San Francisco 1983
San Francisco New Dimensions Radio Interview with Michael Toms 28th April, 1983
Introducer: Born in South India and educated in England, J. Krishnamurti has devoted his life to speaking and counselling. He is regarded internationally as one of the great religious teachers of all time. Krishnamurti is the author of over thirty books, and has founded eight schools to spread his belief about the alleviation of sorrow. To some J. Krishnamurti is an enigma; he does not advocate social reform, nor does he encourage the guru disciple relationship. Rather he suggests that we are the original creators of the chaos, what we see out there starts inside ourselves. He presents us with the ultimate challenge: the challenge of self-transformation, to move through appearances to truth, to liberate ourselves from all systems, all 'isms' and 'ologies', to move beyond the tyranny of the mind and body towards unity and wholeness, complete understanding and love. Join us for the next hour in exploring the depth and dimensions of his work as we speak with J. Krishnamurti. My name is Michael Toms, I'll be your host.
MT: Krishnaji, welcome. You've written and spoken a great deal about meditation, and certainly in America there is a great deal of misunderstanding about meditation, and I think it might be useful for you to speak about your understanding of what meditation really is.
K: I think we ought to talk over first what generally meditation is supposed to be. There is the Zen meditation, there is the Buddhist meditation, there are different kinds of Hindu meditation, and also they have introduced the Tibetan, Mahayana and the Hinayana, South and North, and also all the latest gurus who have come here talking about meditation. After all meditation, the meaning of that word, is to ponder over, to think over, to be concerned, to discern. It's not what we are talking about. All such forms of meditation are a kind of exercise of will, or an attempt to achieve something, a state of illumination, if you like to call it, a state of peace, a state of a kind of bliss and so on. Or it might be considered as a relaxation. One considers all these forms of meditation are really not meditation at all. We have gone into it very, very deeply, with all the people concerned with various types of meditation, they ultimately, after a great deal of discussion, they agree that their form of meditation is really an exercise of will, effort, a sense of achievement and so on.
The word 'meditation' is not only to ponder over, think over and so on, but the word, and in Sanskrit, means to measure: to measure, and to be free of all measurement. I don't know if I am making myself clear.
K: To be free from comparison, from becoming. Here in this country they have used the word mantra a great deal. The meaning of that word in Sanskrit, the root meaning of that word, is, consider not becoming, think about it, go into it. And also the word mantra means to put away all self-centred activity. The depth of that statement, very few understand it.
So meditation is not separate something from daily life. If it is separate it merely becomes an escape, a romantic imagination and all that kind of nonsense. But real meditation is to be concerned with one's behaviour, one's relationship, not only with one's own little family, but with the world, because human beings have created this society in which we live, which is rotten, corrupt, immoral and all the rest of it. And meditation is a form of understanding one's relationship to the world and one's relationship to nature, so it becomes not a self-centred activity of some kind of escape from daily boredom and weariness and the general nonsense of life, but it means a tremendous enquiry in which there is no illusion, no self-deception, no imaginative theories and escapes. I hope I am making myself clear.
MT: Enquiry implies a goal of some type. What are we enquiring after?
K: No, enquiring into the whole nature of thinking, enquiring into the nature why human beings are behaving in this way, enquiring into or probing into the depth of life, what it all means, if there is something beyond the ordinary daily monotonous wearisome life. To enquire if there is something sacred.
So one must begin with doubt. That's one of the things in meditation: question, enquire, probe, doubt, and not follow any particular system because that is invented by thought, by another man. And also meditation means enquiring into the whole nature of yourself, your consciousness and so on. It is a very complex thing, not just meditate for twenty minutes and relax and carry on with your daily ugly brutal life.
MT: And certainly part of what you are saying involves us having to release the conditioning that we have all been programmed with as we've come through life.
K: That's right.
MT: Is there a method to that process of releasing conditioning?
K: No, you see the moment you use the word method, it means a process, a system, you practise day after day until you reach something. Which means your brain, which is already mechanical, programmed, if you follow a system, a method, you make it more mechanical, more routine, more stupid. Whereas this meditation as you began to question is something very, very complex. It is not just something you play with, it is part of your daily life.
MT: So it is important to bring meditation into every part of one's life.
