Meditation is the whole of life
Can we die to all things gathered?
4th Public Talk, New York, New York State
April 28, 1974
This is the last talk and I hope you can hear properly. Can you hear now?
Krishnamurti: We have been talking about various things that are related to our daily living, like disorder, and what is order, what is relationship and the necessity of right relationship; and also we talked about fear and pleasure, joy and enjoyment; and yesterday morning when we met here we talked about the waste of our life, our life which has very little meaning as we live it; and we went into the question of love and death. And this morning I think it would be worthwhile to talk about meditation. This is a very serious subject and requires a considerable maturity, not of age but of mind and heart, a maturity that is not crippled by fear, that acts and lives in righteous behaviour and a mind that can be free from all the excitement, sensation, the demand for experiences, which we talked about yesterday. And as this is a very, very serious subject unless you give your time this morning and your attention, your care and real affection, we cannot possibly communicate with each other about this matter. Communication means not only thinking together but also sharing what is being said together and listening not only to the words, to the ideas, but also to the non-verbal communication. Because we are going to go into matters that probably most of you have not delved into, most of you probably have heard about the word, carried over from Asia and India and it is a form of new excitement, a new sensation, something you want to achieve. And I am afraid meditation is something entirely different.
So if we may we will go into it rather hesitantly, carefully, not in very great detail, which you can fill in for yourselves, and perhaps you yourself can come upon that which is nameless, timeless and which cannot possibly be put into words. So we are sharing this together, not that it is a group meditation or a group therapy, which is rather terrible, but rather together we are going to take a long voyage. And to take a long voyage we must travel lightly.
So the first thing to realise in meditation is that there is no authority, that the mind must be completely free to examine, to observe, to learn. And so there is no following, no accepting, no obedience. You know, a great many gurus from India have come to this country, like a great many missionaries have gone to the East it is their turn to come now. And they are going to pollute your mind as the missionaries have also polluted the other minds. These gurus with their tradition, with their peculiar assertion wrought in tradition, their authority which demands obedience, compliance, conformity, and with their groups, with their shramas, it has become now in this country a form of concentration camp. You know the word 'guru' means, amongst many other things, one who removes ignorance, one who points the way, one who relieves you of your burden. The root meaning of that word, I have been told, means weight. And unfortunately these gurus that come here give you their burden, they don't relieve you of your burdens but they foist onto you their ignorance, their problem, their systems. And unfortunately here, people are so gullible, accept something that comes from the ancient country, with their ancient culture, and their mysterious religions, superstitions, beliefs and all that ritual. And it would have been very good if you had never heard of that word, if you had not accepted anything, then you could listen afresh, then you would be able to examine the thing for itself, not what you have been told, or your own particular experience, or what you think it should be.
And so the first thing is, if one may point out, don't follow anybody in this matter, in the matter of the mind, in the matter of the spirit, in the matter of your heart. Don't follow a single person, including the speaker. And then we can look with a fairly clear mind to find out if there is anything sacred in life, something holy. Every religion from the ancient of times has said that there is and man has tried to find or invent through his thought, imagination, and of necessity, something really sacred. And in his search for it he has created images, not only wrought by the hand but also by the mind, images of thought, images that have been born out of one's own desire and sentiment and the demand for comfort. And if we could this morning put aside all those images that thought has put together then we can begin to find out in our journey if there is something that is beyond time, that is not put together by our feelings, by our neurotic beliefs, by our faith. Belief and faith have no place in meditation, nor imagination, because belief, faith and imagination can create illusion, a delusion in which the mind can be caught. And so again, if one is serious, every form of image, every form of belief and faith must be put aside, which is a very difficult thing to do because we want comfort, because we want something to lean on in the days of our sorrow, in the days of our darkness. When things are uncertain and miserable and confused we think we must have faith in something, and specially it becomes a necessity when inwardly there is such chaos, such trouble, such agony. And so faith in something, in a god, in a saviour, in an ideal becomes almost an urgent necessity. But a mind that would go into this question of what is sacred and what is meditation must put aside the machinery that produces illusion.
