Mind in Meditation
What is our daily living? If you can bear to look at it, if you can observe it, what is actually our everyday life? One can see that in that living there is a great deal of confusion, there is a great deal of conformity, contradiction, where every man is against another man, where in the business world you are ready to cut another’s throat. Politically, socially, morally there is a great deal of confusion; and when you look at your own life, you see that from the moment you are born till you die, it’s a series of conflicts. Life has become a battlefield. Please observe it; not that you must agree with the speaker or disagree with him, but just observe it, just watch your actual daily living. And when you do so observe, you cannot help seeing what actually is going on: how one is in despair, lonely, unhappy, in conflict, caught in competition, aggression, brutality, violence. That is actually our daily life. And that we call living. And not being able to understand it, or resolve it, or go beyond it, we escape from it into some ideology, into the ideology of some ancient philosophers, ancient teachers, ancient wisdom; and we think by escaping from the actual we have solved everything. And that’s why philosophy, ideals, all the very various forms of networks of escape, have not in any way resolved our problems. We are just as we were five thousand years ago or more—dull, repetitive, bitter, angry, violent, aggressive, with an occasional flash of some beauty, happiness, and always frightened of that one thing which we call death.
And our daily life has no beauty, because, again, your religious teachers, your books, have said, ‘Don’t have any desires, be desireless, don’t look at a woman because you might be tempted, and to find God, truth, you must be a celibate.’ And our daily life is contrary to all the sayings of the teachers. We are actually what we are: very petty, small, narrow-minded, frightened human beings. And without changing that, any amount of your seeking truth or talking valiantly and most scholarly or interpreting your Gita and the innumerable sacred books has no value at all. So you might just as well throw away all the sacred books and start all over again because they, with their interpreters, their teachers, their gurus, have not brought enlightenment to you. Their authority, their compulsive discipline, their sanctions, have no meaning at all. So you might just as well put them all aside and learn from yourself; for therein lies truth—not the truth of another.
So, first, is it possible to change our lives? Because our lives are in disorder, our lives are in fragmentation—be something at the office, go to the temple, if you are still inclined that way, something entirely different with the family, and in front of a big official you become a frightened, desperate, sycophantic human being. And can we change all this? Because without changing our daily life, your asking what truth is, if there is a God or not, has no meaning whatsoever. We are fragmented human beings, broken up, and only when we are a total human entity, whole, complete, is there a possibility of coming upon that something which is timeless.
So, first we must look at our life. Now, how do you look at your life? Please follow this a little bit. We’ll make it as simple as possible because this is a very, very complex problem. And a very complex problem of existence must be approached very simply, not with all your theories and opinions and judgements, because they have not helped at all. All your religious conclusions have no meaning. So we must be able to look at this life which we lead every day; we must be able to see it exactly as it is. And that’s going to be our difficulty. That is, to observe. Now, what does that word ‘observe’ mean? There is not only the sensory perception with the eye: you see this bougainvillea. Please follow this step by step. Then as you observe that colour, you make an image, you have already an image; you have a name for it. You like it or dislike it, you have preferences. So through the images that you have about that flower, you see. You don’t actually see, but your mind sees it more than the eye. Right? Please do understand this very simple fact that we not only look at nature with the eyes that have accumulated knowledge about nature and, therefore, with an image, but we also look at human beings with our various forms of conclusions, opinions, judgements and values. That is, you are a Hindu, another is a Muslim; you are a Catholic, another is a Protestant, Communist, and so on. So when you look, when you observe your life, you observe it through the image, through the conclusions that you have already formed. You say, ‘This is good’ or ‘This is bad,’ or ‘This should be and that should not be.’ So you are looking, observing, with the images, conclusions that you have formed. And, therefore, you are not actually looking at life. Do you understand this very simple fact?
