Meditation is total attention
Consciousness, fear and meditation
2nd Public Talk New York, New York State
March 28, 1982
May we continue with what we were talking about yesterday morning. We were saying that this is not a lecture as it is ordinarily understood. We are talking over together our daily problems, human existence and the condition in which human beings are living, how our minds are conditioned. As we said yesterday morning, we are not doing any kind of propaganda for any ideal, for any conclusion or faith or belief; what we are trying to do together is to observe what is actually happening both outwardly and inwardly. The inward, psychological world always conquers the outer. The communists, the socialists and even the capitalists try to organise the outer, trying to bring about order in the outer world, but they totally neglect that the inward order is far more important because the inward always overcomes the outer, as it is shown in the communism world, in the socialist world and also in the Western world, so-called democratic society.
So, we are, during these talks, yesterday's talk and this morning, we are trying to bring about order in ourselves. Order is not conformity to a particular pattern or to certain idealistic conclusions but the understanding of disorder in which we live, the chaos, the uncertainty, the misery, that and the content of our consciousness which is always in disorder; in the understanding of that disorder, not intellectually or verbally, but going into it very, very deeply, as we did yesterday morning with regard to hurts, fear, in the understanding of the causes of disorder we bring about order, and that order never changes according to circumstances. And we are going to enquire, observe, the disorder of our consciousness, of our lives, and bring about order in the understanding of that disorder.
As we said yesterday morning, we talked about hurts, the ending of hurt and the various contributory causes of fear. And we asked whether human beings who have lived on this earth for millennia upon millennia, whether that fear and all the burdens of fear which darken one's life, bring about such misery, whether that fear can completely come to an end.
We said this morning that we would pursue the nature of pleasure, which is part of our life, as fear, confusion, misery and all the travail of life. Why is it that human beings throughout the world pursue pleasure as though it was something totally different from fear, totally different from all the accumulated confusion, disorder and the traditional acceptance of life. Is pleasure and the pursuit of it something totally separate from the rest of life? Or is pleasure part of the whole movement of life, not something separate? Because we, our life, daily life, is fragmented, both outwardly and inwardly. We are broken up human beings, fragmented. We keep life in different compartments - pleasure, fear, hurt, sorrow, love, sex, and all that, as though they were not interrelated. And one of our difficulties is that we do not look at life holistically, life as a whole. The word 'whole' has extraordinary significance. It's not only sanity, reason, but also health is implied in that word. Also in that word is holy, H-O-L-Y - holistic, we are using in that sense of that word. A life that is not broken up into various capacities, tendencies, activities of life. It is a whole unitary movement of life, not broken up. Is that possible, to live a life that is so completely healthy, sane, rational and holy? In that sense of the word we are using 'holistic'. And our life is not holistic, it is broken up, and we have kept pleasure as the principal movement of life, as though it was something quite apart from the rest of our existence, and we pursue it.
So we ought to together this morning enquire or observe what is the nature of pleasure, why human beings have pursued it. Is it a remembrance? Is it something recollected, something that has been projected by thought? Please, together we are enquiring, together we are observing. It is not that the speaker is stating something, but together you and the speaker are observing why human beings have placed pleasure as the greatest thing in life, separate from all other factors. So we are observing the movement of pleasure. So we are asking, is it something remembered, something that has happened before, and the repetition of that, and the pursuit of that repetition is pleasure. So it is a remembrance. When you see a beautiful sunset or when you see the mountain against the blue sky, there is certain delight, there is a great sense of enjoyment. That is recorded in the brain, and from that record there is remembrance, and that remembrance of that past delight is the pursuit of pleasure. So is pleasure the process of thought? And when there is actual moment of pleasure, is there a remembrance of things past?
Like fear; fear is, as we pointed out yesterday, involves time. Time is a factor also in pleasure - looking forward to something. Which is the hope, the fulfilment of certain desires, the pursuit of certain remembrances - all that movement is pleasure. And why have human beings all over the world made pleasure such an important factor, both religiously and physically, both psychologically and a factor of outward entertainment. Is it an escape from one's own loneliness? Please, as we said, the speaker is merely pointing out, and if you will kindly observe your own pleasure and how you pursue them day after day, even during the sleep, you will find that pleasure is a deep remembrance of things that have happened before. And we record these incidents, the brain records them and from those records there is memory, that memory of certain events that have happened before is the pursuit of pleasure. So pleasure is a matter of time, as fear is one of the factors of fear.
