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Chapter 14 - Listening with the Heart - Discussion in Madras on 7 December 1976

Chapter 14 - Listening with the Heart - Discussion in Madras on 7 December 1976

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Krishnamurti (K): I want to say to the scientists and the mathematicians here that I am not a scientist, that I know nothing about science. What I am concerned with is the transformation of man, nothing else. Science changes so much, so I am not in that game. So then if that is understood, let's proceed.

Pupul Jayakar (PJ): I thought we should discuss a field very far away from all that, which I feel is the central point missing in all of us, at least in me, and that is the factor of compassion.

K: What is the nature of compassion?

PJ: Yes, the nature of compassion. You used a phrase in Benares: is it possible to 'listen with the heart'? There was something which I think we have not understood. What does this listening with the heart imply?

K: Shall we discuss that?

Fritz Wilhelm (FW): I would like to go on a little with what we were discussing last time-the nature of matter.

K: I think it's fairly clear what I said. What I said was that thought is a material process, and whatever thought has built-technologically, psychologically, the beliefs, the gods, the whole structure of religion based on thought-is a material process. Thought is, in that sense, matter, thought being experience, knowledge stored in the cells and functioning, skilfully or not skilfully, in a particular groove set by knowledge. All that to me is a material process; that is all. What matter is, I don't know. I won't even discuss that because I don't know. Wilkins, the Nobel Prize winner, and Bohm say, we don't know what matter is. And describing it is still within the field of knowledge, within the field of thought; therefore whatever thought thinks is matter. That's all I am saying. I don't have the capacity or the audacity to inquire into matter. I don't know what the scientists think about it, or what you might think about it, or whether you can discuss with them.

FW: I wouldn't like to go into it from the point of view of the scientists. Let me see if matter is something unknown.

K: That is what I believe they say.

FW: Yes. So when we explore into the unknown...

K: Ah, you can't explore into the unknown. Be careful.

FW: I know it.

K: You can explore into the known, go to the limit of it, and when you've gone to the limit of it, you've moved out of it. So we can inquire only into the known.

FW: Yes.

PJ: Which is, into thought.

K: Of course, of course. But when he says, 'Examine, explore, investigate into the unknown', we can't.

FW: Of course, but it was just a shorter way of saying the same thing.

K: Yes. So Pupul puts a question which is: what does it mean to listen with compassion? Now let's proceed with that.

PJ: This is the crucial thing. If we have compassion, everything else is.

K: I agree. But we haven't got it, unfortunately. So how shall we approach this matter? What does it mean to listen, and what is the nature and structure of compassion?

PJ: And what is this listening with the heart?

K: Same, yes.

PJ: No, sir. It's a very important thing you have said: is there a listening which is much deeper than the ear listening?

K: Yes. If you don't mind, take these two: listening, and listening with the heart, compassion, and all that. But, first, what does it mean to listen-the art of listening?

FW: Perhaps we could approach the subject the other way round: what does it mean not to listen? Perhaps if I am very clear about what it means not to listen...

K: That's what we're going to do: through negation come to the positive, that is, through what is not listening. Then we listen. It comes to more or less the same thing, which is, if we could find out what is listening, and therefore in the investigation of what is listening you negate what is not, then you are listening. That's all we're doing. So there are two problems: What is listening in which is implied what is not listening; and what is compassion, what does it mean, the nature of it, the structure of it, the feeling of it, the depth of it, and the action that springs from it? Go on, discuss it.

FW: I feel that in that question of compassion we have the same problem because I feel that compassion is not in the field of the known.

K: She meant something else too, sir. What does it mean to listen with your heart? That's what she began with. I introduced the word compassion. Perhaps we'll put that away for the moment.

PJ: Krishnaji spoke of a listening with the heart, and I am interested in going into that.

K: So let's keep to those two: listening, and listening with one's heart-what does it mean?

Radha Burnier (RB): The last time we said the response with thought is fragmentary. Whether we call that response observation or listening or whatever it is, it is the same thing, isn't it?

K: Yes, I understand.

RB: So is the heart the non-fragmentary? Is that what we mean?

