Thursday, February 4, 2010

I have practised meditation

Question: I have practised meditation most earnestly for twenty-five years, and I am unable to go beyond a certain point.  How am I to proceed further?
Krishnamurti: Before we enquire into how to proceed further,  must we not find out what meditation is?  When I ask,  ’How am I to meditate?’, am I not putting a wrong question?  Such a question implies that I want to get somewhere,  and I am willing to practice a method in order to get what I want.  It is like taking an examination in order to get a job.  Surely, the right question is to ask what meditation is,  because right meditation gives perfume, depth, significance to life, and without it life has very little meaning.  Do you understand, sirs?  To know what is right meditation is much more important than earning a livelihood,  getting married,  having money,  property,  because without understanding,  these things are all destroyed.  So the understanding of the heart is the beginning of meditation.
I want to know what is meditation.  I hope you will follow this, not just verbally, but in your own hearts, because without meditation you can know nothing of beauty, of love, or sorrow, of death and the whole expanse of life.  The mind that says, ‘I must learn a method in order to meditate’, is a silly mind, because it has not understood what meditation is.
So, what is meditation?  Is not that very enquiry the beginning of meditation?  Do you understand, sirs?  No?  I will go on and you will see.  Is meditation a process of concentration, forcing the mind to conform to a particular pattern?  That is what most of you do who ‘meditate’.  You try to force your mind to focus on a certain idea, but others ideas creep in; you brush them away, but they creep in again.  You go on playing this game for the nest twenty years, and if at last you can manage to concentrate your mind on a chosen idea, you think you have learned how to meditate.  But is that meditation?  Let us see what is involved in concentration.
When a child is concentrating on a toy, what is happening?  The attention of the child is being absorbed by the toy.  He is not giving his attention to the toy, but the toy is very interesting and it absorbs his attention.  That is exactly what is happening to you when you concentrate on the idea of the Master, on a picture, or when you repeat mantras, and all the rest of it.  The toy is absorbing you, and you are merely a plaything of the toy.  You thought you were the master of the toy, but the toy is the master.
Concentration also implies exclusiveness.  You exclude in order to arrive at a particular result, like a boy trying to pass an examination.  The boy wants a profitable result,  so he forces himself to concentrate, he makes tremendous effort to get what he wants, which is based on his desire, on his conditioning.  And does not this process of forcing the mind to concentrate, which involves suppression, exclusiveness, make the mind narrow?  A mind that is made narrow, one-pointed, has extraordinary possibilities in the sense that it may achieve a great deal;  but life is not one-pointed, it is an enormous thing to be comprehended, to be loved.  It is not petty.  Sirs, this in not rhetoric, this is not mere verbiage.  When one feels something real, the expression of it may sound rhetorical, but it is not.
So, to concentrate is not to meditate, even though that is what most of you do, calling it meditation.  And if concentration is not meditation, then what is?  Surely, meditation is to understand every thought that comes into being, and not to dwell upon one particular thought; it is to invite all thoughts so that you understand the whole process of thinking.  But what do you do now?  You try to think of just one good thought, one good image, you repeat one good sentence which you have learnt from the Gita, the Bible, or what you will;  therefore your mind becomes very narrow, limited, petty.  Whereas, to be aware of every thought as it arises, and to understand the whole process of thinking, does not demand concentration.  On the contrary.  To understand the total process of thinking, the mind must be astonishingly alert, and then you will see that what you call thinking is based on a mind that is conditioned.  So your enquiry is not how to control thought , but how to free the mind from conditioning.  The effort to control thought is part of the process of concentration in which the concentrator tries to make his mind silent, peaceful, is it not?  ’To have peace of mind’ – that is a phrase which all of us use.
Now, what is peace of mind?  How can the mind be quiet, have peace?  Surely, not through discipline.  The mind cannot be  made still.  A mind that is made still is a dead mind.  To discover what it is to be still, one must enquire into the whole content of the mind – which means, really, finding out why th mind is seeking.  Is the motive of search the desire for comfort, for permanency, for reward?  If so, then such a mind may be still, but it will not find peace, because its stillness is forced, it is based on compulsion, fear, and such a mind is not a peaceful mind.  We are still enquiring into the whole process of meditation.
People who ‘meditate’ and have visions of Christ, Krishna, Buddha, the Virgin, or whoever it be, think they are advancing, making marvelous progress, but after all, the vision is the projection of their own background.  What they want to see, they see, and that is obviously not meditation.  On the contrary, meditation is to free the mind from all conditioning, and this is not a process that comes into being at a particular moment of the day when you are sitting cross-legged in a room by yourself.  It must go on when you are walking, when you are frightened, when you are getting into the bus; it means watching the manner of your speech when you are talking to your wife, to your boss, to your servant.  All that is meditation.
So meditation is the understanding of the meditator.  Without understanding the one who meditates, which is yourself, enquiry into how to meditate has very little value.  The beginning of meditation is self-knowledge, and self-knowledge cannot be gathered from a book, nor is it to be had by listening to some professor of psychology, or to someone who interprets the Gita, or any of that rubbish.  All interpreters are traitors because they are not original experiences, they are merely second-hand repeaters of something which they believe someone else has experienced and which they think is true.  So beware of interpreters.
The mind which understand itself is a meditative mind.  Self-knowledge is the beginning of meditation, and as you proceed deeply into it you will find that the mind becomes astonishingly quiet, unforced, completely still,  without motion – which means there is no experiencer demanding experience.  When there is only that state of stillness without any movement of the mind, then you will find that in that state something else takes place.  But you cannot possibly find out intellectually what that state is;  you cannot come to it through the description of another, including myself.  All that you can do is to free the mind from its conditioning, from the traditions, the greed, and all the petty things with which it is now burdened.  Then you will see that, without your seeking it, the mind is astonishingly quiet; and for such a mind, that which is immeasurable comes into being.  You cannot go to the immeasurable, you cannot search it out, you cannot delve into the depths of it. You can delve only into the recesses of your own heart and mind.  You cannot invite Truth, it must come to you;  therefore don’t seek it.  Understand your own life and then Truth will come darkly, without any invitation; and then you will discover that there is immense beauty, a sensitivity to both the ugly and the beautiful.
~ from a talk in New Deli, October 31st, 1956