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Paris 1961

Paris 8th Public Talk 21st September 1961

In this talk we need to cover a great deal of ground, and it may be rather difficult, or perhaps the right word is `strange'. I am going to use certain words which may mean one thing to you and a very different thing to me. To really commune with each other at all levels we must have a mutual understanding of the words we use and their significance. Meditation, which I propose to go into with you, has for me a tremendous significance, whereas perhaps for you it is a word which one uses rather casually. Perhaps for you it may mean a method to achieve a result, to get somewhere; and it may involve the repetition of words and phrases to calm the mind, and the attitude of prayer. But, for me, the word `meditation' has quite an extraordinary meaning; and to go into it fully, which I propose to do, one has first to understand, I think, the power which creates illusion.

Most of us live in a make-believe world. All our beliefs are illusions; they have no validity at all. And to strip the mind of every form of illusion and of the power to create illusion needs really clear, sharp perception, the capability of good reasoning without any escape, any deviation. A brain that has no fear, that is not hiding behind secret desires, a brain that is very quiet, without any conflict - such a mind is capable of seeing what is true, of seeing if there is God. I do not mean the word `God' but what that word represents, something which is not measurable in terms of words or time - if there is such a thing. To discover, surely, every form of illusion and the power to create illusion must come to an end. And to strip the mind of all illusion is, for me, the way of meditation. I feel that through meditation there is a vast field of immense discovery - not invention, not visions, but something entirely different which is actually beyond time, beyond the things which have been put together by the mind of man through centuries of search. If one really wants to find that out for oneself, one must lay the right foundation, and the laying of the right foundation is meditation. The copying of a pattern, the pursuit of a system, the following of a method of meditation - all that is too infantile, too immature, it is merely imitation and leads nowhere, even if it produces visions.

The right foundation for the discovery of whether there is a reality beyond the beliefs which propaganda has imposed upon each one's mind, comes about only through self-knowing. The very knowing about oneself is meditation. The knowing about oneself is not the knowing of what one should be; that has no validity, no reality, it is just an idea, an ideal. But to understand what is, the actual fact of what one is from moment to moment - that requires the freeing of the mind from conditioning. I mean by that word `conditioning' all the impositions which society has laid upon us, which religion has laid upon us through propaganda, through insistence, through belief, through fear of heaven and hell. It includes the conditioning of nationality, of climate, of custom, of tradition, of culture as French, Hindu or Russian, and the innumerable beliefs, superstitions, experiences which form the whole background in which consciousness lives, and which is established through one's own desire to remain secure. It is the investigation into that background and the undoing of that background which constitutes laying the right foundation for meditation.

Without freedom one cannot go very far; one merely wanders off into illusion, which has no meaning at all. If one wants to find out if there is reality or not, if one wants really to go to the very end of that discovery - not merely to play about with ideas, however pleasant, intellectual, reasonable or apparently sane - , there must first be freedom, freedom from conflict. And that is extremely difficult. It is fairly easy to escape from conflict; one can follow some method, take a pill, a tranquillizer, a drink, and one is no longer conscious of conflict. But to go into the whole question of conflict deeply requires attention.

Attention and concentration are two different things. Concentration is exclusion, narrowing down the mind or the brain so as to focus on the thing it desires to study, to look at. That is fairly simple to understand. And the concentration of exclusion creates distractions, does it not? When I wish to concentrate and the mind wanders off on to something else, the something else is a distraction and therefore there is a conflict. All concentration implies distraction, conflict and effort. Please do not merely follow my words, my explanations, but actually follow your own conflicts, your distractions, your efforts. Effort implies conflict, does it not? And there is effort only when you want to gain, to achieve, to avoid, to pursue or deny.

This, if I may say so, is a very important point to understand: that concentration is exclusion, a resistance, a narrowing down of the power of thought. Attention is not the same process at all. Attention is inclusive. One can attend only when there are no barriers to the mind. That is to say, I can see the many faces in front of me now, listen to the voices outside, hear the working or not working of the electric fan, see the smiles, the nodding of heads in approval - attention includes all that and more. Whereas if you merely concentrate, you cannot include all that; it becomes distraction. In attention there is no distraction. In attention there can be concentration, but that concentration has no exclusion. Whereas concentration excludes attention. Perhaps this may be something new to you; but if you will experiment with it for yourself, you will find that there is a quality of attention which can listen, see, observe without any sense of identification; there is a complete seeing observing, and therefore no exclusion.

