Commentaries on Living 
Commentaries on Living
Series – 1
By J. Krishnamurti
E-Text Source: www.jkrishnamurti.org
1. Three Pious Egoists
3. Gossip and Worry
4. Thought and Love
5. Aloneness and Isolation
6. Pupil and Master
7. The Rich and the Poor
8. Ceremonies and Conversion
14. Simplicity of the Heart
15. Facets of the Individual
17. Love in Relationship
18. The Known and the Unknown
19. The Search for Truth
21. The Individual and Society
22. The Self
25. Renunciation of Riches
26. Repetition and Sensation
27. The Radio and Music
31. Psychological Security
65. Occupation of the Mind
66. Cessation of Thought
67. Desire and Conflict
68. Action without Purpose
69. Cause and Effect
71. Clarity in Action
75. Fear and Escape
76. Exploitation and Activity
37. Idea and Fact
40. My Path and Your Path
44. Action and Idea
45. Life in a City
47. The Spiritual Leader
49. Problems and Escapes
50. What Is and What Should Be
54. Conscious and Unconscious
55. Challenge and Response
59. How am I to Love
60. The Futility of Result
61. The Desire for Bliss
62. Thought and Consciousness
64. The Flame and The Smoke
77. The Learned or The Wise
78. Stillness and Will
81. Wisdom is not Accumulation of Knowledge
85. Sensation and Happiness
86. To See the False as the False
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Chapter - 1
‘Three Pious Egoists’
THE OTHER DAY three pious egoists came to see me. The first was a sannyasi, a man who had renounced the world; the second was an orientalist and a great believer in brotherhood; and the third was a confirmed worker for a marvellous Utopia. Each of the three was strenuous in his own work and looked down on the others’ attitudes and activities, and each was strengthened by his own conviction. Each was ardently attached to his particular form of belief, and all were in a strange way ruthless.
They told me, especially the Utopian, that they were ready to deny or sacrifice themselves and their friends for what they believed. They appeared meek and gentle, particularly the man of brotherhood, but there was a hardness of heart and that peculiar intolerance which is characteristic of the superior. They were the chosen, the interpreters; they knew and were certain.
The sannyasi said, in the course of a serious talk, that he was preparing himself for his next life. This life, he declared, had very little to offer him, for he had seen through all the illusions of worldliness and had forsaken worldly ways. He had some personal weaknesses and certain difficulties in concentration, he added, but in his next life he would be the ideal which he had set for himself.
His whole interest and vitality lay in his conviction that he was to be something in his next life. We talked at some length, and his emphasis was always on the tomorrow, on the future. The past existed, he said, but always in relation to the future; the present was merely a passage to the future, and today was interesting only because of tomorrow. If there were no tomorrow, he asked, then why make an effort? One might just as well vegetate or be like the pacific cow.
The whole of life was one continuous movement from the past through the momentary present to the future. We should use the present, he said, to be something in the future: to be wise, to be strong, to be compassionate. Both the present and the future were transient, but tomorrow ripened the fruit. He insisted that today is but a steppingstone, and that we should not be too anxious or too particular about it; we should keep clear the ideal of tomorrow and make the journey successfully. Altogether, he was impatient of the present.
The man of brotherhood was more learned, and his language more poetic; he was expert in handling words, and was altogether suave and convincing. He too had carved a divine niche for himself in the future. He was to be something. This idea filled his heart, and he had gathered his disciples for that future. Death, he said, was a beautiful thing, for it brought one nearer to that divine niche which was making it possible for him to live in this sorrowful and ugly world.
He was all for changing and beautifying the world, and was working ardently for the brotherhood of man. He considered that ambition, with its attendant cruelties and corruption, was inevitable in a world where you had to get things done; and unfortunately, if you wanted certain organizational activities carried on, you had to be a little bit on the hard side. The work was important because it was helping mankind, and anyone who opposed it had to be put aside - gently, of course. The organization for that work was of the utmost value and must not be hindered. "Others have their paths," he said, "but ours is essential, and anyone who interferes is not one of us."
The Utopian was a strange mixture of the idealist and the practical man. His Bible was not the old but the new. He believed in the new implicitly. He knew the outcome of the future, for the new book foretold what it was to be. His plan was to confuse, organize and carry out. The present, he said, was corrupt, it must be destroyed, and out of this destruction the new would be built. The present was to be sacrificed for the future. The future man was all-important, not the present man.
"We know how to create that future man," he said, "we can shape his mind and heart; but we must get into power to do any good. We will sacrifice ourselves and others to bring about a new state. Anyone who stands in the way we will kill, for the means is of no consequence; the end justifies any means.’,
For ultimate peace, any form of violence could be used; for ultimate individual freedom, tyranny in the present was inevitable. "When we have the power in our hands," he declared, "we will use every form of compulsion to bring about a new world without class distinctions, without priests. From our central thesis we will never move; we are fixed there, but our strategy and tactics will vary depending upon changing circumstances. We plan, organize and act to destroy the present man for the future man."
The sannyasi, the man of brotherhood and the Utopian all live for tomorrow, for the future. They are not ambitious in the worldly sense, they do not want high honours, wealth or recognition; but they are ambitious in a much more subtle way. The Utopian has identified himself with a group which he thinks will have the power to reorient the world; the man of brotherhood aspires to be exalted, and the sannyasi to attain his goal. All are consumed with their own becoming, with their own achievement and expansion. They do not see that this desire denies peace, brotherhood and supreme happiness.
Ambition in any form - for the group, for individual salvation, or for spiritual achievement - is action postponed. Desire is ever of the future; the desire to become is inaction in the present. The now has greater significance than the tomorrow. In the now is all time, and to understand the now is to be free of time. Becoming is the continuation of time, of sorrow. Becoming does not contain being. Being is always in the present, and being is the highest form of transformation. Becoming is merely modified continuity, and there is radical transformation only in the present, in being.
Chapter - 2
WHY do you identify yourself with another, with a group, with a country? Why do you call yourself a Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist, or why do you belong to one of the innumerable sects? Religiously and politically one identifies oneself with this or with that group through tradition or habit, through impulse, prejudice, imitation and laziness. This identification puts an end to all creative understanding, and then one becomes a mere tool in the hands of the party boss, the priest or the favoured leader.
