J. Krishnamurti Fourth Public Talk in Madras 15 December 1974
We have been, during the last three talks, talking over together the question of listening, the art and the art of seeing and the art of learning. And if those who have paid a little attention to what was being said, one must have become aware of not only one's environment, the social condition, the poverty, the degradation, the degeneration of a whole group of people and also one must be aware, if one has given attention to the question of not only the fact of degeneration which this country is going through, but also what it means to be reborn anew; what it means to have a mind that is not merely a plaything of thought, but a mind that can penetrate, investigate into itself and discover for itself all the movement of thought with all its calamities and destructive nature and also what it has done in the world, the technology, health and so on and so on. And as we said, we are going to spend this evening talking over together the question of meditation.
And to understand not the meaning of that only, but the depth and the beauty and the reality of it, one must come to it through the enquiry of what is religion. Perhaps we could, with profit, see what it is not first. Obviously it is not the product of thought. All our religions, whether in the west or in the east, are based on thought. The whole religious structure with their saviours, with their gurus, with their systems, with their beliefs and dogmas, rituals and all the petty little ceremonies that one indulges in daily is essentially the product of thought. And thought, as we said the other day, we will explore a little more to-day, is a material process. Thought is matter in the sense that it is the response of memory; memory stored up in the brain through experience and the accumulation of knowledge and so it is essentially a movement of matter, material. And religions, not only the organised ones, the private, individual, the limited religions that one clings to is based on thought. Thought which pursues not only pleasure but also thought which brings about, because of its own fragmentary nature, fear. So all our religions are based on the movement of thought, fear, hope and a sense of belief into something that we hope exists. All that, if one observes very carefully and diligently, is the product of this movement of thought which is material. So there is absolutely nothing spiritual in these religions. Right? I hope you are listening carefully.
As we said also, during the last three talks, we are sharing, investigating into all this. Not accepting or denying, but exploring together and therefore being in communication with each other. We cannot be in communication or commune with each other if we have our own private thoughts, opinions, judgements, our own particular form of belief to which we cling to and that makes it impossible to investigate, to explore, to examine. And when we are communicating together, as we are, not only verbally but also beyond the word, it is necessary that we understand not only the words, the meaning of the word but also try to find out what lies between the words, to be able to read between the words and listen to the peculiar deep meaning that lies behind the word. All that is implied in communication which is thinking over together as two friends who are concerned seriously with the problems of life.
So, observing what is going on in the world, not only political, economic and the world of division between the Arab and Jew, between Hindu and the Muslim and so on and so on and so on but also looking at various religions which have never brought peace to mankind, on the contrary, and their divisions - and they must be divided because they are essentially based on thought. So, what is religion, what do we mean by that word? We know what it's not, all the circus that goes on in the name of religion. Please, don't be insulted, we are just stating facts. All the churches and the temples and the mosques, all the structure that has been put together by thought, however beautiful - some cathedrals, some mosques, temples are extraordinarily beautiful, but they have nothing whatsoever to do with reality. And when one really, not verbally, discards all that, not because someone says you must discard it or someone you feel knows better than you do, says this is not religion, then you do not discard it; it is merely accepting an authority. And when you accept authority in spiritual matters that is the very essence of decay, degeneracy. All right? You are still with me? Verbally or in reality? When you discard all that nonsense, which means 'no sense', then we can begin to find out if you are serious, what religion means. You understand? The ceremony, the rituals, the temples and the vows you take as a compensation to your daily, ugly life, you take vows to go to the temple and do all kinds of things as a compensation and all that, the beliefs, the dogmas, the rituals, the private worship have nothing to do with the reality of what religion is.
And if one is serious, because religion is the core of a new culture; without religion there is no culture. And because there is no religion in the world, there is no culture. You may have beautiful paintings, you may write marvellous literature, paint most extraordinarily, compose lovely music, but that's not culture, that doesn't bring about a new quality of mind. And we need a new quality of mind when the whole world around us is collapsing, degenerating and merely to revive the old religions, as some are trying to do, is meaningless. But a man who is deeply concerned, as you must be, if you are concerned with the world, with the starvation, with the wars, with the corruption, with hypocrisy, with total dishonesty that's going on, one must in all seriousness find out what is the true significance of a religious mind because it is only such a mind that can bring about a new culture. Not a religious mind, not one religious mind but the religious mind of man which is you, that means together. In the old days, if you have observed in history, watched the things about you, there were religious leaders. That very word is the denial of religion, the leader in the religious world. You understand? Because when there is a movement in religious matters that very movement is the factor of degeneration because then you are merely following; you are merely accepting authority of another. When you understand the nature and the structure of authority, have an insight into it, in spiritual matters there is no authority, including that of the speaker, then we can proceed in our enquiry what is religion.
