Saanen 9th Public Talk 30th July 1964
I would like to talk about something this morning which may be rather foreign to most people. It seems to me one of the most important things in life is to clarify the mind, to empty the mind of every experience and thought so, that it is made new, fresh, innocent, because it is only the innocent mind, in its freedom, that can discover what is true. This innocence is not a state of permanency. It is not that the mind has achieved a result and remains there. It is the state of a mind that, being utterly free, is capable of renewing itself from moment to moment without effort. And this innocence, this freedom to discover, is of immense significance, because most of us live so very superficially; we live with knowledge and information, and we think that knowledge and information are sufficient. But without meditation, our life is very shallow. By meditation I do not mean contemplation or prayer. To be in a state of meditation, or rather to come by it naturally, easily, without effort, one must begin to understand the superficial, everyday mind, the mind that is so easily satisfied with information. Having accumulated knowledge or acquired some technological capacity that enables us to specialize along a particular line and live in this world rather superficially, most of content to live at that level, without understanding whatever psychological problems may arise. So it seems to cal very important to observe how superficial the mind now is, and to inquire whether it is possible for the mind to go beyond itself.
The more knowledge and training one has, the greater is one's capacity in daily life - and one must obviously have that knowledge, that training, that capacity, because we cannot put away machinery and science and go back to the ways of ancient times. That would be like those so-called religious people who try to go back to a tradition, or to revive ancient philosophical concepts and formulas, thereby destroying themselves and the world in which they live. Science, mathematics, the technology now available to man - all these things are absolutely necessary. But living in this world of technology, of rapidly expanding knowledge and information, tends to make the mind very superficial; and most of us are content to remain in that superficiality, because knowledge and technology give us more money, more comfort, more so-called freedom, all of which are highly respected by a degraded, disintegrating society. So the mind that would go beyond itself must understand the limitations of technology, of knowledge and information, and be free of these limitations.
As one can observe, all our activities, all our emotions, all our neurological reactions are very superficial, on the surface. Living on the surface, as most of us do, we try to seek out the depths, we try to go deeper and deeper below the surface, because one soon gets tired of this superficial way of living. The more intelligent, the more intellectual, the more passionate we are, the keener is our awareness of the superficiality of our existence; it becomes rather tire. some, boring, and does not have much significance. So the superficial mind tries to find out the purpose of life, or it seeks a formula that will give life a purpose. It struggles to live according to a concept which it has conceived, or a belief which it has accepted - and its action is therefore still superficial. One must see this fact very clearly.
What we are going to do this morning is to remove layer after layer of superficiality, so that one can go to the origin, to the very depth of things. Superficiality perpetuates itself through experience, and that is why it is very important to understand the whole significance of experience.
First of all, one sees how technological specialization of any kind tends to make the mind narrow, petty, limited - qualities which are the very essence of the bourgeois. Then the mind, being superficial, seeks what it calls the significance of life, and thereby projects a pattern which is pleasing, profitable, pleasurable, and conforms to that pattern. This process gives it a certain purpose, a drive, a sense of achievement.
We also have to understand deeply this thing called experience. Living a very superficial life, we are always seeking wider and deeper experiences. That is why people go to churches, take Mescaline, try LSD-25, lysergic acid, and various other drugs - to get a new `kick', a new stimulation, a new sensation. The mind also seeks experience through art, through music, through newer, fresher forms of expression.
Now, a mind that would find itself at great depth - and itself, not bring about that state - must understand all these things. To understand is not merely to comprehend intellectually the verbal communication, but rather to see immediately the truth of the matter; and this immediate perception is understanding. No amount of argumentation, of investigating the truth of opinions, can bring about understanding. What is needed is sensitivity, awareness, the quality of hesitancy, of tentativeness, which gives to the mind the capacity to apprehend quickly.
So, what is the nature of experience? We all want new experiences, do we not? We are tired of the old, of the things that have brought us pain, or have caused us sorrow. The routine at the office, the church rituals, the rituals of state-worship - one is fed up with all that, one is tired of it, exhausted by it, so one wants more experience along different lines and at different levels. But surely it is only the mind that does not seek or accumulate experience - it is only such a mind that can be in a state of complete profundity.