So we ought to together understand the nature of time. Not the science fiction of time but time in our daily life. There is time by the watch, chronological time, there is time by the sun, the rising of the sun and the setting of the sun, there is time as the past, modifying itself in the present and continuing as the future. So there is the time as external, and time psychological. Now we pursue the psychological time, so time becomes extraordinarily important in our lives, because in that time there is hope, there is the desire to achieve, to fulfil, to accumulate, and there is also time involved in the remembrance of past enjoyments. All that is psychological time. Time also involves 'what is' and 'what will be' - I am this but give me time, I will become that. So time is a movement from 'what is' to 'what should be'. Time involves a progressive movement away from 'what is'.
I hope one hopes one is making all this very clear, because time is of great importance in our life and we should understand it at its depth. Time is a matter of will. Please, this is important to understand when we are going to talk about meditation, when we are going to talk about death, and also when we are going to talk over together what is the nature of love and compassion. It is very important to understand what time is, not only the accumulation of knowledge to act skilfully, that requires time, to achieve any skill, that requires time, to learn a language, that requires time, to learn how to drive a car requires time, and so on. Time there is necessary, time being days, years and so on. But we are questioning whether psychological time is necessary at all. That is, time, which is duration, covering a distance from one point to another, from one quality to another, whether that psychological time, that is, I am not good, I am greedy, I am violent, and I need time to get over it, or to achieve a state in which there is no greed, there is no pain and so on. So we have cultivated this sense of time to bring about a change from 'what is' to 'what should be'. I hope one hopes this making oneself clear on this point. Please, this is important to understand.
We have been conditioned, educated to give importance to time, psychological time - I am violent, I need time to get over that violence; I am angry but I need time to be free from anger. So we have cultivated this sense of moving away from 'what is' to 'what should be', from, that is, one point to another point. Now we are questioning, we are asking whether time is necessary at all to bring about a radical change from 'what is'. Vous avez compris?
Krishnamurti: I mean - sorry! Please, if one may respectfully point out, please give your attention to this because all our life is based on time - the remembrance of some great pleasure, sexual or otherwise, some experience that is recorded in which there is delight, and looking forward to that same delight tomorrow - that is that is time. So we are asking, enquiring, observing whether there is whether that psychological time is not an illusion, is not a reality at all. That is, 'what is' does not require to time to resolve 'what is', but to change 'what is' to something else requires time - I am greedy, I shall not be greedy, give me time not to be greedy - that is time, an interval. We are saying, the speaker is saying that time is illusion, it has no reality. What has reality is the transformation of 'what is'. That is, I am violent; the desire to be non-violent is time. During that time I am still violent, whereas the observation of violence in myself requires no time. The attention to 'what is', which is violence, dissolves completely, instantaneously that which is. So we are pointing out that psychological time doesn't exist at all. Time as skill, knowledge, that is necessary but psychological time has no truth in it, it's not a fact. And when we pursue pleasure we are pursuing something that has happened before, the remembrance of certain incidents, accidents, experiences, and the remembrance of that and the pursuit of that is pleasure. You work it out, if you are interested in it.
Next thing we ought to consider together is what is love. Love has become pleasure, love has become desire. Is love desire? Is love pleasure? Or love is a totally different movement. We are going to observe and learn, if we can, what is love. The more we get sophisticated, more technologically advanced, socially become more cultured, apparently love goes out of the window. Because there is no love in our society, in ourselves; we talk about it, we write about it, but actually in our heart and minds there is not that quality and that perfume of that great thing in our life. So we are what is love then? Is love the pleasure of sex? Is love the pleasure of some kind of fulfilment? Is love dependence? Is love attachment? Is love something to be remembered? So all that comes to the point: is love desire, is love pleasure? And to discover or to come upon that perfume, that extraordinary thing that man has apparently avoided, has not realised, one can approach it only through negation.