The other day someone said that he was a "Krishnamurti-ite," whereas so-and-so belonged to another group. As he was saying it, he was utterly unconscious of the implications of this identification. He was not by any means a foolish person; he was well read. cultured and all the rest of it. Nor was he sentimental or emotional over the matter; on the contrary, he was clear and definite.
Why had he become a "Krishnamurti-ite"? He had followed others, belonged to many wearisome groups and organizations, and at last found himself identified with this particular person. From what he said, it appeared that the journey was over. He had taken a stand and that was the end of the matter; he had chosen, and nothing could shake him. He would now comfortably settle down and follow eagerly all that had been said and was going to be said.
When we identify ourselves with another, is that an indication of love? Does identification imply experimentation? Does not identification put an end to love and to experiment? Identification, surely, is possession, the assertion of ownership; and ownership denies love, does it not? To own is to be secure; possession is defence, making oneself invulnerable. In identification there is resistance, whether gross or subtle; and is love a form of self-protective resistance? Is there love when there is defence?
Love is vulnerable, pliable, receptive; it is the highest form of sensitivity, and identification makes for insensitivity. Identification and love do not go together, for the one destroys the other. Identification is essentially a thought process by which the mind safeguards and expands itself; and in becoming something it must resist and defend, it must own and discard. In this process of becoming, the mind or the self grows tougher and more capable; but this is not love. Identification destroys freedom, and only in freedom can there be the highest form of sensitivity.
To experiment, need there be identification? Does not the very act of identification put an end to inquiry, to discovery? The happiness that truth brings cannot be if there is no experimentation in self-discovery. Identification puts an end to discovery; it is another form of laziness. Identification is vicarious experience, and hence utterly false.
To experience, all identification must cease. To experiment, there must be no fear. Fear prevents experience. It is fear that makes for identification - identification with another, with a group, with an ideology, and so on. Fear must resist, suppress; and in a state of self-defence, how can there be venturing on the uncharted sea? Truth or happiness cannot come without undertaking the journey into the ways of the self. You cannot travel far if you are anchored. Identification is a refuge. A refuge needs protection, and that which is protected is soon destroyed. Identification brings destruction upon itself, and hence the constant conflict between various identifications.
The more we struggle for or against identification, the greater is the resistance to understanding. If one is aware of the whole process of identification, outward as well as inner, if one sees that its outward expression projected by the inner demand, then there is a possibility of discovery and happiness. He who has identified himself can never know freedom, in which alone all truth comes into being.
Chapter - 3
‘Gossip and Worry’
HOW ODDLY SIMILAR are gossip and worry. They are both the outcome of a restless mind. A restless mind must have a changing variety of expressions and actions, it must be occupied; it must have ever increasing sensations, passing interests, and gossip contains the elements of all these. Gossip is the very antithesis of intensity and earnestness. To talk about another, pleasantly or viciously, is an escape from oneself, and escape is the cause of restlessness. Escape in its very nature is restless. Concern over the affairs of others seems to occupy most people, and this concern shows itself in the reading of innumerable magazines and newspapers with their gossip columns, their accounts of murders, divorces and so on.
As we are concerned with what others think of us, so we are anxious to know all about them; and from this arise the crude and subtle forms of snobbishness and the worship of authority. Thus we become more and more externalized and inwardly empty. The more externalized we are, the more sensations and distractions there must be, and this gives rise to a mind that is never quiet, that is not capable of deep search and discovery.
Gossip is an expression of a restless mind; but merely to be silent does not indicate a tranquil mind, Tranquillity does not come into being with abstinence or denial; it comes with the understanding of what is. To understand what is needs swift awareness, for what is is not static.
If we did not worry, most of us would feel that we were not alive; to be struggling with a problem is for the majority of us an indication of existence. We cannot imagine life without a problem; and the more we are occupied with a problem, the more alert we think we are. The constant tension over a problem which thought itself has created only dulls the mind, making it insensitive and weary.
Why is there the ceaseless preoccupation with a problem? Will worry resolve the problem? Or does the answer to the problem come when the mind is quiet? But for most people, a quiet mind is a rather fearsome thing; they are afraid to be quiet, for heaven knows what they may discover in themselves, and worry is a preventive. A mind that is afraid to discover must ever be on the defensive, and restlessness is its defence.
Through constant strain, through habit and the influence of circumstances, the conscious layers of the mind have become agitated and restless Modern existence encourages this superficial activity and distraction, which is another form of self-defence. Defence is resistance, which prevents understanding.
Worry, like gossip, has the semblance of intensity and seriousness; but if one observes more closely one will see that it arises from attraction and not earnestness. Attraction is ever changing, and that is why the objects of worry and gossip change. Change is merely modified continuity. Gossip and worry can come to an end only when the restlessness of the mind is understood. Mere abstinence, control or discipline will not bring about tranquillity, but only dull the mind, making it insensitive and confined.
Curiosity is not the way of understanding. Understanding comes with self-knowledge. He who suffers is not curious; and mere curiosity, with its speculative overtones, is a hindrance to self-knowledge. Speculation, like curiosity, is an indication of restlessness; and a restless mind, however gifted, destroys understanding and happiness.
Chapter - 4
‘Thought and Love’
THOUGHT WITH ITS emotional and sensational content, is not love. Thought invariably denies love. Thought is founded on memory, and love is not memory. When you think about someone you love, that thought is not love. You may recall a friend’s habits, manners idiosyncrasies, and think of pleasant or unpleasant incidents in your relationship with that person, but the pictures which thought evokes are not love. By its very nature, thought is separative. The sense of time and space, of separation and sorrow, is born of the process of thought, and it is only when the thought process ceases that there can be love.
Thought inevitably breeds the feeling of ownership, that possessiveness which consciously or unconsciously cultivates jealousy. Where jealousy is, obviously love is not; and yet with most people, jealousy is taken as an indication of love. Jealousy is the result of thought, it is a response of the emotional content of thought. When the feeling of possessing or being possessed is blocked, there is such emptiness that envy takes the place of love. It is because thought plays the role of love that all the complications and sorrows arise.
If you did not think of another, you would say that you did not love that person. But is it love when you do think of the person? If you did not think of a friend whom you think you love, you would be rather horrified, would you not? If you did not think of a friend who is dead, you would consider yourself disloyal, without love, and so on. You would regard such a state as callous, indifferent, and so you would begin to think of that person, you would have photographs, images made by the hand or by the mind; but thus to fill your heart with the things of the mind is to leave no room for love. When you are with a friend, you do not think about him; it is only in his absence that thought begins to re-create scenes and experiences that are dead. This revival of the past is called love. So, for most of us, love is death, a denial of life; we live with the past, with the dead, therefore we ourselves are dead, though we call it love.
