Where there is the activity of the self, meditation is not possible. This is very important to understand, not verbally but actually. Meditation is a process of emptying the mind of all the activity of the self, of all the activity of the “me.” If you do not understand the activity of the self, then your meditation only leads to illusion, your meditation then only leads to self-deception, your meditation then will only lead to further distortion. So to understand what mediation is, you must understand the activity of the self.
The self has had a thousand worldly, sensuous, or intellectual experiences, but it is bored with them because they have no meaning. The desire to have wider, more expansive, transcendental experiences is part of the “me,” the self. When you have such experiences, or visions, you must be able to recognize those experiences, or those visions, but when you can recognize them, they are not new, they are projections of your background, or your conditioning, in which the mind delights as though they are something new. Don’t agree, but see the truth of it, then it is yours.
One of the demands, urges, desires of the mind, the self, is to change “what is” into “what should be.” It doesn’t know what to do with “what is” because it cannot resolve “what is,” therefore it projects an idea of “what should be,” which is the ideal. This projection is the antithesis of “what is,” and therefore there is a conflict between “what is” and “what should be.” That very conflict is the blood and the breath of the self.
Another activity of the self is the will to become, the will to change. Will is a form of resistance in which we have been educated from childhood. Will has become extraordinarily important to us, economically, socially, and religiously. Will is a form of ambition, and from will arises the desire to control–to control one thought by another thought, one activity of thought by another activity of thought. “I must control my desire”: the “I” is put together by thought, a verbal statement as the “me” with its memories, experiences. That thought wants to control, shape, deny, another thought.
One of the activities of the self is to separate itself as the “me,” as the observer. The observer is the past, all the accumulated knowledge, experience, memories. So the “I,” the “me,” separates itself as the observer from the “you,” the observed. “We” and “they.” We the Germans, the communists, the Catholics, the Hindus, and they the heathens, and so on, and so on. As long as the activities of the self–as long as the “me” as the observer, as the controller, as will; the self demanding, desiring experience–exist, meditation becomes a means of self-hypnosis, an escape from daily life, an escape from all the misery and problems. As long as those activities exist, there must be deception. See the reality, not verbally, but actually, that a person who is inquiring into meditation, who wants to see what takes place, must understand all the activities of the self.
Meditation is the emptying of the mind of the activity of the self. And you cannot empty the mind of the activity of the self by any practice, by any method, or by saying “Tell me what to do.” Therefore, if you are really interested in this, you have to find out for yourself your own activity of the the self–habits, the verbal statements, the gestures, the deceptions, the guilt that you cultivate and hold on to as though it were some precious thing instead of throwing it away, the punishments–all the activities of the self. And that demands awareness.
Now, what is being aware? Awareness implies an observation in which there is no choice whatsoever, just observing without interpretation, translation, distortion. And that will not take place as long as there is an observer who is trying to be aware. Can you be aware, attentive, so that in that attention there is only observation and not the observer?
Now listen to this. You have read that statement: awareness is a state of mind in which the observer with its choice is not. You hear that statement. You immediately want to put it into practice, into action. You say, “What am I to do? How am I to be aware without the observer?” You want an immediate activity–which means you have not really listened to that statement. You are more concerned with putting that statement into action than with listening to the statement. It is like looking at a flower and smelling the flower. The flower is there, the beauty, the color, the loveliness of it. You look at it and pick it up and begin to tear it to pieces. And you do the same when you listen to the statement that in awareness, in attention, there is no observer, that if the observer is, then you have the problem of choice, conflict. You hear that statement and the immediate reaction of the mind is, “How am I to do it?” So you are more concerned with the action of what to do about that statement than with actually listening to it. If you listen to it completely, then you are breathing the perfume, the truth of it. And the perfume, the truth, acts, not the “me” that is struggling to act rightly. Have you got it?
So, to find out the beauty and the depth of meditation, you have to inquire into the activities of the self, which is put together by time. So you have to understand time.
Please listen to this. Listen, don’t do anything about it, just listen. Find our if it is false or true. Just observe. Listen with your heart, not with your beastly little mind.