K: To listen with the total flowering of all senses is one thing. To listen partially, with a particular sense, is fragmentary. Is that what you are trying to say?

RB: Yes.

K: That is, if I listen with all my senses, then there is no problem of negation or what is not listening or what is listening, but we don't listen so completely. So what shall we do?

Sunanda Patwardhan (SP): When you say, 'listening with the heart', my response is: I don't know what listening with the heart is, but when there is a movement of feeling, there is a feeling with which one listens to another, instead of listening only with thought. There is a different kind of communication when there is that feeling.

K: Is feeling different from thought?

SP: That's what I am coming to. We do not know any movement apart from thought. To accept your statement is difficult because we also have experienced what we call a certain tenderness, affection, feeling, but if everything is put in the category of thought...

K: No, no. Let's go slowly. Don't categorize it yet.

PJ: It's a very difficult field.

K: That's why we must go slowly into this. Do I listen with thought, or do I listen not with thought? That's the problem. Do you listen with the movement of thought, or do you listen without the movement of thought?

PJ: There can be a listening without thought.

K: Yes.

PJ: But sometimes, once in a lifetime maybe, one gets the total feeling of the heart and mind and consciousness being one.

K: Yes, I understand that.

PJ: When you say, 'listening without thought', after all these years we can say, 'Yes, it is so.' But there is something more, there is something still lacking.

K: We're coming to that, Pupulji. Let's go slowly into this. I think we have to begin with what it means to communicate. I want to communicate with you, I want to tell you something which I feel, which I think, which I am deeply concerned with; about that I want to tell you. You must be prepared to receive it, otherwise you can't communicate. You must be prepared to enter into the problem or into the question or into the statement which one is proposing. Which means you must have the same interest as the speaker, or the same intensity, and also meet him at the same level. All this is implied in communication.

SP: Interest one can understand, but the level is very difficult to...

K: Otherwise there is no communication.

PJ: In taking up the word communication, you are introducing the two.

K: Yes.

PJ: In listening with the heart there may not be the two.

K: Don't go into that yet, don't go into what it means to listen with one's heart. Leave that for the moment; we'll come to that. I want to tell you something about which I feel profoundly; how will you listen to it? I want you to share it with me, I want you to feel it with me, I want you to be involved with me. Otherwise how can you communicate? So I want to tell you, I want to communicate something to you; will you listen to it with the same intensity with which I want to communicate and also be at the same level? Otherwise you can't receive it.

SP: How does one know the level?

K: The moment it is an intense problem with me, and I say, 'You must share it with me'; to me it is a burning problem, not just intellectual, verbal. It's a deep human problem which I want to convey to you. I want you to share it with me, so you must be at the same level. You can't casually say, 'Well, I'll listen to you, old boy.'

SP: From what you say, if the first is there, the third will be there.

K: Which is the first?

SP: Deep seriousness. If in me there is seriousness, the level will be there.

K: Look, what am I to do? I want to convey. You are not listening to me now, that's my problem. I want to tell you something which is most profoundly important. It may be stupid, it may be wrong, it may be idiotic, but to me it's something profound. I want you to listen to it because you are a human being. It may be that it is your problem; it may be that you haven't really delved into it. So, in sharing with me my profound problem, you would be exposing your own intensity to it. Therefore listening implies a sharing, a verbal communication in which you don't twist the words. The other man is using the words which he knows. If you push the word, twist the words to have a political, religious, economic meaning, then you can't communicate. So there must be a listening, there must be-'must' in quotes-a sharing which implies a non-verbal communication and, therefore, as the problem is so immensely important to the other, he says, 'Please, for God's sake, listen to me.' Then you meet that person. Will you meet him and say, 'Yes, let's talk about it, tell me'? Or you have got other problems, other issues, other answers. What is it?

PJ: Obviously, you can communicate only if there is a certain level.

K: That's what I am saying. Now, how will you listen to me? Will you listen like that?

SP: It seems one does not listen like that to everyone.

K: Ah, no. I am talking now, not to others. I'm asking you, will you listen to me in that manner?