The process of thought ever denies love. It is thought that has emotional complications, not love. Thought is the greatest hindrance to love. Thought creates a division between what is and what should be, and on this division morality is based; but neither the moral nor the immoral know love. The moral structure, created by the mind to hold social relationships together, is not love, but a hardening process like that of cement. Thought does not lead to love, thought does not cultivate love; for love cannot be cultivated as a plant in the garden. The very desire to cultivate love is the action of thought.
If you are at all aware you will see what an important part thought plays in your life. Thought obviously has its place, but it is in no way related to love. What is related to thought can be understood by thought, but that which is not related to thought cannot be caught by the mind. You will ask, then what is love? Love is a state of being in which thought is not; but the very definition of love is a process of thought, and so it is not love. We have to understand thought itself, and not try to capture love by thought. The denial of thought does not bring about love. There is freedom from thought only when its deep significance is fully understood; and for this, profound self-knowledge is essential, not vain and superficial assertions. Meditation and not repetition, awareness and not definition, reveal the ways of thought. Without being aware and experiencing the ways of thought, love cannot be.
Chapter - 5
‘Aloneness and Isolation’
THE SUN HAS gone down and the trees were dark and shapely against the darkening sky. The wide, strong river was peaceful and still. The moon was just visible on the horizon: she was coming up between two great trees, but she was not yet casting shadows.
We walked up the steep bank of the river and took a path that skirted the green wheat-fields. This path was a very ancient way; many thousands had trodden it, and it was rich in tradition and silence. It wandered among fields and mangoes, tamarinds and deserted shrines. There were large patches of garden, sweet peas deliciously scenting the air. The birds were settling down for the night, and a large pond was beginning to reflect the stars. Nature was not communicative that evening. The trees were aloof; they had withdrawn into their silence and darkness. A few chattering villagers passed by on their bicycles, and once again there was deep silence and that peace which comes when all things are alone.
This aloneness is not aching, fearsome loneliness. It is the aloneness of being; it is uncorrupted, rich, complete. That tamarind tree has no existence other than being itself. So is the aloneness. One is alone, like the fire, like the flower, but one is not aware of its purity and of its immensity. One can truly communicate only when there is aloneness. Being alone is not the outcome of denial, of self-enclosure. Aloneness is the purgation of all motives, of all pursuits of desire, of all ends Aloneness is not an end product of the mind. You cannot wish to be alone. Such a wish is merely an escape from the pain of not being able to commune.
Loneliness, with its fear and ache, is isolation, the inevitable action of the self. This process of isolation, whether expansive or narrow, is productive of confusion, conflict and sorrow. Isolation can never give birth to aloneness; the one has to cease for the other to be. Aloneness is indivisible and loneliness is separation. That which is alone is pliable and so enduring. Only the alone can commune with that which is causeless, the immeasurable. To the alone, life is eternal; to the alone there is no death. The alone can never cease to be.
The moon was just coming over the tree tops, and the shadows were thick and dark. A dog began to bark as we passed the little village and walked back along the river. The river was so still that it caught the stars and the lights of the long bridge among its waters. High up on the bank children were standing and laughing, and a baby was crying. The fishermen were cleaning and coiling their nets. A night-bird flew silently by. Someone began to sing on the other bank of the wide river, and his words were clear and penetrating. Again the all-pervading aloneness of life.
Chapter - 6
‘Pupil and Master’
"YOU KNOW, I have been told that I am a pupil of a certain Master," he began. "Do you think I am? I really want to know what you think of this. I belong to a society of which you know, and the outer heads who represent the inner leaders or Masters have told me that because of my work for the society I have been made a pupil. I have been told that I have an opportunity to become a first-degree initiate in this life." He took all this very seriously, and we talked at some length.
Reward in any form is extremely gratifying, especially a so- called spiritual reward when one is somewhat indifferent to the honours of the world. Or when one is not very successful in this world, it is very gratifying to belong to a group especially chosen by someone who is supposed to be a highly advanced spiritual being, for then one is part of a team working for a great idea, and naturally one must be rewarded for one’s obedience and for the sacrifices one has made for the cause. If it is not a reward in that sense, it is a recognition of one’s spiritual advancement; or, as in a well-run organization, one’s efficiency is acknowledged in order to stimulate one to do better.
In a world where success is worshipped, this kind of self-advancement is understood and encouraged. But to be told by another that you are a pupil of a Master, or to think that you are, obviously leads to many ugly forms of exploitation. Unfortunately, both the exploiter and the exploited feel elated in their mutual relationship. This expanding self-gratification is considered spiritual advancement, and it becomes especially ugly and brutal when you have intermediaries between the pupil and the Master, when the Master is in a different country or is otherwise inaccessible and you are not in direct physical contact with him. This inaccessibility and the lack of direct contact opens the door to self-deception and to grand but childish illusions; and these illusions are exploited by the cunning, by those who are after glory and power.
Reward and punishment exist only when there is no humility. Humility is not an end result of spiritual practices and denials. Humility is not an achievement; it is not a virtue to be cultivated. A virtue that is cultivated ceases to be a virtue, for then it is merely another form of achievement, a record to be made. A cultivated virtue is not the abnegation of the self, but a negative assertion of the self.
Humility is unaware of the division of the superior and the inferior, of the Master and the pupil. As long as there is a division between the Master and the pupil, between reality and yourself, understanding is not possible. In the understanding of truth, there is no Master or pupil, neither the advanced nor the lowly. Truth is the understanding of what is from moment to moment without the burden or the residue of the past moment.
Reward and punishment only strengthens the self, which denies humility. Humility is in the present, not in the future. You cannot become humble. The very becoming is the continuation of self-importance, which conceals itself in the practice of a virtue. How strong is our will to succeed, to become! How can success and humility go together? Yet that is what the "spiritual" exploiter and exploited pursue, and therein lie conflict and misery.
"Do you mean to say that the Master does not exist, and that my being a pupil is an illusion, a make-believe?" he asked.