So what is meditation? Not how to meditate, the 'how' becomes rather childish, as you will see presently for yourself, but what is meditation - the question itself becomes extraordinarily important. You know there are various systems of meditation; there is the Zen meditation which is - the word 'Zen' comes from the Sanskrit word 'Dzan' and the Chinese weren't able to pronounce that word 'Dzan' and therefore made it into 'Zen'. And there is that whole school of meditation, the Zen, based on tradition, which says you must have a very, very quiet mind, therefore practise, follow a system, discipline yourself, control yourself, be aware of every movement of your body. And you practise day after day and there are many schools of Zen, it is not only that you must control your body but also you must control your breath and so on. Then there are many schools of yoga. I hope you are interested in all this. I am not! But unfortunately you have to go through it. The word 'yoga' I have been told means to join together, join together the mind, the body and that supreme self. And yoga also means, skill in action. And it also means a system, any system that will help you to meditate. And there is the yoga of physical exercise, hatha yoga, which if you practise carefully will help you to control not only your body but also your mind and go beyond it.
So there are all these systems invented by man to quieten the mind, the mind that is always chattering, restless, a mind that is always searching, groping after, demanding, asserting, a mind that is always centred upon itself, a mind that is violent, aggressive. And to make such a mind quiet these systems are formed. And if your mind is mechanical, which it is, you will accept the mechanical part of the system thinking that it will give you something that the system doesn't offer. So you condition your mind according to the system, and through that conditioning you hope to come upon something that is holy, that is enlightenment, that is truth.
System implies a path to a particular goal, the goal being fixed and in practising a system you come upon that goal. I hope you are all following this. The system is mechanical, is repetitive, and a repetitive, mechanical mind, can such a mind ever find that which is living, which is not static, which has no place, which has no fixed abode? Can a system help you to hold the vast waters of the sea in your fist, or the air in your hand? And yet all these practitioners and the makers of systems think that you must go through them. The speaker has discussed this problem with many of the gurus who came to see him, not only in India, in Europe and here, and they all say, 'Yes, you are perfectly right but you are wrong because people need systems to help them'. And they are the people to offer that help, either for a certain number of coins or because they are convinced that their method is the right one. But when one goes into it one can see logically and with reason that a mechanical mind, as most of our minds are mechanical, readily accepts a mechanical system, whether it is Zen or other forms of traditional and non-traditional systems, such a mind eagerly accepts it because we cannot think freely, we cannot observe without our own particular forms of mechanical prejudices and habits. And when you see the illogic and the insanity of systems, because they are not sane, they further make the mind more mechanical, more dull, more confused because there are dozens and dozens of systems. You can spend your life going from one to the other, window-shopping. But these systems can never free the mind, and freedom is absolutely necessary from the very beginning, not at the end.
The dictators, the authoritarian governments, deny freedom, both outwardly and inwardly, it is considered something bourgeois, unreal because human beings are educated to conform mechanically through reward and punishment, to live on this earth unhappily and to make the best thing of it. But thought is never free, thought is old, thought can never be new, it cannot bring freedom because freedom is necessary. Without freedom one lives in prison - the prison of one's own making or the prison of others.
And so meditation demands a mind that is not caught in any system, however romantic, however pleasing, however desirable. Because who are you to choose among so many systems? You will choose one that is most pleasant, naturally, that is most convenient, that is most comforting, that promises you something in return for your work. So your choice is based among all these systems, whether the Zen, or the Hindu, or the Buddhist, or the Muslim, or your own form of meditation, the Christian meditation, you will choose amongst all those. And that choice is based upon your own confusion, upon your own desire for further experience of delight and pleasure. So while the mind is choosing a system, such a mind is a confused mind. And systems do not clear the confusion, but rather strengthen, narrow down that confusion.
