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Public Talk 8 Saanen, Switzerland - 23 July 1963

Public Talk 8 Saanen, Switzerland - 23 July 1963

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You may have observed that during the seven meetings we have had here, I have not talked in terms of any theory, belief or ideal. For a religious man there are no theories at all, nor are there beliefs or ideals of any kind, because he is always living completely in the active present. Any dependence on an idea, any conformity to a pattern, any adjustment to a theory or belief, is utterly foreign to a mind that is seeking what is true.

Now, for most of us, certain words - words like `death', `sorrow', `conflict', `prayer', `God' - are weighted with special meaning; they have an extraordinary significance for the mind, and we are burdened with these words. They shape our lives by causing us to conform, to imitate, to discipline ourselves to an established pattern. And this morning I am going to use such a word - a word which to many may be rather foreign; but to others, who have probably done a little reading on the subject, it will have some meaning. That word is `meditation'. Meditation, for most people in the West, is something exotic, foreign, Asiatic; and for people everywhere, whether in the East or in the West, it is something one has to do if one wants to find truth or God. I am going to talk about it because, to me, a life without meditation is a wasted life. If one does not know the profound meaning and significance of meditation; one's everyday living becomes very superficial. But to understand the content of this word, and to go beyond the word, requires very clear thinking - a mind that is alert and active.

Before we go into this question of meditation, we must be very clear as to what we mean by discipline. For most of us, discipline implies control, shaping our thought and activity according to a certain ideational pattern. Conforming, adjusting, suppressing, following, imitating - all this is implied in the word `discipline'.

Please do follow this very carefully. It is going to become very difficult, arduous; and unless you exercise your mind tremendously as I go into it, you will be completely lost. To pursue what the speaker is going to talk about will require your total energy.

With most of us, the mind is conditioned through discipline; it is shaped by innumerable influences, thoughts, experiences, actions; and discipline has become almost our second nature. We begin to discipline ourselves at school, and carry on in the same way for the rest of our lives, adjusting to the demands of society, conforming to the established social and moral pattern, suppressing ourselves through fear, adjusting to public opinion, to what we think is right, and so on. Our minds are conditioned to seek security through discipline, yet we think that through discipline we shall find out what truth is. But surely, to find out what truth is, one must be free of all this imposed or self-imposed discipline. There can be the discovery of what is true only when there is freedom from conformity, from all fear - and then there is discipline of quite a different nature. It is no longer discipline in the sense of imitation, suppression, or conformity to a pattern. It is a free movement - not doing something out of the desire for a particular result, or because one is afraid. So it must be clearly understood that every form of discipline as we know it indicates a desire to conform, to be secure, and that behind this desire there is fear the fear of being insecure, of not getting what we want, of not discovering the ultimate truth, and so on and so on.

Another very necessary thing is to be aware of how conditioned we are by society, by the innumerable experiences we have had - which means that we must be totally aware of our whole consciousness, and not just of certain parts of it. To be aware implies observation through space - that is, having space in your mind so that you are able to observe without opinion, without evaluation, without conclusion. Most of us have no space in our minds because we come to everything we observe with a conclusion, with an idea, with an opinion, with a judgment or evaluation; we condemn, approve, or justify what we see, or we identify ourselves with it, so there is no space at all in which to observe.

Please don't make this into a theory, into something which you have to practise, which would be a terrible thing, because what you practise becomes a habit. Unfortunately, most of us live in a series of habits, whether pleasant or unpleasant - which is utterly destructive of intelligence. You can see the truth or the falseness of this by observing yourself.

Do you know what learning is? Learning, in the true sense of the word, is not additive. You don't pile up knowledge and then, through looking, experiencing, add to what you have previously learnt. When you merely gather information and add it to what you already know, there is never freedom to observe; therefore you are not learning. Do you understand? If not, we will discuss it.

By awareness I mean a state of watchfulness in which there is no choice. You are simply observing what is. But you cannot observe what is if you have an idea or an opinion about what you see, saying it is good or bad, or otherwise evaluating it. You have to be totally aware of the movements of your own thought, of your own feeling, you have to observe your own activities, both conscious and unconscious, without evaluation. This demands an extraordinarily alert, active mind. But with most of us the mind is dull, half asleep; only parts of it are active, the specialized parts, from which we function automatically through association, through memory, like an electronic brain. To be alert, active, sensitive, the mind must have space in which to look at things without the background of what it already knows; and it is one of the functions of meditation to bring tremendous alertness, activity and sensitivity to the mind.