Whether the Master exists or not is so trivial. It is important to the exploiter, to the secret schools and societies; but to the man who is seeking truth, which brings supreme happiness, surely this question is utterly irrelevant. The rich man and the coolie are as important as the Master and the pupil. Whether the Masters exist or do not exist, whether there are the distinctions of Initiates, pupils and so on, is not important, but what is important is to understand yourself. Without self-knowledge, your thought, that which you reason out, has no basis. Without first knowing yourself, how can you know what is true? Illusion is inevitable without self-knowledge. It is childish to be told and to accept that you are this or that. Beware of the man who offers you a reward in this world or in the next.
Chapter - 7
‘The Rich and The Poor’
IT WAS HOT and humid and the noise of the very large town filled the air. The breeze from the sea was warm, and there was the smell of tar and petrol. With the setting of the sun, red in the distant waters, it was still unyieldingly hot. The large group that filled the room presently left, and we went out into the street.
The parrot, like bright green flashes of light, were coming home to roost. Early in the morning they flew to the north, where there were orchards, green fields and open country, and in the evening they came back to pass the night in the trees of the city. Their flight was never smooth but always reckless, noisy and brilliant. They never flew straight like other birds, but were forever veering off to the left or the right, or suddenly dropping into a tree. They were the most restless birds in flight, but how beautiful they were with their red beaks and a golden green that was the very glory of light. The vultures, heavy and ugly, circled and settled down for the night on the palm trees.
A man came along playing the flute; he was a servant of some kind. He walked up the hill, still playing, and we followed him; he turned into one of the side street, never ceasing to play. It was strange to hear the song of the flute in a noisy city, and its sound penetrated deep into the heart. It was very beautiful, and we followed the flute player for some distance. We crossed several streets and came to a wider one, better lighted. Farther on, a group of people were sitting cross-legged at the side of the road, and the flute player joined them. So did we; and we all sat around while he played. They were mostly chauffeurs, servants, night watchmen, with several children and a dog or two. Cars passed by, one driven by a chauffeur; a lady was inside, beautifully dressed and alone, with the inside light on. Another car drew up; the chauffeur got out and sat down with us. They were all talking and enjoying themselves, laughing and gesticulating, but the song of the flute never wavered, and there was delight.
Presently we left and took a road that led to the sea past the well-lit houses of the rich. The rich have a peculiar atmosphere of their own. However cultured, unobtrusive, ancient and polished, the rich have an impenetrable and assured aloofness, that inviolable certainty and hardness that is difficult to break down. They are not the possessors of wealth, but are possessed by wealth, which is worse than death. Their conceit is philanthropy; they think they are trustees of their wealth; they have charities, create endowments; they are the makers, the builders, the givers. They build churches, temples, but their god is the god of their gold. With so much poverty and degradation, one must have a very thick skin to be rich. Some of them come to question, to argue, to find reality. For the rich as for the poor, it is extremely difficult to find reality. The poor crave to be rich and powerful, and the rich are already caught in the net of their own action; and yet they believe and venture near. They speculate, not only upon the market, but upon the ultimate. They play with both, but are successful only with what is in their hearts. Their beliefs and ceremonies, their hopes and fears have nothing to do with reality, for their hearts are empty. The greater the outward show, the greater the inward poverty.
To renounce the world of wealth, comfort and position is a comparatively simple matter; but to put aside the craving to be, to become, demands great intelligence and understanding. The power that wealth gives is a hindrance to the understanding of reality, as is also the power of gift and capacity. This particular form of confidence is obviously an activity of the self; and though it is difficult to do so, this kind of assurance and power can be put aside. But what is much more subtle and more hidden is the power and the drive that lie in the craving to become. Self-expansion in any form, whether through wealth or through virtue, is a process of conflict, causing antagonism and confusion. A mind burdened with becoming can never be tranquil, for tranquillity is not a result either of practice or of time. Tranquillity is a state of understanding, and becoming denies this understanding. Becoming creates the sense of time, which is really the postponement of understanding. The "I shall be" is an illusion born of self-importance.
The sea was as restless as the town, but its restlessness had depth and substance. The evening star was on the horizon. We walked back through a street crowded with buses, cars and people. A man lay naked and asleep on the sidewalk; he was a beggar, exhausted, fatally undernourished, and it was difficult to awaken him. Beyond lay the green lawns and bright flowers of a public garden.
Chapter - 8
‘Ceremonies and Conversion’
IN A LARGE enclosure, among many trees, was a church. People, brown and white, were going in. Inside there was more light than in the European churches, but the arrangements were the same. The ceremony was in progress and there was beauty. When it was over, very few of the brown talked to the white, or the white to the brown, and we all went our different ways.
On another continent there was a temple, and they were singing a Sanskrit chant; the Puja, a Hindu ceremony, was being performed. The congregation was of another cultural pattern. The tonality of Sanskrit words is very penetrating and powerful; it has a strange weight and depth.
You can be converted from one belief to another, from one dogma to another, but you cannot be converted to the understanding of reality. Belief is not reality. You can change your mind, your opinion, but truth or God is not a conviction: it is an experience not based on any belief or dogma, or on any previous experience. If you have an experience born of belief, your experience is the conditioned response of that belief. If you have an experience unexpectedly, spontaneously, and build further experience upon the first, then experience is merely a continuation of memory which responds to contact with the present. Memory is always dead, coming to life only in contact with the living present.
Conversion is change from one belief or dogma to another, from one ceremony to a more gratifying one, and it does not open the door to reality. On the contrary, gratification is a hindrance to reality. And yet that is what organized religions and religious groups are attempting to do: to convert you to a more reasonable or a less reasonable dogma, superstition or hope. They offer you a better cage. It may or may not be comfortable, depending on your temperament, but in any case it is a prison.
Religiously and politically, at different levels of culture, this conversion is going on all the time. Organizations, with their leaders, thrive on keeping man in the ideological patterns they offer, whether religious or economic. In this process lies mutual exploitation. Truth is outside of all patterns, fears and hopes. If you would discover the supreme happiness of truth, you must break away from all ceremonies and ideological patterns.
The mind finds security and strength in religious and political pattern, and this is what gives stamina to the organizations. There are always the die-hards and the new recruits. These keep the organizations, with their investments and properties, going, and the power and prestige of the organizations attract those who worship success and worldly wisdom. When the mind finds the old patterns are no longer satisfying and life-giving, it becomes converted to other more comforting and strengthening beliefs and dogmas. So the mind is the product of environment re-creating and sustaining itself on sensations and identifications; and that is why the mind clings to codes of conducts patterns of thought, and so on. As long as the mind is the outcome of the past, it can never discover truth or allow truth to come into being. In holding to organizations it discards the search for truth.
