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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

“When you have choice, you have contradiction. When I do not know what to do, I am confused, and out of confusion comes choice, and out of choice the action of will. Meditation is a movement in which there is no action of will whatsoever.”




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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, Bombay - 17 February 1971

WE have during the past few talks touched upon various problems and in talking over these problems together, I hope that at least some of you have seen how to observe your own intimate problems, not only personal but also the world issues.

We are going to talk about meditation. That word like "love", "discipline", is heavily loaded. Specially in the east, in this country, all of you. verbally understand what is implied in meditation. I doubt very much whether you really know what meditation means.

You have been told what to do, you have followed various systems, so your mind is not free to observe, investigate, to go into this extraordinary question. You have already filled your mind and your heart with other people's experiences, other people's conclusions, other people's assertions, and as in everything else you accept because in yourselves you do not know, you are uncertain, unhappy, confused. And somebody comes along and tells you that if you do these things - meditate, shut your eyes, breathe - then you would have a peaceful mind.

When you accept all this, you are not free to investigate, to really find out for yourselves what meditation is which has nothing whatsoever to do with any system, which has nothing whatsoever to do with any movement of will. It has certainly nothing whatsoever to do with conformity because method, system implies a practice leading you to a certain fixed conclusion or a state. System, method implies a mechanical practising of a certain formula, repeating it over and over again, hoping thereby that you will experience what your gurus, your teachers, your books have told you. When you practise something over and over again, you not only become mechanical, insensitive, but your mind becomes dull.

You are always asking the "how", "How am I to meditate?" That is one of the childish questions you can ask about something which is so immense, to ask somebody "Tell me what to do, tell me how to hold the earth in one's hand, tell me how to hold the sea or the air in one's fist."

And if you observe, that is what you all want. You want to experience something through a method. A method implies not only conformity not only measurement of achievement, but a method implies a system or a path to a fixed point, doesn't it? It is there, all that you do is to practice. It is most illogical, irrational, without any meaning whatsoever, because if you observe in your life, there is nothing stable, nothing permanent. You may want it, you may want a permanent relationship with your wife, with your children with your neighbour, with your society.

You cannot have anything permanent. Even your bank account is not permanent. No relationship is permanent. Everything is in a flux, is in movement, and realizing this consciously or unconsciously, we want something permanent, something that we can hold on to. And that we call truth, God, or what you like. So if you really understand, see the fact, see the truth that reality has no resting place, it is like being in an uncharted sea, you have to find your way to it - not your way or somebody else's way - but you have to find it.

And when you have a path leading to a reality, in, that is implied, time. To reach from here to there you require time, many days to travel, to cross the distance. And in that lag of time between here and there, there are other factors coming in. Therefore you say "Let me concentrate", think on that one thing and reject everything else, subjugate everything else to that one factor. The mechanical process of system brings about insensitivity, suppression, resistance against what you are actually, imposing on what you are something you think what ought to be, and there is conflict, battle. You want to control, you want to suppress, you discipline, force yourself to sit quietly, to breathe rightly, do all those fantastic things, hoping that you will eventually reach something about which you know absolutely nothing. So a wise man rejects the whole system, the whole idea, concept of systems altogether, because they don't lead anywhere. Then also you are burdened with this idea that you can experience truth, that you can achieve enlightenment, that you can find reality. Have not you heard your gurus, your people who teach you how to meditate say that they have experienced?

The other day someone came and said "I have experienced reality. I know what truth is, I know. "You know that is one of the most stupid things you can ever say.

Listen, Sir, when a man says he knows, what does he know? When I say I know, I know something which is already over. Right? I know only something that is over, that is in the past, which means I live in the past. Please observe it for yourself, watch it in your own life. When I say "I know you" I only know the image of you and that image is the past. So a man who says he knows what truth is, does not know. He knows that which is dead, over, finished.