A religion, if you look into a good dictionary, you will see means gathering together energy to be totally good. I am adding, the speaker is adding the extra words 'to be totally good'. Good in action, good in thought, excellent in the way of life. And that implies diligence, care, attention. Care implies care in your work, in your thoughts, how you bring up your children, how you treat your wife, your husband, care which means affection, love. And most of us are negligent, we are careless, we are inconsiderate, we think goodness is something to be cultivated, goodness is something that will come through time gradually. We never say 'be good', not 'I will be'.
And religion also implies the understanding, the discovery for one's own mind, what is sacred and also if there is such a thing as the eternal. Religion means beauty, goodness, which means also excellence and the finding or coming upon something sacred and the enquiry into something that is not touched by thought. Because thought is time, thought is measure and to find out if there is or if there is not something that is nameless, timeless, that has no beginning and no end. All that is religion.
And as we said, without that quality of mind which is explosive, not acquiescent, without that quality of mind, you cannot have a culture which is absolutely necessary, a culture not brought about by a few but by a religious mind, which means light to yourself, not the light of another but light which you have found for yourself. All that is implied in religion.
So meditation - can we go on? - meditation is the enquiry into that which is sacred. And also to find out, not, these are words, you can't find out if there is eternity, to feel that, to have that quality of a mind that is really timeless. So, that's what we are going to do together. We are not going to meditate together, that's another phoney, imaginative, romantic nonsense, but we are going together to find out what it means to meditate and what it means to have the capacity of freedom that can come upon the thing that is sacred and from there move to something that may be timeless.
This is a very complex question and what is complex can be understood only when the mind is really very simple; not childish, not immature but simple. But most of you probably have read or gone to some guru or you have invented your own form of meditation and so you are already burdened with something which you call meditation. And to find out what is meditation, you have to enquire, you have to put aside your particular form of meditation, otherwise you can't find out if what you are doing is true or false. Now, to enquire into something that one may call sacred, you cannot possibly accept the authority of any book, any leader, any guru, any system, because your mind must be free to enquire, free to find out. And can you do this as you are sitting there, listening, which we went into which is the art of learning, the art of listening, the art of seeing? Can you put aside all that you know about meditation? And that'll be very difficult because your mind operates in routine, in habit mechanically and to put away something that you are so accustomed becomes extraordinarily difficult. Because the mind has been conditioned to act mechanically and to put away this mechanical habit is extremely arduous, you have to see the danger of it, then when you see the danger of it, then it has no power. When you see a dangerous animal, you have to leave it alone. It has no power. It's only when you don't know, then the danger exists. So, let's proceed.
I want to find out what is meditation because I know nothing of what other people have said about it and I don't want to know what other people have said about it; not that I am vain, not that I am conceited, not that I want to have original experience, but I don't know if what those people say has any validity. They might be as neurotic as myself, as stupid, as cunning, as deceptive, as illusory, caught in an illusion. So I cannot. I am talking as a human being who is enquiring into it; I am not talking about myself personally. So I am a human being, an ordinary human being, who sees the reality that religions as they exist have no validity, no meaning or significance whatsoever, with all their rituals, dogmas, superstitions and authority and all that. Such a mind says I want to find out; I want to find out what it means to meditate; because perhaps that may be the ambience, the environment, the atmosphere which will reveal that which is sacred. So I must put all that aside. And I hope you are doing it; otherwise, we cannot communicate with each other. Unless you see for yourself the falseness of all the thing that we have put together by thought, which you call religion has no meaning at all. If you see that, then you will discard all authority in these matters, not the authority of a doctor, not the authority of a policeman, which is obeying law but you don't obey law anyhow you are too clever, you make all kinds of devious ways to avoid law. That's your misery.
