Jiddu Krishnamurti – True religion and Meditation

Self-knowledge. This is a series of fourteen
lectures by J krishnamurti This talk was recorded at Ojai in 1949 The topic for today talk is true religion
and meditation I would like this morning, to discuss what
is true religion, but in order to find out what it is, we must first examine our life,
and not superimpose on it something we think is spiritual, romantic, sentimental. So, let
us examine our life to find out what we mean by religion, and if there is a way of discovering
what is true religion. First of all, for most of us, life is full
of conflict; we are in pain, we are in sorrow. Our life is boring, empty; and there is always
death, and there are the innumerable explanations. Life is mostly a constant repetition of habit.
Taken as a whole, it is painful and tiresome, wearisome and sorrowful, and that is the lot
of most of us. To escape from that, we turn to beliefs, to rituals, to knowledge, to amusements,
to politics, to activity: we welcome any form of escape from our daily, tiresome, boring
routine. These escapes, whether political or religious, must, by their very nature,
likewise become tiresome, routine, habitual. We move from sensation to sensation; and ultimately,
all sensation must become boring, tiresome. As our life is mostly a response from our
physical centres, and as it causes disturbance, pain, we try to escape into what we call religion,
into spiritual realms. Now, as long as we are seeking sensation in
any form, it must eventually lead to boredom; because one is surfeited, one gets tired of
it – which is, again, an obvious fact. The more sensations you have, the more tiresome
they become at the end, the more boring, the more habitual. And is religion a matter of
sensation? – religion being the search for reality, and the discovery, the understanding,
or the experiencing of the highest. Is that a matter of sensation, a matter of sentiment,
a matter of appeal? To most of us, religion is a set of beliefs, dogmas, rituals, a constant
repetition of organized formulae, and so on. If you examine these things you will see that
they also are the outcome of the desire for sensation. You go to churches, temples, or
to mosques, and you repeat certain phrases, you indulge in certain ceremonies. They are
all stimulations, they give you a certain kind of sensation; and you are satisfied with
that sensation, giving it a high-sounding name, but it is essentially sensation. You
are caught in sensation, you like the impressions, the feeling of being good, the repetition
of certain prayers, and so on. But, if one goes into it deeply and intelligently, one
finds that basically they are only sensation; and although they may vary in expression and
give you a feeling of newness, they are essentially sensation, and therefore ultimately boring,
tiresome, habit-forming. So, obviously, religion is not ceremony. Religion
is not dogma. Religion is not the continuation of certain tenets or beliefs, inculcated from
childhood. Whether you believe in God, or don’t believe in God, does not make you a
religious person. Belief does not make you a religious person, surely. The man who drops
an atomic bomb and destroys in a few minutes thousands upon thousands of people, may believe
in God; and the person who leads a dull life and also believes in God or the person who
does not believe in God, – surely, they are not religious. Belief or non-belief has nothing
to do with the search for reality, or with the discovery and the experiencing of that
reality, which is religion. It is the experiencing of reality that is religion; and it does not
lie through any organized belief, through any church, through any knowledge, either
eastern or western. Religion is the capacity of experiencing directly that which is immeasurable,
that which cannot be put into words; but that cannot be experienced, so long as we are escaping
from life, from life which we have made so dull, so empty, so much a matter of routine.
