You are here
An attentive mind is without conflict, therefore free
If we may, we shall continue what we were talking about the day before yesterday, which was the whole content of what is meditation. In the East meditation is a very important daily event to those people who have gone into the matter very deeply; and perhaps it is not so urgent or serious in the Occident. But as it involves the total process of life, I think we should consider what is involved in it.
As I was saying, it would be utterly futile and empty if you merely followed the words or phrases and remained merely at the verbal level. When you only intellectually follow this question it is like following a coffin to the grave. But if you go into it very deeply it reveals the most extraordinary things in life. As I said, we are not dealing with the first chapter of a complete book, because there is no end to the whole process of living. But we have to consider the issues as they arise.
We are going into it rather more deeply and comprehensively, as you will see; but first I think it is necessary to understand what is negative and what is positive thinking. I am not using those two words `negative' and `positive' in the opposing sense. Most of us think positively, we accumulate, add; or when it is convenient, profitable, we subtract. Positive thinking is imitative, conformative, adjusting itself to the pattern of society or to what it desires and with that positive thinking most of us are satisfied. For me, such positive thinking leads nowhere.
Now, negative thinking is not the opposite of positive thinking; it is quite a different state, a different process; and I think one has to understand that clearly before we can go any further. Negative thinking is to denude the mind totally; negative thinking is to make the brain, which is the repository of reactions, quiet.
You must have noticed that the brain is very active, constantly reacting; the brain must react, otherwise it dies. And in its reaction it creates positive processes which it calls positive thinking; and these are all defensive, mechanical. If you have observed your own thinking you will see that what I am talking about is very simple, it is not complicated.
It seems to me that the primary thing is for the brain to be fully aware, to be sensitive without reacting; and therefore I feel it is necessary to think negatively. We may be able to discuss this further later on, but if you grasp this you will see that negative thinking implies no effort, whereas positive thinking does imply effort - effort being conflict, in which is involved achievement, suppression, denial.
Please watch your own minds in operation, your own brains at work; do not merely listen to my words. Words have no deep significance, they are used merely to convey, to communicate. If you remain at the verbal level you cannot go very far.
So all of us - through education, through culture, through the influence of society, religion and so on - have very active brains; but the totality of the mind is very dull. And to make the brain quiet and yet fully sensitive, active but not cultivating defences, is quite an arduous task, as you will know if you have gone into it at all. And for the brain to be tremendously active but totally quiet involves no effort.
For most of us, effort seems to be part of our existence; apparently we cannot live without it: the effort to get up in the morning, the effort to go to school, the effort to go to the office, the effort to sustain a continued activity, the effort to love somebody. Our whole life, from the moment we are born to the moment we enter the grave is a series of efforts. Effort means conflict; and there is no effort at all if you observe things as they are, the fact as it is. But we have never observed ourselves as we are, consciously or unconsciously. We always change, substitute, transform, suppress what we see in ourselves. All that implies conflict; and a mind, a brain that is in conflict is never quiet. And to think profoundly, to go very deeply, we need, not a dull brain, not a brain that goes to sleep, not a brain drugged by belief, by defences, but a brain that is intensely active yet quiet.
It is conflict that makes the totality of the mind dull; so if we are to go into this question of meditation, if we are to enter profoundly into life, we have from the beginning to understand conflict and effort. If you have noticed, you will know that our effort is always to achieve, to become something, to be successful; and therefore there is conflict and frustration, with its misery, hope and despair. And that which is in conflict all the time becomes dull. Don't we know people who are continually in conflict, and how dull they are? So, to travel very far and very deeply one has to completely understand the question of conflict and effort. Effort, conflict comes in when there is positive thinking; when there is negative thinking, which is the highest form of thinking, then there is no effort, no conflict.
Now, all thinking is mechanical, because all thinking comes as a reaction from the background of experience, of memory. And thinking, being mechanical, can never be free. It can be reasonable, sane, logical, depending on its background, its education, its conditioning; but thinking can never be free.
I do not know if you have experimented at all to find out what is thinking? I do not mean the dictionary definition of it, or the philosopher's idea about it, but whether you have observed that thinking is a reaction.
Please follow this because one has to go into it. If I ask you a familiar question, you respond immediately because you are familiar with the answer. If a slightly more complicated question is asked, there is a time-lag during which the brain is in operation, looking into memory to find the answer. If a still more complicated question is asked, the time interval is longer while the brain is thinking, searching, trying to find out. And if you are asked a question with which you are not at all familiar, then you say, `I do not know'. But that state of `I do not know' is one in which the brain is waiting to find the answer, either by looking through books or asking someone; but it is waiting for the answer. This whole process of thinking is, I think, quite simple to see; it is what we are all doing all the time; it is the reaction of the brain from the store of experience, of knowledge which we have gathered.