So what is meditation and why should one meditate at all? So these are the two questions which we are going to enquire: what is meditation, and why should we meditate? Now, the word 'meditation' means to think over, to ponder over and also meditation means the capacity to measure. And 'measure' means movement between this and that. Right? You are following all this? Are we meeting each other, please? We are saying the word 'mediation' means to think over, to ponder upon, to investigate, to have this mind that is measuring all the time. Which means progress, which means comparison, which means imitation, all that is implied in that word 'meditation' . Right? We are communicating with each other, are we? Are we, sir? So I want to find out what it means. Can a mind be without measure? You understand? Can a mind be without the movement of thought, which is time? Time is measure; time is direction. Right? I must go into all this.
Time: there is the time by the watch, there is the time as a movement from here to there, time is necessary to cover from here to that, necessary time. Time is movement and is meditation a movement in time? Can time as a movement find out something that is sacred? You understand my question? We said thought is a material process. Thought is matter, which is a material process. And in investigating what is meditation, what place has thought? Thought being time, thought being measure, thought being direction, which is from here to there. What place has thought? Please, has it any place at all? If there is no place at all, then what is the mind to do with thought? You are following all this? And if it has no place in meditation, then what do you do with this extraordinary movement of thought in which the mind is caught up? The mind that is everlastingly chattering, the mind that says, 'I will achieve, I will gain, I am comparing', it's moving all the time, incessantly. What will you do with that thought? You cannot deny it; it is there. And so you begin to say 'I will control it; I will learn concentration on an object, on an image, on what I think to be sacred and dwell upon that and exclude every other thought'. Right? That's what you are doing and so the battle begins, the struggle to concentrate on something and the thought wandering off. This is what you do, don't you, when you meditate? This constant struggle going on. And concentration implies centring your thought on something that thought has chosen to be noble, to be excellent, to be real. Right? So thought has projected an idea, a picture, an image and thought says I am going to concentrate on that. And in the process of concentration it must exclude everything else. And thought being fragmentary, its exclusion is the movement of fragmentation. You are following all this? I'll go on, if you don't understand it's your affair.
So concentration on an idea, on a picture, on something that thought thinks is necessary is a movement in time, a movement of measurement, a movement in a particular direction; therefore it must be fragmentary. Seeing that, I say, I won't concentrate. Out, it's finished. Seeing the fallacy - please this is, would you mind not coughing? If your child coughs, please take him away. This is much too serious, please. So a mind that is enquiring into the meaning of meditation comes upon this fact that thought is measure, thought is the movement of time, thought sets a direction as will, and as thought in itself is a fragment because thought is the response of memory, memory is the accumulation of knowledge as experience which is the past and therefore it is a fragment, thought is a fragment. In investigating what is meditation, one discovers this. And then the next point is what is one to do with this movement of thought? Should it be controlled and if you are controlling it, who is the controller? Is not the controller himself the thought? So, the controller is the controlled. Then what to do with the thought, with this movement of thought. You are following all this? I hope you are.
So you have to find out, the mind has to find out what is - as we said, art is to put everything in its right place. That is art. And now the mind has to find out the art of putting thought in its right place. Which is, knowledge is necessary, knowledge is the movement of thought as experience. So thought is necessary in the field or in the area of knowledge - to drive a car, to speak, to do your daily job, technology and so on, knowledge there is necessary, and thought must function most efficiently, clearly, non-personally in that area. So in the understanding of what meditation is, mind has discovered thought has its right place. And when it discovers that it has a right place, then you will see that thought is no longer a matter of importance.
Then the next question is: the systems, the methods, the various practices that you do, has it any validity? Or is it the cultivation of a mechanical habit which is part of thought? Understand? After all, you have systems of meditation, haven't you? Different kinds of systems of meditation from the Zen to the modern or ancient methods or systems or practices of meditation? When you practise, what does that imply? It implies a direction. Right? You have set a direction and you are practising daily in order to achieve that end, the end, the guru, the book, the other people have set, have laid down that's the end. So, you practise in order to achieve a definite end, a fixed end. If it was a living thing, you can't practise to arrive at it; it's moving all the time. So, when you are practising a method, which means you have set a direction towards which you are moving, that direction and the end is put together by thought. So, you are not out of thought. You are still in the movement of thought. Right? So you then see, have an insight into that and so no direction, which means no will. Will is, after all, the accentuation, the exaggeration of desire. Right? You desire to have enlightenment, you desire moksha, liberation or heaven or whatever you call it; you desire it and you work for it if you are serious, if you are not playing with it and most of you probably are. But if you are serious, you then set a direction, you say I will do these things regularly in order to achieve that, that moksha, that heaven, that liberation whatever the end, the goal you have set for yourself is still within the area of thought, within the area of matter, within the area of time, within the area of measure. So you have not left thought at all, you are still caught in it. And a mind that is enquiring into meditation says, he's aware of this fact. Therefore no system, no method, no goal, no direction and therefore no will.
