What is Meditation? – Krishnamurti

Dear Friends,

This following text of Krishnamurti is another passage from one of my favorite books of his: “This Light In Oneself 

The first passage  from this book that I published on Heartflow was in the post Observing from a Quiet Mind – Krishnamurti

The selections in the book “This Light in Oneself” present the core of Krishnamurti’s teaching on meditation, taken from discussions with small groups, as well as from public talks to large audiences. His main theme is the essential need to look inward, to know ourselves, in order really to understand our own—and the world’s—conflicts. We are the world, says Krishnamurti, and it is our individual chaos that creates social disorder. He offers timeless insights into the source of true freedom and wisdom. 

 traceless man walking

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 self—the 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.

Dynamic tranquility: the Buddha in contemplation.

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 out 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 fulfilment, in relationship—out of that comes a mind that is completely still. Not thought is still—you understand the difference? Most people are trying to control their thoughts, rock five cropped smallhoping 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.

J. Krishnamurti, This Light In Oneself, chapter: A Sacred Life, p. 73 – 75

wordcloud Meditation Krishnamurti


15 thoughts on “What is Meditation? – Krishnamurti

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  8. “Thought can never be new. Thought can never bring about freedom.” Thanks again, Tomas, for another beautiful post. To understand that thought is movement–experience, knowledge, memory–is freeing as one observes the activities of the self but is not the observer. I read and re-read this post for each time is another time. Your blog is such a loving heartbeat for us all, Tomas.

  9. Lovely post, thanks for bringing this in front of us. “Awareness is a state of mind in which the observer with its choice is not”-for me that is a perfect description of the indescribable!

    • Indeed! Choiceless awareness sounds simple, but the choice making keeps cropping up. The deeper understanding of what K points to is seeping in as i continue to contemplate and ponder his meaning. ☼ Thanks for you response! Tomas ♥

  10. I have read this text innumerable times, but like never before the quote that Playamart – Zeebra Designs also has paid regard to – the guilt that you cultivate and hold on to as though it were some precious thing instead of throwing it away – kind of reached me today.

    Tks for posting this!

    • Yes, Julien and Lisa, that is exactly the sentence that struck deep in me and prompted me to post this passage. I recognized the truth of that in my life right now – maybe it is something that humanity planet-wide is ready to finally give up. It sure would be time, now that the whole centuries-old farce of the Catholic church is being revealed. I really get how we have all been manipulated in so many ways to actually ‘cultivate guilt’ – as K says it. Yes, I was raised Roman Catholic… 😉

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