So in order to look at your life as it is, there must be freedom of observation. You must not look at it as a Hindu, as a bureaucrat, as a family man. You must look at it with freedom. And that is the difficulty. You look at your life—the despair, the agony, the sorrow, this vast struggle—with eyes that have said, ‘This must be changed into something else,’ ‘This must be transformed in order to make it more beautiful.’ When you do that, you are not directly in relationship with what you see. Right? Are you following this?—not the explanation which the speaker is giving, but are you actually observing your life, observing how you look at it? You look at it with your image, with your conclusion and therefore do not look at it; you look through the past images and therefore do not come directly in contact with it. So when you look at life, that is, your daily life—not the theoretical life, not the abstract life in which you say, ‘All human beings are one’—you see that you are looking with your past knowledge, with all the images, the tradition, the accumulation of all human experience, which prevents you from looking. That’s a fact which must be realized: to observe, actually, your life you must look at it afresh, that is, look at it without any condemnation, without any ideals, without any desire to suppress it or change it. Just to observe! Are you doing this? Are you using the speaker as a mirror in which you see your own life? And because you see it with conclusions, it prevents you from looking at it directly, being in contact with it. Are you doing this? Not that you will do it when you go home, because if you don’t do it now you won’t do it later. If you are not doing it, then don’t bother to listen.
Look at the sky, look at that tree, look at the beauty of the light, look at the clouds with their curves, with their delicacy. If you look at them without any image, you have understood your own life. But you are looking at yourself, at your life as an observer, and your life as something to be observed. There is a division between the observer and the observed. That is, you are looking at your life as an observer, as something separate from your life. Right? So there is a division between the observer and the observed. Now, this division is the essence of all conflict, the essence of all struggle, pain, fear, despair.
That is, where there is a division between human beings—the division of nationalities, the division of religions, social divisions—there must be conflict. This is law; this is reason, logic. There is Pakistan on one side and India on the other, battling with each other. You are a Brahmin and another is a non-Brahmin, and there is hate, division. So, that externalized division, with all its conflict, is the same as the inward division as the observer and the observed. You’ve understood this? If you don’t understand this you can’t go much further, because a mind that is in conflict cannot possibly ever understand what truth is. Because a mind in conflict is a tortured mind, a twisted mind, a distorted mind. And how can such a mind be free to observe the beauty of the earth or the beauty of the sky, the tree, the beauty of a child, or a beautiful woman, or a man, or the beauty of extreme sensitivity and all that is involved in it? So without understanding this basic principle, not as an ideal, as a fact, you are inevitably going to have conflict.
And so the question is: What is this observer, the observer who has separated himself from the observed? Please, this is not a philosophy, an intellectual affair, a thing which you can discuss, deny, agree or disagree with. This is something you have to see yourself, and, therefore, it’s yours, not the speaker’s. You see that when you are angry, at the moment of anger, there is no observer. At the moment of experiencing anything, there is no observer. When you look at that sunset—and that sunset is something immense—when you look at it, at that moment there is no observer who says, ‘I am seeing the sunset.’ A second later comes the observer. That is, you are angry; at the moment of anger there is no observer, no experiencer, there is only that state of anger. A second later comes the observer who says, ‘I should not have been angry,’ or the observer says, ‘I was justified in being angry.’ A second later—not at the moment of anger—is the beginning of division. Do you understand?
So how does this happen? At the moment of experience, there is the total absence of the observer. And how does it happen that a second later the observer comes into being? You are putting the question, not I, not the speaker. Put it for yourself and you’ll find the answer. Do you understand, sir? You have got to work because this is your life. And if you say, ‘Well, I have learnt something from the speaker,’ then you have learnt absolutely nothing. You have just collected a few words, and those few words put together become the idea. Ordered thought is idea, and we are not talking about ideas; we are not talking about a new philosophy. Philosophy means the love of truth in daily life, not the truth of some philosophical mind that invents.