Then, as we said, the things that thought has put together as sacred are not sacred. They are just words to give a significance to life, because life as you live is not sacred, is not holy. And the word 'holy', h-o-l-y, comes from being whole, which means healthy, sane and therefore holy, all that is implied in that word. So a mind, please follow all this, a mind that is functioning through thought, however desirous it be to find that which is sacred, is still acting within the field of time, within the field of fragmentation. So then can the mind be whole, not fragmented? This is all part of the understanding of what is meditation. Can the mind which is the product of evolution, product of time, product of so much influence, so many hurts, so many travails, such great sorrow, great anxiety, it's caught in all that and all that is the result of thought. And thought, as we said, is fragmentary by its very nature and mind is the result of thought, as it is now. So, can the mind be free of the movement of thought? So, can the mind be completely non-fragmented? You are following this? Can your mind be non-fragmented? Can you look at life as a whole, as a whole? That is, you know what whole means, don't you? Need I go into that? You know it. Don't waste time on that kind of stuff. Can the mind be whole? Which means without a single fragment, therefore diligence comes into this. A mind is whole when it is diligent, care, attentive, which means, to have care means to have great affection, great love. Which is totally different from the love of a man and a woman which is lustful, sexual, all that which we went into the other day, into which we won't go now.
So the mind that is whole is attentive and therefore care and this quality of deep abiding sense of love, such a mind is the whole. That you come upon when you begin to enquire what is meditation. Then we can proceed to find out what is sacred. Please listen, it's your life, give your heart and mind to find out a way of living differently. Which means when the mind has abandoned all control - it does not mean that you lead a life of doing what you like, yielding to every desire, to every lustful glance or reaction, to every pleasure, to every demand of the pursuit of pleasure, but to find out, to find out whether you can live a daily life without a single control. That's part of meditation.
That means one has to have this quality of attention. That attention which has brought about the insight into the right place of thought and thought is fragmentary and where there is control, there is the controller and the controlled which is fragmentary. So to find out a life, a way of living without a single control, that requires tremendous attention, great discipline, not the discipline that you are accustomed to, which is merely suppression, control, conformity, but we are talking of a discipline which means to learn. The word 'discipline' comes from the word disciple, the disciple is there to learn, now here there is no teacher, no disciple, you are the teacher and you are the disciple, therefore you are learning and that very act of learning brings about its own order. Now, thought has found its own place, its right place. So the mind is no longer burdened with the movement as a material process which is thought, which means the mind is absolutely quiet. It is naturally quiet, not made quiet. That which is made quiet is terrorised; that which happens to be quiet, in that quietness, in that emptiness a new thing can take place. Right? So, can the mind, your mind, be absolutely quiet without control, without the movement of thought? It will be quiet naturally if you really have the insight which brings about the right place for thought. From there thought has its right place, therefore the mind is quiet.
You understand what the word 'silence' and 'quiet' mean? You know, you can make the mind quiet by taking a drug, by repeating a mantram or a word, constantly repeating, repeating, naturally your mind will become quiet and such a mind is a dull, stupid mind and you call that transcendental meditation or whatever you like to call it. And there is a silence between two noises, there is silence between two notes, there is silence between two movements of thought, there is silence of an evening, when the birds have made their noise, chattering and have gone to bed, and there isn't a flutter among the leaves, there is no breeze, there is absolute quietness, not in a city but when you are out with nature, when you are among the trees or sitting on the banks of a river. Then silence descends on the earth and you are part of that silence. So there are different kinds of silence but the silence we are talking about, the quietness of a mind, that silence is not to be bought, it is not to be practised, it is not something you gain, a reward, a compensation to an ugly life. It's only when the ugly life has been transformed into the good life - 'the good' I mean not having plenty, but the life of goodness, the flowering of that goodness, the beauty - then the silence comes.
