way with you. As you do, you will see that its power will drain away.
(2) Notice the “life,” the positive energy, in your body: Probably the easiest way to experience this is to feel, to notice, the tingling in your hands, or even one hand. This tingling is not the deeper “life” of the soul, but it’s a “portal” to it, and will suffice for our purposes. Some terrible thoughts are so vicious, and so entrenched, that you may want or need to “toggle” your focus between the “fear” and the “life.” After a while, the ego will give up; for a time.
(3) Notice the details of your environment: For example, one might become aware of faintest sounds in the room or on the street, or the temperature, or the colors nearby, or how you're presently sitting or lying, how the body is positioned. Can you sense, not just your hands but, the energy in the individual fingers? As we do this, the "chattering in the head" will briefly subside, the result of which might offer a momentary perception of a "total field" of life. Editor's note: In the very distant future, this process could produce in us unfathomable abilities of perception. Recall what Father Benson said about "the Ruler," billions of years old, who seems to be aware of every life form in the universe. What kind of godlike powers of consciousness reside in us which might be cultivated and released over the coming eons?
In all this watching, invariably, the ego will inject some poisonous image into your head. Again, handle this not by exclaiming, "I shouldn't have bad thoughts like that, I must try very hard to put them away"; instead, do not directly resist but employ some or all of the three "noticings" above. This, said Peter Russell, is "relaxing into the resistance."
The ego will fight to regain its total control of you. At times, you will experience a titanic struggle within as the ego will do all it can to discourage you from dislodging it from your spirit. But stay with this process. All of a sudden, sometimes after quite a contest, the storm will break, the ego will abruptly leave you, for a while, but then, biding its time, it will wait for an opportunity when you’re vulnerable and will be back to try again.
In the Gospel Of Thomas there is a great deal of instruction on coming to enlightenment. The Jesus of that document is given to say, to the effect, “keep on seeking the light within, stay with it, until you succeed.”
This is more simple instruction that anyone can do. Stay alert. Watch. Keep awake. Just notice. Maintain a heightened sense of awareness. Don't give up. Keep working on it.
Though “coming alive” is the central task for every creature “made in the image,” we marvel that Providence has supplied no instruction manual, no specific method. In a sense, we're pointed toward the general direction but then left to our own efforts and devices. The minimal guidance is but to keep alert and keep going. As we do, we become aware, in small steps, of the inner workings of our own mind and being, this small awareness, itself, serves as catalyst to initiate a modification of thought and deed. As K rightfully pointed out, it's "the truth within" that does the liberating, not our small efforts. It takes us along for the ride.
In a very real way, we become teachers of our own selves. We begin to sense what's effective in this process and what is not. We're reminded of Spinoza's Latin term "causa sui," a "self-causing," a virtual creating of oneself. This is our glory as a human being. No one, no infallible Dear Leader, can do this for us; only we know what’s going on in the deepest recesses. And none of this has a termination date, it’s the way we’ll be engaging life, in this world and beyond, as we endeavor to become more and more like God.
To restate, our small efforts here, while vital, are not the prime mover in this project. We already possess “the light” within. We already are who we're supposed to be. We just need to grant ourselves permission to express. Thomas emphasizes this.
The "truth is a living thing." It knows what to do and will do it. The soul - our essential consciousness, linked to God - is progressive by nature and desires to become more, to enlarge, to expand. This proactive force will break through the veil of darkness created by the ego. We are assured of success. Heretofore, we've been unaware of the great power within, but the sacred "made in the image" self will do all the heavy lifting. Our part, at the surface of personality, is simply to notice, to flood the mind with awareness, which initiates a "germination" of the embryonic soul, thereby muting the ego's ability to deceive. And then we’ve won; for, as Thomas encourages, the small seed will grow to fill the heavens.
"the truth is a living thing"
Brief restatement: Discovering the life within, and the process to do this, is like one of those games concerning clues: you get one clue, you follow it, and then you’ll be given another clue. We’re given “the truth” in snatches, just a particle at a time. Stated differently, as we “simply notice,” as we suddenly perceive, if only for a moment, a “total field” of the nature of life, eventually, we’ll be offered a realization, “oh, since I’ve been given this, now I realize I must do that.” And if we incorporate this newly perceived item into our lives, then, eventually, at the right time, we’ll be given another insight. And so it will go, as we apprehend, in “glimpses,” one more “clue,” then another, and another. In this manner, we shall be led by “the light within” into a burgeoning spiritual maturity. Our part is to start the process. “Simply notice.” In time, we’ll be given the first “clue.” Then keep going, wait for the second clue, and then another; and this is how we shall live our eternal lives, progressing, more and more, into an evolvement - like a blossoming flower, unfolding toward the light - all of which takes us on a journey toward emulation of Mother-Father God. Let us acknowledge, too, that this constitutes a “private tutoring” from God. We are personally instructed. "Truth is a pathless land" and that which is gained will be a little different for each individual, as each will yet reflect the glory of the multi-faceted God in a somewhat different way.