Have you ever examined that word, the word "experience". It means to go through. When you go through something, it is over; but if you do not complete the whole movement, then it is recorded in the mind, then that becomes a memory. And what you are experiencing then is the past. When you are actually experiencing something - anger, sex, violence - at that moment there is no experience at all. Have you noticed this? When you are very angry or very envious, there is a total absence of the "me", the "you", the experiencer. Only a little later comes the experiencer, saying, "I have been angry." So those who say they know, they do not know. Those who say they have experienced reality, they have never experienced it, because to experience implies not only going through, but to experience something you must be able to recognise it. Otherwise you cannot experience. If I did not recognise you, which is an experience, I would not know you. Right? So when they use the word "experience", in that is implied recognition. To recognise implies that you have already known. Therefore that which you already know is not the real. So put aside systems completely. Anybody who says, "I have experienced" or anyone who says, "I know", beware of them. Do not get caught in that trap. That is their means of exploiting you.

And they have told you that you must concentrate, you must learn concentration, have they not? Have you ever investigated what concentration implies? There is in that an action of will, which is to resist every other thought and focus your energy, your thought on something, on a sentence or a word, or on a phrase, the repetition of some word which you call mantra - repeat, repeat. Concentration implies resistance. You resist every other thought from seeping in or control your thoughts from wandering. So concentration is a form of will, resistance and suppression, whereas we need a free mind, a mind that is alive, full of energy.

A mind that has been through conflict or is in constant conflict, wastes energy and you need energy. You need energy to go to your office, everything you do needs energy. So if you can put aside your favourite systems, if you can see the truth that concentration is merely a resistance and therefore constant conflict and wastage of energy, then you can find out for yourselves what are the requirements, what is necessary for a mind that is in a state of meditation.

Now let us investigate together, may we? We are not meditating together. That is one of the tricks - a group meditation - collecting a lot of people and all of them shutting their eyes and trying to meditate on something or other. We are investigating together what meditation is, not together meditating, because you do not know what it means, you only know what other people have said. Distrust completely what others say, including the speaker, because you are very easily persuaded. You are persuaded because you are greedy to experience something which you think is marvellous, so do not be influenced by the speaker.

Let us find out what are the implications of a mind that has the quality of meditation. We said you have to reject systems, methods, the desire to experience, because we explained what it means: the desire and the urge behind the desire to experience. So you have to put all that aside and also you have to put aside all the things that go in the name of meditation - breathing, dancing, becoming emotional, sentimental. So what is involved in this thing called meditation? You are going to discover it, you are going to find out, not how to meditate, but the nature and the structure of a mind that is totally free, that does not function, that has no movement of will at all, for will is resistance. You are not learning from the speaker. You are your own guru and your own disciple, because you yourself have to come upon this. You have to learn and not imitate, not conform to any authority.

So the first thing is you must understand yourself, because otherwise you have no rational basis of any thought, of any structure. If you do not understand yourself, how can you understand anything else, let alone something which may not exist? So the first movement is to understand yourself, understand yourself actually as you are, not what you would like to be. Understand yourself - the ugliness, the brutality, the violence, the greed, the envy, the agonizing loneliness, despair - that's what you are. And because you have not been able to solve it, because you have not been able to go beyond it, you introduce the super-self, the Atman. That is one of your tricks too. So you have a conflict between what you are and what you should be, or your Atman tells you what you should be. So you play a game. That does not help you to understand yourself. To understand yourself, you have to look at yourself. If I want to look at that tree, or that bird, I have to look. And I have to look at myself. I don't know what I am. I must learn about myself, not according to any philosopher or any psychologist or any book or any guide or guru.

Let us find out what we are. We are the bank account, we are envious, we are ambitious, corrupt, we say one thing and do another, we are hypocrites, we put on masks, pretend and through all this, there is this sense of sorrow, pain, anxiety, tears, the ache of loneliness. That's what we are. And if you do not understand that and go beyond it, how can you understand something that is so extraordinarily beautiful. So you have to learn about yourself and here comes a great difficulty: because one's self is in constant movement, one's self is changing, one's self is not permanently greedy or permanently violent or permanently sexual, there is a constant change, moving, living. One has to learn about the living thing. To learn about the living thing, you have to watch it anew each minute. You see the difficulty? To learn about myself who am a living entity, not a dead thing, this living thing has to be observed, and what you have learnt about it in one minute must be dropped and picked up again the next minute. So you are learning about a living thing all the time anew, not that you have learnt and then from that knowledge you observe what is a living thing. If you really do it, this is one of the most fascinating things, because your mind then retains very little, contains the essential technological knowledge and nothing else. So your mind watches this movement of the "me" which is such a complex entity, not only at the superficial level but at the deeper level.