I am talking a little bit about all this, because I think it is very important to understand that a mind in conflict about anything - about itself, its problems, its neighbour, its security - such a mind, such a brain, can never be free. So you must find out for yourself whether it is possible, living in this world - having to earn a livelihood, living a family life with all the daily boredom of routine, the anxieties, the sense of guilt - , to penetrate very deeply, to go beyond consciousness and to live without inward conflict.

Conflict exists, surely, when you want to become something. Conflict exists when there is ambition, greed, envy. And is it possible to live in this world without ambition, without greed? Or is the ultimate course for man to be everlastingly greedy, ambitious, seeking fulfilment and feeling frustrated, anxious, guilty and all the rest of it? And is it possible to wipe all that out, because without wiping it out you cannot go very far; it binds thought. And the wiping away from consciousness of this whole process of ambition, envy, greed, is meditation. An ambitious mind cannot possibly know what love is; a mind that is crippled with worldly desires can never be free. Not that one must be without shelter, food, clothing, a certain measure of physical comfort; but a mind that is occupied with envy, hate, greed - whether it is greedy for knowledge, for God or for more clothes - such a mind, being in conflict, can never be free. It is only the free mind that can go very far.

So self-knowing is the beginning of meditation. Without knowing yourself, repeating a lot of words from the Bible, from the Gita or from any so-called sacred book has no meaning at all. It may pacify your mind, but you can do that with a pill. By repeating a phrase over and over again your brain naturally becomes quiet, sleepy and dull; and from that state of insensitivity, dullness, you might have some sort of experience, get certain results. But you are still ambitious, envious, greedy, and create enmity. So learning about oneself, what one actually is, is the beginning of meditation. I am using the word `learn' because when you are learning in the sense of which I am talking, there is no accumulation. What you call learning is the process of adding more and more to what you already know. But, for me, the moment you have acquired, gathered, that accumulation becomes knowledge, and knowledge is not learning. Learning is never accumulative; whereas acquiring knowledge is a process of conditioning.

If I want to learn about myself, find out actually what I am, I have to watch all the time every minute of the day to see how it expresses itself. Watching is not condemning or approving, but seeing what I am from moment to moment. Because what I am is changing all the time, is it not?, it is never static. Knowledge is static; whereas the process of learning about the movement of ambition is never static, it is living, moving along. I hope I am explaining myself. So learning and acquiring knowledge are two different things. Learning is infinite, it is a movement in freedom; knowledge has a centre which is accumulating and the only movement it knows is a further accumulation, a further bondage.

To follow this thing which I call the `me', with all its nuances, its expressions, its deviations, its subtleties, its cunningness, the mind must be very clear, alert, because what I am is constantly changing, being modified, is it not? I am not the same as yesterday or even a minute ago, because every thought and feeling is modifying, shaping the mind. And if you are merely concerned with condemning or judging from your accumulated knowledge, your conditioning, then you are not following, moving along with the thing, observing. So learning about yourself has a far greater significance than acquiring knowledge about yourself. You cannot have static knowledge about a living thing. You can have knowledge about something which is past, because all knowledge is in the past; it is static, already dead. But a living thing is ever changing, undergoing modification; it is different every minute, and you have to follow it, to learn about it. You cannot understand your child if you are all the time condemning, justifying or identifying yourself with the child; you have to watch it without judgment when it is asleep, when it is crying, when it is playing, all the time.

So learning about yourself is the beginning of meditation; and as you learn about yourself, there is the elimination of all illusion. And that is absolutely essential, because to find out what is true - if there is truth, something beyond measure - , there must be no deception. And there is deception when there is the desire for pleasure, for comfort, for gratification. That process, of course, is very simple. In your desire for gratification you create the illusion and there you are stuck for the rest of your life. There you are satisfied; and most people are satisfied when they believe in God. They are frightened of life, of the insecurity, the turmoil, the agony, the guilt, the anxiety, the misery and sorrow of life; so they establish something at last, which they call God, and go to that. And having committed themselves to belief they have visions and become saints, and all the rest of it. That is not trying to find out if there is a reality or not. There may be, or there may not be; you have to find out. And to find out there must be freedom at the beginning and not at the end - freedom from all these things like ambition, greed, envy, fame, wanting to be important and all that infantile business.