K: Life is meditation, not 'you bring meditation'. You understand, sir, you have to question, doubt. In Christianity that is denied, because if you doubted the authority of the church you were either burnt in the old days, or tortured. If you really doubted the whole structure of Christian mythology and Christian doctrine, it would be non-existent, you would destroy it. Whereas one of the things in Buddhism and Hinduism, is you must begin with questioning, doubt, go into it, don't accept authority.
MT: Can the very non-acceptance, or non-believing, become a belief system?
K: Of course, you can make it. But to question why one has belief at all; belief implies a sense of security in some form of ideal, in some form of god, and so on. That is, why should one have belief at all about anything? You don't believe the sun rises and the sun sets, you don't believe in the constellation of Orion, you don't believe London exists, it is there. Belief really, like ideologies, has divided man: the communist ideology, the capitalist ideology and so on. One of the divisions in the world is brought about by ideologies, by ideals, beliefs. And so there is always conflict between human beings.
One of the questions is to find out if man can live without conflict. That requires tremendous probing, not just say, yes he can, or he cannot. Why do human beings live in conflict, why have they accepted conflict as the way of life for the last forty, fifty thousand years?
MT: Some people say it is human nature.
K: That's another slogan we accept. But we have never enquired why human beings live the way we do, why we always have wars, why each human being in his relationship with another, intimate or otherwise, is perpetually in conflict. You see to enquire into that requires not only intellectual comprehension but it requires self examination, not the examination according to some psychologist, whether Freudian and so on but to actually enquire into yourself. And in enquiring one begins to discover that your consciousness with all its reactions - after all, do you want to go into all this? You are interested in all this?
K: I am talking, I don't know if you want me to go on.
K: Some people don't accept, some psychologists don't accept subconsciousness, they say there is only action and reaction. Nothing else. A mechanical process. But if you go further into it you see that human consciousness, which is not only action and reaction, which is mechanical, biological and psychological, you also see that human consciousness is its content, what it is made up of, which is faith, belief, superstition, illusions, fear, pleasure, ideals, ideologies, my country, your country, my god and your god, all that and more - if you want to go into it - is our consciousness, is what one is: a linguistic, psychological conditioning. Right? That's what we are. What we are is what every human being in the world is, psychologically. They suffer, they are in turmoil, uncertain, anxious, lonely, depressed, weary of this whole business of earning money, money, money. So if you go to India, Japan, anywhere in the world, every human being goes through this, whether black or purple, or blue or whatever colour they are, or whatever race they are, whether they are totalitarian, or whether they are other. So human consciousness is not my consciousness or your consciousness, it is human consciousness.
MT: Of which we are part.
K: We are that. Not a part, we are that.
MT: We are that.
K: And therefore we are not individuals psychologically.
MT: So I have to give up who I think I am.
K: Who you are is merely your name, your form or your bank account, if you have one, and your passport.
MT: Most of us become pretty identified with ourselves, we like ourselves and so it is a fearful thing to think about giving up ourselves.
K: It is not a fearful thing, it is a factual thing. One has lived in such fanciful illusions. If I think, sir, that I am an individual free to do what I like - this is what is happening in the world, right - everybody wants to do what he wants to do, what he likes, and he calls that freedom, which is creating such havoc in the world. So in questioning all this, questioning what society is, society has been made by us, if we are in turmoil society is in turmoil. If our house inside is burning we will create an ugly society; we are violent, we have divided the world geographically into America, Russia and India and Japan and so on. So nationalities have been one of the causes of war. It is glorified tribalism. Obviously.
MT: One might say that nationalities and the separations that are created are really out of our mind because we tend to separate and compartmentalize.
K: Therefore you begin to enquire what is thinking, what is thought, why thought has made this society, why thought has created gods and the churches. It is all the work of thought. I mean there is no question about it. You can't say it is divine revelation. One can say it but it has no validity. It is just a belief like any other belief.
MT: So there is a direct relationship between how we think and the world around us.
K: Yes. So one begins to ask, it is part of your question with which you began about meditation, why thought has created this. If you grant that thought, thinking, has brought about the great divisions in the world, why thought has brought about wars in the world, perpetual wars. At the beginning you killed one or two men with an arrow, now you can blast off human beings by the million. You follow, that is what we call evolution.
MT: We create terms like, mega-deaths.