And also you have to enquire what is beauty? I'm afraid, in this country, you have lost touch with nature. Though in your books nature in mentioned, you, the modern man, here, sitting there, you have lost touch with nature and therefore because having lost touch with nature you have also lost touch with man, with your neighbour. So you have to find out what beauty is. What is beauty? Have you ever gone into this question? Or will you find it in a book and tell me or tell each other that book says what beauty is? What is beauty? Did you look at the sunset this evening as you are sitting there? The sunset was behind the speaker. Did you look at it? Did you feel the light and the glory of that light on a leaf? Or do you think beauty is sensory, sensuous and a mind that is seeking sacred things cannot be attracted to beauty, cannot have anything with beauty because beauty implies the woman in this country, therefore suppress it. Therefore only concentrate on your little image which you have projected from your own thought as the good. So you have to find out. If you want to find out what meditation is, you have to find out what beauty is. Beauty in the face, beauty in character - not character, character is a cheap thing that depends on your environmental reaction and the cultivation of that reaction is called character. The beauty of action, the beauty of behaviour, conduct, the inward beauty, the beauty of the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you gesture, all that is beauty. And without having that, meditation becomes merely an escape, a compensation, a meaningless action. And there is beauty in frugality, there is beauty in great austerity, not the austerity of the sannyasi, the austerity of a mind that has order, the mind that has understood the disorder it lives in, as you do, the disorder and out of this disorder you create a pattern of order. And that is not order. Order comes when you understand the whole disorder in which you live, and the understanding of that disorder, out of that disorder comes naturally order which is virtue. Therefore virtue, order is supreme austerity; not the denial of three meals a day or fasting or shaving your head and all the rest of that business.
So, there is order which is beauty, there is order, there is beauty of love, beauty of compassion. And also there is the beauty of a clean street, of a good architectural form of a building, there is beauty of a tree, the lovely leaf, the great big branches, to see all that is beauty. Not merely go to museums and talk everlastingly about beauty. So, silence of a quiet mind is the essence of that beauty. And because it is silent and because it is not the plaything of thought, then in that silence comes that which is indestructible, which is sacred. And in the coming of that which is sacred, then life becomes sacred, your life becomes sacred, our relationship becomes sacred, everything becomes sacred because you have touched that thing which is sacred.
And then we have also to find out in meditation if there is something or if there is nothing which is eternal, timeless. Which means can the mind which has been cultivated in the area of time, can that mind find out, come upon or see that thing that is from everlasting to everlasting? So it means can the mind be without time, though time is necessary to go from here to there and all the rest of it, can that mind, that very same mind which operates in time, going from here to there, not psychologically, but physically, can that mind be without time? Which means can that mind be without the past, without the present, without the future? Can that mind be in absolute nothingness? Don't be frightened of that word. You know, have you ever looked at an empty cup, when you pour your coffee into it, before you pour it, have you watched it, have you seen the emptiness of it? And because it's empty, it can receive, and because it's empty, it has got vast space. Have you observed in your own mind if you have any space at all there, just space, you know, a little space or is everything crowded? Crowded by your worries, by your sex or no sex, by your achievements, by your knowledge, by your ambitions, fears, your anxieties, your pettiness, it's crowded and how can such a mind understand or be that state of being or having that enormous space?
Space is always enormous. I don't know if you understand all this. And a mind that has no space in daily life cannot possibly come upon that which is eternal, which is timeless. That's why meditation becomes extraordinarily important; not the meditation that you all practise, that's not meditation at all. But the meditation of which we are talking about transforms the mind and it is only such a mind is the religious mind and it is only such a religious mind can bring about a different culture, a different way of life, a different relationship, a sense of sacredness and therefore great beauty and honesty. All this comes naturally without effort, without battle, without sacrifice, without control and this is the beginning and the ending of meditation.
Please, do you want to disturb yourself by asking a question or do you want to get up quietly and go? You understand my question? What?