To negate what is not is the most positive action. The positive is not the opposite of the negative. To deny completely what is not love, which is violence, anger, jealousy, attachment - is not love - and when you negate all that through negation, then the positive is. That is, through negating what is not love, love is. But to negate does not require will; will is the essence of desire. And to come upon that which is necessary utterly in our life, one has to negate totally all self-centred activity. And then only that which is love blossoms into compassion. Compassion cannot exist if you are attached to any particular theory, to any particular belief, to any particular religious organisation. If you are then that is pity, then you work socially and so on. Compassion has its own intelligence. So, if one goes into this question very deeply - and I hope we are doing this, we are doing this together - then out of that love whatever you do is right, correct, true, for love is holistic, it is not divisive.
Now after that, we ought to talk over together the question of death, because that is part of our life, like meditation, fear, pleasure, pain, the desperate loneliness, depression, anxiety, sorrow, that's all part of our life. And suffering is also part of our life, as death is part. And before we enquire into the nature of dying, we ought also to look into what is suffering, why man who is supposed to be so intelligent, who has invented so many things in life, why man sustains and nourishes sorrow, suffering, not only the personal suffering but suffering of mankind, the suffering that wars have brought about, the millions and millions of people who have cried, who have been maimed, who have lost their sons, the destruction, the brutality, the violence of war, that has produced immense sorrow, and we are pursuing that path. The tribal glory which is called nation; each nation is accumulating war materials, trying to destroy each other. And there is the threat of all kinds of atomic wars and so on.
So man has suffered, and apparently there is no end to sorrow. And we have never resolved this real deep question of loneliness and sorrow. The Christians, Christian world has religiously accepted a certain theory that there is a certain saviour who will save them from sorrow. But that propaganda of two thousand years has not solved the problem of sorrow of man. The Asiatic world, including India, has tried to evade this problem by calling it karma. The root meaning of that word 'karma' means action. So they have tried to avoid that question of sorrow by introducing a new kind of theory or philosophical concept as karma. Both have tried, the Western world and the Eastern world, tried to solve this problem of sorrow of man. After millennia upon millennia they have not solved it. We still suffer, we still go through great agonies, desperate loneliness.
So we have is it possible to end sorrow? And if one does, each one of us ends sorrow, how will that change the immense collective sorrow of mankind? The speaker may end his sorrow, but it is not his sorrow, it is the sorrow of mankind, because he is part of that mankind, he is part of that world, and that world is the speaker. As we pointed out yesterday, the world is me and the world I am the rest of the world. I am humanity, I am not an individual - as we went into it yesterday. My consciousness is the consciousness of the rest of mankind. And when I realise that, my responsibility is immense, my responsibility not only to whatever I do - my behaviour, my thought, my action - all that I am responsible; nobody else is. I can't blame environment, the genetic possibilities, inheritance and so on - I am totally responsible for what I do. And if one understands the nature of sorrow, which is a very complex problem, like all human problems are, is it possible to end one's sorrow? The sorrow being the grief, the pain, the sense of vast depth of loneliness.
You see, when sorrow happens to us, when one loses somebody whom you for whom you have great attachment, great affection, there is sorrow. And when there is that shock of sorrow, we try to escape from it, we try to rationalise it, we try to avoid it by seeking other forms of entertainment, religious and otherwise, seeking comfort. So it is an avoidance, running away from that, which is the shock of sorrow, which is the realisation that you are totally lonely, totally by yourself without any relationship to the rest of the world. Instead of running away or seeking comfort, but to remain completely with that shock, with that pain, with that loneliness, never allowing thought to interfere with that which is - the loss of someone, the sense of loneliness, the sense of utter failure, the sense of not being able to fulfil and be totally integrated. All that is sorrow, and to hold that sorrow completely without any movement of thought is the dissolution of that sorrow totally, completely. Because where there is sorrow there is no love. Where there is pain, loneliness, depression and there is no love, there is no compassion. So it is important to end totally suffering in oneself. And again that doesn't require time; what it requires is to pay complete attention to that pain. And when you give complete attention, that pain is not.