Are you following all this?

To be aware is to watch your bodily activity, the way you walk, the way you sit, the movements of your hands; it is to hear the words you use, to observe all your thoughts, all your emotions, all your reactions. It includes awareness of the unconscious, with its traditions, its instinctual knowledge, and the immense sorrow it has accumulated - not only personal sorrow, but the sorrow of man. You have to be aware of all that; and you cannot be aware of it if you are merely judging, evaluating, saying, "This is good and that is bad", "This I will keep and that I will reject", all of which only makes the mind dull, insensitive.

From awareness comes attention. Attention flows from awareness when in that awareness there is no choice, no personal choosing, no experiencing - which I will go into presently - , but merely observing. And to observe you must have in the mind a great deal of space. A mind that is caught in ambition, greed, envy, in the pursuit of pleasure and self-fulfilment, with its inevitable sorrow, pain, despair, anguish such a mind has no space in which to observe, to attend. It is crowded with its own desires, going round and round in its own backwaters of reaction. You cannot attend if your mind is not highly sensitive, sharp, reasonable, logical, sane, healthy, without the slightest shadow of neuroticism. The mind has to explore every corner of itself, leaving no spot uncovered; because if there is a single dark corner of one's mind which one is afraid to explore, from that springs illusion.

When the Christian sees the Christ in his meditation, in his contemplation, he thinks he has achieved something extraordinary, but his visions are merely the projections of his own conditioning. It is the same with the Hindu who sits on the bank of a river and goes into a state of ecstasy. He too has visions born of his own conditioning, and what he sees is therefore not a religious experience at all. But through awareness, through choiceless observation - which is possible only when in the mind there is space to observe - , every form of conditioning is dissolved, and then the mind is no longer Hindu, Buddhist, or Christian, because all ideas, beliefs, hopes and fears have completely gone. From this comes attention - not attention given to something, but a state of attention in which there is no experiencer and therefore no experience. This is tremendously important to understand for a man who is really seeking to find out what is truth, what is religion, what is God, what is beyond the things put together by the mind.

In the state of attention there is no reaction: one is merely attending. The mind has explored and understood all the recesses of itself, all the unconscious motives, demands, fulfilments, urges, sorrows; therefore, in the state of attention, there is space, emptiness; there is no experiencer who is experiencing something. Being empty, the mind is not projecting, seeking, wanting, hoping. It has understood all its own reactions and responses, its depth, its shallowness, and there is nothing left. There is no division between the observer and the thing observed. The moment there is a division between the observer and the observed, there is conflict - the very gap between them is the conflict. We have gone into that, and we have seen how important it is to be completely free of conflict.

Perhaps this is a little more complicated than that to which you are accustomed, because I am talking about meditation, which is something beyond all words.

Now, it is only in the state of attention that you can be a light unto yourself, and then every action of your daily life springs from that light - every action, whether you are doing your job, cooking, going for a walk, mending clothes, or what you will. This whole process is meditation, and without it religion has no meaning whatsoever, it becomes merely a superstition exploited by the priests.

For most people who do what they call meditation, it is a form of self-hypnosis. Having taken lessons in meditation or read books about it, they sit cross-legged and go through all the tricks they have learnt, breathing most regularly, controlling their thoughts, and so on and so on. There are many systems of meditation, but if you understand one of them you have understood the whole lot, because they are all concerned with controlling or hypnotizing oneself in order to have certain experiences which are considered to be marvellous, but which are in fact an illusion. That form of meditation is utterly juvenile, it has no meaning. You can indulge in it for ten thousand years, and you will never find out what is true. You may have visions, you may experience what you think is God, truth, and all the rest of it, but it will all be projected by your own reactions, by your own conditioning, and will therefore have no meaning at all.

What I am talking about is something entirely different: freeing the mind, through intense alertness, from all its reactions, and thereby bringing about - without control, without deliberate will - a state of inward quietness. It is only the very intense, highly sensitive mind that can be really quiet, not a mind that is paralysed by fear, by sorrow, by joy, or deadened by conformity to innumerable social and psychological demands.

Real meditation is the highest form of intelligence. It is not a matter of sitting cross-legged in a corner with your eyes shut, or standing on your head, or whatever it is you do. To meditate is to be completely aware as you are walking, as you are riding in the bus, as you are working in your office or in your kitchen - completely aware of the words you use, the gestures you make, the manner of your talk, the way you eat, and how you push people around. To be choicelessly aware of everything about you and within yourself, is meditation. If you are thus aware of the political and religious propaganda that goes on ceaselessly, aware of the many influences about you, you will see how quickly you understand and are free of every influence as you come into contact with it.