Life, which is relationship, has become a matter of routine, because inwardly there
is no creative intensity, because inwardly we are poor, and therefore outwardly we try
to fill that emptiness with belief, with amusement, with knowledge, with various forms of excitement. That emptiness, that inward poverty, can come
to an end only when we cease to escape; and we cease to escape when we are no longer seeking
sensation. Then we are able to face that emptiness. That emptiness is not different from us: we
are that emptiness. As we were discussing yesterday, thought is not different from the
thinker. The emptiness is not different from the observer who feels that emptiness. The
observer and the observed are a joint phenomenon; and when you experience that directly, then
you will find that the thing which you have dreaded as emptiness – which makes you seek
escape into various forms of sensation, including religion – ceases, and you are able to face
it and be it. Because we have not understood the significance of escapes, how escapes have
come into being; because we have not examined them, gone into them fully, these escapes
have become much more significant, much more meaningful, than that which is. The escapes
have conditioned us; and because we have escaped, we are not creative in ourselves. There is
creativeness in us when we are experiencing reality constantly, but not continuously – because
there is a difference between continuity, and experiencing from moment to moment. That
which continues, decays. That which is being experienced from moment to moment, has no
death, no decay. If we can experience something from moment to moment, it has a vitality,
life; if we can meet life anew all the time, then in that there is creativeness. But to
have an experience which you desire to continue – in that there is decay. So many people have had some kind of pleasurable
experience, and they want that experience to continue. So they go back to it, they revive
it, they look to it, they lone for it, they are miserable because it doesn’t continue;
and therefore there is a constant decaying process taking place. Whereas, if there is
experiencing from moment to moment, there is a renewal. It is that renewal that is creative;
and you cannot have that renewal, that creative elan, if your mind is occupied with escapes
and caught in those things that we have taken for granted. That is why we have to re-examine
all of the values that we have gathered; and one of the main values in our life is religion,
which is so organized. We belong to one or other of the various organized religions,
groups, sects, or societies, because it gives us a certain sense of security. To be identified
with the largest organization, or with the smallest, or the most exclusive, gives us
satisfaction. It is only when we are capable of re-examining all these influences which
are conditioning us, which help us to escape from our own boredom, from our own emptiness,
from our own lack of creative responsibility and creative joy; it is only when we have
examined them and come back, having put them aside and faced that which is – only then,
surely, are we capable of really going into the whole problem of what is truth. Because,
in doing that, there is a possibility of self-knowledge. The whole process is self-knowledge; and it
is only when there is the knowledge of this process that there is a possibility of thinking,
feeling, acting rightly. We can not practise right thinking in order to be free from the
process of thought; to be free, one must know oneself. Self knowledge is the beginning of
wisdom and without self-knowledge, there can be no wisdom. There can be knowledge, sensation;
but sensation is wearisome, boring, whereas that wisdom which is eternal can never decay,
can never come to an end. Question: I find that, by effort, I can concentrate.
I can suppress or put aside thoughts that come uninvited. I do not find that suppression
is a hindrance to my well-being. Of course, I dream; but I can interpret the dream and
resolve the conflict. A friend tells me that I am becoming smug, do you think he can be
right? (Laughter) Krishnamurti: Now, let us first understand
what we mean by effort, and what we mean by concentration. Do we understand anything through
effort? – effort being exertion of will, action of will, which is desire. By the action of
will to understand that is by deliberately making an effort, do we under- stand? Or is
understanding something entirely different, which comes, not through effort, but through
passive alertness? – which is not the action of will. When do you understand? Have you
ever examined it? When do you understand? Not when you are battling with something,
with some object which you want to understand. Surely, there is no understanding when you
are constantly probing, questioning, tearing to pieces, analyzing – in that there is no
understanding. It is only when the mind is passively aware and alert, that is, immediately
in contact with or experiencing that thing, that there is a possibility of understanding
it, surely. Please, to some of you what I am saying may be outrageous, or new; but experiment
with it, don’t reject it right off. When we are in battle with each other, in
conflict with each other, is there an understanding? It is only when you and I sit down quietly,
discuss, try to find out, that there is a possibility of understanding. So, effort is
obviously detrimental to understanding. That is, you may have a problem, you may go into
it, worry over it, tear it to pieces, look at it from different sides. In that process,
there is no understanding. It is only when the mind leaves the problem alone, lets it
drop, only when the mind becomes quiet in relation to the problem, that there is understanding
of it. But whether conflict, analysis, is a necessary step in understanding, is quite
a different question, which we won’t go into now. Then there is concentration. What do you mean
by concentration? Fixing the mind on a particular object to the exclusion of other interests,
isn’t it? That is what we mean by concentration: to fix the mind on an idea, an image, an interest,
and exclude all other interests – which is a form of suppression. And the questioner
says that it does not do him any harm; though he has dreams, he can easily interpret and
put them aside. Now, what does such concentration do? What
does exclusion do? What is the result of exclusion? Obviously, conflict, isn’t it? I may have
the capacity to concentrate on one thing and exclude others; but the others are still there,
wanting to come in. Therefore, there is a conflict going on – whether I am conscious
of it or not is not the point; but there is conflict. And as long as that conflict continues
there is no understanding surely. I may be able to concentrate; but as long as there
is conflict within me between that which attracts my attention, and that which I am excluding
– as long as there is conflict in me, it must have a wrong effect. Because, suppression
of any kind must psychologically tear, making me either physically ill, or mentally unbalanced.