So meditation is the denial, the negation of all systems because you see the truth of it, because you understand the full significance of it, that you must be your own light and not the light of another, nor can this light come through another. You cannot light that light from the candle of another. If you once see the truth of it then you will not follow a single human being, you will not follow any guru, any saviour, any priest with all their doctrines and traditions and their rituals. And that's going to be awfully difficult because we are afraid to stand alone, we are so used to being dependent on somebody to tell us what to do - the analyst, the psychologist, the priest, the Bible, the Upanishads, and so on - something to lean on. And as it is our education to grow in habits, and this habit of leaning, wanting comfort, wanting someone to tell us what to do, to deny all that, to negate all that, not violently, for negation comes only when you understand it, when you see the logic, the reason, the sanity of it.
And meditation is not something that you practise for an hour or ten minutes and the rest of the day do your mischief. Meditation is the whole of life and that is the beauty of meditation, it is not something set aside, it covers and enters into all our activities and to all our thoughts and feelings. So it is not something that you practise or give attention to once a day or three times a day or ten times a day and the rest of the day live a life that is shoddy, neurotic, mischievous, violent.
And if you would understand what meditation is the mind must be totally free from all violence and aggression. Are you following all this? As I said, as the speaker said, this is a very serious matter and if you don't want to listen to it, don't. But you should know something of all this, it is good for you to know this. We are educated in violence, our ways of life, all our activity is a form of violence. We are geared to war, and war is very profitable, and we are educated to kill, kill not only the poor animals for our food but also kill your neighbours in the name of God, in the name of peace, in the name of your country, in the name of your bank account. And it is part of our tradition, both religiously, economically and socially, the competition of the priest to become a bishop, climb the ladder, the hierarchical ladder of spiritual whatever it is. And we are also aggressive, we think it is necessary to be aggressive in order to progress. That word 'progress' at one time meant, to enter the enemy country fully armed. I hope you appreciate the meaning of that word. And aggression was a form of security, the animals, if you have observed them, are very aggressive amongst themselves - as the top dog. So there is in us not only aggression but violence. And we deem it necessary.
Intelligence is above and beyond violence and aggression. That intelligence comes when one understands the full nature and the structure of violence outwardly and inwardly with all its aggression. Then in that understanding flowers intelligence. That intelligence can operate in our daily life and therefore there needs to be no violence at all. Because intelligence is not an intellectual thing, intelligence comes into being when man is whole, when he is acting totally with all his being, when he is not fragmented, when his actions are not contradictory, and when he is aware of his contradictions choicelessly. Then out of that awareness comes this sensitive, pliable, rich intelligence, which will operate in our daily life, which will give us deep abiding security, which violence and aggression cannot. So a mind that is enquiring into meditation must be free of violence and aggression.
And there arises a question, which is, where do you draw the line between intelligence and violence? You kill animals to eat and the animals are becoming rather expensive because they need a great deal of the land and so gradually you are being forced to become vegetarians, of necessity. Some writer some time ago wrote an article in this country saying, vegetarianism is spreading like some awful disease in this beautiful land. So where do you draw the line? You put on shoes of leather, you support war when you buy a stamp, when you pay your tax. Where do you draw the line between the least killing, the least violence and aggression? And that intelligence that is not involved in violence, in killing, when that intelligence operates there is no line. It will operate intelligently when the problem is put before you.
So after going into all that, what is meditation? If it does not cover the whole field of our existence, shape all our activities, meditation has no meaning whatsoever. Then it is merely an escape, a fanciful pleasant escape into nothing, into something that is totally illusory. So meditation must enter into every corner of our life, otherwise don't meditate, it has no meaning.
Then what is meditation? And to enquire into that you must enquire into what is knowledge, what is the place of thought and can there be freedom from thought, from knowledge and what is the relationship of that freedom to knowledge and to thought.
