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Part III, Chapter 3 - London, 4th Public Talk - 30th May 1970 - ‘The Religious Mind’

SHALL WE TALK about meditation? Talking about something and doing it are quite different things. If we are going to go into this complex problem, we not only have to understand the meaning of words, but also, it seems to me, we must go beyond the words. There are several things involved in meditation. To really understand it, to actually do it, not merely intellectually or verbally or theoretically, requires a peculiar kind of seriousness in which there must be a great deal of intelligence and humour.

First of all, one must enquire into what the religious mind is; not what religion is, but that quality of the mind and the heart that is religious. One can give a great many meanings to that word ‘religion’, depending on one’s conditioning – either accepting it emotionally, sentimentally or devotionally, or totally denying the whole question of a religious attitude, a religious way of life, as a great many people do. One is rather ashamed even to talk about religious matters. But the religious mind has nothing whatsoever to do with belief in God – it has no theory, philosophy, or conclusion, because it has no fear and therefore no need for belief.

A religious mind is difficult to describe – the description can never be the thing described. But if one is sensitive, aware and serious, one can feel one’s way into it.

First of all, one cannot belong to any organized religion.

I think that is one of the most difficult things for most human beings; they want to cling to some kind of hope, belief, some kind of theory or conclusion, or an experience of their own, giving it a religious significance. Any kind of attachment and therefore dependence on one’s particular, secret experience or the accumulated experience of the so-called saints, the mystics, or your own particular guru or teacher, all that must be completely and wholly set aside. I hope you are doing it, because a religious mind is not burdened with fear, or seeking out any form of security and pleasure. A mind that is not burdened with experience is absolutely necessary to find out what meditation is. In seeking experience lies the way to illusion.

Not to seek any form of experience is very difficult; most of our lives are so mechanical, so shallow, that we want deeper experiences because we are bored with the superficiality of life. We want, or rather crave for, something that will have a meaning, a fullness, depth, beauty, loveliness, and so the mind is seeking. And what it seeks it will find; what it finds will not be the truth. Are you accepting all this, or rejecting it? Please do not accept or deny – this is not a matter of your pleasure or my pleasure, because in this there is no authority whatsoever, neither that of the speaker nor of anybody else. You see, most of us want someone to lead us, to guide us, to help us and we invest faith, trust, in that person or in that ideal or principle or image. Therefore we depend on another. A mind that is dependent on authority and therefore incapable of standing alone, incapable of understanding, incapable of looking directly, such a mind must inevitably have fear of going wrong, of not doing the right thing, of not reaching the ecstasy that is promised or that one hopes for. All such forms of authority must absolutely come to an end; which means to have no fear, no dependency on another (there is no guru) and a mind that is not seeking experience. Because when one wants an experience, it indicates that one wants – great pleasure, call it what you like – ecstasy, enjoyment, seeking truth, finding enlightenment.

Also, how does the seeker know what he has found and if what he has found is the truth? Can the mind that is seeking, searching, find something that is alive, moving, that has no resting place? The religious mind does not belong to any group, any sect, any belief, any church, any organized circus; therefore it is capable of looking at things directly and understanding things immediately. Such is the religious mind, because it is a light to itself. Its light is not lit by another – the candle that is lit by another can be put out very quickly. And most of our beliefs, dogmas, rituals, are the result of propaganda which has nothing whatsoever to do with a religious life. A religious mind is a light to itself and therefore there is no punishment or reward.

Meditation is the emptying of the mind, totally. The content of the mind is the result of time, of what is called evolution; it is the result of a thousand experiences, a vast accumulation of knowledge, of memories. The mind is so burdened with the past because all knowledge is the past, all experience is the past, and all memory is the accumulated result of a thousand experiences – that is the known. Can the mind, which is both the conscious as well as the unconscious, empty itself completely of the past? That is the whole movement of meditation. The mind being aware of itself without any choice, seeing all the movement of itself – can that awareness totally empty the mind of the known? Because if there is any remnant of the past the mind cannot be innocent. So meditation is the total emptying of the mind.

So many things are said about meditation, especially in the East; there are so many schools, so many disciplines, so many books written on how to meditate, what to do. How do you know if what is being said is true or false? When the speaker says meditation is the complete emptying of the mind, how do you know it is true? What tells you? Your personal prejudice, your particular idiosyncrasy of liking the face of the man who speaks? – or his reputation, or because he has got some empathy, a certain friendliness? How do you know? Must you go through all the systems, all the schools, have teachers who teach you how to meditate, before you find out what meditation is? Or can you find that out if you have none of these people to tell you what to do?