But very few people ever go that far, because they are so conditioned by their traditions. This is particularly true if one happens to live in India, where people must absolutely do certain things. They must control the body completely, and thereby completely control their thought. Through this control they hope to reach the Supreme, but what they reach will be the result of their own self-hypnosis. In the Christian world you do the same thing in a different way. But what I am talking about is something that requires the highest form of intelligence.

Now, the mind that wants experience is not intelligent; and if you observe you will see that most of us want experience. Being tired of the everyday challenge and response which we have known for so long, we turn to so-called meditation, or we go to a church, hoping through this or some other mysterious means to have more and deeper experience. But a mind that is in a state of wanting experience, however exalted, is not innocent; therefore there is no such thing as having a `religious' experience. It is the mind that is longing, seeking, groping, the mind that is afraid, anxious, in despair - it is only such a mind that demands experience. A highly sensitive mind, being a light unto itself, does not want or need experience, and therefore it is in a state of innocency; and it is only an innocent, highly sensitive mind that can be completely quiet. When the mind is completely quiet because every part of it is alive, sensitive, it is then in a state of meditation, and from there it can proceed to find out what is truth. But until it is in that state of meditation, every attempt on the part of the mind to find out what is truth, what is God, what is the something beyond itself, is an utter waste of time and only leads to illusion. To be in that state of meditation requires extraordinary energy; and you have very little energy as long as you are in conflict, as long as you have the problems of desire. That is why, as I have said from the very beginning, every conflict, every demand for fulfilment, with its hope and despair, must be understood and dissolved away. Then the mind has no illusion, because it has no longer the power to create illusion.

A mind that is caught in problems, in fear, in despair, in the desire to fulfil itself, is always creating illusion, and is therefore in a state of neurosis. That is the first thing to realize. But when the mind is highly sensitive and free of all illusion, out of that clarity and sensitivity there is intelligence; and only then can the mind be completely and effortlessly quiet. That state of complete and effortless quietness is the beginning of meditation.

So, first there is an awareness, a choiceless observation of all your thoughts and feelings, of everything that you do. Out of that there comes a state of attention which has no frontier, but in which the mind can concentrate; and from this state of attention there is quietness of the mind. And when the mind is completely quiet, without any illusion, without any kind of self-hypnosis, there is the coming into being of something which is not put together by the mind.

You see, now comes the difficulty of trying to express in words something which is inexpressible-and that something is what we are seeking. We all want to find something beyond this world of agony, of tyranny, of force and subjugation, this world which is so indifferent, callous, brutal. With our ambitions, our nationalisms, our diplomacy, our lies, we are continually precipitating the horrors of war; and being weary of all that, we want peace. We want to find somewhere a state of quietness, of bliss, so we invent a God, a Saviour, or another world which offers us the peace we want if we will do or believe certain things. But a conditioned mind, however much it may want peace, brings about its own destruction; and that is what is actually going on in the world. All the politicians throughout the world, whether of the right or of the left, use that word `peace', but it has no meaning at all. What I am talking about is something far beyond all that.

So, meditation is the emptying of the mind of all the things that the mind has put together. If you do that - perhaps you won't, but it doesn't matter, just listen to this - you will find that there is an extraordinary space in the mind, and that space is freedom. So you must demand freedom at the very beginning, and not just wait, hoping to have it at the end. You must seek out the significance of freedom in your work, in your relationships, in everything that you do. Then you will find that meditation is creation.

Creation is a word that we all use so glibly, so easily. A painter puts on canvas a few colours and gets tremendously excited about it. It is his fulfilment, the means through which he expresses himself; it is his market in which to gain money or reputation - and he calls that `creation'! Every writer `creates', and there are schools of `creative' writing; but none of that has anything to do with creation. It is all the conditioned response of a mind that lives in a particular society.

The creation of which I am speaking is something entirely different. It is a mind that is in the state of creation. It may or it may not express that state. Expression has very little value. That state of creation has no cause, and therefore a mind in that state is every moment dying and living and loving and being. The whole of this is meditation.

Do you want to discuss this?

Questioner: How can the attention which flows from awareness be maintained?