K: So what is thinking? Why has thinking become so extraordinarily important in the world? Technologically you must think to create this microphone, to create an aeroplane, to create the submarine, to create the neutron bomb, but we have also thought and created god. God is our creation.
MT: So as you have said once or twice, god is disorder, because he is a reflection of our disorder. We have created that god.
K: Yes. If you accept, it becomes so absurd the whole thing. So we have to not only investigate what is thinking, and also we ought to probe into the whole question of what is intelligence.
MT: We usually associate it with collecting knowledge in our brains, intelligence.
K: Being programmed in a certain way, using that programme more cunningly. Once you admit, sir, that thought is responsible for everything - right - both psychologically and technologically. Thought is limited. I think all scientists would agree to that. One has talked a great deal to other scientists, they would all see this, obviously, because knowledge is limited. There is no complete knowledge about anything at any time, in the future or now. Perhaps you won't agree to this.
MT: When we think we are thinking about things that have past already.
K: Which means what? Knowledge. Thinking is first the response of memory. If I had no memory I couldn't think. Memory is stored in the brain, memory is the response of knowledge, knowledge is experience. Right? Experience, knowledge, memory, thought. So as knowledge will always be limited, so thinking is limited. Thinking can imagine it is illimitable but it is still limited.
MT: You are suggesting that chain can be broken.
K: Yes. Absolutely. But that requires, sir, not some kind of acceptance of authority. It requires examination, probing, questioning, doubting, which very, very few people are willing to do because they live in false security.
MT: You know in America, Krishnaji, there are probably more 'How to' books sold than any other type of book. Everyone is looking for how to, how do I do it.
MT: Whatever it is, how do I do it.
K: And also the specialists are willing to tell you how to do it.
MT: Lots of people out there are willing to tell you, yes.
K: If you want to have your hair done properly you go to a specialist; how to raise a baby; how to think; what to do. So gradually, I don't know in this country if one is aware, you are all becoming slaves to specialists: how to make up your face. The other day I heard the most extraordinary thing: as a woman was asking a specialist how to sleep with her husband. You follow, sir, it is incredible.
MT: Yes, it is. We pride ourselves about being a free people.
K: You see, that's what I am questioning. So if we could go into the question of what is thinking, why thought has made life so utterly wearisome, cruel, bestial, you follow, what it is now. If you once admit not only logically but actually that human consciousness is not individual consciousness, it is the consciousness of all humanity. Right? That's very difficult not only to intellectually accept it but to feel it, then you become tremendously responsible for what you are doing.
MT: Once you feel that.
K: Of course.
MT: Krishnaji, when you say feeling the whole, there is a lot of energy behind those words when you say them. And I am reminded about what you said about we are not being serious about the deeper issues of life, and relating that back to what you were saying, feeling the whole, perhaps the reason we don't feel the whole, or can't even think about or move ourselves to feeling the whole is because we are not serious about the deeper issues of life.
K: It is not a question of feeling it. You can imagine you are living in the whole, a feeling of wholeness of life. But what does wholeness mean? To be whole implies living a life in which there is no fragmentation: business life, artistic life, poetic life.
MT: A unified life.
K: Life is one. And we have broken it up. Broken it up professionally, as in career, psychologically, and religiously.
MT: It goes back to thinking again, a fragmented way.
K: That's just it. So, sir, thinking has produced this world. There is no question about it. The marvellous cathedrals and the things that are inside the cathedrals which are considered sacred, but it is the invention of thought. All the Roman structure of hierarchy is the invention of thought. So that instrument, which is thought, has produced this world; the chaos, the wars, thought has killed. So that instrument is no longer valid, which very few will accept. It is not valid because it is worn out, it is producing problem after problem. The politicians try to solve one problem, in the very solution of that problem they increase multiple problems. The scientists are doing the same.
MT: But there are well intentioned, sincere dedicated people who see the problem and feel that there are solutions that can be had by thinking.
K: By thinking. That's just it. So that instrument which human beings have used for thousands of years is worn out, is no longer valid, is no longer worthwhile because we are both outwardly and inwardly we are in great crisis. Economically, socially, morally, in every way we are in a tremendous crisis and all this is brought about by thought. And if we once see that thought which human beings have used has no longer the quality of strength, is no longer valid - if I can keep on repeating that word - then we must look to another instrument. Is there another instrument, or is man condemned for ever to this way of life which is brought about by thought? I don't know if you see this clearly.