I do not know if one has the time to go into all this. I will put it very briefly, please listen to it. You may be conscious, watch yourself and learn each minute anew, every minute superficially. How are you going to learn about the secret of your mind, the hidden motives, the complex heritage? You know it is all there, hidden. How are you going to learn about it? To learn about it is not to analyse it, but to watch it during the day: all the movement and the intimations and the hints of the secret desires. Watch it, be open to discover the motives, the intention, the tradition, the heritage.

So when you watch it all day and when you go to sleep, the mind then is completely quiet. There are no dreams, because dreams are merely a continuation in symbolic form of the daily contradictory conflicts; but if you have understood the daily movement of your life, your greeds, your envies, your angers, all that, then you will see that you are emptying the mind of everything of the past. So there must be self-knowing all the time. Knowing implies the active present. Then you need discipline. We have suppressed, controlled, conformed, imitated, and that's what we call discipline like a soldier disciplined.

Have you watched soldiers, what they are like? You know what they are, so they don't have to be described. And that is what we have reduced discipline to: a practice. And in that kind of discipline which you have, which all your gurus and the rest of them do, in that there is no freedom. There is decay, deterioration, whereas learning about oneself, learning all the time - not "having learnt" - brings about its own order. If I am learning about this whole process of living, that very learning brings its own order, and order is its own virtue. The thing that you cultivate is not virtue. So there must be knowing oneself, there must be this order, which is discipline, and there must be no action of will. We will go into that a little bit.

What is will? When you say "I will, I won't, I must, I should", what does that mean - the assertion, the decision, the statement of a desire "to be" - "I will do that"? In the action of will there is choice - I will not do this but I will do that. You are following all this? Do please. Because you see, unless you learn all this from yourselves you will have a miserable life. You can escape from it by fighting. That is what you all know, only these two things: to resist, to escape. Resist means fight. Escape, you know, going to the temples, gurus, taking drugs, marijuana, drink, sex, the whole gamut of escapes. And will is implied in all this. Can one lead a daily life without the movement and the action of will, which means a life in which there is no choice at all?

When you have choice, you have contradiction. Choice exists when you are confused, doesn't it? When I do not know what to do, I am confused, and out of confusion comes choice and out of choice the action of will. Why are you confused? Most people are, why? It is because you do not accept what actually is. You try to alter what is to something else. And the moment you do that, there is conflict and out of that conflict, confusion. So the action of will is the outcome of confusion.

Meditation is a movement in which there is no action of will whatsoever. If you have done all this or you are doing all this, then you have a question, which is: what is the brain concerned with? The brain is the result of the past. The brain structure - the cells - is the result of centuries upon centuries of evolution. It has collected tremendous knowledge to survive. That is all it is concerned with - to survive - and finding physical survival becoming more and more difficult, because of the explosion of population, national divisions - the Hindu, the Muslim, the Christian, the German - it tries belief. The brain demanding security, safety, survival, tries one thing after the other. It has hopes in nationalism, in the family, in the bank account. And not being able to find it, then it hopes to find that permanency, that security in some belief, in some God, in some kind of illusion. And that illusion becomes tremendously important, and that is what you are doing. Your nationalism is an illusion, your Gods are an illusion, you have invented them. Your gurus, your systems of morality - in that there is no safety.

So the brain demands, needs complete security to function rationally, healthily, and the brain finds that there is no security in thought. Previously it had sought security in thought. Thought is the only instrument you have, and thought is the past, is reaction to the past. Thought is not free, it is as old as the hills, because thought is the response of memory. So neither in belief nor in your Gods nor in your political systems, in your religious organizations, in your idols, temples, in your gurus, is there any safety, because they are all the inventions of thought. You understand? See the truth of it, not the word, the meaning, the description or the explanation, but see the truth of it.