From that we ought to talk about together a very complex question of death. What is death? What is it that dies apart from the physical organism, apart from all the pain and old age or death through accident, through disease, what is the nature of death? What does it mean to die? Please, this is part of meditation. Part of meditation is to find out the nature of love, compassion, and the ending of sorrow is also the nature of meditation. So in enquiring into the nature of death we are enquiring into what is it human beings are frightened of, and why is it that they have separated living from dying? And again, the Asiatic world, with its origin from India, thought that the after-death is far more important, which is called reincarnation, and death is merely an incident to a future life. The ancient Egyptians, the ancient Hindus have thought this out, that after death there is a continuity of the individual, the individual soul in the terminology of the Christian world, that a soul of the individual, whatever that word 'soul' may be, continues after death, resurrected into heaven and all that - sitting on a cloud, you know. (Laughter) The Asiatic world, to escape from the actual reality of death, sought comfort through the idea, the concept of being reborn next life. When we say 'the soul', what is it that dies and what is it that continues? You understand? When we say 'the soul', or the Asiatic term 'the Atman', and so on, what is the soul, what are you that is going to die, apart from the physical organism? One may die through an accident, disease, or die naturally in bed, apart from the physical, what is it that dies? Who is it? What is 'me', the self, the ego, what is that that's so frightened to come to an end?
I do not know if you have enquired into what is continuity and what is an ending - a continuity and an ending. We all want to continue, continue with what we are, with our pain, anxieties, loneliness, sorrow and all that, we want to continue. And in continuity there is no change, no radical, deep profound change. Only with ending there is a new beginning. That is, when you are attached to something, a person, an ideal, an experience or an invented idea, when you are attached to that, that attachment brings about its own contradiction. Whereas there is an ending to attachment completely, there is totally different movement, different dimension and free from attachment.
So we are looking, observing, what is it, apart from the physical, that we wish to continue, as the soul, as something else in the Asiatic world, what is it, what are you as a human being that is going to die, that is going to come to an end? Is it your thought? Is it your accumulation of your wealth, or accumulation of experience? Is it an idea, a structure of words which is the self? Memories of the self? You understand all this? So what is it psychologically that is going to die? And what is more important, what is beyond death or what happens before, long before death? You understand my question? Which is important, the after, or before death? Not just before death, the whole life which we lived. Is it not far more important what is before death, the many, many years. That is, how we live, the way of our behaviour, action, thought, and so on, isn't that not far more important than what happens after death? Those who believe in reincarnation, which is the whole practically the whole Asiatic world believe in that word 'reincarnation', which implies whatever you do now in this life, either you benefit from it in the next life or you pay for it. You will have better opportunity, better life, and all the rest of it, if you behave now. But those who believe in reincarnation don't care a pin how they behave now, so their belief has very little value, it has no significance at all. In the Christian world also it is the same thing, put in a different word.
So we are saying it is far more important to find out how you righteously behave in this life, now. And why is it that we have divided living from dying? That is, dying is considered the ending of all attachment, all possessions, all accumulation of knowledge and experience - that's called living. And so the ending of that is dying, of which you are frightened. Death doesn't argue. So can we live, can we live so that dying and living are together? I wonder if you understand my question. I am attached to my wife, to my house, to my property, to my experience, to my ideals, faith and all that business, and death means the ending of all that. So while I am living, active, full of energy, capacity to think reasonably, can I not end all attachment - attachment to my wife, to my children. Because attachment, the consequences of attachment are fear, pain, jealousy. And when death comes, it's the end of attachment. So why should I not, while living, end attachment so that I am living constantly with death, therefore with life. This is a very complex problem because it involves the whole content of consciousness. And we haven't time to go into all the details of it, but when one understands the principle that to separate living from dying is the continuity of pain, disorder, fear, anxiety.
It's time now to talk about meditation. (Pause) Only recently some of the people from India have introduced this word to the Western world. In the Western world it existed as contemplation. Probably one is fed up with that word, and something new brought from the Asiatic world we accept it rather easily, because in it there is romanticism, you know, all that kind of stuff, and this word is now used most commonly. The gurus are responsible for this idiocy. (Laughter) Please don't get angry or laugh it away, we are going into this very deeply, what is meditation. Not how to meditate - we will go into that too - but the enquiry, the mind that is in a state of meditation, why one should meditate, what is the reason, what is the profit of meditation.