MT: Yes, it is very clear.
K: So is it possible for human beings to find a totally different dimension, an instrument which is not the product of thought, which is altogether different? If I may point out, one says it is possible, there is such an instrument. Not what the scientists, the biologists and the doctors are doing, dividing the brain into left and right and all the rest of it. After all, sir, look at this way, or put it this way: we have used knowledge as a means of achievement, and a great many philosophers and biologists say man will ascend through knowledge. Bronowski and others have said, step by step by step. That's called evolution. Evolution implies time. Time means a movement which is thought. Time is thought. And time as evolution, time as thought has not solved a single human problem, psychological problem. It has solved the problem of communication, the problem of travel and so on and so on, but psychologically, inwardly, knowledge has not changed man. He has been what he has been for the last fifty thousand years or more. And we say, give me time we will change. Time may be the enemy of man. I don't if you are following all this.
MT: Yes, sir.
K: So is there another instrument which will radically, psychologically change not only the human cells in the brain but also fundamentally psychologically. You understand? Now one must question it, which means one must doubt the validity of thought, and see its place in the technological world, in the world of communications, in the world of business and so on, and psychologically has it any place at all? We think it has. That is the illusion we live in because we want security. Right? Every human being wants security. The greatest intellect, and the poorest uneducated person who doesn't know how to read or write, he says, give me food, clothes and shelter; I don't care for anything else. We have lived in property, we know this. Is there security in the things thought has created?
MT: There doesn't seem to be security there.
K: I beg your pardon?
MT: There doesn't seem to be security in the things that thought has created.
K: No. It is a fact. In nationality there is no security. In the whole invention by thought of the churches and religion there is no security there.
MT: Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking there is.
K: That's right. So is there security in the things that thought has created? If there is no security there, is there a security that is irrevocable, unchangeable? One says there is. But to find that out one must move away from the whole time process.
MT: So one has to move outside of time.
K: Not scientific fiction time but time is brought about by thought: yesterday, today and tomorrow. Yesterday is all the accumulation of a million years.
MT: Genetic memory.
K: That's memory. That's tradition. That's what I have been told, programmed. I am a Catholic, Protestant, or a Hindu, Buddhist, all that kind of silly stuff. So is there an instrument, a way of living which is not the way of knowledge? When you put it that way it sounds crazy, but after examining it, discussing with you just now, if one understands the limitation of knowledge and therefore limitation of time, therefore you cannot possibly look to time to change, which is called evolution, then your brain is working totally on a different wave from the former. I don't know if you are following all this. Because you have set aside the importance knowledge, therefore what is important is learning. Learning is not to accumulate, learning. So one begins to learn about fear, whether man can ever live without fear, because we must enquire into it otherwise we can't find the instrument. Whether you can live, not only psychologically but deeply, most profoundly, whether the brain can ever find a place where it has no fear. We say there is such a thing.
MT: How do you know that you are not fooling yourself?
K: Oh, absolutely because you begin with doubt, doubt of everything you think, you feel, doubt, question, probe into whether when you say there is a sense of freedom from fear, is it real? So you watch, you question, you look. Sir you never accept a thing. Therefore there is no authority because man has sought security in authority: the church, the religions and so on. So when one rejects all that as being the invention of thought and therefore limited and so on, then your brain now is not cluttered up, is not conditioned by time. I don't know if you are following all this.
MT: So it is a matter of recreating one's intention?
K: Not intention, there is no intention in this. You see, intention implies thought. I intend to do something. I intend to become a businessman, it is still... the very word creates the element of time. So one must be very, very careful in the usage of words.
K: Oh, yes, sir, rigorous. And the word must be understood by others, not your own meaning that you give to words. Time we understand, thought we understand, and we understand thought has come to its end. That's very difficult to accept for most people because they don't want to think, they don't want to look, they want, 'Please tell me how to escape'. The entertainment industry is now rampant: football, cinemas, all the religious ceremonies are entertainments.
MT: Clearly there is a lot of desire to escape from what we see as the world around us.
K: Of course, of course. So to find out if there is another instrument you have to exercise your capacity, your intelligence, your way of living, why knowledge has become so important.
MT: Are we coming to intelligence?