So what happens? The brain cells are only concerned with survival, and with nothing else, not with Gods, not with illusion. There is only physical survival and that you would say is not spiritual at all; merely to survive, that is not spiritual, and you think spirituality is the invention of thought with all its illusions. It is only when the brain is concerned with physical survival alone that the rest of the brain is totally empty. That means the brain then is completely quiet, you understand?

Sirs, you know consciousness is heritage - you know what that means? Consciousness is the result of time, consciousness is the content of itself, which is time, sorrow, confusion, misery; and intelligence has no heritage. Then you see, when the mind sees the importance of total survival and nothing else, there is intelligence. Then it will organize society entirely differently, then its morality will be real order.

We are asking what is a mind that is completely silent, because it is only when the mind, the brain is completely quiet that it can perceive. If I want to listen to what you are saying, I must listen completely quietly, mustn't I? When you say to me, "I love you", I must listen with my heart which has no movement of contradiction. The mind must listen, and therefore it is necessary for a mind to observe that it must be completely quiet. Just to see the truth of it, not how to make the mind quiet. If you ask how to make the mind quiet, you are back in your old trap.

And there are thousands of gurus to tell you how to keep your mind quiet. But if you see that to perceive the tree, the cloud with the light of the setting sun on it, to see the light on the water, on a stretch of water, just to see it, the beauty of it, your mind must be completely quiet. If you are listening to somebody who threatens your life, you have to listen, haven't you? You listen to your bosses very, very carefully, don't you? You may not like it, you may resent it, but you have got to listen, because your life depends on it, your livelihood, your money, so at that moment you are very quiet. In the same way listen, observe the truth that to see and hear anything, both sensory and non-verbal, the mind must be quiet. That's a truth, that is sane, but a man who has beliefs, who is steeped in tradition, who calls himself a Hindu, a Buddhist, will never perceive that which is true. Therefore, for a mind to be completely quiet is very simple, really so simple, because it is only in that quiet state that you perceive the beauty of the earth, the beauty of the tree, the beauty of a bird or a face, and without beauty you will never come upon what is truth, you will never see what is truth.

You know what beauty means? Not architecture, not the design in space, not the painting, not the beautiful face or the beautiful sari, the colour, but that beauty which comes when there is no movement of the "me", when there is no movement of the will, when there is no movement of time, reaching out, moving outwardly or inwardly. In that there is no beauty. There is beauty only when there is total absence of will, the "me". Then there is passion and in that passion there is great beauty. So a mind that is in meditation is concerned only with meditation, not with the meditator. The meditator is the observer, the censor, the thinker, the experiencer. And when there is the experiencer, the thinker, then he is concerned with reaching out, gaining, experiencing; and that thing which is timeless cannot be experienced. There is no experience at all. There is only that which is not nameable.

Look, Sirs, because the mind is quiet, the body becomes still, not the other way round. You force your body to sit still. You do all kinds of things to come upon this strange beauty of silence. Do not do it, just observe. Look, Sirs, you know in all this are various powers of clairvoyance, reading somebody's thought. There are various powers, you know what I am talking about, don't you? You call them siddhis, don't you? Do you know all these things are like candles - candlelight in the sun? When there is no sun, there is darkness, and then the light of the candle is very important; but when there is the sun, the light, the beauty, the clarity, then all these powers, these siddhis, are like candlelight. They have no value at all. and when you have the light, there is nothing else - developing various centres, the chakras, kundalinis, you know all that business. You need a sane, logical, reasoning mind, not a stupid mind. A mind that is dull can sit for centuries breathing, concentrating on its various chakras, and you know all that playing with kundalinis, - it can never come upon that which is timeless, that which is real beauty, truth and love.

So put aside the candlelight which all the gurus and the books offer you. And do not repeat a word that you yourself have not seen the truth of, which you yourself have not tested.



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