Krishnamurti: If I may say so most respectfully, sir, I think you have asked a rather wrong question. Why should we desire to maintain attention? What lies behind that word `maintain'? I want to maintain a particular relationship with my wife, with my husband, with a friend. I want to keep it going at a certain level, at a certain tension, so that we always love and respond to each other completely. Or I want to maintain a certain feeling. And how will I maintain it? By saying, "I am going to keep it going" - that is, by volition, by will. And what happens when you maintain something by will? It becomes brittle and is destroyed. Can you maintain love by volition, by will? So there must be a different approach to this question.

Let us say that I see in a flash what it means to be aware. I see it fully, not just verbally. I have caught myself being aware without choice, and I have actually understood it. For a second I am aware, and I see the extraordinary freedom, the beauty and the joy of it. Then I say to myself, "I must maintain it; and the moment I want to maintain that state, it has become a memory. What I am maintaining is not the fact, but my memory of the fact, and therefore it is a dead thing. Please do see this.

I remember my brother, my son, my wife, my husband, who is dead, and I live in that memory, I maintain that memory, with all its pleasures, despairs, longings - you know all that one goes through. But I have not found out what it means when someone dies; I am not aware of the whole significance of death. So one has to be aware of the significance of the fact, and not merely live in a memory. Do you understand, sir? Not to live in a memory is never to say of an experience of a relationship, "I want to maintain it, I want it to continue ". Then, if someone dies, it doesn't matter. This is not callousness or indifference. Be alive to the present every minute, and you will see.

Have I conveyed something?

Truth has no continuity, because it is beyond time; and what has continuity is not truth. Truth must be seen instantly and forgotten - forgotten in the sense that you do not carry with you as memory the truth that has been seen. And because your mind is uncluttered with memory, at any instant - the next minute, the next day, or some time later - the truth will come again.

Truth, having no continuity, can be seen only when the whole mind is free from this process of maintaining, remembering, recognizing. That demands extraordinary attention, because it is very easy to slip into saying, "Well, I saw it yesterday, and I am going to live with it". If you live with it you will be living with a memory, which is a dead thing and has no meaning, and it will prevent you from seeing the truth anew, afresh. To see the truth or the beauty of that mountain, your mind must be extraordinarily sensitive, not made dull by the memory of things that have been; and that requires - as you will know if you watch yourself - acute attention. Therefore you can't allow your body to become dull, sluggish. You must have a body that is highly alert, sensitive; because the condition of the body does influence the brain, and the brain influences your thought, and so on and so on. Psychosomatically, one has to be fully aware.

Memory is mechanical, and it obviously has its place. Without memory you wouldn't know where you lived, you wouldn't know how to read, and so on. But for most of us, memory, which is the past, interferes with observation. When you have understood that fact, you have space to observe; and in that space, for a split second, for ten minutes, for an hour - the time period doesn't matter - , there is a perception. But if you make that perception into a memory, you will never see again.

Most of us live in memories: memories of the pleasant times we had when we were young, the memories of sex, the memories of our joys and despairs, and so on. We live in the past, so our minds are dull, and our technical training therefore helps to make us automatons. What I am talking about is something entirely different: to make the mind astonishingly active and very sensitive by being aware of everything that you do and don't do.

Questioner: When I am listening to what is being said here, I feel very alive and sensitive; but when I go away by myself, or am in my house, this sensitivity ceases. Krishnamurti: If you are sensitive only while you are here, you are being influenced, and that has no value whatsoever. It is merely propaganda, and therefore should be shunned, put away, destroyed, for in that way you create masters, teachers, authorities. But if you have observed yourself as you listened when I have talked; if you have been aware of your own reactions at every minute as we have gone along for over an hour; if you have been awake, not only to what was being said by the speaker but also to the movements of your own thought and feeling, then when you leave this tent and go away by yourself you will know your own state of mind and will never be blindly caught in it again.

Questioner: Do you not think that the desire to free oneself is partly the cause of one's conditioning?

Krishnamurti: Of course, sir; the desire to free oneself from conditioning only furthers conditioning. But if, instead of trying to suppress desire, one understands the whole process of desire, in that very understanding there comes freedom from conditioning. Freedom from conditioning is not a direct result. Do you understand? If I set about deliberately to free myself from my conditioning, that desire creates its own conditioning. I may destroy one form of conditioning, but I am caught in another. Whereas, if there is an understanding of desire itself, which includes the desire to be free, then that very understanding destroys all conditioning. Freedom from conditioning is a by-product, it is not important. The important thing is to understand what it is that creates conditioning.

July 23, 1963