So when you are learning about yourself you proceed into yourself, not only at the conscious level but at the deep, unconscious level, bringing out all the secret desires, the secret pursuits, urges, compulsions. Then the power to create illusion is destroyed because you have laid the right foundation. As the mind, the brain examines itself, watches itself in the movement of living, never allowing a single thought or feeling to escape without looking at it, understanding it, then the totality of all that is awareness. It is to be aware of yourself entirely, without condemnation without justification, without choice - a look at your face in the mirror. You cannot say, `I wish I had a different face', it is there.

And through this self-understanding, the brain - which is mechanical, everlastingly chattering, responding to every influence, every challenge - becomes very quiet, though sensitive and alive. It is not a dead brain; it is an active, dynamic, alert brain but very quiet, silent, because it has no conflict. It is silent because it has put away, understood, all the problems it had created for itself. After all, a problem comes into existence only when you have not understood the issue. When the brain has completely understood, examined ambition, then there is no further problem about ambition: it is finished. And so the brain is quiet.

Now, from this point we can proceed, go together, either verbally, or actually take the journey together and experience, which means to put away ambition completely. You know you cannot put away ambition or greed little by little; there is no question of `later on' or `in the meantime'. Either you must put it away totally or it is not put away at all. But if you have gone that far, so that there is no greed, no envy, no ambition, then the brain is exceedingly quiet, sensitive and therefore free - which is all meditation-; and then, but not before, you can go further. Going further, if you have not gone thus far, is mere speculation and has no meaning. To go further this foundation must be established, which is really virtue. It is not the virtue of respectability, the social morality of a society, but an extraordinary thing, a clean, true thing which comes into being without effort, and which is in itself humility. Humility is essential, but you cannot cultivate it, grow it, practise it. To say to oneself `I will be humble' is too silly; it is vanity covered with the word `humility'. But there is a humility which comes into being naturally, unexpectedly, unsought; and then there is no conflict in it because that humility is never climbing, wanting.

Now, when one has gone that far, when there is complete silence, when the brain is completely still and therefore free, then there is a different movement altogether.

Now, please realize that for you this state is speculative. I am saying something of which you do not know, and therefore for you it has very little significance. But I am saying it because it has significance in relation to the whole, the total existence of life. Because if there is no discovery of what is true and what is false, if there is truth or not, life becomes extraordinarily shallow. Whether you call yourself a Christian, a Buddhist, a Hindu, or what you will, most of our lives are very shallow, empty, dull, mechanical. And with that dull mind we try to find something which cannot be put into words. A petty mind seeking that which is immeasurable is still petty. Therefore the dull mind has to transform itself. So I am talking about something which you may or may not have seen; but it is important to learn about it, because that reality includes the totality of all consciousness, it includes the whole action of our life. To find that out the mind must be completely quiet, not through mesmerizing itself, through discipline, through suppression, conformity; all that is merely substituting one desire for another.

I do not know if it has ever happened to you - to have a very still mind. Not the sort of stillness you get in a church or the superficial feeling you have when you are walking down the street, or in a wood, or occupied with the radio, with cooking. These exterior things can absorb you and they do, and there is a temporary form of stillness. That is like a boy playing with a toy; the toy is so interesting that it absorbs all his energy, his thought; but that is not stillness. I mean the stillness which comes into being when the totality of consciousness has been understood, and there is no longer any seeking, searching, wanting, groping; and therefore it is completely quiet. In that quietness there is a totally different movement, and that movement is without time. Do not attempt to capture these phrases, for as such they have no meaning. Our brains, our thoughts are the result of time; so, thinking about the timeless has no meaning. Only when the brain has quietened down, when it is no longer seeking, searching, avoiding, resisting but is completely still because it has understood this whole mechanism, only then, in that stillness there comes a different kind of life, a movement which is beyond time.

Question: Is there not a right kind of effort?