Now the state of the mind that says, `I do not know' and is waiting for an answer, is entirely different from the state of the mind, which says, `I do not know' and is not waiting for an answer. I hope you follow this because if it is not clear I am afraid you will not be able to follow the next thing. We are still talking about meditation, and we are probing into the whole problem of the brain and the mind. If one does not understand the root of all thought, to go beyond thought is impossible.
So there are two states: there is the brain which says, `I do not know' and is looking for an answer, and there is the other state of not-knowing because there is no answer. If one keeps that clear, then we can proceed and enquire into the question of attention and concentration.
Everybody knows what concentration is. The schoolboy knows it when he wants to look out of the window and the teacher says, `Look at your book'. The. boy forces his mind to look at the book; when he really wants to look out of the window, and so there is a conflict. Most of us are familiar with the process of forcing the brain to concentrate. And this process of concentration is an exclusive process, is it not? You cut out, you shut away anything that disturbs the concentration. Therefore, where there is concentration there is distraction. Do, you follow? Because we have been trained to concentrate, which is a process of exclusion, cutting out, therefore there is distraction, and therefore conflict.
Now, attention is not the process of concentration and in it there is no distraction. Attention is something entirely different, and I am going into it.
Please, this is a very serious thing we. are talking about; and coming here is. not like going to a concert, wanting to be entertained. It requires tremendous work on your part, it means a going within without any sense of wanting or not wanting. If you cannot follow seriously, then just listen quietly, hear the words and forget it. But if you go. into it deeply, a great deal is involved. Because you will see, as I go into it a little more, that freedom is necessary. Where a mind is in conflict, making an effort, there is no freedom; and where there is concentration and a resistance to distraction, there is no freedom either. But if we understand what attention is, then we are beginning to understand also that all conflict has ceased, and therefore there is the possibility of the mind being totally free - not only the superficial mind but also the unconscious in which the secret thoughts and desires are hidden.
Now, we know what concentration is; so, what is attention? I ask that question, and the instinctive response of each one of us is to find an answer, to give an explanation, to define it; and the more clever the definition the more satisfied one is. I am not giving a definition; we are enquiring; and we are enquiring without words, which is quite an arduous thing; we are enquiring negatively. If you are enquiring with positive thinking then you will never find the beauty of attention. But if you have comprehended what negative thinking is - which is not thinking in terms of reaction, the brain not asking for an answer - , there you will find out what attention is. I am going to go into it a little.
Attention is not concentration; in it there is no distraction; in attention there is no conflict, there is no seeking for an end; therefore the brain is attentive, which means that it has no frontiers; it is quiet. Attention is a state of mind when all knowledge has ceased but only enquiry exists.
Try, sometime, a simple thing. When you go out for a walk, be attentive. Then you will find that you hear, you see much more than when the brain is concentrated; because attention is a state of not-knowing, and therefore enquiring. The brain is enquiring without a cause, without a motive - which is pure research, the quality of the really scientific mind. It may have knowledge, but that knowledge does not interfere with enquiry. Therefore an attentive mind can concentrate; but the concentration is not a resistance, an exclusion. Are some of you following this?
So, to go on from that, this state of attention is of a mind which is not crammed with information, knowledge, experience; it is a state of mind which lives in not-knowing. This means that the brain, the mind has completely discarded every influence, every edict, every sanction; it has understood authority, has dissolved ambition, envy, greed, and is totally opposed to society and all its morality. It no longer follows anything. Such a mind can then proceed to enquire.
Now, to enquire profoundly requires silence. If I want to look at those mountains and listen to the stream as it rushes by, not only must the brain be quiet but the entire mind, the conscious and the unconscious, must also be entirely quiet, to look. If the brain is chattering, if the mind wants to grasp, to hold, then it is not seeing, it is not listening to the beauty of the sound of the stream. So enquiry implies freedom and silence.
You know, people have written books about how to get a quiet mind through meditation and concentration. Volumes have been written about it - not that I have read any of them. People have come to me and talked about it. To train the mind to be silent is sheer nonsense. If you train the mind to be silent then you are in a state of decay, as every mind that conforms through fear, through greed, envy or ambition is a dead, dull, stupid mind. A dull, stupid mind can be quiet, but it will remain small and petty, and nothing new can ever come to it.
