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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


The sound of the church bell came through the woods across the water and over the deep meadow. The sound was different according to whether it came through the woods or over the open meadows or across the fast-running, noisy stream. Sound, like light has a quality that silence brings; the deeper the silence the more the beauty of the sound is heard. That evening, with the sun riding just above the western hills, the sound of those church bells was quite extraordinary. It was as though you heard the bells for the first time. They were not as old as in the ancient cathedrals but they carried the feeling of that evening. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was the longest day of the year, and the sun was setting as far north as it ever would.

We hardly ever listen to the sound of a dog's bark, or to the cry of a child or the laughter of a man as he passes by. We separate ourselves from everything, and then from this isolation look and listen to all things. It is this separation which is so destructive, for in that lies all conflict and con- fusion. If you listened to the sound of those bells with complete silence you would be riding on it - or, rather, the sound would carry you across the valley and over the hill. The beauty of it is felt only when you and the sound are not separate, when you are part of it. Meditation is the ending of the separation, not by any action of will or desire, or by seeking the pleasure of things not already tasted.

Meditation is not a separate thing from life; it is the very essence of life, the very essence of daily living. To listen to those bells, to hear the laughter of that peasant as he walks by with his wife, to listen to the sound of the bell on the bicycle of the little girl as she passes by: it is the whole of life, and not just a fragment of it, that meditation opens.

"What, to you, is God? In the modern world, among the students, the workers and the politicians, God is dead. For the priests, it is a convenient word to enable them to hang on to their jobs, their vested interests, both physical and spiritual, and for the average man - I don't think it bothers him very much, except occasionally when there is some kind of calamity or when he wants to appear respectable among his respectable neighbours. Otherwise it has very little meaning. So I've made the rather long journey here to find out from you what you believe, or, if you don't like that word, to find out if God exists in your life. I've been to India and visited various teachers in their places there, with their disciples, and they all believe, or more or less maintain, that there is God, and point out the way to him. I would like, if I may, to talk over with you this rather important question which has haunted man for many thousands of years."

Belief is one thing, reality another. One leads to bondage and the other is possible only in freedom. The two have no relationship. Belief cannot be abandoned or set aside in order to get that freedom. Freedom is not a reward, it is not the carrot in front of the donkey. It is important from the beginning to understand this - the contradiction between belief and reality.

Belief can never lead to reality. Belief is the result of conditioning, or the outcome of fear, or the result of an outer or inner authority which gives comfort. Reality is none of these. It is something wholly different, and there is no passage from this to that. The theologian starts from a fixed position. He believes in God, in a Saviour, or in Krishna or in Christ, and then spins theories according to his conditioning and the cleverness of his mind. He is, like the Communist theoretician, tied to a concept, a formula, and what he spins is the outcome of his own deliberations.

The unwary are caught in this, as the unwary fly is caught in the web of the spider. Belief is born out of fear or tradition. Two thousand or ten thousand years of propaganda is the religious structure of words, with the rituals,

dogmas and beliefs. The word, then, becomes extremely important, and the repetition of that word mesmerizes the credulous. The credulous are always willing to believe, accept, obey, whether what is offered is good or bad, mischievous or beneficial. The believing mind is not an enquiring mind, and so it remains within the limits of the formula or the principle. It is like an animal who, tied to a post, can wander only within the limits of the rope.

"But without belief we have nothing! I believe in goodness; I believe in holy matrimony; I believe in the hereafter and in evolutionary growth towards perfection. To me these beliefs are immensely important for they keep me in line, in morality; if you take away belief I am lost."

Being good, and becoming good, are two different things. The flowering of goodness is not becoming good. Becoming good is the denial of goodness. Becoming better is a denial of what is; the better corrupts the what is. Being good is now, in the present; becoming good is in the future, which is the invention of the mind that is caught in belief, in a formula of comparison and time. When there is measurement, the good ceases.

What is important is not what you believe, what your formulas, principles, dogmas and opinions are, but why you have them at all, why your mind is burdened with them. Are they essential? If you put that question to yourself seriously you will find that they are the result of fear, or of the habit of accepting. It is this basic fear which prevents you being involved in what actually is. It is this fear that makes for commitment. Being involved is natural; you are involved in life, in your activities; you are in life, in the whole movement of it. But to be committed is a deliberate action of a mind that functions and thinks in fragments; one is committed only to a fragment. You cannot deliberately commit yourself to what you consider the whole because this consideration is part of a process of thought, and thought is always separative, it always functions in fragments.

"Yes, you cannot be committed without naming that to which you are committed, and naming is limiting."

Is that statement of yours merely a series of words or an actuality which you have now realized? If it is merely a series of words then it is a belief and therefore has no value at all. If it is an actual truth that you have now discovered, then you are free and in negation. The negation of the false is not a statement. All propaganda is false, and man has lived on propaganda ranging from soap to God.

"You are forcing me into a corner by your perception, and isn't this also a form of propaganda - to propagate what you see?"

Surely not. You are forcing yourself into a corner where you have to face things as they are, unpersuaded, uninfluenced. You are beginning to realize for yourself what is actually in front of you, therefore you are free of another, free of all authority - of the word, of the person, of the idea. To see, belief is not necessary. On the contrary, to see, the absence of belief is necessary. You can see only when there is a negative state, not the positive state of a belief. Seeing is a negative state in which the "what is" is alone evident. Belief is a formula of inaction which breeds hypocrisy, and it is this hypocrisy against which all the younger generation are fighting and revolting. But the younger generation get caught in that hypocrisy later on in life. Belief is a danger which must be totally avoided if one is to see the truth of what is. The politician, the priest, the respectable will always function according to a formula, forcing others to live according to that formula, and the thoughtless, the foolish, are always blinded by their words, their promises, their hopes. The authority of the formula becomes far more important than the love of what is. Therefore authority is evil, whether it be the authority of belief, or of tradition, or of the custom which is called morality.

"Can I be free of this fear?"

Surely you're putting a wrong question, aren`t you? You are the fear; you and the fear are not two separate things. The separation is fear which breeds the formula that "I will conquer it, suppress it, escape from it". This is the tradition which gives a false hope of overcoming fear. When you see that you are the fear, that you and fear are not two separate things, fear disappears. Then formulas and beliefs are not necessary at all. Then you live only with what is, and see the truth of it.

"But you've not answered the question about God, have you?"

Go to any place of worship - is God there? In the stone, in the word, in the ritual, in the stimulated feeling of seeing something beautifully done? Religions have divided God as yours and mine, the Gods of the East and the Gods of the West, and each God has killed the other God. Where is God to be found? Under a leaf, in the skies, in your heart, or, is it merely a word, a symbol, representing something that cannot be put into words? Obviously you must put aside the symbol, the place of worship, the web of words that man has woven around himself. Only after having done this, not before, can you begin to enquire if there is or is not a reality which is immeasurable.

"But when you have discarded all this you are completely lost, empty, alone - and in this state how can you enquire?"

You are in this state because you are pitying yourself, and self-pity is an abomination. You are in this state because you have not seen, actually, that the false is the false. When you see it, it gives you tremendous energy and freedom to see the truth as the truth, not as an illusion or a fancy of the mind. It is this freedom that is necessary from which to see if there is or is not something which cannot be put into words. But it is not an experience, a personal achievement. All experiences, in this sense, bring about a separative, contradictory existence. It is this separative existence as the thinker, the observer, that demands further and wider experiences, and what he demands he will have - but it is not the truth.

Truth is not yours or mine. What is yours can be organized, enshrined, exploited. That is what is happening in the world. But truth cannot be organized. Like beauty and love, truth is not in the realm of possessions.