What is suppressed must eventually come out, and one way is through dreams. The questioner
says he can interpret his dreams and thereby get rid of them. Apparently he feels satisfied
with this, and he wants to know if he is smug. As long as you are satisfied with the result,
obviously you must be smug. Most of us hate to be in discontent; and being discontented
inwardly, as most of us are, we find ways and means to cover up that discontent, that
burning thing. And one of the escapes, one of the best ways of covering up this discontent,
is to learn concentration, so that you can successfully conceal your discontent. Then
you can fix your mind on an interest and go after it, and feel that you have at last conquered,
canalized your discontent. But, surely, discontent cannot be canalized by the mind, because the
mind in its very nature is discontent. That is why mere concentration, which is exclusion,
does not bring about freedom from discontent – which is to understand it. Concentration.
which is a process of exclusion, does not bring understanding; but, as I was explaining
yesterday, if you go after each interest as each interest arises, if you go into it, examine
it, understand it –
then there is a possibility of coming to a different kind of attention which is not exclusion.
We will discuss this presently, in another question. Question: How can we ever start anew, as you
constantly suggest, if the cup of our experience is permanently sullied? How can we really
forget that which we are? Will you please explain what is meant by self-forgetfulness.
How can I throw away the cup, which I am? Krishnamurti: Renewal is possible only if
there is no continuity. That which continues has no possibility of renewal; that which
ends has a possibility of renewal. That which dies has a possibility of being reborn. And,
when you say that you are sullied permanently, which is but a verbal assertion, then, surely,
you are merely continuing. When you say you are permanently sullied, is that a fact? And,
how is it possible to forget what we are? We cannot forget what we are; but we can examine
what we are, we can be aware, without any justification or identification, of what we
are. Be aware of it, and you will see there comes a transformation. But the difficulty
is to be passively aware, without condemnation; only then is there an ending. But if you merely
identify, condemn, then you give continuity to that particular character; and that which
continues has no reality, has no renewal. “Will you please explain what is meant by
self-forgetfulness.” Don’t you know? Don’t you know those moments when one is happy,
when one is peaceful, when one is very quiet? Does not a state come into being in which
no effort is involved, in which there is a cessation of the thought process as myself?
As long as there is self-consciousness as the me, there can be no forgetfulness of the
activities of the me. Any action of the will, of desire, obviously must cultivate and strengthen
the self; and the self is the bundle of memories, characteristics, idiosyncrasies, which creates
conflict. As long as there is conflict, there must be self-consciousness; and if there is
conflict, there can never be peace, however deeply concealed, at whatever level that conflict
may be. “How can I throw away the cup, which I am?”
Why do you want to throw away the cup? You cannot, surely, throw it away. All that you
can do is to know it – all the intricacies, the subtleties, the extraordinary depth of
oneself. When you know something, you are free of it; but merely to reject it, to suppress
it, to sublimate it to translate it into different verbal expressions, is surely not understanding;
and only in understanding something, is there freedom from it. You cannot understand something
if there is continued identity with it. So there is renewal only when there is no continuity.
But most of our intentions, purposes, thoughts, are to continue. In name, in property, in
virtue, in everything we are struggling to establish a permanency, and therefore a continuity;
and in that there is no renewal, there is no creativeness. Surely, creativeness comes
into being only from moment to moment. Question: Will you please carefully explain
what is true meditation. There are so many systems of meditation. Are they really varied
basically, or are the variations due to the personal idiosyncrasies of their proponents? Krishnamurti: This is really an important
question, and if I may suggest, let us go into it together. Because, meditation has
a great deal of significance. It may be the door to real self-knowledge, and it may open
the door to reality; and in opening the door and experiencing directly, there is a possibility
of understanding life, which is relationship. Meditation, the right kind of meditation,
is essential. So, let us find out what is the right kind of meditation; and to find
out what is right, we must approach it negatively. Merely to say this or that is right meditation
will give you only a pattern, which you will adopt, practise; and that will not be right
meditation. So, as I am talking about it, please follow me closely and experience it
as we go along together. Because, there are different types of meditation, I do not know
if any of you have practised them, or have indulged in them – gone away by yourself in
a locked room, sat in a dark corner, and so on and so on. So, let us examine the whole
process of what we call meditation. First of all, let us take the meditation in
which discipline is involved. Any form of discipline only strengthens the self; and,
the self is a source of contention, conflict. That is, if we discipline ourselves to be
something, as so many people do – `this month I am going to be kind, I am going to practise
kindliness, and so on’, – such discipline, such practice, is bound to strengthen the
me. You may be outwardly kind; but, surely, a man who practises kindliness and is conscious
of his kindliness, is not kind. So, that practice, which people also call meditation, is obviously
not the right kind; because, as we discussed yesterday, if you practise something, in that
the mind is caught, and so there is no freedom. But, most of us desire a result – that is,
we hope to be kind at the end of the month, or at the end of a certain period, because
teachers have said that ultimately we must be kind in order to find God. Since our desire
is to find God as the ultimate source of our security and happiness, we buy God through
kindliness – which is obviously the strengthening of the me and the mine, a self-enclosing process;
and anything that encloses, any action that is binding, can never give freedom. Surely,
that is obvious. Perhaps we can discuss it another time if it is not clear. Then, there is this whole process of concentration,
which is also called meditation. You sit crossed-legged, because that is the fashion from India, or
in a chair, in a dark room, in front of a picture or an image, and you try to concentrate
on a word, on a phrase, or a mental image, and exclude all other thoughts. I am sure
many of you have done this. But the other thoughts keep pouring in, and you push them
out; and you keep on with the struggle till you are able to concentrate on one thought
to the exclusion of everything else. Then you feel gratified: at last you have learned
to fix your mind on a point, which you think is essential. Again, through exclusion, do
you find anything? Through exclusion, suppression, denial, can the mind be quiet? Because, as
I said, there can be understanding only when the mind is really quiet, not suppressed,
not so concentrated on one idea that it becomes exclusive – whether the idea is of a Master,
or of some virtue, or what you will. Through concentration, the mind can never be quiet.