Obviously, rituals offer to the participants an atmosphere in which they feel good. Both collective and individual rituals give a certain quietness to the mind; they offer a vital contrast to the everyday, humdrum life. There is a certain amount of beauty and orderliness in ceremonies, but fundamentally they are stimulants; and as with all stimulants, they soon dull the mind and heart. Rituals become habit; they become a necessity, and one cannot do without them. This necessity is considered a spiritual renewal, a gathering of strength to face life, a weekly or daily meditation, and so on; but if one looks more closely into this process, one sees that rituals are vain repetition which offer a marvellous and respectable escape from self-knowledge. Without self-knowledge, action has very little significance.
The repetition of chants, of words and phrases, puts the mind to sleep, though it is stimulating enough for the time being. In this sleepy state, experiences do occur, but they are self-projected. However gratifying, these experiences are illusory. The experiencing of reality does not come about through any repetition, through any practice. Truth is not an end, a result a goal; it cannot be invited, for it is not a thing of the mind.
Chapter - 9
WE WERE WAITING for the train, and it was late. The platform was dirty and noisy, the air acrid. There were many people waiting, like us. Children were crying, a mother was suckling her baby, the vendors were shouting their wares, tea and coffee were being sold, and it was an altogether busy and clamorous place. We were walking up and down the platform, watching our own footsteps and the movement of life about us. A man came up to us and began to talk in broken English. He said he had been watching us, and felt impelled to say something to us. With great feeling he promised he would lead a clean life and that from this moment he would never smoke again. He said he was not educated, as he was only a rickshaw boy. He had strong eyes and a pleasant smile.
Presently the train came. In the carriage a man introduced himself. He was a well-known scholar; he knew many languages and could quote freely in them. He was full of years and knowledge, well-to-do and ambitious. He talked of meditation, but he gave the impression that he was not speaking from his own experience. His god was the god of books. His attitude towards life was traditional and conformatory; he believed in early, prearranged marriage and in a strict code of life. He was conscious of his own caste or class and of the differences in the intellectual capacity of the castes. He was strangely vain in his knowledge and position.
The sun was setting, and the train was passing through lovely country. The cattle were coming home, and there was golden dust. There were huge, black clouds on the horizon, and the crack of distant thunder. What joy a green field holds, and how pleasant is that village in the fold of a curving mountain! Darkness was setting in. A big, blue deer was feeding in the fields; he did not even look up as the train roared by.
Knowledge is a flash of light between two darknesses; but knowledge cannot go above and beyond that darkness, Knowledge is essential to technique, as coal to the engine; but it cannot reach out into the unknown. The unknown is not to be caught in the net of the known. Knowledge must be set aside for the unknown to be; but how difficult that is!
We have our being in the past, our thought is founded upon the past. The past is the known, and the response of the past is ever overshadowing the present, the unknown. The unknown is not the future, but the present. The future is but the past pushing its way through the uncertain present. This gap, this interval, is filled with the intermittent light of knowledge, covering the emptiness of the present; but this emptiness holds the miracle of life.
Addiction to knowledge is like any other addiction; it offers an escape from the fear of emptiness, of loneliness, of frustration, the fear of being nothing. The light of knowledge is a delicate covering under which lies a darkness that the mind cannot penetrate. The mind is frightened of this unknown, and so it escapes into knowledge, into theories, hopes, imagination; and this very knowledge is a hindrance to the understanding of the unknown. To put aside knowledge is to invite fear, and to deny the mind, which is the only instrument of perception one has, is to be vulnerable to sorrow, to joy. But it is not easy to put aside knowledge. To be ignorant is not to be free of knowledge. Ignorance is the lack of self-awareness; and knowledge is ignorance when there is no understanding of the ways of the self. Understanding of the self is freedom from knowledge.
There can be freedom from knowledge only when the process of gathering, the motive of accumulation, is understood. The desire to store up is the desire to be secure, to be certain. This desire for certainty through identification, through condemnation and justification, is the cause of fear, which destroys all communion. When there is communion, there is no need for accumulation. Accumulation is self-enclosing resistance, and knowledge strengthens this resistance. The worship of knowledge is a form of idolatry, and it will not dissolve the conflict and misery of our life. The cloak of knowledge conceals but can never liberate us from our ever increasing confusion and sorrow. The ways of the mind do not lead to truth and its happiness. To know is to deny the unknown.
Chapter - 10
HE ASSERTED THAT he was not greedy, that he was satisfied with little, and that life had been good to him, though he suffered the usual miseries of human existence. He was a quiet man, unobtrusive, hoping not to be disturbed from his easy ways. He said that he was not ambitious, but prayed to God for the things he had, for his family, and for the even flow of his life. He was thankful not to be plunged into problems and conflicts, as his friends and relations were. He was rapidly becoming very respectable and happy in the thought that he was one of the elite. He was not attracted to other women, and he had a peaceful family life, though there were the usual wrangles of husband and wife. He had no special vices, prayed often and worshipped God. "What is the matter with me," he asked, "as I have no problems?" He did not wait for a reply, but smiling in a satisfied and somewhat mournful way proceeded to tell of his past, what he was doing, and what kind of education he was giving to his children. He went on to say that he was not generous, but gave a little here and there. He was certain that each one must struggle to make a position for himself in the world.
Respectability is a curse; it is an "evil" that corrodes the mind and heart. It creeps upon one unknowingly and destroys love. To be respectable is to feel successful to carve for oneself a position in the world, to build around oneself a wall of certainty, of that assurance which comes with money, power, success, capacity or virtue. This exclusiveness of assurance breeds hatred and antagonism in human relationship, which is society. The respectable are always the cream of society, and so they are ever the cause of strife and misery. The respectable, like the despised, are always at the mercy of circumstances; the influences of environment and the weight of tradition are vastly important to them, for these hide their inward power. The respectable are on the defensive, fearful and suspicious. Fear is in their hearts, so anger is their righteousness; their virtue and piety are their defence. They are as the drum, empty within but loud when beaten. The respectable can never be open to reality, for, like the despised, they are enclosed in the concern for their own self-improvement. Happiness is denied to them, for they avoid truth.
