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‘Seeing the Whole’
Questioner: When I listen to you I seem to understand what you are talking about, not only verbally, but at a much deeper level. I am part of it; I fully grasp with my whole being the truth of what you say. My hearing is sharpened, and the very seeing of the flowers, the trees, and those mountains with snow, makes me feel I am part of them. In this awareness I have no conflict, no contradiction. it is as though I could do anything, and that whatever I did would be true, would not bring either conflict or pain. But unfortunately that state doesn’t last. Perhaps it lasts for an hour or two while I’m listening to you. When I leave the talks it all seems to evaporate and I’m back where I was. I try to be aware of myself; I keep remembering the state I was in when I listened to your talks, keep trying to reach it, hold on to it, and this becomes a struggle. You have said, “Be aware of your conflict, listen to your conflict, see the causes of your conflict, your conflict is yourself”. I am aware of my conflict, my pain, my sorrow, my confusion, but this awareness in no way resolves these things. On the contrary, being aware of them seems to give them vitality and duration. You talk of choiceless awareness, which again breeds another battle in me, for I am full of choice, decisions and opinions. I have applied this awareness to a particular habit I have, and it has not gone. When you are aware of some conflict or strain, this same awareness keeps looking to see if it has already gone. And this seems to remind you of it, and you never shake it off.
Krishnamurti: Awareness is not a commitment to something. Awareness is an observation, both outer and inner, in which direction has stopped. You are aware, but the thing of which you are aware is not being encouraged or nourished. Awareness is not concentration on something. It is not an action of the will choosing what it will be aware of, and analysing it to bring about a certain result. When awareness is deliberately focused on a particular object, as a conflict, that is the action of will which is concentration. When you concentrate – that is, put all your energy and thought within your chosen frontiers, whether reading a book or watching your anger – then, in this exclusion, the thing you are concentrating upon is strengthened, nourished. So here we have to understand the nature of awareness: We have to understand what we are talking about when we use the word awareness. Now, you can either be aware of a particular thing, or be aware of that particular as part of the total. The particular by itself has very little meaning, but when you see the total, then that particular has a relationship to the whole. Only in this relationship does the particular have its right meaning; it doesn’t become all-important, it is not exaggerated. So the real question is: does one see the total process of life or is one concentrated on the particular, thus missing the whole field of life? To be aware of the whole field is to see also the particular, but, at the same time, to understand its relationship to the whole. If you are angry and are concerned with ending that anger, then you focus your attention on the anger and the whole escapes you and the anger is strengthened. But anger is interrelated to the whole. So when we separate the particular from the whole, the particular breeds its own problems.
Questioner: What do you mean by seeing the whole? What is this totality you talk about, this extensive awareness in which the particular is a detail? Is it some mysterious, mystical experience? If so then we are lost completely. Or is this perhaps what you are saying, that there is a whole field of existence, of which anger is a part, and that to be concerned with the part is to block out the extensive perception? But what is this extensive perception? I can only see the whole through all its particulars. And what whole do you mean? Are you talking about the whole of the mind, or the whole of existence, or the whole of myself, or the whole of life? What whole do you mean, and how can I see it?
Krishnamurti: The whole field of life: the mind, love, everything which is in life.
Questioner: How can I possibly see all that! I can understand that everything I see is partial, and that all my awareness is awareness of the particular, and that this strengthens the particular.
Krishnamurti: Let’s put it this way: do you perceive with your mind and your heart separately, or do you see, hear, feel, think, all together, not fragmentarily?
Questioner: I don’t know what you mean.
Krishnamurti: You hear a word, your mind tells you it is an insult, your feelings tell you you don’t like it, your mind again intervenes to control or justify, and so on. Once again feeling takes over where the mind has concluded. In this way an event unleashes a chain-reaction of different parts of your being. What you hear had been broken up, made fragmentary, and if you concentrate on one of those fragments, you miss the total process of that hearing. Hearing can be fragmentary or it can be done with all your being, totally. So, by perception of the whole we mean perception with your eyes, your ears, your heart, your mind; not perception with each separately. It is giving your complete attention. In that attention, the particular, such as anger, has a different meaning since it is interrelated to many other issues.
Questioner: So when you say seeing the whole, you mean seeing with the whole of your being; it is a question of quality not quantity. Is that correct?
Krishnamurti: Yes, precisely. But do you see totally in this way or are you merely verbalizing it? Do you see anger with your heart, mind, ears and eyes? Or do you see anger as something unrelated to the rest of you, and therefore of great importance? When you give importance to the whole you do not forget the particular.
Questioner: But what happens to the particular, to anger?
Krishnamurti: You are aware of anger with your whole being. If you are, is there anger? Inattention is anger, not attention. So attention with your entire being is seeing the whole, and inattention is seeing the particular. To be aware of the whole, and of the particular, and of the relationship between the two, is the whole problem. We divide the particular from the rest and try to solve it. And so conflict increases and there is no way out.
Questioner: When you speak then of seeing only the particular, as anger, do you mean looking at it with only one part of your being?
Krishnamurti: When you look at the particular with a fragment of your being, the division between that particular and the fragment which is looking at it grows, and so conflict increases. When there is no division there is no conflict.
Questioner: Are you saying that there is no division between this anger and me when I look at it with all my being?
Krishnamurti: Exactly. Is this what you actually are doing, or are you merely following the words? What is actually taking place? This is far more important than your question.
Questioner: You ask me what is taking place. I am simply trying to understand you.
Krishnamurti: Are you trying to understand me or are you seeing the truth of what we are talking about, which is independent of me? If you actually see the truth of what we are talking about, then you are your own guru and your own disciple, which is to understand yourself. This understanding cannot be learnt from another.