So, a mind that is attentive is without conflict, therefore free; and such a mind is quiet, silent. I do not know if you have gone so far; if you have, you will know that what we are talking about is meditation.
In this process of self-knowing you will find that the silent mind is not a dead mind, that it is extraordinarily active. It is not the activity of achievement, not the activity which is adding and subtracting, going, coming and becoming; because that intensely active state has come into being without any seeking, without any effort; all along it has understood everything, every phase of its being. There has been no suppression of any kind, and therefore no fear, no imitation, no conformity. And if the mind has not done all these things, there can be no silence.
Now, what happens after? So far one has used words to communicate; but the word is not the thing. The word `silence' is not silence. So please understand this; that for silence to be, the mind must be free of the word.
Now, when the mind is actually still and therefore active and free, and is not concerned with communication, expression, achievement - then there is creation. That creation is not a vision. Christians have visions of Christ; and Hindus have visions of their own little gods or big gods. They are reacting according to their conditioning; they are projecting their visions, and what they see is born from their background; what they see is not the fact but is projected from their wishes, their desires, their longings, their hopes. But a mind that is attentive and silent has no visions because it has freed itself from all conditioning. Therefore such a mind knows what creation is - which is entirely different from the so-called creativity of the musician, the painter, the poet.
Then, if you have gone that far, you will see that there is a state of mind which is without time and without space, and therefore seeing or receiving that which is not measurable; and what is seen and felt, and the state of experiencing are of the moment and not to be stored away.
So, that reality which is not measurable, which is unnameable, which has no word, comes into being only when the mind is completely free and silent, in a state of creation. The state of creation is not just alcoholic, stimulated; but when one has understood and gone through this self-knowing and is free from all the reactions of envy, ambition and greed, then you will see that creation is always new and therefore always destructive. And creation can never be within the framework of society, within the framework of a limited individuality. Therefore the limited individuality seeking reality has no meaning. And when there is that creation there is the total destruction of everything that one has gathered, and therefore there is always the new. And the new is always true, measureless.
Question: The state of total attention and desire without a motive - are they the same?
Krishnamurti; Sirs, desire is a most extraordinary thing, is it not? For us, desire is racked with such torture. We know desire as conflict and therefore we have placed such limitations on it. And our desires are so limited, so narrow, so petty, so mediocre: wanting a car, wanting to be more beautiful, wanting to achieve. Look, how petty it all is! And I wonder if there is a desire without any torture, without any hope and despair! There is. But it cannot be understood while desire breeds conflict. But when there is the total comprehension of desire, of the motives, the tortures, the self-denials, the discipline, the travail that one goes through, when all that is understood, dissolved so that it completely disappears then perhaps desire is something else. It may be love. And love may have its expression. Love has no tomorrow, and it does not think of the past - which means that the brain does not operate on love. I do not know if you have ever watched it: how the brain interferes with love, says that it must be respectable, divides it as divine and sinful, is always shaping it, controlling it, guiding it, making it fit in with the pattern of society or of its own experience.
But there is a state of affection, of love, in which the brain does not interfere; and perhaps that love may be found. But why compare? Why say, `Is it like this or like that?'
You see, sirs, I do not know if you have ever watched a raindrop as it falls from the heavens. That one drop is of the nature of all the rivers, all the oceans, all the streams and the water that you drink. But that one raindrop is not thinking that it will be the river. It just drops, complete, total. In the same way, when the mind has gone through all this self-knowing, it is complete. In that state there is no comparison. What is creation is not comparative; and because it is destructive there is nothing within it of the old.
So, not verbally or intellectually but actually, one has to go through this process of self-knowing, from now everlastingly, because there is no ending to self-knowing. And having no ending it has no beginning, and therefore it is now.
There is one other thing I would like to talk about - which is, why one wants to worship. You know we all want to worship a symbol, a Christ, a Buddha. Why? I can give you a lot of explanations: you want to identify yourselves with something greater; you want to offer yourselves to something which you think is true; you want to be in the presence of something holy, and so on. But a mind that worships is a mind that is dying, decaying. Whether you worship the hero who is going to the moon, the hero of the past or of the present, or the one sitting on the platform, it is all the same; if you worship, then that creation can never come into being, will never come near you. And a mind that does not know that extraordinary state is everlastingly suffering. So, when one has understood this problem of worship, then it dies away as the falling of a leaf in the autumn. Then the mind can proceed without any barrier.
AUGUST 8, 1961