K: Yes, sir, I am coming to that slowly. Which means intelligence cannot exist without love. Love is not desire, pleasure, sensory sexual responses. We have made love into all that. We say, as somebody said the other day, sometime ago, that without jealousy I have no love. It sounds so appalling, so trivial.
MT: Yes, it does sound trivial actually.
K: But that person was very well known, a writer and a scholar and all the rest of it.
MT: Do you think love is something you can write about?
K: No, no. You can write it but if there is no feeling there, if your heart has no love how can you talk about it? You may, a poet like Keats, may have had this feeling - I don't know. But I am saying there is no intelligence without love. And there cannot be love if you are ambitious, if there is conflict in you. And love is not the movement of thought. The picture it creates is not love. So love means the freedom from all conflict. It is not a negative state, but through negation you come to the positive. And when there is that love there is that intelligence, which is compassion. That intelligence is completely secure, that intelligence is security. But to come to that one has to meditate, not all the silly stuff, moneymaking business, but one has to be very, very serious about all this, this isn't a passing thing for one day and then pick up another thing the next day. This is one's life. If one doesn't understand one's life, how can you have intelligence, how can there be love and so on?
So it really, sir, requires a clear brain, to think clearly, objectively, unemotionally, unromantically. And thought has created fear, pleasure, sorrow. Where there is sorrow you cannot love. I know people think if my son is dead there is sorrow. Sir, I wonder if we realize that human beings have killed each other, and that has created enormous sorrow in the world. They are still doing it. How many women, men, wives, have cried about this. For thousands of years, and nobody stops it. They talk about peace on earth, they don't mean it. To have peace on earth one has live peacefully. And that peace cannot be brought about through legislation. Peace means a state of mind, brain, where there is no conflict, and therefore there is no limitation, no division. You understand? There is division now between the Arab and the Jew, the Muslim and the Hindu, the Christian and the non-Christian and so on. So division creates conflict. Is it possible to live in this world now, married and all the rest of it, to live without division?
Sir, these are really very, very serious questions, not just pass on on the television or radio for a few minutes. One has to give one's energy to find out all this, not just read about it, or hope to achieve it some day or other. One has to give one's capacities, energies, thought into all this. And very few people are willing to do it. 'Tell me how', they are all concerned 'how to'.
So to come back to your question: meditation is love, and intelligence and compassion. Without that life has no meaning. You can be a millionaire, a great president, a prime minister, generals, or businessman, all that has no meaning. Actually they are just... So to live a life in which there is no conflict means no division. You are no longer a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Christian, an ideologist and theorist. In this way, sir, to live, there is great beauty in this. Beauty isn't the perception of something beautiful. It is the way of living. And without love and beauty and a sense of immensity of the universe, all this becomes rather trivial stuff.
There are some people we happen to know, who say, you can't change the world; the world will go on for the rest of their lives because they are conditioned, programmed - Catholic, Protestants and all the rest of it - and why waste your time on all this? Retire, go back to some monastery, or to some Himalayan cave or jungle and just live there. We don't accept that kind of thinking at all because if you retire into your monastery the thinking is going on. You may worship your particular symbol, your particular image, but it is still the product of thought. So through thought you cannot achieve the immensity of life.
MT: So we have to move beyond thought.
K: Not move, give it its right value. To come here to your house, you have to follow certain rules, you have to think, you have to watch, there thought is necessary. To learn a language thought is necessary. To go from here to there thought is necessary. But psychologically, inwardly thought has no place. But to see that, in the seeing of it thought has its right place. But we don't take time to look at anything.
MT: We are supposed to have dismissed time, Krishnaji.
K: Yes, sir. We never look at the moon, never look at a tree, live with it, look at it, see the beauty of it, the strength of it, the quality of it, or the moon, or the stars, we never look. All that we are concerned is with pleasure, money, and money gives you freedom, power, position, all the rest of it. One is not depressed or optimistic or pessimistic, these are facts. When you look at facts it is neither optimistically or pessimistically. It is so. That thing is red, that's all.
MT: Just like meditation is love.
K: Yes, sir.
MT: Krishnaji, I want to thank you for being here with us today.
K: No, please.
San Francisco 1983
San Francisco New Dimensions Radio Interview with Michael Toms 28th April, 1983
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