I am saying this most undogmatically: do not listen to anybody – including the speaker, especially the speaker – because you are very easily influenced, because you are all wanting something, craving for something, craving for enlightenment, for joy, for ecstasy, for heaven; you are caught very easily. So you have to find it out completely by yourself. Therefore there is no need to go to India, or to any Zen Buddhist monastery, to meditate, or to look to any teacher; because if you know how to look, everything is in you. Therefore you put aside completely all authority, all looking to anybody, because truth does not belong to anybody, it is not a personal matter. Meditation is not a private, personal pleasure or experience.

One can see that one needs great harmony between the mind, the heart and the body, if you can so divide it – psychosomatically, if you prefer it. Obviously there must be complete harmony, because if there is any contradiction, any division, then there is conflict. Conflict is the very essence of waste of energy and you need tremendous energy to meditate. Therefore harmony is necessary so that the mind, the brain, the organism and the depth of the heart are whole, not broken up; you can see that for yourself, nobody need teach you that. How to bring about that harmony is quite a different matter. Complete harmony means that the mind as well as the organism must be extraordinarily sensitive; therefore one has to go into the whole question of diet, exercise, and living properly. Because we do not want to think about it or look into it, we turn to somebody else to tell us what to do. And if we look to somebody else we limit our energy, because then we ask whether it is possible or not possible. If we say it is impossible, our energy becomes very limited; if we say it is possible in terms of what we already know, it becomes very small and so on.

So one realizes the necessity of this complete harmony, because if there is any kind of discord, there is distortion. And there must be discipline. Discipline means order – not suppression, not conformity to a principle or to an idea, to a conclusion, to a system or to a method.

Order is not a design, a pattern according to which you are living. Order comes only when you understand the whole process of disorder – going through what is the negative to come to the positive. Our life is disorder, which means contradiction, saying one thing, doing another and thinking something entirely different. It is a fragmentary existence, and in this fragmentation we try to find some kind of order. We think this order comes about through discipline and control. A mind that is controlled, disciplined in the sense of conforming to a pattern, whether established by oneself, or by society, or by a particular culture, such a mind is not free, it is a distorted mind. Therefore one has to enquire into this question of disorder. And through the understanding of what disorder is, how it comes about, there comes order – a living thing.

What is the very essence of disorder? Our lives are disorderly, divided; we live in different compartments; we are not a whole, unbroken entity. The essence of disorder is contradiction, and where there is contradiction in ourselves there must be effort and therefore disorder. (This is very simple. Probably you do not like simple things. One can make it very complex!) One sees how disorderly one’s own life is, how the contradictions of various desires, purposes, conclusions, intentions, are tearing at each other; being violent, wanting to live peacefully; being ambitious, greedy, competitive and saying that one loves; being self-centred, egotistic, limited and talking about universal brotherhood. We pretend, and thus there is great hypocrisy.

So order is necessary and the very understanding of disorder brings about its own discipline, which is order in which there is no suppression, no conformity. I hope the speaker is making it clear, at least verbally. Discipline means to learn, not to accumulate mechanical knowledge – to learn about the disorderly life one leads and therefore not to come to any conclusion at any moment. Most of our actions are based on conclusions or on ideals or approximation to an ideal. So our actions are always contradictory and therefore disorderly. This one can see very easily. If one is looking at this in oneself, there will naturally come about order, freedom from all authority and therefore freedom from fear. One can make a mistake but correct it immediately.

How can the mind not be caught in illusion? – because you can ‘meditate’ endlessly, creating your own illusions. We met a man the other day who had meditated for twenty-five years – not casually – he had given up everything, his good position, money, family, name, and for twenty-five years he practised meditation. Unfortunately somebody brought him to one of the Talks and the next day he came to see the speaker and said: ‘What you said about meditation is perfectly true: I have been hypnotizing myself, having my own visions, having my own personal delight in these visions according to my conditioning.’ If one is a Christian, one has visions of Christ and so on; if one is a Hindu one has one’s own particular God and is directly in communication with him, which means, according to one’s conditioning.

