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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


ONE OF THE most important problems to solve is that of bringing about a complete unity, something beyond the fragmentary self-centred concern with the `me', at whatever level it be, social, economic or religious. The `me' and the `not me', the `we' and `they' are the factors of division.

Is it ever possible to go beyond the activity of self-centred concern? If something is 'possible' then one has a great deal of energy; but what wastes energy is the feeling that it is not possible, so that one just drifts - as most of us do - from one trap to another. How is this possible? - recognising that in a human being there is a great deal of the animal aggression and violence, a great deal of the stupid mischievous activity; recognising how he is caught in various beliefs, dogmas and separatist theories and how he revolts against one particular system or establishment and falls into another.

So, seeing the human situation as it is, what is one to do? This, I think, is the question that every human being who is sensitive, alive and aware of the things that are happening around him, must inevitably ask. It is not an intellectual or hypothetical question but something arising from the actuality of living. It is not something for the few rare moments but something that persists throughout the day and night, through the years and until one lives a life that is completely harmonious, without conflict in oneself and with the world.

Conflict, as one observes, arises from self-centred concern, which gives such tremendous importance to the appetites. How does one go beyond this petty, shoddy, little self? (It is that, though one may call it the soul, the Atman - such pleasant sounding words that one invents to cover a corruption). How is one to go beyond?

Not being capable of inward changes, psychologically, we turn to outside agency - change the environment, the social and economic structure, and man will inevitably also change! That has proved utterly false - though the communists insist on that theory. And religious authorities have said: believe, accept, put yourself in the hands of something outside and greater than yourself. That too has lost its vitality because it is not real, it is merely an intellectual invention, a verbal structure which has no depth whatsoever. The identification of oneself with the nation, that too has brought dreadful wars, misery and confusion - ever-increasing division. Seeing all this, what is one to do? - escape to some monastery, learn Zen meditation, accept some philosophical theory and commit oneself to that, meditate as a means of escape and self-hypnosis? One sees all this - actually, not verbally or intellectually - and sees that it leads nowhere; does one not inevitably throw it all aside, deny it all, completely, totally?

One sees the absurdity of all forms of self-identification with something larger, of expecting the environment to shape man; one sees the falseness of it all; one sees the superficiality of beliefs, noble or ignoble; then does one not set all that aside, actually, not theoretically? If one does - and it is quite a task - it implies a mind that is capable of looking at things completely, as they are, without any distortion, without any interpretation according to one's like or dislike; then what takes place to the quality of the mind? Is there not immediate action? - action that is intelligence; the seeing of the danger and acting; intelligence in which there is no division between seeing and acting. In the very perception is action. When one does not act, insanity begins, imbalance takes place; then we say, `I cannot do that, it is too difficult, what shall I do?'

When there is a concept according to which action is determined, psychologically, there is division and there must be conflict. This conflict between the idea and action is the most confusing factor in life. Is it not possible to act without the ideation taking place? - which is, seeing and the action taking place together; for when there is great physical danger, a crisis, that is what we do, act instantly. Is it possible to live like that? That is: is it possible to see clearly the danger, say, of nationalism, or of religious beliefs, which separate man against man, so that the very seeing of it is the understanding that it is false? - it is not a question of believing that it is false. Belief has nothing whatever to do with perception; on the contrary, belief prevents perception; if you have a formula, a tradition, or a prejudice, you are a Hindu, a Jew, an Arab or a Communist and so on, then that very division breeds antagonism, hate, violence, and you are incapable of seeing the actuality. In any division between the concept and action there must be conflict; this conflict is neurotic, insane. Can the mind see directly so that in the very seeing is the doing? That demands attention, that requires an alertness, a quickness of the mind, a sensitivity.

One sees this - that one needs to have a clear, sharp, sensitive, intelligent awareness - and then one asks, 'How am I to get it, to capture it?' - in that question there is already division. Whereas, when you see the actual fact of what is going on, then the very seeing of it is the action - I hope this is clear.

Every form of conflict, inwardly or outwardly - and there is really no division as the outer or the inner - is distortion. I do not think that one realizes this sufficiently clearly. One is so accustomed to conflict and struggle; one even feels that when there is no conflict one is not growing, not developing, not creating, that one is not functioning properly. One wants resistance, yet not seeing the implication of resistance, which is division. So, can the mind act without resistance, without conflict, seeing that any form of friction, any form of resistance, implies division bringing about a neurotic, conflicting state?

When there is perception and action without concept, the activity of the centre, of the `self', the `me', the 'I', the `ego', the `libido' - whatever word one uses to describe that which is inside - the `observer', the censor, the controller, the thinker, the experiencer and so on, comes to an end. The centre of all psychological ideation is the `me' (not practical and scientific knowledge and so on). When there is any challenge, then the response from the centre as the `me' is the response of the past. Whereas, in the instant seeing and the instant acting the 'self' does not enter at all.

The centre is the Hindu, the Arab, the Jew, the Christian, the Communist and so on; when that centre responds, it is the response of his past conditioning, is the result of thousands of years of propaganda, religious and social; and when it responds there must be conflict.

When one sees something very clearly and acts there is no division. One does not learn this from books; it is something one can only learn through self-knowing, something learnt direct, not secondhand.

Can man, realizing the transiency of all things, find something that is not of time? The brain is the result of time; it has been conditioned through thousands of years. Its thought is the response of memory, knowledge, experience; that thought can never discover anything new because it is from that conditioning; it is always the old; it is never free. Anything that thought projects is within the field of time; it may invent God, it may conceive a timeless state, it may invent a heaven, but all that is still its own product and therefore of time, of the past, and unreal.