I hope all this is not too difficult. But I am afraid you have to go into it. It is a pleasant spring morning, if there is a spring morning in New York, but there is some, there is some clarity. And if this thing is much too serious for you just leave it alone, look at the leaf, the spring leaf that is so delicate, that can be destroyed so easily, and if left alone it has great strength and beauty yet vulnerable. Look at it and how you look at it is part of meditation. How you look at the cloud, how you look at your wife and your children, at your neighbour, that's also part of meditation. Meditation also means the discovery of what is beautiful. What is beauty? Is beauty in the picture, in the line of the architect, the beauty in a poem, the beauty in a marble, carved by the hand? Or is beauty something entirely different, not in the expression, which can be destroyed, which can be altered, which depends on fashion, on tradition, on the know-how? Or is beauty something that doesn't demand expression, though it may express? And is that beauty - can that beauty be understood through meditation? You know - may I go on with all this? Yes? You are interested? It's up to you.
I was told, the speaker was told some years ago that the ancient sculpture in India was done by those monks and people who meditated for many years, or many days, who were austere, who ate little, were not concerned with sensation and sensuality, who meditated deeply until the moment arrived when they felt that they could put their hands to the hammer and to the chisel. It's only that moment that is a creative moment of beauty. And to come upon that beauty there must be total abandonment of the self, the 'me', and where there is an abandonment of the 'me', the self, the ego, in that passion comes that extraordinary quality of beauty which is part of meditation.
And what is meditation? We said, what is the place of knowledge in meditation? What is the place of thought in meditation? Please do understand this, the speaker will explain it as carefully as possible, go into it wisely, with affection, and you have to understand this because it is very important, otherwise you live in a prison of knowledge, always within the field of the known. You may decorate the various corners, give light to the corner but it is still within the known. So you must understand what is the place of knowledge, freedom and meditation.
Thought, by which most of us live, through which all our culture is put together, all our religions, all the days and the ways of our life are based on thought. And thought is the response of memory, which is gathered together through experience, which is knowledge. The language one speaks, the way one drives a car, the technological knowledge, all that is the product of thought. And thought is the response of knowledge, knowledge is always the past. And that guides our days and lives not only in the present but also in the future. So one must really deeply understand the relationship of knowledge, what place it has, and can there be freedom from that knowledge. If not we live always within that field. And within that field there is no freedom, though we can imagine there is freedom. The mind must function within the field of knowledge, otherwise you can't write, you can't do all the technological jobs that you have to do, you won't remember your own name, speak any language. There, that's the whole field of knowledge, scientific, biological, mathematical, all that knowledge that man has acquired through centuries upon centuries. You cannot put it away, it is there. But if you are functioning only within the area of knowledge the unknown can never be discovered. Without the discovery of that the known becomes a prison, and we escape from that prison through every form of neurotic activity, belief, faith, amusement and so on, because we know instinctively that's very limited, very short lived; knowledge can be corrupted, and knowledge doesn't bring happiness, vitality. On the contrary, joy comes when the mind is not inviting anything.
So knowledge has its place, and can the mind be free from knowledge? That means can thought know its place, its limitation, and not step beyond it? Many people have realised this, any serious person who enquires into this matter has gone into this problem. But they have said, you must control thought. Thought is necessary though it has its limitation, though it creates all the illusions, all the mischief in all directions, thought can be polished, can be made effective, probably unselfish. But thought is necessary. But thought cannot enter possibly into the field of the unknown where one can come upon something totally new, not put together by thought. So they have said, 'Control thought, don't let it wander away, dissipate itself, hold it, control it, subjugate it'. And the systems about which we talked previously offer this, to train your thought to control, to be held by the controller. But they never asked, who is the controller. Is he not part of thought? So the controller, being part of the thought, which very few people look into, in the process of controlling thought there is conflict, there is violence, there is conformity. And so thought is further strengthened. But when you understand the thought, the controller and the controlled, then one leads a life - please listen to this - one leads a life in which there is no control whatsoever. Which does not mean permissiveness, which does not mean do what you want to do, which does not mean that you yield to every appetite, every feeling. But when you understand the nature of the controller and the controlled, that they are one, and when you see the truth of it, when you see thought is the response of memory and all that, then control becomes unnecessary because what you see, the seeing is the doing, which doesn't mean that your pleasure, your enjoyment, your sensation dictates your action. On the contrary. Then intelligence is in operation.