So how does this observer come into being? When you look at this flower, at the moment you observe it closely, there is no observer, there is only a looking. Then you begin to name that flower. Then you say, ‘I wish I had it in my garden or in my house.’ Then you have already begun to build an image about that flower. So the image-maker is the observer. Right? Are you following all this? Watch it in yourself, please. So the image and the image-maker are the observer, and the observer is the past. The ‘me’ as the observer is the past, the ‘me’ is the knowledge which I have accumulated: knowledge of pain, sorrow, suffering, agony, despair, loneliness, jealousy, and the tremendous anxiety that one goes through. That’s all the ‘me,’ which is the accumulated knowledge of the observer, which is the past. Right? So when you observe, the observer looks at that flower with the eyes of the past. And you don’t know how to look without the observer and, therefore, you bring about conflict.
So now our question is: Can you look, not only at the flower but at your life, at your agony, at your despair, your sorrow—can you look at it without naming it, without saying to yourself, ‘I must go beyond it, I must suppress it’; just to look at it without the observer? Do it, please, as we are talking now. That is, take your particular tendency, or take envy. You know very well what envy is, don’t you? You are very familiar with that. Envy is comparison, the measurement of thought, comparing what you are with what you should be, or with what you want to become. So you know what envy is; just look at it. You are envious of your neighbour who has got a bigger car, a better house. That is, you compare yourself with him, and envy is born; you know what that feeling is. Now, can you look at that feeling without saying that it’s right or wrong, without naming it, without saying that it is envy, but look at it without any image? Then you go beyond it. Instead of struggling with envy—that you should or should not be, that you must suppress it—without going through all that struggle, observe your anger, your envy, without naming it. Because the naming is the movement of the past memory which justifies or condemns. But if you can look at it without naming, then you will see that you go beyond it.
So the moment you know the possibility of going beyond ‘what is,’ you are full of energy. Right? The man who doesn’t know how to go beyond ‘what is,’ because he doesn’t know how to deal with it and is therefore afraid, and he escapes, seeing the impossibility of it—such a person loses energy. If you have a problem, if you can solve it, then you have energy. A man who has a thousand problems and does not know what to do with them loses his energy. So in the same way look at your life, what it is: ugly, petty, shallow, extraordinarily violent—these are all words to describe what is actually going on. Not only the violence in sex, but violence that abides with power, position, prestige. Now look at it with eyes that don’t immediately jump with images.
Now, that’s your life. And look at your life in which there is what you call love. What is love? We are not discussing the theories of what love should be. We are observing what we call love: ‘I love my wife.’ I don’t know what you love; I doubt if you love anything at all. You know what it means to love? Is love pleasure? Is love jealousy? Can a man who is ambitious love?—he may sleep with his wife, beget a few children. And a man struggling to become an important person in politics, or in the business world, or in the religious world where he wants to become a saint, where he wants to become desireless—all that is part of ambition, aggression, desire. Can a man who is competitive love? And you are all competitive, aren’t you?—better job, better position, better house, more noble ideas, more perfect images of yourself; you know all that you go through. And is that love? Can you love when you are going through all this tyranny, when you can dominate your wife or your husband or your children? When you are seeking power, is there a possibility of love?
So in negating what is not love, there is love. You understand, sirs? You have to negate everything which is not love. Which is: no ambition, no competition, no aggression, no violence, either in speech or in act or in thought. When you negate that which is not love, then you know what love is. And love is something that is intense, that you feel very strongly. Love is not pleasure. Therefore one must understand pleasure—not aim to love somebody, but understand pleasure. So if you can observe your life, you’ll find out for yourself what love is. Because in that lies great passion. Not lust, passion. The word ‘passion’ comes from ‘sorrow’; the root meaning of that word ‘passion’ is sorrow. Do you know what it means to suffer—not how to escape from suffering or what to do about suffering, but to suffer, to have great pain inwardly? Then when there is no movement of escape from that sorrow, out of that comes great passion, which is compassion.
And you must also find out what death is, not at the last minute, not when you are sick, unconscious, diseased, incapable of clarity—that happens to everybody: old age, disease and death—but while you are young, fresh, active, going to your beastly offices every day, returning to your particular little prison of a family; find out, while you are active and alive, what death means.