So man, as one observes, realizing the nature of time - the psychological time in which thought has become so extraordinarily important - has everlastingly sought something beyond. He sets out to find this; he becomes trapped in belief; through fear he invents a marvellous deity. He may set out to find it through a system of meditation, a repetitive affair, which may make the mind somewhat quiet and dull. He may repeat mantras endlessly. In such repetition the mind becomes mechanical, rather stupid; it may fly off into some mystical, supernatural, transcendental something or other that it projects for itself. That is not meditation at all.

Meditation implies a mind that is so astonishingly clear that every form of self-deception comes to an end. One can deceive oneself infinitely; and generally meditation, so-called, is a form of self-hypnosis - the seeing of visions according to your conditioning. It is so simple: if you are a Christian you will see your Christ; if you are a Hindu you will see your Krishna, or whichever of the innumerable gods you have. But meditation is none of these things: it is the absolute stillness of the mind, the absolute quietness of the brain. The foundation for meditation has to be laid in daily life; in how one behaves, in what one thinks. One cannot be violent and meditate; that has no meaning. If there is, psychologically, any kind of fear, then obviously meditation is an escape. For the stillness of the mind, its complete quiet, an extraordinary discipline is required; not the discipline of suppression, conformity, or the following of some authority, but that discipline or learning which takes place throughout the day, about every movement of thought; the mind then has a religious quality of unity; from that there can be action which is not contradictory.

And also, in all this: what part do dreams play? The mind is never still; the incessant activity that goes on during the day continues during sleep. The worries, the travails, the confusion, the anxiety, the fears and the pleasures go on when one sleeps; they become more acutely symbolized in dreams. Can the mind be completely still during sleep? This is possible, but only when the travail of the day is understood at each minute so that it is finished and not carried over. If one is insulted or praised, finish with it as it happens, so that the mind is constantly freed of problems. Then as you sleep, a different kind of quality comes into being, the mind is completely at rest, one is not carrying over the business of the day, one ends it with each day.

If one has gone through all this one sees that meditation is that quality of mind that is completely free from all knowledge - but such a mind uses knowledge; because it is free from `the known' it can use `the known; when it uses `the known' it is sane, objective, impersonal, not dogmatic.

And so it happens that in this silence of the mind there is a quality which is timeless. But, as we said, the explanation, the description, is not that which is explained or described. Most of us are satisfied with explanations or descriptions; one must be free of the word, for the word is not the thing. When one lives that way, life has quite a different beauty; there is great love which is neither pleasure nor desire; for pleasure and desire are related to thought, and love is not the product of thought.

Questioner: When I observe myself, I see a very rapid movement of thought and feeling and I am unable to watch one thought to its conclusion.

Krishnamurti: There is always a chain of events going on. What are you to do? When you watch and try to understand one thought, go to its very end, another arises; this goes on all the time. There is your problem: as you are watching you are the multiplication of thoughts, and you cannot finish one thought to its end. What are you to do? Put the question differently; why does the mind endlessly chatter - why does this soliloquy go on? What happens if it does not go on? Is the chattering the result of wanting to be occupied with something? If you are not occupied, what takes place? If you are a housewife you are occupied with housekeeping, or you are occupied as a businessman - occupation has become a mania. Why is the mind demanding this occupation, this chattering? What happens if it does not chatter, if it is not occupied? - is there fear behind it? Fear of what?

Questioner: Of being nothing?

Krishnamurti: Fear of being empty, being lonely, fear of becoming aware of all the turmoil in itself; therefore it must be occupied with something, as the monk is occupied with his saviour, his prayers; the moment he stops he is just like anybody else, there is fear. So you want to be occupied, and this implies a fear of finding out what you are. Until you solve that problem of fear you will chatter.

Questioner: As I watch myself the fear increases.

Krishnamurti: Naturally. So the question is: not so much how to stop the increase of fear, but rather, can fear end?

What is fear? You may not feel fear as you are sitting here, so perhaps you may not be able to take that and examine it and learn from it now. But you can immediately perceive that you depend, can you not? You depend on your friend, on your book, on your ideas, on your husband; psychological dependency is there, constantly. Why do you depend? Is it because it gives you comfort, a sense of security and of well-being, companionship? When that dependency fails you become jealous, angry and all that follows. Or, you try to cultivate freedom from dependency, to become independent. Why does the mind do all this? Is it because in itself it is empty, dull, stupid, shallow? - through dependency it feels that it is something more.

The mind chatters because it has to be occupied with something or other; this occupation varies from the highest occupation of the `religious' man to the lowest occupation of the soldier and so on. The mind is obviously occupied because otherwise it might discover something of which it is deeply afraid, something which it may not be able to solve.

What is fear? does it not relate to something I have done in the past, or something that I imagine might happen in the future? - the past incident and the future accident; the past illness and the future recurrence of the pain of it. Now it is thought that creates this fear; thought breeds fear, just as thought sustains and nourishes pleasure. Then can thought end? - can it come to an end so that it no longer gives a continuity to fear or to pleasure? We want pleasure, we want it to continue; but fear, let us put it away. We never see that the two go together.

It is the machinery of thinking that is responsible, that gives the continuity to pleasure and fear. Can this machinery stop? When you see the extraordinary beauty of a sunset, see it; but do not qualify it with thought, saying, `I must treasure it in the memory, or have it again'. To see it and so end it, is action. Most of us live in inaction, therefore there is endless chattering.

Questioner: But when the chattering does go on, do you just observe it?

Krishnamurti: That is, become aware of this chattering - without choice. Which means: do not try to suppress it, do not say `it is wrong, or right', or `I must get beyond'. As you watch chattering, you discover why it goes on. When you learn about chattering, it is finished, there is no resistance to chattering. Through negation you have the positive action.