To be non-greedy and not to be generous are closely related. Both are a self-enclosing process, a negative form of self-centredness. To be greedy, you must be active, outgoing; you must strive, compete, be aggressive. If you have not this drive, you are not free of greed, but only self-enclosed. Outgoing is a disturbance, a painful struggle, so self-centredness is covered over by the word non-greedy. To be generous with the hand is one thing, but to be generous of heart is another. Generosity of the hand is a fairly simple affair, depending upon the cultural pattern and so on; but generosity of the heart is of vastly deeper significance, demanding extensional awareness and understanding.
Not to be generous is again a pleasant and blind self-absorption, in which there is no outward-going. This self-absorbed state has its own activities, like those of a dreamer, but they never wake you up. The waking-up process is a painful one, and so, young or old, you would rather be left alone to become respectable, to die.
Like generosity of the heart, generosity of the hand is an outgoing movement, but it is often painful, deceptive and self-revealing. Generosity of the hand is easy to come by; but generosity of heart is not a thing to be cultivated, it is freedom from all accumulation. To forgive there must have been a wound; and to be wounded, there must have been the gatherings of pride. There is no generosity of heart as long as there is a referential memory, the "me" and the "mine."
Chapter - 11
HIGH UP IN the mountains it had been raining all day. It was not a soft, gentle rain, but one of those torrential downpours that wash out roads and uproot trees on the hillside, causing landslides and noisy streams which become quiet in a few hours. A little boy, soaked to the skin, was playing in a shallow pool and paying not the least attention to the angry and high-pitched voice of his mother. A cow was coming down the muddy road as we climbed it. The clouds seemed to open and cover the land with water. We were wet through and removed most of our clothing, and the rain was pleasant on the skin. The house was way up on the mountainside, and the town lay below. A strong wind was blowing from the west, bringing more dark and furious clouds.
There was a fire in the room, and several people were waiting to talk things over. The rain, beating on the windows, had made a large puddle on the floor, and the water even came down the chimney, making the fire sputter.
He was a very famous politician, realistic, intensely sincere and ardently patriotic. Neither narrow minded nor self-seeking his ambition was not for himself, but for an idea and for the people. He was not a mere eloquent tub thumper or vote catcher; he had suffered for his cause and, strangely, was not bitter. He seemed more of a scholar than a politician. But politics was the bread of his life, and his party obeyed him, though rather nervously. He was a dreamer, but he had put all that aside for politics. His friend, the leading economist, was also there; he had intricate theories and facts concerning the distribution of enormous revenues. He seemed to be familiar with the economists of both the left and the right, and he had his own theories for the economic salvation of mankind. He talked easily, and there was no hesitation for words. Both of them had harangued huge crowds.
Have you noticed, in newspapers and magazines, the amount of space given to politics, to the sayings of politicians and their activities? Of course, other news is given, but political news predominates; the economic and political life has become all-important. The outward circumstances - comfort, money, position and power - seem to dominate and shape our existence. The external show - the title, the garb, the salute, the flag - has become increasingly significant, and the total process of life has been forgotten or deliberately set aside. It is so much easier to throw oneself into social and political activity than to understand life as a whole; to be associated with any organized thought, with political or religious activity, offers a respectable escape from the pettiness and drudgery of everyday life. With a small heart you can talk of big things and of the popular leaders; you can hide your shallowness with the easy phrases of world affairs; your restless mind can happily and with popular encouragement settle down to propagate the ideology of a new or of an old religion.
Politics is the reconciliation of effects; and as most of us are concerned with effects, the external has assumed dominant significance. By manipulating effects we hope to bring about order and peace; but, unfortunately, it is not as simple as all that. Life is a total process, the inner as well as the outer; the outer definitely affects the inner, but the inner invariably overcomes the outer. What you are, you bring about outwardly. The outer and the inner cannot be separated and kept in watertight compartments, for they are constantly interacting upon each other; but the inner craving, the hidden pursuits and motives, are always more powerful. Life is not dependent upon political or economic activity; life is not a mere outward show, any more than a tree is the leaf or the branch. Life is a total process whose beauty is to be discovered only in its integration. This integration does not take place on the superficial level of political and economic reconciliations; it is to be found beyond causes and effects.
Because we play with causes and effects and never go beyond them, except verbally, our lives are empty, without much significance. It is for this reason that we have become slaves to political excitement and to religious sentimentalism. There is hope only in the integration of the several processes of which we are made up. This integration does not come into being through any ideology, or through following any particular authority, religious or political; it comes into being only through extensive and deep awareness. This awareness must go into the deeper layers of consciousness and not be content with surface responses.
Chapter - 12
THE VALLEY WAS in the shadow, and the setting sun touched the faraway mountain tops; their evening glow seemed to come from within. To the north of the long road, the mountains were bare and barren, exposed by the fire; to the south, the hills were green and heavy with bushes and trees. The road ran straight, dividing the long and graceful valley. The mountains on this particular evening seemed so close, so unreal, so light and tender. Heavy birds were circling effortlessly high in the heavens. Ground squirrels were lazily crossing the road, and there was the hum of a distant airplane. On both sides of the road were orange orchards, well ordered and well kept. After the hot day the smell of purple sage was very strong, and so was the smell of sunburnt earth and hay. The orange trees were dark, with their bright fruit. The quail were calling, and a road-runner disappeared into the bush. A long snake-lizard, disturbed by the dog, wriggled off into the dry weeds. The evening stillness was creeping over the land.
Experience is one thing, and experiencing is another. Experience is a barrier to the state of experiencing. However pleasant or ugly the experience, it prevents the flowering of experiencing. Experience is already in the net of time, it is already in the past, it has become a memory which comes to life only as a response to the present. Life is the present, it is not the experience. The weight and the strength of experience shadow the present, and so experiencing becomes the experience. The mind is the experience, the known, and it can never be in the state of experiencing; for what it experiences is the continuation of experience. The mind only knows continuity, and it can never receive the new as long as its continuity exists. What is continuous can never be in a state of experiencing. Experience is not the means to experiencing, which is a state without experience. Experience must cease for experiencing to be.
The mind can invite only its own self-projection, the known. There cannot be the experiencing of the unknown until the mind ceases to experience. Thought is the expression of experience; thought is a response of memory; and as long as thinking intervenes, there can be no experiencing. There is no means, no method to put an end to experience; for the very means is a hindrance to experiencing. To know the end is to know continuity, and to have a means to the end is to sustain the known. The desire for achievement must fade away; it is this desire that creates the means and the end. Humility is essential for experiencing. But how eager is the mind to absorb the experiencing into experience! How swift it is to think about the new and thus make of it the old! So it establishes the experiencer and the experienced, which gives birth to the conflict of duality.