So the question is, how can the mind be totally free of illusion? One has to ask this question very seriously and deeply. A great many people listen to all kinds of yogis and teachers who tell them what to do, giving them some slogan, some mantra, some word that will give them extraordinary experiences – you know what the speaker is talking about. Have you ever listened so completely to a tone of music, that every other sound dies away except that one sound? If the mind pursues that sound, goes with it, you get extraordinary results. But that is not meditation, that is a kind of trick that one can play upon oneself and it is another form of illusion.

Also taking drugs in order to have a ‘transcendental experience’ can, through chemistry, bring about certain results; just as, if you fast a great deal, you have a certain sensitivity and your mind becomes much more alert, watchful, sharp and clear – or if you go in for breathing properly. These are various forms of tricks, bringing about their own illusion. And the mind clings to those illusions, because they are very satisfactory, they are your private, personal achievement. But when the world is suffering, going through agony, distortion, corruption, your particular little vision in a small corner of the field has no value.

So, one can brush aside all that as being immature and childish. Besides, it leads to stupor, it makes the mind dull. Now, how is the mind to be free of all illusion? – bearing in mind that if there is any effort and any contradiction there must be illusion. How can that state of contradiction, that confusion, distortion, the various forms of corruption – social, religious and personal corruptions – how can all that which induces various forms of delusions and illusions be completely wiped away? This can only happen when the mind is completely still, because any movement of thought is a movement of the past. Thought is the reaction of memory, of accumulated experience, knowledge and so on – it is the past. And as long as that movement of the past exists in the whole structure of the mind – which includes the brain – there must be distortion.

So the question is: how can thought be totally absent in meditation? Thought is necessary; the more it is logical, sane, healthy, objective, unemotional, impersonal, the more effective and efficient it is. You must use thought to function in life. And yet the mind must be capable, must be completely free of any sense of distortion to find out what is true, what is sacred. There must be harmony between the living functioning in thought and the freedom from thought. This is logical. this is not some cryptic, personal theory. To see anything that is true, that is new to be discovered, new to be perceived, something that has not been created or done before, the mind must be free from the known. And yet one has to live in the known. The man who came upon the jet engine, must have been free of the knowledge of the internal combustion engine. So in the same way, for the mind to come upon something that is totally new, there must be no illusion, there must be complete, total silence; not only in the movement of thought, but also in the very activity of the brain cells themselves with their memories.

That is quite a problem, is it not? Do you understand the way we live in formulas, in conclusions, in prejudices? We live mechanically, in the routine of earning a livelihood, the routine of function from which we try to derive a position and prestige. Our life is a series of conformities; there is either the conformity of fear or the conformity of pleasure. Such a mind cannot possibly come upon anything new. Therefore any teacher, any method, any system that says, ‘Do this and you will find it’, is telling you a lie. Because anyone who says he knows, he does not know. What he knows is the routine, the practice, the discipline, the conformity.

So the mind and the brain and the body in complete harmony must be silent – a silence that is not induced by taking a tranquilliser or by repeating words, whether it be Ave Maria or some Sanskrit word. By repetition your mind can become dull, and a mind which is in a stupor cannot possibly find what is true. Truth is something that is new all the time – the word ‘new’ is not right, it is really ‘timeless’.

So there has to be silence. That silence is not the opposite of noise or the cessation of chattering; it is not the result of control, saying ‘I will be silent’, which again is a contradiction. When you say ‘I will’, there must be an entity who determines to be silent and therefore practices something which he calls silence; therefore there is a division, a contradiction, a distortion.

All this requires great energy and therefore action. We waste a great deal of energy in accumulating knowledge. Knowledge has its own place – you must have knowledge, the more of it the better. But when it becomes mechanical, when knowledge makes the mind feel that no more is possible, when we come to the conclusion that it is not possible to change, then we have no energy.

There is the idea of sexual control in order to have more energy to find God, and all the religious implications of it. Think of all those poor saints and monks, what tortures they go through to find God! And God – if there is such a thing – does not want a tortured mind, a mind that is torn apart, distorted or that has become dull and lives in stupefaction.

Silence of the mind comes naturally – please do listen to this – it comes naturally, easily, without any effort if you know how to observe, how to look. When you observe a cloud, look at it without the word and therefore without thought, look at it without the division as the observer. Then there is an awareness and attention in the very act of looking; not the determination to be attentive, but looking with attention, even though that look may last only a second, a minute – that is enough. Do not be greedy, do not say, ‘I must have it for the whole day’. To look without the observer means looking without the space between the observer and the thing observed – which does not mean identifying oneself with the thing that is looked at.