PJ: To you we listen.

K: Ah, therefore you are not listening. Because you have built an image about me, and to that image you give importance, and therefore you listen.

SP: Not only the image.

K: You are missing my point. You listen not only to this man who is speaking at the moment; you must listen to her when she talks, or to him, or to somebody else; listen to it. He may convey something to you which he may not be capable of putting into words. So will you, in the same manner, listen to all of us?

SP: We listen to some, but we don't listen to all.

K: Why?

Questioner 1 (Q1): Because of prejudice.

K: Of course. Why? Therefore there is no communication. I want to tell you something about the school, about this, about that, and you say, 'Well, please, I'm off.'

PJ: You mean to say that between the voice which is established in truth and which speaks out of silence, and the voice which speaks out of thought, the receiving is the same?

K: No, no. Too definite, too definite. [Laughs]

PJ: No, it's not too definite. You speak and your voice is different.

RB: I think the point is whether there is a receiving at all.

K: Yes, that's all I'm coming to.

SP: Listening at all.

RB: Yes. If one is receiving, then the question of whether it is the voice of truth or something else...

PJ: You see, it doesn't happen with us. Let's start with the fact.

Rajesh Dalal (RD): Sir, everything is directed. We listen with motives. The motive may be very subtle or very obvious. That is, when we listen to you, there is much more attention, but we think we are not going to get anything out of another. [Laughter]

K: Quite right.

RD: So basically it comes to that. We are always directed towards something.

K: Quite right. So how do we alter all that and listen to each other?

Questioner 2 (Q2): Is it that we interpret?

K: He says, 'Don't interpret what I'm saying. Just listen, for God's sake, listen.' You see, there is much more involved in it. I go to him and tell him, 'I know nothing about karate.' I know nothing about karate, I really don't know. I watch it on films-kung fu and all that kind of stuff-but I don't know. So I go to him not knowing, therefore I'm listening. But you don't; you already know, and that's your difficulty. 'What do you say?' 'It shouldn't be this way', 'It shouldn't be that way'-all conjectures, opinions. So I say, 'Please, I want to tell you I love you.' The moment I use that word, you are fully alive. [Laughter] So the first thing, I feel, is the art of listening. Art means to put everything in its right place. You may have your prejudices, you may have your conclusions, you may keep that, but when you are listening put away all that; interpreting, comparing, judging, evaluating-put away all that. Then communication takes place. There is instant communication when somebody says, 'I love you.' You don't say, 'Well, let's think about it.'

RB: But is putting everything away the same as having the same intensity and the same level?

K: Otherwise what's the point of it? What should I talk to you and you talk to me?

RD: I've seen this, but I'm not doing it.

K: Do it. Do it now, for two, five minutes, do it; for five seconds do it.

RD: It happens for some time, but...

K: No, no, that's not good enough.

SP: Sir, you are saying the act of listening wipes away, swallows up this whole thing.

K: Yes.

SP: For the time being.

K: Yes. When I say I love you, what happens?

SP: But no one says that to us.

K: Ah, I'm telling you, now!

SP: No, sir, but in life, the normal reaction is not like that.

K: So, that is the art of listening. Then what is to listen with one's heart? You don't listen with the actual heart; the meaning of that is to listen with a sense of care, attention, affection, a deep sense of communion with each other. Heart-that means with all your senses, with all your...

PJ: With fullness.

K: With fullness. All right, keep it that way. Now, will you do it? Or just again spin, spin, spin words? So we understand more or less what communication, listening implies. Can we listen to somebody whom we don't like, who we think is a stupid old man or clever, cunning, whatever it is? Can you listen with your heart to that man, to that woman? I don't think that when you have that feeling, words matter anymore. Then what? Suppose I listen-and I have done it often in my life-I listen very carefully. I have no prejudice, I have no pictures, I've no conclusions. I'm not a politician, I'm not soaked in economics or science, I'm not intellectual-nothing. I'm a human being, listening to somebody. I just listen because he wants to tell me something about himself. He generally comes to see me- I'm talking personally-with a mask. Because he has got an image, a picture of me, he comes with an extraordinary mask. And if he wants to talk seriously with me I say, 'Remove the mask, let's look at it together.' I don't want to look behind the mask unless he invites me. So he says, 'All right, sir, let's talk about it.' So I listen. And in listening, he is telling me something which is so utterly, completely common to all human beings. He may put it wrongly, he may put it foolishly, but it is something which that man or woman suffers. And he is telling me about it, I listen. Therefore he is telling me the history, the story of mankind. So I'm listening not only to the words, but also to his superficial feelings or the profound depths of what he is saying. If it is superficial, then we discuss superficially, and push it, push it, till he feels profoundly the same. You follow what I'm saying?