Superficially, at the higher levels of consciousness, you may enforce stillness, make your body
perfectly still, your mind very quiet; but that, surely, is not the quietness of your
whole being. So, again, that is not meditation; that is merely compulsion: when the engine
wants to run at full speed, you hold it back, you put on the brake. Whereas, if you are
able to examine every interest, every thought that comes into your mind, go into it fully,
completely, think every thought out – then there will be no wandering of the mind, because
the mind has found the value of each thought, therefore it is no longer attracted, which
means there is no distraction. A mind that is capable of being distracted, and which
resists distraction, is not capable of meditation. Because, what is distraction? I hope you are
experimenting with what I am saying, experiencing as I am talking, to find out the truth of
this matter. It is the truth that liberates, not my words or your opinions. We call distraction any movement away from
that in which we think we should be interested. So you choose a particular interest, a so-called
noble interest, and fix your mind on it; but any movement away from it, is a distraction,
so you resist distraction. But why do you choose that one particular interest? Obviously,
because it is gratifying, because it gives you a sense of security, a sense of fullness,
a sense of otherness. So you say, `I must fix my mind on that’, and any movement away
from it, is a distraction. You spend your life in battle against distractions, and fix
your mind on something else. Whereas, if you examine every distraction, and not merely
fix your mind on a particular attraction, then you will see that the mind is no longer
capable of being distracted, because it has understood the distractions as well as the
attractions, and therefore the mind is capable of extraordinary, extensive awareness without
exclusion. So, concentration is not meditation, and disciplining is not meditation. Then, there are prayers, this whole problem
of praying and receiving. That also is called meditation. What do we mean by praying? The
gross form is supplication, and there are subtle forms at different levels of prayer.
The gross form we all know. I am in trouble, I am in misery, physically or psychologically,
and I want some help. So I beg, I supplicate; and, obviously, there is an answer. If there
were no answer, people would not pray. Millions pray. You pray only when you are
in trouble, not when you are happy, not when
there is that extraordinary sense of otherness. Now, what happens when you pray? You have
a formula, haven’t you? By repetition of a formula, the superficial mind becomes quiet,
doesn’t it? Try it, and you will see. By repeating certain phrases or words, gradually you will
see your being becomes quiet. That is, your superficial consciousness is calm; and then,
in that state, you are able to receive, aren’t you?, the intimations of something else. So.
through calming the mind by a repetitive word, by so-called prayers, you may receive hints
and intimations, not only from the subconscious, but from anything around you; but, surely,
that is not meditation. Because, what you receive must be gratifying otherwise you would
reject it. So when you pray and thereby quiet the mind, your desire is to solve a particular
problem, or a confusion, or something which gives you pain. Therefore, you are seeking
an answer which will be gratifying. And when you see this, you say, `I must not seek gratification,
I will be open to something which is painful’. The mind is so capable of playing tricks upon
itself, that one must be aware of the whole content of this question of prayer. One has
learned a trick, how to quiet the mind so that it can receive certain answers, pleasurable
or not pleasurable. But that is not meditation, is it? Then, there is this question of devotion to
somebody, pouring out your love to God, to an image, to some saint, to some Master. Is
that meditation? Why do you pour out your love to God, to that which you cannot possibly
know? Why are we so attracted to the unknown, and give our lives, our being, to it? This
whole question of devotion, does it not indicate that, being miserable in our own lives, having
no vital relationship with other human beings, we try to project ourselves into something,
into the unknown, and worship the unknown? You know, people who are devoted to somebody,
to some God, to some image, to some Master, are generally cruel, obstinate. They are intolerant
of others, they are willing to destroy others, because they have so identified themselves
with that image, with that Master, with that experience. So, again, the outpouring of devotion
to an object, self-created or created by another, is surely not meditation. So, what is meditation? If none of these things
are meditation – discipline, concentration, prayer, devotion – , then what is meditation?