Editor's note: The importance of this instruction offered by the mystic teachers is of inestimable value. This is true on many counts, but one of special note is featured in the article “the 500 tape-recorded messages from the other side.” Therein I discuss the fact that millions on the other side do not understand what is presented in this article. So many over there have not yet discovered “the light” within. As such, even though they live in Summerland, they drift into various degrees of insanity, and will continue to do so until suffering reaches critical level, prompting one to seek for "the true self" and "the light within".
Why do family members, old friends, and romantic mates drift apart or even abruptly split?
When my daughter was in high school, she had a girlfriend; the two seemed inseparable. Later, the friend chose an alternate lifestyle, assumed that she’d be judged, then abruptly, and permanently, broke off friendship ties.
An example of my own: In the “Evolution” article I recounted that in senior-high English class I’d delivered a speech on the subject of “Creationism versus Darwinism.” Almost all of it, as I now perceive, was error. However, a good friend since childhood disagreed, summarily rejected me, and put me away with no reconciliation.
the hidden cause of all conflict
Each of us, likely, could offer scores of such examples. Krishnamurti’s teachings on the ego – concerning dualism, fragmentation, separation, division – are not of mere academic interest only to professional philosophers. This information holds the sacred key to understanding why planet Earth is the stage for war and conflict, not just on the international level, nor solely with religious or political groups, but also among family members, friends, and lovers.
Why do people drift apart or become immediate enemies? The short answer is that they become an offense to each other. People identify with, make themselves equal to, belief systems which, they assume, will "make me happy." They say "this is who I am," and "this is what I need to be safe and happy," and if you represent something different, their self-image will be threatened, their prospects of safety and happiness will seem to fold - and then you'll be rejected, no matter the strength of former bonds of amity. You'll be rejected because, don't you see, it's a matter of life-and-death to the ego.
the carefully crafted self-image
In his 17.December.1969 lecture, Jiddu Krishnamurti offers one of the most clear and insightful explanations concerning the inner workings of this dark dynamic. When we feel offended by someone, he said, “there is an image about yourself,” one that we ourselves build. This ego-image reflects one's cultural “conditioning.” Why do we build this image? We do so “as a means of security ... of protection ... of being somebody.”
fear is behind the curtain
And what do we find if we draw back the curtain of this ego-image? “Now, if you go behind that," Krishnamurti says, "you will see there is fear.” What is the composition of this fear? It is the existential fear of "I don't have enough" because "I am not enough."
Let’s analyze this ego-image more closely. Why do we build it? What are we protecting? If we allow ourselves to become very still, if we taste and sample the nature of this hidden fear, we will find that we’re protecting a self-image, a mental projection of what the ego would like to be and have:
“I am the person who needs to be seen as virtuous, respected, worthy of honor. And it goes without saying that I know what’s best for you.”
“I am the person who needs to be seen as right and correct. As such, I need you to believe as I do, to agree with all of my religious superstitions, and my self-serving political views. I need you to accept all of my inflexible opinions because your assent makes me feel, not just safe and secure but, that I’m worth something.”
“I am the person who needs to be seen as successful, 'in the know,' and winning. I want you to be impressed with what I am and what I have so that I’ll be counted as a somebody. I need these merit badges so that I can face my peer group, family, and community and be considered important."
“I am the person who craves to be viewed as a wise person, an in-demand friend, a counselor with ‘the answers.’ I count on you to offer me this prestige so that I can feel good about myself.”
"I am the person who grew up on the 'wrong side of the tracks.' My family culture held great disdain for education and knowledge. This disrespect for anything truly progressive has always held me back, creating for me a self-image of 'I’m not smart enough to succeed. I can't get a high-paying job, that's for other people.' And so if you come to me and suggest that, in fact, I do possess talents and strengths, then I will feel very uncomfortable, begin to panic, as you attempt to lead me out of my dysfunctional comfort-zone. At the first sign, with your help, that I I could actually advance myself, I’ll fall apart, swoon in terror, and then begin to blame you, and hate you, before I retreat and crawl back under the safety of my rock."