In the state of experiencing, there is neither the experiencer nor the experienced. The tree, the dog and the evening star are not to be experienced by the experiencer; they are the very movement of experiencing. There is no gap between the observer and the observed; there is no time, no spatial interval for thought to identify itself. Thought is utterly absent, but there is being. This state of being cannot be thought of or meditated upon, it is not a thing to be achieved. The experiencer must cease to experience, and only then is there being. In the tranquillity of its movement is the timeless.
Chapter - 13
THE SEA WAS very calm and there was hardly a ripple on the white sands. Around the wide bay, to the north, was the town, and to the south were palm trees, almost touching the water. Just visible beyond the bar were the first of the sharks, and beyond them the fishermen’s boats, a few logs tied together with stout rope. They were making for a little village south of the palm trees. The sunset was brilliant, not where one would expect it, but in the east; it was a counter-sunset, and the clouds, massive and shapely, were lit with all the colours of the spectrum. It was really quite fantastic, and almost painful to bear. The waters caught the brilliant colours and made a path of exquisite light to the horizon.
There were a few fishermen walking back to their villages from the town, but the beach was almost deserted and silent. A single star was above the clouds. On our way back, a woman joined us and began to talk of serious things. She said that she belonged to a certain society whose members meditated and cultivated the essential virtues. Each month a particular virtue was chosen, and during the days that followed it was cultivated and put into practice. From her attitude and speech it appeared that she was well grounded in self-discipline and somewhat impatient with those who were not of her mood and purpose.
Virtue is of the heart and not of the mind. When the mind cultivates virtue, it is cunning calculation; it is a self-defence, a clever adjustment to environment. Self-perfection is the very denial of virtue. How can there be virtue if there is fear? Fear is of the mind and not of the heart. Fear hides itself under different forms: virtue, respectability, adjustment, service and so on. Fear will always exist in the relationships and activities of the mind. The mind is not separate from its activities; but it separates itself, thus giving itself continuity and permanence. As a child practises the piano, so the mind cunningly practises virtue to make itself more permanent and dominant in meeting life, or to attain what it considers to be the highest. There must be vulnerability to meet life, and not the respectable wall of self-enclosing virtue. The highest cannot be attained; there is no path, no mathematically progressive growth to it. Truth must come, you cannot go to truth, and your cultivated virtue will not carry you to it. What you attain is not truth, but your own self-projected desire; and in truth alone is there happiness.
The cunning adaptability of the mind in its own self-perpetuation sustains fear. It is this fear that must be deeply understood, not how to be virtuous. A petty mind may practise virtue, but it will still remain petty. Virtue is then an escape from its own pettiness, and the virtue it gathers will also be petty. If this pettiness is not understood, how can there be the experiencing of reality? How can a petty, virtuous mind be open to the immeasurable?
In comprehending the process of the mind, which is the self, virtue comes into being. Virtue is not accumulated resistance; it is the spontaneous awareness and the understanding of what is. Mind cannot understand; it may translate what is understood into action, but it is not capable of understanding. To understand, there must be the warmth of recognition and reception, which only the heart can give when the mind is silent. But the silence of the mind is not the result of cunning calculation. The desire for silence is the curse of achievement, with its endless conflicts and pains. The craving to be, negatively or positively, is the denial of virtue of the heart. Virtue is not conflict and achievement, prolonged practice and result, but a state of being which is not the outcome of self-projected desire. There is no being if there is a struggle to be. In the struggle to be there is resistance and denial, mortification and renunciation; but the overcoming of these is not virtue. Virtue is the tranquillity of freedom from the craving to be, and this tranquillity is of the heart, not of the mind. Through practice, compulsion, resistance, the mind may make itself quiet, but such a discipline destroys virtue of the heart, without which there is no peace, no blessing; for virtue of the heart is understanding.
Chapter - 14
‘Simplicity of the Heart’
THE SKIES WERE open and full. There were not the big, wide-winged birds that float so easily from valley to valley, nor even a passing cloud. The trees were still and the curving folds of the hills were rich in shadow. The eager deer, consumed with curiosity, was watching, and suddenly darted away at our approach. Under a bush, of the same colour as the earth, was a flat horned toad, bright-eyed and motionless. To the west the mountains were sharp and clear against the setting sun. Far below was a big house; it had a swimming pool, and some people were in it. There was a lovely garden surrounding the house; the place looked prosperous and secluded, and had that peculiar atmosphere of the rich. Farther down a dusty road was a small shack in a dry field. Poverty, squalor and toil, even at that distance, were visible. Seen from that height the two houses were not far apart; ugliness and beauty were touching each other.
Simplicity of the heart is of far greater importance and significance than simplicity of possessions. To be content with few things is a comparatively easy matter. To renounce comfort, or to give up smoking and other habits, does not indicate simplicity of heart. To put on a loincloth in a world that is taken up with clothes, comforts and distractions, does not indicate a free being. There was a man who had given up the world and its ways, but his desires and passions were consuming him; he had put on the robes of a monk, but he did not know peace. His eyes were everlastingly seeking, and his mind was riven by his doubts and hopes. Outwardly you discipline and renounce, you chart your course, step by step, to reach the end. You measure the progress of your achievement according to the standards of virtue: how you have given up this or that, how controlled you are in your behaviour, how tolerant and kind you are, and so on and on. You have learnt the art of concentration, and you withdraw into a forest, a monastery or a darkened room to meditate; you pass your days in prayer and watchfulness. Outwardly you have made your life simple, and through this thoughtful and calculated arrangement you hope to reach the bliss that is not of this world.
But is reality reached through external control and sanctions? Though outward simplicity, the putting aside of comfort, is obviously necessary, will this gesture open the door to reality? To be occupied with comfort and success burdens the mind and the heart, and there must be freedom to travel; but why are we so concerned with the outward gesture? Why are we so eagerly determined to give an outward expression of our intention? Is it the fear of self-deception, or of what another might say? Why do we wish to convince ourselves of our integrity? Does not this whole problem lie in the desire to be sure, to be convinced of our own importance in becoming?