Time is movement, both physically and psychologically. Physically to move from here to there needs time. Psychologically, the movement of time is to change “what is” into “what should be.” So thought, which is time, can never be still because thought is movement, and this movement is part of the self. We are saying thought is the movement of time. Thought is the movement of time because it is the response of knowledge, experience, memory, which is time. So thought can never be still. Thought can never be new. Thought can never bring about freedom.
When one is aware of the movement of the self in all its activities–as ambition, seeking fulfillment, in relationship–out of that comes a mind that is completely still. Not that thought is still–you understand the difference? Most people are trying to control their thoughts, hoping thereby to bring quietness to the mind. I have seen dozens of people who have practiced for years trying to control their thoughts, hoping to have a mind that is really quiet. But they don’t see that thought is a movement. You may divide that movement as the observer and the observed, or the thinker and the thought, or the controller and the controlled, but it is still movement. And thought can never be still: if it is still it dies, therefore it cannot afford to be still.
If you have gone deeply into all this, into yourself, then you will see that the mind becomes completely still–not enforced, not controlled, not hypnotized. And it must be still because it is only in that stillness that a totally new, unrecognizable thing can take place. If I force my mind to be still through various tricks and practices, shocks, then it is the stillness of a mind that has struggled with thought, controlled thought, suppressed thought. That is entirely different from a mind that has seen the activity of the self, seen the movement of thought as time. The very attention to all that movement brings about the quality of mind that is completely still, in which something totally new can take place.
Meditation is the emptying of the mind of all the activity of the self. Now, will it take time? Will the emptying, or rather–I won’t use that word emptying, you will get frightened–can this process of the self come to an end, through time, through days, through years? Or has it to end instantly? Is it possible? All this is part of your meditation. When you say to yourself, “I will gradually get rid of the self,” that is part of conditioning, and you enjoy yourself in the meantime. When you introduce the word gradually, that involves time, a period, and during that period you enjoy yourself–all the pleasures, all the feelings of guilt which you cherish, which you hold on to, and the anxiety which also gives you a certain sense of living. And to be free of all that you say, “It will take time.” That is part of our culture, part of our evolutionary conditioning. Now will psychologically putting an end to the activities of the self take time? Or does it not take time at all, but rather the release of a new kind of energy that will put all that aside instantly?
Does the mind actually see the falseness of the proposition that it needs time to dissolve the activities fo the self? Do I see clearly the falseness of it? Or do I see intellectually that it isn’t quite right, and therefore I go on with it! If I see the falseness of it actually, then it has gone, hasn’t it? Time is not involved at all. Time is needed only when there is analysis, when there is inspection or examination of each broken piece that constitutes the “me.” When I see the whole movement of this as thought, it has no validity, though man has accepted it as inevitable. Then because the mind sees the falseness of it, it ends. You don’t go too close to the edge of a precipice unless you are rather unbalanced, insane, and then you go over; if you are sane, healthy, you stay away from it. The movement away from it doesn’t take time, it is an instant action because you see what would happen if you fell. So in the same way, if you see the falseness of all the movement of thought, of analysis, of the acceptance of time, and so on, then there is the instant action of thought as the “me” ending itself.
So a religious life is a life of meditation, in which the activities of the self are not. And one can live such a life in this world every day. That is, one can live a life as a human being in which there is constant alertness, watchfulness, awareness, an attentive mind that is watching the movement of the self. And the watching is watching from silence, not from a conclusion. Because the mind has observed the activities of the self and sees the falseness of it and therefore the mind has become extraordinarily sensitive, and silent. And from that silence it acts. In daily life.
Have you got it? Have we shared this together? Because it is your life, not my life. It is your life of sorrow, of tragedy, of confusion, guilt, reward, punishment. All that is your life. If you are serious you have tried to untangle all this. You have read some book, or followed some teacher, or listened to somebody, but the problems remain. These problems will exist as long as the human mind moves within the field of the activity of the self; that activity of the self must create more and more and more problems. When you observe, when you become extraordinarily aware of this activity of the self, then the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet, sane, healthy, holy. And from that silence our life in everyday activity is transformed.
Religion is the cessation of the “me,” and action born of that silence. That life is a sacred life full of meaning.
From the public talk at Saanen on July 29, 1973. Krishnamurti Foundation Trust, Ltd
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