So when one can look at a tree, at a cloud, at the light on the water, without the observer, and also – which is much more difficult, which needs a greater attention – if you can look at yourself without the image, without any conclusion, because the image, the conclusion, the opinion, the judgment, the goodness and the badness, is centred round the observer, then you will find that the mind, the brain, becomes extraordinarily quiet. And this quietness is not a thing to be cultivated; it can happen, it does happen, if you are attentive, if you are capable of watching all the time, watching your gestures, your words, your feelings, the movements of your face and all the rest of it. To correct it brings contradiction, but if you watch it, this brings about alteration by itself.

So silence comes about when there is profound attention, not only at the conscious level but also at the deeper levels of consciousness. Dreams and sleep are of great importance; it is part of meditation to be awake in sleep, to be aware, attentive while the mind and the body – the organism – is asleep. (Please, do not accept anything the speaker says – the speaker is not your guru, your teacher or your authority. If you make of him your authority, you are destroying yourself and the speaker.)

We said: meditation is the emptying of the mind; not only the conscious mind but also all the hidden layers of the mind, which are called the unconscious. The unconscious is as trivial and absurd as the conscious. And during sleep there are various kinds of superficial dreams, not even worth thinking about – dreams that have no meaning at all. I am sure you know all about this, do you not? Then there is the dream which has meaning, and that meaning can be understood as it is being dreamt. This is only possible when during the day you are attentive, watching, listening to every movement of your thoughts, motives, feelings and ambitions. Watching does not tire you, does not exhaust you, if you do not correct what you watch. If you say, ‘This must not be’ or, ‘It must be’, then you get tired and bored. But if you watch choicelessly, are aware without like or dislike during the day, then when you dream and those dreams have some significance, at the very moment of dreaming – all dreams are active, there is always some action taking place – that very action is understood. So when you have done all this, the mind in sleep becomes extraordinarily awake and you do not have to go to an analyser of dreams. That wakefulness of the mind sees something which the conscious mind can never see. So silence is not a thing to be practised – it comes when you have understood the whole structure and the beginning and the living of life.

We have to alter the structure of our society, its injustice, its appalling morality, the divisions it has created between man and man, the wars, the utter lack of affection and love that is destroying the world. If your meditation is only a personal matter, a thing which you personally enjoy, then it is not meditation. Meditation implies a complete radical change of the mind and the heart. This is only possible when there is this extraordinary sense of inward silence, and that alone brings about the religious mind. That mind knows what is sacred.

Questioner: How can we make this complete change?

Krishnamurti: Sir, can knowledge bring about a total revolution? – can the past, which is knowledge, bring about a complete change in the quality of the mind? Or must there be freedom from the past, so that the mind is in constant revolution, in constant movement of change? The centre of knowledge, of experience, of memory, is in the observer, is it not? Please do not accept this, just watch it for yourself. There is the censor, the ego in each one, who says, ‘This is right’, ‘This is wrong’, ‘This is good’, ‘This is bad’, ‘I must’, ‘I should not’. That censor is observing. He is the observer and he divides himself from the thing he observes. The censor, the observer, is always the past and the ‘what is’ is always changing, new. As long as there is this division between the observer and the observed, no radical revolution is possible: there will always be corruption. You can see what the French Revolution or what the Communist Revolution has done – corruption comes in all the time. As long as this condition exists, goodness is not possible. Then you will say, ‘How is this division to come to an end? ‘ How can the observer, who is the accumulated past as knowledge, come to an end? It cannot come to an end because you need the ‘observer’ when you are functioning mechanically. You need knowledge when you go to the office or to the factory, or to the laboratory. But that knowledge, tied to the censor who is ambitious and greedy, becomes corrupt; he uses knowledge for corruption. This is so simple!

When there is a realization of this, then the ‘observer’ comes to an end; it is not a matter of time, of the observer gradually coming to an end. We are conditioned to think, ‘Gradually we will get rid of the observer, gradually we will become non-violent.’ But in the meantime we sow the seeds of violence.