K: Oh good God! The gentleman wants to know how to meditate, after listening for an hour and a half. I said how not to meditate. What a generation! And the gentleman here wants to know what love is. If the speaker describes what love is, will you have love? If I describe the food that you are going to eat when you are hungry, would you be satisfied by the description? Why do you ask what love is? Which means you do not have love. Can you find out if you have no love, what love is? All that you can do is find out what love is not. Right? Will you do it or just say yes I agree and just go on in your own way? Love is not jealousy. Right? When you are envious, there is no love; when you are ambitious, there is no love. When you are seeking power, position, when you are pursuing your sexual pleasure, there is no love. When you put money first, as you do, there is no love. So will you, to find out what love is, will you drop your ambitions? Will you drop your competitive, aggressive aggressiveness? Which doesn't mean you become docile. Will you drop your envies? I am afraid you won't because to you those are far more important than love. And I assure you if you have no love, if you have no compassion, your society is doomed, your degeneration is guaranteed. And you don't mind, you say yes, I don't mind, I'll go on with my ambition, with my greed, with my money and all the rest of it because you don't see the danger for your children, for your grandchildren. All that you are concerned is with your own self.
Q: To see, to look, the mind is the only instrument, but the mind is made up of the past.
K: To look, to see, the mind is only our instrument and that instrument has been put together by the past. Therefore, how am I to look without the past? Is that right, sir? Would you look at that tree? You don't have to look at that tree, any tree. God, what people you are! Would you look at a tree? When you look, what takes place? Immediately you name the tree or you introduce your prejudices or your pleasures about that tree. So between you and that tree, there is the screen of words, the screen of prejudices, the screen of your knowledge, the screen of your desires. Right? So, you never, never look at that tree. So can you put aside your screens, the things that divide you and the tree, can you put all that aside and just look? Which doesn't mean you identify yourself with the tree - you are not the tree, thank God, probably you are. You don't identify yourself with the tree, you just see the tree as it is. So can you look at your neighbour, at your politician, at your professor, at your guru, at your wife and your children and at yourself without all the images, the screens, the ideas, the prejudices, the fears, just look. Which means you must care to look, you must love to look. Look at the beauty of that tree, and you can't look at the beauty of a woman or a man or a child or the beauty of heavens or the beauty of a bird, or the beauty of a tree or the mountain if your mind is burdened with your own desires, burdened with your own sorrows. And if you want to look, those burdens must be set aside to look and then when you look, there is care, there is affection, there is love, to look at the beauty of something.
Thought is not the only instrument, thought on the contrary, divides the 'me' and the 'you', 'we' and 'they'.
Q: Sir, how can the timeless mind function in a world pressured according to time?
K: I have explained sir: how does a mind - this must be the last question if you don't mind - how can a mind, a timeless mind - how easily you accept such a state not knowing anything about it, not even having the breath and the perfume and the beauty of such a mind, you say how can such a mind operate here? You follow, sirs? That's why I said to you sirs, together we have to create a new world - together. Therefore you have to have such a mind, not the speaker, the speaker is not important. What is important is you, you have such a mind. Then you will find out how to operate, how to live a life, of such a mind that is a religious mind and live in this world. But without finding that out and say, 'Well, let me speculate about it and try to see how I can balance it'. I am afraid, you will never find out for yourself.
So bring order first in your life, be aware, if I may most respectfully point out to you, be aware of the life of disorder that you live in, every day the disorder that you live in, say one thing, do another, think something and profess something else. The dishonesty, the unscrupulous way of living when you are talking about God, doing all kinds of ceremonies and living in corruption. Therefore to be aware of all that is to bring order in your life. Without that order in your daily life, meditation, everything has no place, they are just escapes, they are just words, they are meaningless. And if you are concerned with the transformation of society and society needs tremendous change because society is immoral, society is corrupt and collectively you have produced this society and collectively we have to change because you are the collective, you are the world and the world is you. If you don't change as the collective, God help you, because you are facing great dangers, great disaster. This is not a prophesy, it is there if you observe in front of your door, it is there. Your house is burning and you can't shut your eyes, you may want to, but your children, your grandchildren are going to pay for what you are doing now.
So sir - no, sir, this is the last question I said, no more - to come upon that which is nameless, timeless which is the very essence of beauty and love, you cannot come upon that if you have no daily order, beauty, love in your daily life.