Experience is the outcome of a challenge and a response. The mind's response to a challenge may be adequate or inadequate, depending on its background, its conditioning. That is, we respond to every challenge according to our background, according to our particular conditioning. That response to challenge is experience; and every experience leaves a residue, which we call knowledge.
To put it differently, in going through various experiences the mind acts like a sieve in which each experience leaves a certain sediment. That sediment is memory, and with that memory the next experience is met. So each experience - however wide and deep, however vital - leaves a further deposit of sediment, or memory, and thereby strengthens the mind's conditioning.
Please, this is not an opinion, and it is not a question of your believing what is being said. If you observe yourself you will see that this is what actually takes place. The speaker is describing the mind's accumulation of experience, and you are watching that process in yourself. So there is nothing to believe, and you are not being hypnotized by words.
So, every experience, whatever it is, leaves a sediment which becomes the past as memory, and in that sediment we live. That sediment is the `me', it is the very structure of self-centred activity. Seeing the limited nature of this self-centred activity, we seek more, and wider experience, or we demand to know how to break through this limitation in order to find something greater. But all such seeking is still the activity of accumulation, and it merely adds to the remains, to the sediment of experience, whether it be that of a minute, of a day, or of two million years.
Now, you have to see this fact very clearly. You have to be as aware of it as you are aware of being hungry. When you are hungry, nobody need tell you about it - it is your own experience. Similarly, you must see very clearly for yourself that every experience - whether it be of affection, of sympathy, of pride, of jealousy, of inspiration, of fear, or what you will - leaves a residue in the mind; and that the constant repetition and overlaying of this residue or sediment is the whole process of our thinking, of our being. Any activity arising from this process, at whatever level, must inevitably be superficial; and a mind that would inquire into the possibility of discovering a state of originality, or a world uncontaminated by the past, must understand this process of experience.
So the question arises: is it possible to be free of all self-centred activity without effort, without trying to dissolve it and thereby making it into a problem?
I hope I am making the question clear, otherwise what is going to be said presently will be totally unclear.
Now, the word `meditation' generally means to think about, to investigate, or to ponder upon something; or it may mean a state of mind that is contemplative, without the process of thought. It is a word that has very little meaning in this part of the world, but it has extraordinary significance in the East. A great deal has been written on the subject, and there are many schools advocating different methods or systems of meditation.
To me, meditation is none of these things. Meditation is the total emptying of the mind and one cannot empty the mind forcibly, according to any method, school, or system. Again, one must see the utter fallacy of all systems. The practice of a system of meditation is the pursuit of experience, it is an attempt to achieve a higher experience, or the `ultimate' experience; and when one understands the nature of experience, one brushes all this aside, it is finished forever, because one's mind no longer follows anybody, it does not pursue experience, it has no desire for visions. All seeking of visions, all artificial heightening of sensitivity - through drugs, through discipline, through rituals, through worship, through prayer - is self-centred activity.
Our question then is: how is a mind which has been made superficial through tradition, through time, through memory, through experience - how is such a mind to free itself from its superficiality without effort? How is it to be so completely awake that the seeking of experience has no meaning any more? Do you understand? That which is full of light doesn't demand more light - it is light itself; and every influence, every experience which penetrates into that light is burnt away from moment to moment, so that the mind is always clear, immaculate, innocent. It is only the clear mind, the innocent mind that can see what is beyond the measure of time. And how is this state of mind to come about?
Have I made the question clear? This is not my question - it is or should be everybody's question, so I am not imposing it on you. If I imposed this question on you, then you would make it into a problem; you would say, "How am I to do it?" This question must be born of your own perception because you have lived, you have watched, you have seen what the world is, and you have observed yourself in operation. You have read, you have gathered information, you have progressed in knowledge. You have seen very clever people with computer-like minds, professors who can reel off an infinite amount of knowledge, and you have met theologians with fixed ideas around which they have built marvellous theories. Having become aware of all this, you must inevitably have asked yourself the question: how is the mind which is a slave of time, a product of the past - how is such a mind to put away the past completely, easily, without effort? How is it to be free of time without any directive or motive, so that it finds itself at the original fountain of life?