So when we see very clearly how the ‘observer’ distorts everything – the observer being the ego, the ‘me’ – how it separates and distorts, in that flash of perception the observer is not.

Questioner: Is it possible for continuous harmony to exist in this life?

Krishnamurti: Continuous harmony in this life is a contradiction, is it not? The idea that it must be continuous prevents the discovery of anything new. Only in ending is there a new beginning. So the desire to have continuous harmony is a contradiction. You are harmonious – full stop. We are slaves to the word ‘to be’. If anything which you call harmony has continuity, it is disharmony. Therefore, sir, do not wish for anything continuous. You want your relationship with your wife to be continuous, happy, lovely – all the romantic things. And it never happens. Love is not something that is of time. So do not let us be greedy. Harmony is not a thing that can continue. If it continues it becomes mechanical. But a mind that is harmonious is – not ‘will be’ or ‘has been’. A mind that is harmonious – again, ‘is’ is the wrong word – a mind that is aware that it is harmonious does not ask the question, ‘Will I have it tomorrow?’

Questioner: Sir, how are things related to the verbal content of the mind? 37 Krishnamurti: It is very simple, is it not? When we understand that the word is not the thing, that the description is not the described, the explanation is not the explained, then the mind is free of the word. If one has an image about oneself, the image is put together by words, by thought – thought is the word. One thinks oneself as big, or small, clever, or a genius or whatever you will – one has an image about oneself. That image can be described, it is the result of description. And that image is the creation of thought. but is the description, the image, part of the mind? What relationship has the content of the mind to the mind itself? Is the content the mind itself? – is that the question, sir? Of course it is. If the content of the mind is furniture, books, what people say, your prejudices, your conditioning, your fears, that is the mind. If the mind says there is a soul, there is God, there is hell, there is heaven, there is a devil, that is the content of the mind. The content of the mind is the mind. If the mind can empty itself of all that, it is something entirely different; then the mind is something new and therefore immortal.

Questioner: What is the sign of a man who has begun to develop awareness?

Krishnamurti: I’m sorry, I want to be funny about it – he doesn’t carry a red flag! Look, sir, first of all, as we said, it is not a matter of development, it is not a matter of slow growth. Does it need time to understand something? What is the state of the mind that says, ‘I’ve understood’ – not verbally but totally? When does it say this? It says it when the mind is really completely attentive to the thing it is looking at. Being attentive at that moment it has understood completely, it is not a matter of time.

Questioner: There is so much suffering; having compassion, how can one be at peace?

Krishnamurti: Do you think you are different from the world? Are you not the world? – the world that you have made with your ambition, with your greed, with your economic securities, with your wars – you made it. The torture of animals for your food, the wastage of money on war, the lack of right education – you have built this world, it is part of you. So you are the world and the world is you; there is no division between you and the world. You ask, ‘How can you have peace when the world suffers?’ How can you have peace when you are suffering? This is the question, because you are the world. You can go all over the world, talk to human beings, whether they are clever, famous or illiterate, they are all going through a terrible time – like you. So the question is not, ‘How can you have peace when the world is suffering?’ You are suffering and therefore the world suffers; therefore put an end to your suffering, if you know how to end it. Suffering with its self-pity comes to an end only when there is self-knowing. And you will say, ‘What can one human being do who has freed himself from his own sorrow, what value has that human being in the world?’ Such a question has no value. If you have freed yourself from sorrow – do you know what that means? – and say, ‘What value has the individual in a suffering world?’, that is a wrong question.

Questioner: What is madness?

Krishnamurti: Oh, that is very clear. Most of us are neurotic, are we not? Most of us are slightly off balance, most of us have peculiar ideas, peculiar beliefs. Once we were talking to a very devout Catholic and he said, ‘You Hindus are the most superstitious, bigoted and neurotic people; you believe in so many abnormal things.’ He was totally unaware of his own abnormality, his own beliefs, his own stupidities. So who is balanced? Obviously, the man who has no fear, who is whole. Whole means sane, healthy and holy; but we are not, we are broken up human beings, therefore we are unbalanced. There is only balance when we are completely whole. That means healthy, with a mind that is clear, that has no prejudice and that has goodness. (Applause.) Please do not clap, your applause has no meaning to me – I mean it. If you have understood it, because you have seen it for yourself, then there is no need to applaud – it is yours. Enlightenment does not come through another, it comes through your own observation, your own understanding of yourself.