The organism does go away, wear out, like in old age; it is natural. It can last longer, depending on the kind of life one leads. If your life is a battlefield from the moment you are born till you die, your body wears out quicker. Your heart goes through tension, and through emotional tension the heart becomes weaker. This is an established fact. And while one is active, to find out the meaning and the significance of death, there must be no fear. And most of you are frightened of death, frightened of leaving the things that you have known, frightened of leaving your family, the things that you have accumulated, of letting go your knowledge, your books, your office—what you have collected. And not knowing what is going to happen when you die, the mind, which is thought, says, ‘There must be a different kind of life, life must continue somehow’—‘my’ life, your individual life. And you have then the whole structure of belief in reincarnation, don’t you? Have you ever looked at what it is to incarnate? What is it that is to be reborn next life?—all your accumulation of knowledge, all your thoughts, all the activities, all the goodness or the evil or ugly things that you have done. Because what you do now, that’s going to react next life. Right? You believe all that, don’t you? Which means, if you really believe it, then what matters is what you do now, how you behave now, what your conduct is now, because next life you are going to pay for it. That is, if you believe in all this, in karma.
So if you are really caught in the network of this belief, then you must pay complete attention to your life now, to what you do, what you think, how you treat another. But you don’t believe so vastly, so deeply. That’s just a comfort, an escape, a worthless word. So find out what it means to die, not physically, but to everything that is known—to your family, to your attachment, to all the things that you have accumulated: the known pleasures, the known fears; die—so that the mind is made fresh, young and, therefore, innocent. So there is incarnation, not in the next life but the next day. To incarnate the next day is far more important than in the future, so that your mind is astonishingly innocent. The word ‘innocence’ means a mind that is incapable of being hurt. Do you understand, sir, the beauty of it?—a mind that can never be hurt. And such a mind is an innocent mind. Therefore, a mind that has been hurt must die to the hurts every day, so that it comes the next morning with a fresh, clear, unspotted mind which has no scars. That is the way to live. That is not a theory. It’s for you to do it.
So there must be the understanding of oneself completely, there must be this order which is not habit, which is not practice, which is not the cultivation of some virtue. Virtue comes into being like a flower of goodness when you understand disorder in your life. Out of disorder comes order. Then you can begin to enquire what is that which man has sought throughout the centuries upon centuries. He has been asking for it, trying to discover it. You cannot possibly understand it or come upon it if you have not laid the foundation in your daily life.
And then we can ask what is meditation, not how to meditate or what steps to take to meditate, or what systems and methods to follow to meditate, because all systems, all methods, make the mind mechanical. You understand, sir? Meditation is the most marvellous thing if you know the meaning of a mind that is ‘in meditation’—not how to meditate. We will see what is not meditation. You understand? Then you will know what meditation is, what it is not.
Through negation, you come upon the positive; but if you pursue the positive, it leads you to a dead end. We say meditation is not the practice of any system. You know people who sit and become aware of their toes, of their bodies, of their movements—practise, practise, practise; a machine can do that. So systems cannot reveal the beauty and the depth and the marvellous thing called meditation.
Nor is meditation concentration. When you concentrate or attempt to concentrate, in that concentration there is the observer and the observed. So no system, no method, no concentration. And a mind that has understood all this through negation becomes very quiet, naturally.
In that, there is no observer who has achieved some kind of silence. In that silence there is the emptying of the mind of all the past. Unless you do this in your daily life, you won’t understand the marvel, the subtlety, the beauty of it. Do it, not merely repeat what the speaker says. If you repeat, it becomes a propaganda, which is a lie.
So when the mind has this complete order, mathematical order—and that order has come into being naturally through the understanding of the disorder of our daily life—then the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet. This quiet has vast space, not the quiet of a little room. It’s not the quiet, the silence of the ending of noise. A mind that has understood this whole problem of existence—love and death and the living, the beauty of the skies, the trees, the people, beauty which all your religious gurus have denied (and that’s why you destroy your trees, nature)—will know what happens in that silence. Nobody can describe it. Anybody who describes it doesn’t know what it is. It’s for you to find out.
Bangalore, January 31, 1971.
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© KRISHAMURTI FOUNDATION TRUST, 1971