Now, when that question is put to you, whether by yourself or by another, what is your response? Don't answer me, please, but just listen. It is an immense question. It is not just a rhetorical question which you can quickly answer, or brush off. It is a question of tremendous significance to a mind that has seen through the stupidities of organized religion and has brushed aside all the priests, the gurus, the temples, the churches, the rituals, the incense - thrown them all away. And if you have come to that point, then you must have asked yourself: how is the mind to go beyond itself?
What do you do when you are directly faced with an immense problem, when something tremendous and immediate happens to you? The experience is so vital, so demanding, that it completely absorbs you, does it not? Your mind is taken over by that tremendous happening, so it becomes quiet. That is one form of silence. Your mind responds like a child who has been given a very interesting toy. The toy absorbs him, it causes him to concentrate, so for the moment he ceases to be mischievous, he no longer runs about, and so on. And the same thing happens to grown-ups when they are confronted with a great issue of some kind. Not comprehending the whole significance of it, the mind gives itself over to that experience and becomes numbed, shocked, paralysed, so that it is fleetingly silent. This is something which most of us have experienced.
Then there is a silence of the mind which comes when the problem is looked at with complete concentration. In that state there is no distraction, because for the moment the mind has no other thought, no other interest. It doesn't look anywhere else because it is only concerned with that one thing; there is an intensification of concentration to the exclusion of everything else, and in that effort there is a vitality, a demand, an urgency which also produces a certain quality of silence.
When the mind is absorbed by a toy, or loses itself in a problem, it is merely escaping. When images, symbols - words like `God', `Saviour', and so on - take over the mind, that also is a deep escape, a flight from the actual, and in that flight there is a certain quality of silence. When the mind sacrifices or forgets itself through complete identification with something, it may be perfectly quiet - but it is then in a neurotic state. The demand to be identified with a purpose, with an idea, with a symbol, with a country, with a race - all that is neurotic, as all would-be religious people are. They have identified themselves with the Saviour, with the Master, with this or that, which gives them a tremendous release and brings them a certain beatific outlook on life - which is a totally neurotic attitude.
Then there is the mind that has learned to concentrate, that has taught itself never to look away from the idea, the image, the symbol which it has projected in front of itself. And what takes place in that state of concentration? All concentration is effort, and all effort is resistance. It is like building a defensive wall around yourself with a little hole through which you look at just one idea or thought, so that you can never be shaken, never made uncertain. You are never open, but are always living within your shell of concentration, behind the walls of your inspired pursuit of something, and from this you get a tremendous sense of vitality, a drive which enables you to do extraordinary things - to help people in the slums, to live in the desert, to do all manner of good works; but it is still the self-centred activity of a mind that concentrates on one thing to the exclusion of everything else. And that also gives to the mind a certain quality of peace, of silence.
Now, there is a silence which has nothing whatsoever to do with any of these neurotic states, and that is where our difficulty lies; because unfortunately - and I am saying this very politely - most of us are neurotic. So, to understand what that silence is, one must first be completely free of all neuroticism. In the silence of which I am speaking there is no self-pity, no pursuit of a result, no projection of an image; there are no visions, and no struggle to concentrate. That silence comes unasked when you have understood the mind's absorption in an idea, and the various forms of concentration which it practices; and when you have also understood the whole process of thinking. Out of observing, watching the self-centred activity of the mind, there comes an extraordinarily pliable sense of discipline - and that discipline you must have. It is not a defensive, reactionary discipline; it has nothing to do with sitting cross-legged in a corner, and all the other childish stuff, and in it there is no imitation, no conformity, no effort to achieve a result. To observe all the movements of thought and desire, the hunger for new experiences, the process of identifying oneself with something merely to observe and to understand all that, brings about naturally an ease of discipline in freedom. With this discipline of understanding there comes a peculiar quality of immediate awareness, of direct perception, a state of complete attention. In this attention there is virtue - and that is the only virtue. Social morality, the character that is developed through resistance in conformity with the respectability and ethics of society - this is not virtue at all. Virtue is the understanding of this whole social structure which man has built around himself; and it is the understanding also of the mind's so-called self-sacrifice through identification and control. Attention is born of that understanding, and only in attention is there virtue.