RD: Yes, sir.

K: You come to see me. (Not me, I'm not talking personally.) After removing the mask, you say something very superficial. It may be that you are expressing a feeling which is very, very superficial, and if it is superficial I say, 'All right, sir, it is superficial, let's go a little deeper into it.' So in going deeper and deeper and deeper, you are expressing something which is totally common to all of us. So there is no division between him and me. He is expressing something which belongs completely to all human beings. Therefore I've lost all my... Got it?

PJ: What is the source of that listening?

K: Of course it's simple: compassion. So what is compassion? As Fritz says, it is unknown to us. We may have it occasionally, but it is actually unknown to us. So he says, 'How am I to have that extraordinary intelligence which is compassion?' And he says, 'I don't want methods, systems, that's all silly stuff. I would like to have that flower in my heart.' Now, what is he to do? Is that right, sir?

FW: Compassion is not in the field of thought; therefore I can never have the feeling that I have it.

K: No. You want to find it. Like a screwdriver, you push, push.

PJ: There must be a perfume to it.

K: Yes, of course. There must be a perfume. I mean you can talk of compassion without the perfume, without the honey, like all the saints do.

PJ: Either it's there or it's not there.

K: Suppose you, Radhaji, have it. I would like to get that perfume. Because it feels so marvellous when I come near you: 'By Jove, these two people have got something extraordinary, I like to go into it.'

PJ: Why is it then that we can have this feeling when we are in communication with you? Why is it that you have this tremendous impact which knocks away all prejudice, which knocks away all obstacles and immediately makes the mind silent?

K: I can tell you.

PJ: I am asking.

K: I'll put it round the other way. Because, probably, it's like going to the well with a small bucket or with an enormous bucket which you can hardly carry. Most of us go with a small bucket and pull out insufficient water. So I'm saying that you, Radha, have this thing. And she being perhaps a supreme human being I say, 'I like to have that thing.' Not possessively, I don't mean all that silly stuff. It's like having a fountain in your yard, flowering, flowing-you know. So I like to watch it, I like to see it out there and inside me. So what am I to do?

FW: I'll find out what prevents me from having that.

K: I don't want to; that's analysis. I won't analyse because it is a waste of time. I've understood that, not because you assert it and therefore I accept it, but I see the reason of it, the logic of it, the significance and, therefore, the truth of it. Therefore out!

SP: Not only this. I also see you sitting in meditation, being in silence, but none of these things have any relationship.

K: Yes.

SP: Everything that one has tried...

K: That's all silly-that's what I'm saying, please!

SP: One starts from duality, and every kind of experience that one has gone through has nothing to do with that.

K: I was saying that Pupul and Radhaji have got this thing in their backyard. They don't talk about it because it is there. It is there-flowering, flowing, murmuring; all kinds of things happen into it. And I say, 'Why the devil isn't it in my backyard?' I want to find out. Not that I want to imitate it and all that stuff; it must happen. And I won't analyse: 'What is preventing me, what is blocking me, what are the hindrances, should I be silent, should I not be silent?' All those are analytical processes. I don't know if you understand this.

SP: That's all right, that's clear.

K: Do you really understand what it means?

SP: What does it mean-really understanding?