Krishnamurti: For me there is no right effort and wrong effort. All effort implies conflict, does it not; When you love something, in that there is no effort, no conflict, is there? I see that there must be a tremendous change in this world. With all the political leaders, the Communists, the Capitalists, the authoritarians everywhere, a fundamental change is essential in the world, inwardly. There must be mutation, and I want to find out exactly what the change means. Can it be brought about by effort? When you use the word `effort' it implies, does it not?, a centre from which you are making an effort to change something else. I want to change my ambition, to destroy it. Now, who is the entity that wants to destroy ambition'? Is the ambition something separate from the entity? The entity who is observing the ambition and wanting to change it, to transform it into something else, is therefore still ambitious; so it is no change at all. What brings about a mutation is just watching, seeing; not judging, evaluating but merely observing. But that seeing, that observation is prevented because we are so conditioned as to condemn, to justify, to compare. It is the unconditioning of the brain that brings about mutation.

One has to see the whole absurdity of being conditioned, influenced - by the parents, education, society, the Church, the propaganda of ten thousand years or two thousand years. There is a centre, inwardly, which has been formed around all that; the centre is that. And when that centre finds something to be unprofitable, it then wants to be something else which it thinks is more profitable. But we are prevented from seeing this because of our conditioning as being Christian, French, English, German, because of the influences of other people, of our own choice, of the example, the heroes and so on. All this prevents mutation. But to realize that you are conditioned, to see the fact, without cunning, without the desire for profit - just to see, not verbally, intellectually, but actually to come into contact emotionally with that conditioning - , is to listen to what is being said. If you listen now, as the thing is being said, you are emotionally in contact with the fact; and then there is no choice: it is a fact, like an electric shock. But you do not get that emotional shock, because you guard yourself, you verbally protect yourself, you say, `What is going to happen to me if I lose everything, psychologically?' But a man who really wants to find out, who is hungry after this, has to free the mind from all influences and propaganda.

You know it is very strange how important propaganda has become in our lives. It has been there for centuries, but now it is becoming more and more rampant - the double talk, the selling; you are begged to buy; the Churches repeat their words over and over and over again. And to be free of all that is to observe every thought, every emotion as it arises from moment to moment, to learn all about it. Then you will see, as you observe completely, that there is no process of deliberately lengthening the period of unconditioning: it is there immediately, and therefore no effort is needed.

Question: How can people, including myself, have this love for reality?

Krishnamurti: You cannot have it, sir; you cannot buy it. For those who do not know love, no sacrifice, no exchange will bring it. How do you get love? By practice, by effort, by being told to love day after day, year after year? Mere kindliness is not love; but love includes kindliness, gentleness, concern about another. You see, love is not an end result; as in love there is no attachment. Love comes only when there is no fear. One can be married, one can live with a family and love without attachment. But that is incredibly arduous; that requires watching all the time.

Question: Is the energy needed to find out about death different from the energy required for meditation?

Krishnamurti: I was explaining the other day that to live with death or to live with anything - with your wife, your husband, your children, your neighbour - you need energy. You need energy to live with a lovely thing or with an ugly thing. If you have no energy to live with beauty, you become accustomed to beauty. And if you have no energy to live with something ugly, that ugliness corrupts, corrodes you. And in the same way to live with death, which is to die to everything, every day, every minute, requires energy. And then there is no fear of death - which we went through the other day. And that same energy is required in the understanding of oneself. How can you understand yourself if you have not got the energy for it? And this energy comes into being when there is no fear, no attachment to your property, your husband, your wife, children, country, gods and beliefs. This energy is not something which can be measured out little by little; you must have it completely to go into this thing. There is no difference between energies: there is only energy.

Question: What is the difference between concentration and attention?

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Krishnamurti: The gentleman wants to know what is the difference between concentration and attention. I will go into it very succinctly. Where there is concentration there is a thinker, and the thinker separates himself from the thought, and therefore he has to concentrate on thought to bring about a change in thought. But the thinker himself is the result of thought. The thinker is not different from the thought. If there is no thinking, there is no thinker.

Now, in attention there is no thinker, there is no observer; the attention is not from a centre. Experiment with this; listen to everything about you; hear the various noises, the movement of people while one is talking, taking out a handkerchief, looking at a book - all that is going on now. In that attention there is no thinker and therefore no conflict, no contradiction, no effort. To observe outwardly is fairly easy but to be attentive inwardly to every thought, every gesture, every word and feeling requires energy. And when you are so attentive, you are through with all the mechanism of thinking; and then only is it possible to go beyond consciousness.

September 21, 1961


Paris 1961

Paris 8th Public Talk 21st September 1961

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