You must have a virtuous mind; but a mind that is merely conforming to the social and religious patterns of a particular society, whether Communist or capitalist, is not virtuous. There must be virtue, because without virtue there is no freedom; but, like humility, virtue cannot be cultivated. You cannot cultivate virtue, any more than you can cultivate love. But when there is complete attention, there is also virtue and love. Out of complete attention comes total silence, not only at the level of the conscious mind, but also at the level of the unconscious. Both the conscious and the unconscious are really quite trivial, and the perception of their triviality frees the mind from the past as well as from the present. In giving its whole attention to the present there comes a silence in which the mind is no longer experiencing. All experiencing has come to an end because there is nothing more to experience. Being totally awake, the mind is a light unto itself. In this silence there is peace. It is not the peace of the politicians, nor the peace between two wars. It is a peace not born of reaction. And when the mind is thus completely still, it can proceed. The movement of stillness is entirely different from the movement of self-centred activity. That movement of stillness is creation. When the mind is capable of moving with that stillness, it knows death and love; and it can then live in this world and yet be free of the world.
Do you want to ask any questions?
Questioner: I yearn for silence, but I find that my attempts to attain it are more and more pitiful as time goes by.
Krishnamurti: First of all, you cannot yearn for this silence; you don't know anything about it. Even if you did know about it, it would not be so, because what you know is not what is. So one has to be very careful never to say, "I know".
Sir, look. What you know, you recognize. I recognize you because I met you yesterday. Having heard what you then said, and having seen your manner of being, I say that I know you. What I know is already of the past, and from that past I can recognize you. But this silence cannot be recognized in it there is no process of recognition whatsoever. That is the first thing to understand. To recognize something you must already have experienced it, already known it, or you must have read about it, or somebody must have described it to you; but what is recognized, known, described, is not this silence. And we yearn for this silence, because our life is so shallow, so empty, so dull, so stupid that we want to escape from the whole ugly business of it. But we cannot escape from it; we have to understand it. And to understand something you must not kick it, you must not run away from it. You must have tremendous love, real affection for that which you would understand. If you would understand a child, you cannot compel or force him, or compare him with his elder brother. You must look at him, watch him with great care, with tenderness, with affection, with everything that you have. Similarly, we must understand this petty thing we call our life, with all its jealousy, conflict, misery. travail, sorrow. Out of that understanding comes a certain quality of peace which you cannot grope after.
You know, there is a lovely story about a disciple going to the Master. The Master is sitting in a beautiful, quiet, well-watered garden, and the disciple comes and sits near him - not quite in front of him, because to sit directly in front of the Master is not very respectful. So, sitting a little to one side, he crosses his legs and closes his eyes. Then the master asks, "My friend, what are you doing?" Opening his eyes the disciple says, "Master, I am trying to reach the consciousness of the Buddha" - and closes his eyes again. presently the Master picks up two stones and begins to rub them together, making a lot of noise; so the disciple comes down from his great height and says, "Master, what are you doing?" The Master replies, "I am rubbing together these two stones so as to make one of them into a mirror." And the disciple says, "But Master, surely you will never do it, even if you rub them together for a million years." Then the Master smiles and replies, "Similarly, my friend, you can sit like that for a million years and you will never come to what you are trying to reach." And that is what we are all doing. We are all taking postures; we are all wanting something, groping after something which demands effort, struggle, discipline. But I am afraid none of these things will open the door. What will open the door is to understand without effort, just to look, to observe with affection, with love. But you cannot have love if you are not humble; and humility is possible only when you do not want a thing, either from the gods or from any human being.
July 30, 1964
Saanen 9th Public Talk 30th July 1964
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