Please, as we said, take the voyage with the speaker, we are sharing this together. Then also you have to understand the meaning of time. Sorry to put all this in this one talk, but there it is. You have to understand time. Time is movement, the movement from here to there, from being to becoming, from not being to what should be, both outwardly and inwardly. That is, time is necessary to achieve a result. If you want to go from here to your house, to cover that distance needs time. If you want to change yourself from what you are to something what you should be, there is a distance and that distance is time, which is a movement. So you have to understand this question of time. Because all our activity is based on time: the ideal of action, the ideal is one thing and action is another, what we do and what we should do. To cover that distance, what we should do, needs time. That is, I will eventually come upon that. Now is that a fact? Or is that an invention of thought which in itself is time? Are you following all this?
Time as the past, time as the present and future. Most of us live in the past, in our memories, in our regrets, in the wounds that others have given us, in the things that we have not done that should be done, the anxieties and the pains and the reproaches, the doubts, the failures, all lie in the past. And from that the doubt of the future, the uncertainty of the present. All that is time. What relationship has time to that which cannot be discovered by thought? You understand?
I hope you are working as hard as the speaker is doing to convey something to you. Time is necessary in the field of knowledge, to go from here to there, to acquire a new technique, to learn a new language, to develop a muscle, time is necessary. And we take over that time into the other field. We say, time is necessary to change. I am this, and to change that, I need time. Do you need time? Or it is the fallacy of thought which says, 'I must be that', and not understand 'what is'. The understanding of 'what is' does not need time. The becoming of 'what should be' needs time. The understanding of 'what is' can be perceived instantly, and that perception is total action in which there is no regret, that action is whole, sane, rational. And we can go on into that, and there is no time for it, if you don't mind. You'll have to fill it out for yourself.
And also you have to understand, if you want to go into meditation, what it means, what is space. The space that thought creates round itself is the space of isolation. Right? Look: you have created a space round yourself, haven't you? You have created a space in which your self-centred activity is going on. And that space - in that space there is direction. Isn't there? From here to there. To achieve that you must have will. And this space that thought as the 'me', the ego, the self, the personality, has created is the space of isolation. You are isolated from your wife, from your husband, from your children. Obviously. And that space is very limited. And being limited, narrow, small, you become violent because you need space. Do you understand all this? When you are living in a town like this, over-crowded, noisy, restless, living in small rooms, two or three people in a little flat, naturally you have no space, either outwardly or inwardly. And if you have inward space you are frightened of that space because it shows you that you are lonely and you try to run away from that loneliness and so you are still living within that very small space and therefore you become violent, aggressive and all the rest of it. Which means a mind that is occupied, whether it is drink, sex, sensation or with god, or with some virtue or some social work, an occupied mind has no space whatsoever. Have you watched of an evening in the country, when the birds are sitting on a wire, they have space between them, equal space. And we human beings need space. When the earth is over-populated, when their appetites are destroying the surface of the earth, and inwardly we have very little space, our neurotic habits increase, our neurotic beliefs become more strong.
And so one begins to enquire if there is a space which is not put together by thought. Which means, can the mind - please listen - can the mind be free from all occupation, which means, can consciousness be empty of its content? And the emptying of that consciousness, with its content is meditation. That is, emptying the attachment to your furniture, to your bank account, to your wife, to your husband, to your girl, attachment - not detachment - the understanding of attachment. Then you are neither attached or detached, you are something entirely different.