First of all, in enquiring into what is meditation we ought to enquire what is a religious mind. The religion of Asia is perhaps ancient, more ancient than the Western religion, and we apparently never exercise our intelligence, our doubt, our capacity to deeply question the nature of meditation of religion, we just accept, we are brought up in it. If I am a Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, or whatever it is, I accept it because it is part of my tradition, I have been brought up from childhood to believe. It's the same in the Muslim world and in the Hindu world. And is belief a factor in religion? The rituals, all that religious stimulation and entertainment that goes on in the churches, in the temples and all the rest of it, is that religion?
The meaning of that word 'religion' etymologically is rather difficult. It really means to bring together all your energies to enquire, to look, to observe, to find out what is truth, if there is any reality beyond the reality of thought, if there is something timeless which is beyond all reason, though reason must be exercised. We are very gullible where religion is concerned. And when one is so conditioned after two thousand years of propaganda, or in the Asiatic world three to five thousand years of propaganda, very difficult to free oneself from this conditioning, from this belief, from this faith, from rituals, and all that. Because to enquire very deeply into the nature of religion there must be total freedom, freedom from all orthodoxy, tradition, rituals, faith, symbols. That requires, not courage, that requires a deep sense of doubt, doubt of everything that man has put together through thought what he calls religion. And if one has that capacity, that energy, that sense of vitality and strength to deny that which is put together by thought - for all religions as they are now are invented by thought. What is invented may be called sacred but it is not sacred. Thought is not sacred, thought is a material process, the accumulation of knowledge, memory and so on.
So our enquiry, our observation is not only the denial of every religious thought, every form of ritualism, all the superstitions and all that faith that man has invented as a solace to his life which is of misery, that must be totally denied, doubted, questioned, wiped away so that the mind is totally free to enquire into what is truth. And to find that out, to come upon it, you can't discover truth, truth can only happen. And to that truth there is no path, the Christian path or the Hindu or the Buddhist or the Tibetan or whatever it is, there is no path to it. So there is only total freedom. And as truth is not a fixed point there is no path to it. To find out, to come upon that which is eternal, meditation is a deep observation without any direction, without any rudder. And that's what we are going to do this evening this morning.
So first, all the systems of meditation, whether it is the Christian, the Tibetan, the Hindu, the Buddhist, or some guru with his - whether it is the Western guru or the Eastern guru - some system he has invented or brought along with him in order to earn a livelihood, those systems are utterly meaningless. A system implies a practice, doing it over and over and over again, which means making the mind more mechanical, more dull, more drugged by repetition. It's so obvious. But a man who calls himself guru, puts on some kind of robe, and, you know - we are so utterly gullible. So systems, methods, practice is not meditation, because that practice, following a certain system, method, only conditions the mind. Please see the reason of this. There is also that meditation called mantra - you have heard, I am quite sure you heard that word 'mantra', Sanskrit word - that word actually means in Sanskrit, the root meaning of that word is ponder or think over or meditate upon not becoming and dissolve all self-centred activity. That word 'mantra' means that - ponder over not becoming and dissolve all self-centred activity. Some guru comes along, for a hundred and fifty dollars you pay for that (laughter), and he gets terribly rich - and that's all what you are all concerned, to get rich both physically and psychologically, inwardly and outwardly. Perhaps it is necessary somewhat to have money outwardly, but inwardly there is only total denial of the self, the 'me'. So such repetition of words have utterly no meaning. It may relax you, take time off from your daily activity of pain and sorrow and work, work, work, but that's not meditation. Relaxation is not meditation. And the practice, the repetition makes the mind only dull, so you can put all that aside totally, so that the mind is free.