Those are the forms we know, with which we are familiar. But, to find out that, with
which we are not familiar, we have first to be free of those things with which we are
familiar, haven’t we? If they are not true, then they must be set aside. Then only, are
you capable of finding out what is right meditation. If we have been accustomed to false values,
those false values must cease, must they not?, to find out the new value – not because I
say so, but because you think it out, feel it out for yourself. And when they have gone,
what have you left? What is the residue of your examination of these things? Do they
not reveal the process of your own thinking? If you have indulged in these things, and
you see that they are false, you find out why you have indulged in them; and therefore,
the very examination of all this reveals the way of your own thinking. So, the examination
of these things is the beginning of self-knowledge, is it not? So, meditation is the beginning of self-knowledge.
Without self-knowledge, you may sit in a corner, meditate on the Masters, develop virtues – they
are all illusions, and they have no meaning for the person who really wants to discover
what is right meditation. Because, with- out self-knowledge, you yourself project an image
which you call the Master, and that becomes your object of devotion for which you are
willing to sacrifice, to build, to destroy. Therefore, as I have explained, there is a
possibility of self-knowledge, only as we examine our relationship to these things,
which reveals the process of our own thinking; and therefore there is a clarity in our whole
being; and this is the beginning of understanding, of self-knowledge. Without self-knowledge,
there can be no meditation; and without meditation, there can be no self-knowledge. Shutting yourself
up in a corner, sitting in front of a picture, developing virtues month by month – a different
virtue each month, green, purple, white, and all the rest of it – going to churches, performing
ceremonies: none of those things are meditation, or real spiritual life. Spiritual life arises
in the understanding of relationship, which is the beginning of self-knowledge. Now, when you have gone through that, and
have abandoned all those processes, which only reveal the self and its activity, then
there is a possibility that the mind can be not only superficially quiet, but inwardly
quiet; for then there is a cessation of all demands. There is no pursuit of sensation;
there is no sense of becoming, myself becoming something, in the future, or tomorrow. The
Master, the initiate, the pupil, the Buddha, you know, climbing the ladder of success,
becoming something – all that has stopped, because all that implies the process of becoming.
There is a cessation of becoming only when there is the understanding of what is; and
the understanding of what is, comes through self-knowledge, which reveals exactly what
one is. And when there is the cessation of all desire, which can only come through self-knowledge,
the mind is quiet. The cessation of desire cannot come through
compulsion, through prayer, through devotion, through concentration. All these merely emphasize
the conflict of desire in the opposites. But when there is the cessation of all these,
then the mind is really still – not only superficially, on the higher levels, but inwardly, deeply.
Then only, is it possible for it to receive that which is immeasurable. The understanding
of all this is meditation, not just one part of it. Because, if we do not know how to meditate,
we will not know how to act. Action, after all, is self-knowledge, in relationship; and
merely to shut yourself in a sacred room with incense burning, reading about other people’s
meditations and their significance, is utterly useless, it has no meaning. It is a marvellous
escape. But to be aware of all this human activity, which is ourselves – the desire
to attain, the desire to conquer, the desire to have certain virtues, all emphasizing the
me as important in the now or in the future, this becoming of the me – , to be aware of
all that, in its totality, is the beginning of self-knowledge and the beginning of meditation.
Then you will see, if you are really aware, that there comes a marvellous transformation,
which is not a verbal expression, which is not verbalization, mere repetition, sensation.
But actually, really, vigorously, there takes place a thing which cannot be named, which
cannot be termed. And that is not the gift of the few, it is not the gift of the Masters:
self-knowledge is possible for everybody, if you are willing to experiment, try. You
don’t have to join any society, read any book, or be at the feet of any Master; for self-knowledge
liberates you from all that absurdity, the stupidities of human invention. And then only,
through self-knowledge and right meditation, there is freedom. In that freedom there comes
reality; but you cannot have reality through mental processes. It must come to you; and
it can only come to you when there is freedom from desire.


  1. most of the religions today existed are not true religions .the masters reached their destiny. only one religion is a living religion with a true master.

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