Your content, as we explained in previous talks, makes up your consciousness, and the content is always active, restless, chattering, acquiring, discarding, it is essentially the activity of self-centred thought. And meditation is the emptying of it. That means enquiring, looking, hearing, the voice of your own activity, the voice of your own intentions, ambitions, pursuits and all that, observe it, to be choicelessly aware of the content of your consciousness. Not try to control it, not try to shape it, because truth is not joyful or sad, neither good or bad, it is just truth. And when you understand what that means then space has no direction, therefore no movement. And then the mind without control, without following any system, without all the fears, such a mind becomes completely, utterly still. And in this process you may have certain faculties, as clairvoyance, as telepathy, do some kind of healing, some kind of magic, and now, which is popular in this country, this question of exorcising the devil. A religious man, in the true sense of that word, a religious man who is concerned with the total gathering of one's energy, to come upon this total silence, a silence in which there is no noise of the 'me'. And such a religious man is not concerned at all with all the tricks of healing, exorcising, doing some kind of magic. The speaker has been through all that, and don't touch it! A religious man, for a man who is deeply concerned with truth, in daily life, and therefore with the comprehension of this marvellous thing called meditation, with its great beauty and creation, will not play with all those things, he has no time.
And when you come upon that silence, when the mind and the body is still, not made still, that silence is not between two noises, between two thoughts, between two incidents, but it is a silence that has not been put together by thought and therefore it has a totally different dimension. It is only such a mind that has gone through all this that can understand or see that which is immeasurable, which is nameless. And that is not an experience.
Just take a breath, sirs, before you ask questions. I hope you haven't been paralysed! Yes, sir?
K: It is not what I mean by activity; what do you mean by activity? Going to the office for fifty years of your life, day after day, day after day and then when you retire, die? The activity of mischief, greed, envy, ambition, the activity of division between you and another, between this country and that country, the activity between the idea and action, the ideal and 'what is'. So what do you call action, what do you call activity? Please, go into it with me. You have ideals haven't you? Unfortunately you have. The ideals are over there, comfortably put away and you are acting. Or you are trying to approximate your action to the ideal. And this battle, the struggle, between 'what is' and 'what should be' is part of your action, isn't it? Or your action is to enjoy yourself, spend five days of the week in an office, two days of the week enjoying yourself, drink, amuse yourself, go from this to that, to that, demanding constant entertainment. Or you are satisfied to remain in your place to think, read books, cultivate your own little mind.
So what do you mean by activity? What do you mean, not what the speaker means. If you call that action, the way we are living with all its turmoil, with all its anxiety, with its sorrow, if you call that activity then why don't you change it? Why don't you act differently? Which means, why don't you behave differently. Because after all, behaviour, conduct is very important in life. And man has lived on this earth, I don't know how many millions of years, and yet he has not learnt how to behave; to be kind, to be generous, to forget himself, to love somebody without reward or punishment, to put away his petty little appetites, his ambitions, just to behave sanely, rationally, happily. We don't seem to be able to do that. And if we can't do that then what is action? Is action getting more and more and more, or getting less and less?
So when one enquires into this question of what is action, what is behaviour, is there any behaviour without reward and punishment? The psychologists are saying, people in the world have been educated to behave because they have been punished, they will be punished if they don't behave, so let us try to reward them, and then they will behave. You follow the game they play? And we poor innocent people are caught in it because the professionals say you will be rewarded for your good behaviour. That means more money, more cars, better houses, which means destroy the earth because you are going to be rewarded. So what do you mean by action? Please, this is very important for you to find out, this is part of meditation, this is part of love, this is part of compassion to find out if you can live on this earth without hurting another, without destroying the earth for your pleasure.
So what is action? Is action confined to the limits of thought and therefore action based on the past and therefore very limited, action based on tradition which is the past, and therefore betrayal of the present? All that is involved in enquiring, what is action. Is there an action out of time? Is there an action which has no regret whatsoever, an action which is not contradictory, a behaviour, a conduct which doesn't deny itself the next day and therefore regret?
That action takes place surely when you know what compassion is. Therefore that compassion comes only when you understand the meaning of sorrow, not only the sorrow of yourself, but of your neighbour, of all the mothers, of all the sisters, all the wives that have been killed, who are shedding tears, who have shed tears. When you understand what sorrow means and remain - to understand it one has to remain with it, look at it, not escape from it, not try to justify it, then out of that total negation of all escapes, then out of that comes passion, and with it compassion which is love. Right, sirs.