And meditation is not an action of will. It is not, 'I will meditate,' during certain periods, morning, afternoon or evening. The action of will has no place in meditation, therefore meditation is not an effort. Effort implies there is a controller and the controlled. Meditation is free from all controller. Please, one has no time to go into all this. It is really most serious if you understand the nature of meditation. It is the most extraordinary vitality, freedom. It is the essence of energy, not to do more mischief, not to acquire more money, but the essence of energy that is necessary to so that there is complete quietness of the mind. The mind can never be quiet if it is controlled, but in the understanding of the nature of the controller and the controlled, attention and the division between concentration and attention. Concentration is exclusive, limited, whereas attention is limitless; it has no centre from which to attend, whereas concentration has.
So, meditation is total attention, total attention to whatever you are doing throughout the day. If you are putting on your tie, attend to it, if you are talking to somebody, pay complete attention. For in attention there is no centre as the 'me'. It's only when there is no attention there is the formation and the structure of the self from which all sorrow, pain, division arises. So meditation is this sense of total absence of the self. And when there is that attention the mind becomes completely quiet, silent, without any pressure, without any sense of invented by thought as silence; there is complete quietness of the mind. And that which is silent has vast space. The space is the space which thought has invented, it is not that. Thought has no place in silence, in space, only then that which is nameless comes into being. Then life, all life, yours and another's, all existence becomes sacred, holy. This is the meaning of life and the meaning of meditation. (Pause)
May I get up and go? (Laughter) (Clapping)
Q: You will take questions?
K: Do you want questions now?
K: Why, sir? (Laughter) Whom are you questioning? And from whom are you expecting an answer? (Laughter) As we said, the speaker has no authority, if you put a question you are putting a question to yourself. And if you have listened, if I may point out without any sense of blame, if you put a question, the answer if in yourself, the question the answer is in the question, not away from the question. Do you want me to answer a question? Not that I am preventing you asking a question. Do you want to ask a question? Do you?
Q: Yes, I have a question.
K: One or two questions, no more, because it is now twenty past, you must be tired listening to a very concentrated talk. So please, if you want to ask a couple of questions only, if you don't mind.
Q: I have a question here, may I ask it? You talked about division between East and West which come about by even using those words, but nevertheless there is a communist world, there’s a non-communist world, and their ideals of theology and psychology is in each of these worlds and the minds of each of the peoples who are from these different worlds, within one world. Do you see a way of peacefully breaking down these separate entities and governments and minds, and if so, what (inaudible) do you follow, or request people who are conscious to follow to bring about this unity?
K: I haven't understood the question. Sorry, sir, I have not understood the question. (Clapping) Please. Sir, thought is neither East nor West, human mind is neither East nor West, it is an artificial division, geographically, politically, economically. The politicians will never solve our problems nor any spiritual leader. We have to solve them ourselves, not depending on anybody, including the speaker, specially the speaker. (Laughter) Because we have all had leaders, political, religious, every form of leader and authority, they have not solved any of our human problems. We are what we are and what we are is the rest of mankind. Go to India, go anywhere, everyone is in pain, torture, uncertainty, insecure. That's the common lot of all of us, and very few escape from it - escape in the sense transcend it. And we are responsible totally for ourselves. That means you are responsible for the rest of mankind. You are responsible how you bring up your children, what kind of education they have, whether they should join the army or not, to kill and to be killed. We are responsible for every human action that is going on in the world, because you are the world, your consciousness is the world. You may deny it, you may pretend to be individuals - individual freedom, individual enterprise - that's an illusion, it has no reality. What has reality is that your consciousness, what you are, is the rest of mankind, and if you don't change you will just continue to bring about catastrophe in the world.
Q: Sir, could you define for me god? What is god to you and does god exist?
K: What is god to you and - this is the last question, forgive me (laughter) - what is god to you, and god does god exist. I am surprised you are listening to this (laughter), in silence. We have invented god, thought has invented god. Which is, we out of our misery, despair, loneliness, anxiety, we have invented that thing called god. God has not made us in his image - I wish he had! (Laughter) Sir, there is something far greater than the word, measureless to man. But we have, out of our despair, out of our fear and sorrow we have invented that thing called god. Personally I have no belief in anything. The speaker only faces 'what is', what are facts, facts in the sense the realisation of the nature of every fact, every thought, all the reactions, totally aware of all that. Then if you are free from fear, sorrow, there is no need for god, for anything.
May I get up now?
Q: Yes, thank you.