K: Look, I like to have it. They've got it, I haven't got it. I like to have it. It's like a precious jewel; I like to look at it occasionally, lock it away, and look at it. How is it to happen to me? That's my inquiry, you understand? And he asked, 'What is blocking me?' I said that is an analytical process. And analysis is a waste of time. I don't know if you see that actually. The analyser and the analysed are the same. I don't want to take time over it and meditate about it, I don't want to sit cross-legged. I haven't got the time. So I won't analyse. Can you do that-stop analysis, totally? Can you do it? You do it when there is a crisis. When there is a tremendous crisis, you have no time to analyse: you are in it. Are you in it? That is, she has got that extraordinary perfume, which is so natural to her. She doesn't say, 'My God, how did I get it, what am I to do with it?' She's got it somehow, by some miracle, or not miracle, and I like to have it. I'm a human being and without it, I say, nothing matters. So it must be there. And I see the truth about analysis, therefore I will never analyse. I say this because I'm in the middle of this question, I'm soaked in it, burning with that question. The house is on fire, and I'm caught in that fire. I want to have it.

RB: At the moment one feels the beauty of this thing, the question 'How am I to have it?' doesn't arise.

K: I want it. Not 'How am I to have it?' I don't care.

RB: The question doesn't arise.

K: I'm hungry. You don't say 'Analyse hunger.'

RB: No, I'm not saying that.

K: What do you say?

RB: I'm saying that at a certain moment one is filled with that perfume. I don't know to what extent one is filled with it. The feeling 'I want it' doesn't exist there.

K: You may be filled by my words, by my intensity, by my moving in that. And you say you have got that.

RB: No, no, I don't say 'I've got it.'

K: Be simple, Radhaji. You have something in your backyard, a fountain, which very, very few people have. They may talk about the water, they may talk about the fountain, they may talk about the beauty of the fountain, the noise of the fountain, the song, the chatter of the water. That's not it. But you've got it. And as a human being I say, 'How marvellous that is.' I go towards it. But what am I to do? I don't have it. You understand?

RB: Yes.

K: What am I to do?

FW: Is there anything I can do?

K: Maybe or may not be. Maybe the demand is so great, in myself the demand is so great that I put aside everything- the demand itself puts everything aside. The house is burning; there is no argument, there is no asking which bucket, which pump you should use.

PJ: Isn't it linked very closely to the volume of energy?

K: You say this is linked to the volume of energy one has. No. When you want something, you burn like hell. When you want that girl or man, you're at it.

FW: No, sir, you speak with him at a rare frequency.

K: Ah, just come off it, sir. You see, I want to create a crisis; then there is action. Either you avoid the crisis or you act. Now, is the crisis taking place? This is a very important question. Radhaji comes to me and talks about all this. I listen, as far as I can listen, as far as I can go, but nothing happens. I hear it year after year, year after year, I take a little step, a little step, a little step, and by eight-five, ninety, I'm dead. She goes on. What she wants to do is to bring about an action born of a tremendous crisis. She wants to bring it about because then there is no argument, there is no analysis, there is no saying, 'Wait, wait, let me think about it.' She has created it, right? Is that crisis the result of her influence, her words, her feeling, her urgency? Or is it a superficial crisis? Or a crisis which I have got to break through? I've got to break through-that's her intention. She says, 'That's the only thing I'm here for, that's the only thing that matters to me, not all your beastly little analysis, prejudice; that's all silly stuff.' The crisis is like that between a man and a woman who are married and one says, 'I want a divorce.' The crisis is that.

Achyut Patwardhan (AP): No, sir. In the instance that you take, the crisis is an external challenge to which I am unable to find an adequate internal response, and because I cannot find an adequate internal response, there is a crisis. The other crisis, as I have understood from you, is not triggered by anything external at all.

K: Yes. That's what I mean.

AP: It is a perception from within.

K: Please listen, sir. Her intention is to create a crisis, not superficial, not external-inside!

AP: Are not these two distinct channels? When the mind is facing an external crisis and seeking an adequate response from within, that is one type of crisis.

K: Of course, of course.

AP: And the other type of crisis is that within me there is a deep sense of inadequacy, which says that this can't be put up with.

K: She has created that crisis in me because she is talking of truth. She has said, 'Face it.'

RB: Is there such a thing as an external crisis and an internal crisis?