The desire to be is the beginning of complexity. Driven by the ever-increasing desire to be, inwardly and outwardly, we accumulate or renounce, cultivate or deny. Seeing that time steals all things, we cling to the timeless. This struggle to be, positively or negatively, through attachment or detachment, can never be resolved by any outward gesture, discipline or practice; but the understanding of this struggle will bring about, naturally and spontaneously, the freedom from outward and inward accumulation with their conflicts. Reality is not to be reached through detachment; it is unattainable through any means. All means and ends are a form of attachment, and they must cease for the being of reality.
Chapter - 15
‘Facets of The Individual’
HE CAME TO see us surrounded by his disciples. They were of every kind, the well-to-do and the poor, the high governmental official and the widow, the fanatic and the young man with a smile. They were a pleasant and happy lot, and the shadows were dancing on the white house. In the thick foliage, parrots were screeching, and a noisy lorry went by. The young man was eager and insisted on the importance of the guru, the teacher; the others were in accord with him and smiled with delight as he made his points, clearly and objectively. The sky was very blue, and a white-throated eagle was circling just above us with hardly a flutter of the wing. It was a very beautiful day. How we destroy each other, the pupil the guru, and the guru the pupil! How we conform, break away to take shape again! A bird was pulling out a long worm from the moist earth.
We are many and not one. The one does not come into being till the many cease. The clamorous many are at war with each other day and night, and this war is the pain of life. We destroy one, but another rises in its place; and this seemingly endless process is our life. We try to impose the one on the many, but the one soon becomes the many. The voice of the many is the voice of the one, and the one voice assumes authority; but it is still the chattering of a voice. We are the voices of the many, and we try to catch the still voice of the one. The one is the many if the many are silent to hear the voice of the one. The many can never find the one.
Our problem is not how to hear the one voice but to understand the composition, the make-up of the many which we are. One facet of the many cannot understand the many; one entity cannot understand the many entities which we are. Though one facet tries to control, discipline, shape the other facets, its efforts are ever self-enclosing, narrowing. The whole cannot be understood through the part, and that is why we never understand. We never get the view of the whole, we are never aware of the whole, because we are so occupied with the part. The part divides itself and becomes the many. To be aware of the whole, the conflict of the many, there must be the understanding of desire. There is only one activity of desire; though there are varying and conflicting demands and pursuits, they are all the outcome of desire. Desire may not be sublimated or suppressed; it must be understood without him who understands. If the entity who understands is there, then it is still the entity of desire. To understand without the experiencer is to be free of the one and of the many. All activities of conformity and denial, of analysis and acceptance, only strengthen the experiencer. The experiencer can never understand the whole. The experiencer is the accumulated, and there is no understanding within the shadow of the past. Dependence on the past may offer a way of action, but the cultivation of a means is not understanding. Understanding is not of the mind, of thought; and if thought is disciplined into silence to capture that which is not of the mind, then that which is experienced is the projection of the past. In the awareness of this whole process there is a silence which is not of the experiencer. In this silence only does understanding come into being.
Chapter - 16
IT WAS A cold winter and the trees were bare, their naked branches exposed to the sky. There were very few evergreen trees, and even they felt the cold winds and the frosty nights. In the far distance the high mountains were covered with heavy snow, and white billowy clouds hung over them. The grass was brown, for there had been no rain for many months, and the spring rains were still distant. The earth was dormant and fallow. There was no cheery movement of nesting birds in green hedges, and the paths were hard and dusty. On the lake there were a few ducks, pausing on their way to the south. The mountains held the promise of a new spring, and the earth was dreaming of it.
What would happen if sleep were denied to us? Would we have more time to fight, to intrigue, to make mischief? Would we be more cruel and ruthless? Would there be more time for humility, compassion and frugality? Would we be more creative? Sleep is a strange thing, but extraordinarily important. For most people, the activities of the day continue through their nocturnal slumbers; their sleep is the continuation of their life, dull or exciting, an extension at a different level of the same insipidity or meaningless strife. The body is refreshed by sleep; the internal organism, having a life of its own, renews itself. During sleep, desires are quiescent, and so do not interfere with the organism; and with the body refreshed, the activities of desire have further opportunities for stimulation and expansion. Obviously, the less one interferes with the internal organism, the better; the less the mind takes charge of the organism, the more healthy and natural is its function. But disease of the organism is another matter, produced by the mind or by its own weakness.
Sleep is of great significance. The more the desires are strengthened, the less the meaning of sleep. Desires, positive or negative, are fundamentally always positive, and sleep is the temporary suspension of this positive. Sleep is not the opposite of desire, sleep is not negation, but a state which desire cannot penetrate. The quietening of the superficial layers of consciousness takes place during sleep, and so they are capable of receiving the intimations of the deeper layers; but this is only a partial comprehension of the whole problem. It is obviously possible for all the layers of consciousness to be in communication with each other during waking hours, and also during sleep; and of course this is essential. This communication frees the mind from its own self-importance, and so the mind does not become the dominant factor. Thus it loses, freely and naturally, its self-enclosing efforts and activities. In this process the impetus to become is completely dissolved, the accumulative momentum exists no longer.
But there is something more that takes place in sleep. There is found an answer to our problems. When the conscious mind is quiet, it is capable of receiving an answer, which is a simple affair. But what is far more significant and important than all this is the renewal which is not a cultivation. One can deliberately cultivate a gift, a capacity, or develop a technique, a pattern of action and behaviour; but this is not renewal. Cultivation is not creation. This creative renewal does not take place if there is any kind of effort on the part of a becomer. The mind must voluntarily lose all accumulative impulse, the storing up of experience as a means to further experience and achievement. It is the accumulative, self-protective urge that breeds the curve of time and prevents creative renewal. Consciousness as we know it is of time, it is a process of recording and storing experience at its different levels. Whatever takes place within this consciousness is its own projection; it has its own quality, and is measurable. During sleep, either this consciousness is strengthened, or something wholly different takes place. For most of us, sleep strengthens experience, it is a process of recording and storing in which there is expansion but not renewal. Expansiveness gives a feeling of elation, of inclusive achievement, of having understood, and so on; but all this is not creative renewal. This process of becoming must wholly come to an end, not as a means to further experience, but as an ending in itself.
During sleep, and often during waking hours, when becoming has entirely ceased, when the effect of a cause has come to an end, then that which is beyond time, beyond the measure of cause and effect, comes into being.