Krishnamurti on Meditation

[Excerpts from his books and discourses]
[For a brief biography, see: Glossary entry here ]


Meditation is the emptying of consciousness
of its content, the known, the "me".


The essence of meditation

Meditation is one of the most extraordinary things, and if you do not know what it is you are like the blind man in a world of bright color, shadows and moving light. It is not an intellectual affair, but when the heart enters into the mind, the mind has quite a different quality: it is really, then, limitless, not only in its capacity to think, to act efficiently, but also in its sense of living in a vast space where you are part of everything. Meditation is the movement of love. It isn't the love of the one or of the many. It is like water that anyone can drink out of any jar, whether golden or earthenware: it is inexhaustible. And a peculiar thing takes place which no drug or self-hypnosis can bring about: it is as though the mind enters into itself, beginning at the surface and penetrating ever more deeply, until depth and height have lost their meaning and every form of measurement ceases. In this state there is complete peace, not contentment which has come about through gratification but a peace that has order, beauty and intensity. It can all be destroyed, as you can destroy a flower, and yet because of its very vulnerability it is indestructible. This meditation cannot be learned from another. You must begin without knowing anything about it, and move from innocence to innocence.

Meditation itself is the movement of peace. It is not an end to be found; it is not put together by thought or word. The action of meditation is intelligence. Meditation is none of those things you have been taught or experienced. The putting away of what you have leared or experienced is meditation. The freedom from the experiencer is meditation. When there is no peace in relationship, there is no peace in meditation; it is an escape into illusion and fanciful dreams. It cannot be demonstrated or described. You are no judge of peace. You will be aware of it, if it is there, through the activities of your daily life, the order, the virtue of your life.

Any authority on Meditation is the very denial of it. All the knowledge, the concepts, the examples have no place in meditation. The complete elimination of the meditator, the experiencer, the thinker, is the very essence of meditation. This freedom is the daily act of meditation. The observer is the past, his ground is time, his thoughts, images, shadows; so time-binding. Knowledge is time, and freedom from the known is the flowering of meditation. There is no system and so there is no direction to truth, or to the beauty of meditation. To follow another, his example, his word, is to banish truth. Only in the mirror of relationship do you see the face of what is. The seer is the seen. Without the order which virtue brings, meditation and the endless assertions of others have no meaning whatsoever; they are totally irrelevant. The truth has no tradition; it cannot be handed down.

Now, before you meditate, who is the meditator? The meditator says, 'I must meditate'. Who is the meditator? It's still thought, isn't it? Thought has found, learned that it has created this confusion in the world and inwardly, and therefore thought says, 'Now, perhaps I'll be able to find peace through meditation'. So it says, 'I must control thought'. Thought is saying to itself, separating itself as the thinker and the thought and the thinker says, 'I must control thought'. So there is conflict between the thinker and the thought in controlling it, isn't there? Because thought goes off and the thinker says, 'I must hold on'. So there is conflict there, which is a wastage of energy. So the thinker is the product of thought, is he not? Don't say he is the Atman; that is again still the product of thought; so you are caught in a trap. When the thinker says, 'I must control thought' who is the thinker, how has he come into being? Is he not the product of thought? Therefore the thinker is the thought. So you say meditate. Meditation means control of thought. It's up to you. Meditation means control of thought, concentration of thought, and in all that there is conflict because thought wanders off and you try to pull it back. You keep up this game for the next twenty years, or ten days is good enough. So that's a wastage of energy. Whereas if you saw the truth that the thinker is the thought. Thinker is the thought. Without thought there is no thinker.

So when there is no division between the thinker and the thought, conflict comes to an end. Then the division between the thinker and the thought is not, therefore the thought is the thinker, the thinker is the thought. You realize what happens then? When thought is the thinker and the thinker is trying to control thought, dominate thought, twist its tail, there is a division between the two - space - but the thinker is the product of thought, without thought there is no thinker. So when the thinker is the thought and the thought is the thinker, what takes place? […] Therefore, we come to something, which is: when the observer, the thinker is the thought and the observer is the observed, there undergoes a fundamental mutation, and that mutation cannot be described, you have to live it, which is, tested in your daily life. You can't say, 'I have changed and have an ugly life'. So when there is the realization that the observer, the thinker is the thought and the observed, you are altogether functioning in a different dimension, because in that there is no contradiction and therefore no effort. And that is the basis of all free enquiry. And it's only a mind that is free can find out what truth is: free from anxiety, free from the word, free from fear, free from greed, otherwise it cannot possibly find out. You must have a very clear, sensitive mind, not a mind that is twisted, distorted.


Thought and meditation

Thought cannot conceive or formulate to itself the nature of space. Whatever it formulates has within it the limitation of its own boundaries. This is not the space which meditation comes upon. Thought has always a horizon. The meditative mind has no horizon. The mind cannot go from the limited to the immense, nor can it transform the limited into the limitless. The one has to cease for the other to be. Meditation is opening the door into spaciousness which cannot be imagined or speculated upon. Thought is the center round which there is the space of idea, and this space can be expanded by further ideas. But such expansion through stimulation in any form is not the spaciousness in which there is no center. Meditation is the understanding of this center and so going beyond it. Silence and spaciousness go together. The immensity of silence is the immensity of the mind in which a center does not exist. The perception of this space and silence is not of thought. Thought can perceive only its own projection, and the recognition of it is its own frontier.