K: Don't bother about all that, don't. She says to me, 'By my talking with you, there is a crisis.' That's all she is saying to me. By talking with her, the crisis is born.

Questioner 3 (Q3): Sometimes a crisis, a psychological crisis is there, and then we immediately look for...

K: Yes, yes. But she says, 'We've discussed all that, brush all that aside.' I'm an old pupil of hers. I've listened to her for fifteen blasted years. And I've played that game with her, I know all about it. She says, 'Brush all that aside, that's not important now; this is the twenty-fifth hour.' [Laughs]

Q3: Perhaps the crisis has its own language.

K: But first is there a crisis?

Q3: We think so.

K: I can't tell you about it. Is there a crisis in you? Look, sir, I've talked to her, therefore there is a crisis in me.

Q3: Yes, if I'm listening.

K: If you don't listen, jump into the lake; I'm not interested in that. She has created a crisis in me. Not if-by my very talking to her she has stirred up the pool, and there is a crisis in me. Now she is asking me, 'Is that taking place with all of you? Or, are you just monkeying around?'

RD: There has been a stirring up, but then again as one moves on...

K: No sir, no sir.

RD: There is a settling process going on.

K: No. You talk to her, and there is a crisis. She is a woman, I'm a man. I meet her, she's nice, pleasant-there is a crisis, whether I should marry her, sleep with her, do something- there is a crisis. If there isn't a crisis, she says, 'What's wrong with you?' Are you so damn stupid as that? Are you silly?' She wants to create that crisis; it's her job. Otherwise nothing will happen. Don't you see? I have been married to her for ten years, and suddenly she says, 'My God, I'm fed up with you. You are so damn silly, you are so sexual, you are so stupid.' She tells me, and it brings me near a crisis, and I either break with her or face the crisis. That's the challenge. She has given me a challenge, and I've got to answer that. She says, 'If you don't answer by tomorrow morning, I'm out.' It's as urgent as that. Otherwise you can't do a thing. We don't want the crisis. We want to live the same old pattern. It's her job to bring about a crisis in my life. Right?

RD: There are different levels of crisis in one's life.

K: Ah, ah. You and I are married; there are no different crisis levels.

RD: Let me just express my feelings. When I was studying, when I read you, a crisis came into my life.

K: Yes.

RD: And then I saw that certain actions mean death and are ridiculous. So total action had to take shape.

K: It took shape.

RD: Action took shape.

K: That's all.

RD: It took place there, it is not taking place now. You are asking for a crisis which will dissolve me.

K: I'm not asking you to dissolve. Is there a crisis when you talk to her? Her urge, demand, is that there should be a crisis in you. Not a superficial crisis, a little bit of annoyance, a little bit of... Crisis! What do you say? [Long pause] I think, that is listening with your heart. Where she has stirred me so deeply, moved me, taken away all my anchorage. Not that I'm lonely, you understand? When there is the monsoon, it says to you, 'Please collect all the water you can; next year there'll be no monsoon.' And that makes you build every kind of hole to collect water. So where are we at the end of it? [Long pause]

PJ: In a strange way it also implies lifting your hands off everything.

K: It may not. It may mean that an action which we have not premeditated might take place. If there is a crisis, it will.

T.K. Parchure (TKP): It leads to a phase of complete suspension of all mental...

K: No, sir. It's a very simple thing. You are married, you live with your wife for ten, fifteen, twenty years. And she says to you one morning, 'Sorry, this can't go on. You've been unfaithful, not only physically, mentally, inwardly.' Unless you change radically by tomorrow morning, I'm leaving you.' What will you do then? Are you in that position?

RD: No, not in that position. Not in a position which is a total crisis.

K: That's what she tells you to be, otherwise she's going to walk out on you. Then it becomes dreadfully serious, doesn't it? She says, 'I am saying this out of compassion, that you must have a crisis.'

RD: We too think that a crisis is important, but we don't allow it to happen.

K: Yes, sir. She says, 'Don't have anymore silly life.' When the crisis is there, and you move with it, you have the fountain working behind in your yard. Right?