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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


Question: You seem to object even to our sitting quietly everyday to observe the movement of thought. Is this, by your definition, a practice, a method and therefore without value?

Now the questioner asks: What is wrong with sitting quietly every morning for twenty minutes, in the afternoon another twenty minutes and perhaps another twenty minutes in the evening or longer - what is wrong with it? By sitting quietly you can relax, you can observe your thinking, your reactions, your responses and your reflexes. What is the motive of those who sit quietly by themselves, or together in a group? What is the motive behind the desire to sit quietly for half an hour every day? Is it not important to find out why you want to do this? Is it because somebody has told you that if you sit quietly you will have parapsychological experiences, that you will attain some kind of peace, some kind of understanding, some kind of enlightenment, or some kind of power? And, being rather gullible, you pay thousands of dollars to receive instructions and a mantra which you can repeat. Some people have paid thousands of dollars to a man who will give them something in return - specially a Sanskrit word - and they repeat it. You pay something and you receive something in return; what is the motive behind it? Why are you doing this? Is it for a psychological reward? Is it that by sitting quietly you attain some kind of super-consciousness? Or is it that you want that which has been promised by your instructor?

So it is important - before we plunge into all this - to find out what is your motive, what it is that you want. But you do not do that. You are so eager and gullible; somebody promises something and you want it. If you examine the motive, you see that it is a desire to achieve something - like a businessman's desire to earn a lot of money. That is his urge. Here the psychological urge is to have something that a guru, or an instructor, promises. You do not question what he promises, you do not doubt what he promises. But if you ask the man who is offering you something: Is it worthwhile? Is it true? Who are you to tell me what to do? then you will find that sitting quietly, without understanding your motive, leads to all kinds of illusory psychological trouble. If that is the intention of sitting quietly, it is not worth it. But if while sitting quietly without any motive, or walking quietly by yourself or with somebody, you watch the trees, the birds, the rivers and the sunshine on the leaves, in that very watching you are also watching yourself. You are not striving, not making tremendous efforts to achieve something. Those who are committed to a certain kind of meditation find it very hard to throw that off because the mind is already conditioned; they have practised this thing for several years and there they are stuck. And if somebody comes along and says: "What nonsense all this is" they may, at a rare moment, become rational and say: "Yes, perhaps this is wrong; then begins the trouble, the conflict, between what they have found rationally for themselves and that which they have been practising for the last ten years - a struggle that is called progress, spiritual progress!

The mind is always chattering, always pursuing one thought or another, one set of sensory responses after another set of responses. In order to stop that chattering you try to learn concentration, forcing the mind to stop chattering and so the conflict begins again. This is what you are doing; chattering, chattering, talking endlessly about nothing. Now, if you want to observe something, a tree, a flower, the lines of the mountains, you have to look, you have to be quiet. But you are not interested in the mountains, or the beauty of the hills and the valleys and the waters; you want to get somewhere, achieve something, spiritually.

Is it not possible to be quiet, naturally - to look at a person, or to listen to a song, or to listen to what somebody is saying quietly, without resistance, without saying, "I must change, I must do this, I must do that", just to be quiet? Apparently that is most difficult. So you practise systems to be quiet. Do you see the fallacy of it? To practise a method, a system, a regular everyday routine, as a result of which you think the mind will at last be quiet; but it will never be quiet; it is mechanical, it has become set in a pattern, dull and insensitive. You do not see all that; you want to get something - an initiation! Oh, it is all so childish.

If you listen quietly, not saying the speaker is right or wrong, or saying, I am committed to this, I have promised not to give it up; I am this, that, the other thing", but listen to what is being said without resistance, then what you are doing is your own discovery, then your mind in the very process of investigation becomes quiet.

So can we, ordinary people, with all our troubles and turmoils, be quiet and listen to all the prattlings of our own movements of thought? Is it possible to sit, or stand, or walk quietly, without any promptings from another, without any reward or desire for extraordinary super-physical sensory experiences? Begin at the most rational level; then one can go very far.