Imagination and thought have no place in Meditation. They lead to bondage; and meditation brings freedom. The good and the pleasurable are two different things; the one brings freedom and the other leads to the bondage of time. Meditation is the freedom from time. Time is the observer, the experiencer, the thinker, and time is thought; meditation is the going beyond and above the activities of time. Imagination is always in the field of time, and however concealed and secretive it may be, it will act. This action of thought will inevitably lead to conflict and to the bondage of time. To meditate is to be innocent of time.

Meditation is the ending of thought. What is important in meditation is the quality of the mind and the heart. It is not what you achieve, or what you say you attain, but rather the quality of a mind that is innocent and vulnerable. Through negation there is the positive state. Merely to gather, or to live in, experience, denies the purity of meditation.

Meditation really is a complete emptying of the mind. Then there is only functioning of the body; there is only the activity of the organism and nothing else; then thought functions without identification as the me and the non-me. Thought is mechanical, as is the organism. What creates conflict is thought identifying itself with one of its parts which becomes the me, the self and the various divisions in that self. There is no need for the self at any time. There is nothing but the body, and freedom of the mind can only happen when thought is not breeding the me. There is no self to understand but only the thought which creates the self. When there is only the organism without the self, perception, both visual and non-visual can never be distorted. There is only seeing 'what is' and that very perception goes beyond what is. The emptying of the mind is not an activity of thought or an intellectual process. The continuous seeing of what is without any kind of distortion naturally empties the mind of all thought and yet that very mind can use thought when it is necessary. Thought is mechanical and meditation is not.


Meditation is not a means to an end

Meditation is not a means to an end; there is no end, no arrival; it is a movement in time and out of time. Every system, method, binds thought to time, but choice-less awareness of every thought and feeling, understanding of their motives, their mechanism, allowing them to blossom, is the beginning of meditation. When thought and feeling flourish and die, meditation is the movement beyond time.  In this movement there is ecstasy; in complete emptiness there is love, and with love there is destruction and creation.

Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end. The mind can never be made innocent through experience. It is the negation of experience that brings about that positive state of innocence, which cannot be cultivated by thought. Thought is never innocent. Meditation is the ending of thought, not by the meditator, for the meditator is the meditation. If there is no meditation, then you are like a blind man in a world of great beauty, light and colour. Wander by the seashore and let this meditative quality come upon you. If it does, don't pursue it. What you pursue will be the memory of what it was - and what was is the death of what is. Or when you wander among the hills, let everything tell you the beauty and the pain of life, so that you awaken to your own sorrow and to the ending of it. Meditation is the root, the plant, the flower and the fruit. It is words that divide the fruit, the flower, the plant and the root. In this separation action does not bring about goodness: virtue is the total perception.

Meditation is not seeking an end; it is not groping purposefully after a goal. Out of meditation comes immense silence; not cultivated silence, not the silence between two thoughts, between two noises, but a silence that is unimaginable. The brain becomes extraordinarily quiet when in this process of enquiry; when there is silence there is great perception. In this silence there is emptiness, an emptiness that is the summation of all energy.

Meditation demands an astonishingly alert mind; meditation is the understanding of the totality of life in which every form of fragmentation has ceased. Meditation is not control of thought, for when thought is controlled it breeds conflict in the mind, but when you understand the structure and origin of thought, which we have already been into, then thought will not interfere. That very understanding of the structure of thinking is its own discipline, which is meditation.

Meditation is not a search, it's not a seeking, a probing, an exploration. It is an explosion and discovery. It's not the taming of the brain to conform nor is it a self-introspective analysis, it is certainly not the training in concentration which includes, chooses and denies. It's something that comes naturally, when all positive and negative assertions and accomplishments have been understood and drop away easily. It is the total emptiness of the brain. It's the emptiness that is essential, not what's in the emptiness, there is seeing only from emptiness, all virtue, not social morality and respectability, springs from it. It's out of this emptiness love comes, otherwise it's not love. Foundation of righteousness is in this emptiness. It's the end and beginning of all things.


Body and Meditation

Meditation is never the control of the body. There is no actual division between the organism and the mind. The brain, the nervous system and the thing we call the mind are one, indivisible. It is the natural act of meditation that brings about the harmonious movement of the whole. To divide the body from the mind and to control the body with intellectual decisions is to bring about contradiction, from which arise various forms of struggle, conflict and resistance. Every decision to control only breeds resistance, even the determination to be aware. Meditation is the understanding of the division brought about by decision. Freedom is not the act of decision but the act of perception. The seeing is the doing. It is not a determination to see and then to act. After all, will is desire with all it's contradictions. When one desire assumes authority over another, that desire becomes will. In this there is inevitable division. And meditation is the understanding of desire, not the overcoming of one desire by another. Desire is the movement of sensation, which becomes pleasure and fear. This is sustained by the constant dwelling of thought upon one or the other.