"I am the person who is comfortable with present ideas. They've gotten me this far (sort of). And they may be half-baked, a straw-house of illogicality, but, even so, these irrationalities offer a certain veneer of meaning to my life. In support of this charade, I surround myself with so-called friends with whom I share a tacit agreement, an unspoken pact: 'You must agree never to point out the non sequiturs of my beggarly superstitions, and I will agree to act as if I accept yours.' That’s the conspiratorial deal. However, if you come along with hard empirical evidence, well-reasoned positions, and suggest that I might want to take a more honest approach to what I believe to be true, well then, I will have to hate you for upsetting the applecart of my entrenched and time-honored unreasonableness."
"I am the person who carries on the traditions of my family. Unfortunately, these are more like peculiar shibboleths, marks of tribal distinction, but not of honor and dignity. I feel duty bound to ask, “What would mother do?” or “This isn’t the way dad did it.” I don’t have enough self-respect to live my own life, follow my own insights, quest for my own meaning and destiny. And if you come along and encourage me to think for myself, to break the apron strings (years after mom passed on), I will feel frightened, disoriented. And then I will blame and hate you for pushing me toward autonomy, full personhood, and self-realization."
“I am the person who needs you to make me happy. You can be my friend/lover/relative if you do exactly what I say and think just as I think. Anything less than this will be threatening to 'who I am.' I need you to love me -- just as I am, with all of my soft-underbelly beliefs -- to compliment me, to defer to me, so that I can judge myself as ok. Don't let me down, I warn you.”
“I am the person associated with you, and if you disappoint me, if you fall short of my expectations - especially after all I've done for you - if you fail to make me happy, if you begin to take on contrary opinions, then you will become an opposing force to what I want and to the image I’ve created for myself. If any of this happens, then, of course, I’ll have to get rid of you, even though we’ve meant much to each other over long years. I'll have no choice but to shun you.”
And so if anyone – sibling, friend, lover, child, parent -- stands as opposition to any of these ego-images, then the offending person will immediately be counted as an enemy, no matter a long history of cordial relation.
a closer look at the hidden fear
We find there’s more than one curtain to open. The ego’s need to be seen as right, virtuous, properly religious or political, is not the only hidden agenda. As one pierces the levels of self-obfuscation we discover the core terror which vivifies all of the ego’s activities. It’s the fear of death. This is the central terror, as we learn from the great psychologists.
This means that when one is attacked, there may be purported surface issues, but the real reason people rage and become apoplectic is the ego fighting for its life. It's identified with, made itself equal to, being right, virtuous, and all the rest, and if it fails to promote itself with these "images," then it will face a kind of psychological death. “Who will I be?” it asks, if these false-security images are minimized or taken away?
the high cost of following the truth wherever it leads
All this is most dire. The reality is, if you assiduously pursue the truth, no matter the cost or where it might lead, then you will lose (for a time) almost every last person who was once close to you. Why must it be so? - because you will become a living, walking threat to another’s carefully crafted self-image.
narrow gate, without fellowship
Editor's note: In his writings, Andrew Jackson Davis warns of the "narrow gate" that leads to life; few be that enter it. Those who live courageously by following the truth wherever it leads, as Davis points out, “will walk a pathway without fellowship of thy earthly brethren.” The cults have long employed the weapon of excommunication, shunning, and ostracization - a forced separation from friends, workmates, and family - toward anyone who disagrees with the hive mentality. This putting away occurs not just in religion but in dysfunctional families, corporations, academia, politics, and other power-seeking groups. They’re afraid of contrary opinion which might disembowel and expose shallow teachings. And so they’ll get rid of you for spreading "misinformation"; and you, as a truth seeker, will be censored and required to make your way through this world “without fellowship of thy earthly brethren.” But, be assured, a day of reckoning is but one missed heartbeat away.
We, ourselves - not some mythical Satan - are the focal point of all evil in the universe. It’s the pathological ego within; it’s the false self, the ego-images, ever attempting to find safety and security for itself, to bolster an inner neediness, the existential emptiness deep within.
We cannot become truly educated, nor reach a good level of wisdom and maturity, in the highest and best sense - or meaningfully prepare ourselves for Summerland or to be with one’s Twin Soul - without understanding the wiles and machinations of our own personal “heart of darkness.”
please, it’s very impolite of you to notice that I lack a self
Soren Kierkegaard: “But in spite of the fact that man has become fantastic in this fashion [i.e., lives unrealistically by denying his own mortality and impending death, the terror of which is covered up by palliatives such as ritualistic, form-based but empty, religion], he may nevertheless … be perfectly well able to live on, to be a man, as it seems, to occupy himself with temporal things, get married, beget children, win honor and esteem – and perhaps no one notices that, in a deeper sense, he lacks [an authentic] self.”