Questions and Answers

Q: “What is meditation and how is it related to creativity?”

Krishnamurti: Meditation is a very complex business. This is a dialogue between us. And I said it is a very complex business. The word meditation implies both in Sanskrit and in English, not only the brain concentrating on a certain subject, but also it implies a great deal of attention. But primary the meditation means, in Sanskrit, “to measure”. And also in English etymologically, I believe, it is to measure. The whole question of becoming is involved in it, which is to measure: I am this; I will be that; I am greedy, but I will gradually become non-greedy; which is a form of measurement, which is form of becoming. Both becoming in the affairs of the world and psychologically becoming. That is the whole question of measurement. The Greeks, the ancient Greeks - you know all about that, I don’t have to go into it - were the originators of measurement. Without measurement there would be no technology. And the Asiatic, especially in India, said measurement is illusion, measurement means limitation. I am translating, they didn’t exactly say this; they put it differently. So measurement means comparison, to compare ‘what is’, ‘what should be’, the ideal, the fact, the fact becoming the ideal. All that is implied in meditation.

And also in meditation is implied, the meditator and the meditation. If there is any difficulty in understanding what the speaker is saying jump on him, please, because it is a very complex business. And specially some of the Indian gurus have brought this word into America and made a lot of money out of it. They are multi-millionaires, I have met them. They are appalling beings, the are all out for money.

So in order to inquire into meditation, you have to inquire first not only measurement, but also this constant becoming something, psychologically. Human beings are violent, and the ideal to be in a state of non-violence, which is to become.


Q: Do you set goals for your meditation?

Krishnamurti: I am saying what is implied in the whole structure and the nature of meditation. It is not how to meditate but what is meditation, rather than how. I hope I am making myself clear. And also there is a question involved in that: who is meditating?  And in the most of the systems of meditation, whether the Japanese, and the Hindus, and so on, Tibetan, there is always the controller and the controlled. Right? Are we meeting each other? So there is the controller controlling thought, to quiet the thought, to shape thought according to a purposeful direction. So there is the controller and the controlled. Who is the controller? Please, all this is implied in meditation, not merely to control one’s thought as is generally understood in meditation, whether it is Zen meditation, or the most complex forms of meditation which take place in India, and elsewhere, there is always the director, the entity that controls thought. So they have divided psychologically the thinker and the thought. So the thinker separates himself from the whole activity of thought, and therefore in meditation is implied the controller controlling thought so as to make thought quiet. That is the essence of meditation, to bring about a state of brain - I won’t use the mind for the moment - to make the brain quiet. I’ll explain a little more and go into that.

So there is a division between the controller and the controlled. Right? Who is the controller? Very few people have asked that question. They are all delighted to meditate, hoping to get somewhere - illumination, enlightenment and quietness of the brain, peace of mind and so on. But very, very few people have inquired: who is the controller? May we go on with that? The controller is also thought. The controller is the past, is the entity, or the movement of time as the past and measure. So there is the past that is the thinker, separate from the thought, and the thinker tries to control thought.  Human beings, out of their fear, invented god. And they tried to reach god, which is the ultimate principle, in India it is called Brahman, the ultimate principle. And meditation is to reach the ultimate. So meditation is really very, very complex, it is not just merely meditating for twenty minutes in the morning, twenty minutes in the afternoon, and twenty minutes in the evening - which is taking a siesta, not meditation at all. So if one wants to discover what is meditation one has to ask: why does one have to meditate? One realizes one’s brain is constantly chattering, constantly planning, designing - what it will do, what it has done, the past impinging itself on the present, it is everlasting chattering, chattering, whether the scientific chatter (sorry!) or ordinary daily life chatter, like a housewife chattering endlessly about something or other. So the brain is constantly in movement. Now the idea of meditation is to make the brain quiet, silent, completely attentive, and in that attention find that which is - perhaps you will object to this word ‘eternity’ - or something sacred. That is the intention of those who really have gone into this question. The speaker has gone into this for the last sixty years or more. He has discussed this question with the Zen pundits, with the Zen patriarchs, with the Hindus and Tibetan, and all the rest of the gang. I hope you don’t mind my talking colloquially, do you?

And the speaker refutes all that kind of meditation because their idea of meditation is to achieve an end. The end is the complete control of the brain so that there is no movement of thought. Because when the brain is still, deliberately disciplined, deliberately sought after, it is not silent. It is like achieving something, which is the action of desire. I don’t know if you follow all this. May I go on?

So one has to inquire also, if one is interested in all this, what is desire? Not suppress desire, as the monks and the Indian sannyasis do, suppress desire, or identify desire with something higher - higher principle, higher image, if you are a Christian with Christ and so on. So one has to understand if one wants to find out what is meditation, one has to inquire into desire. All right, sires?