the sensitivity of the heart

Today I am being torn apart by the aggression in our life. It is always just below the surface. We label it nobly, and so we are able to deny it. We say ‘I am irritated’ but it is aggression we feel. We say ‘Look at it my way, I do it this way” and actually we have a judgment of the other and I am thinking ‘Why is the other person so caught up in dogmas and concepts?’. We think ‘That person’s behavior is irresponsible’ and below the surface there is the division between my sphere and his or hers which is the seed of violence. Where is the sensitivity of my heart that is generous enough to allow each to live their own way even when it may look quite insane to me. Especially when their way of life doesn’t threaten mine or harm me. Yes, I am caught in symbols, in words, in platitudes of thought. Seeing this I feel deep sadness.


Our bodies have been made dull, just as our minds and hearts have been dulled, by our education, by our conformity to the pattern which society has set and which denies the sensitivity of the heart. It sends us to war, destroying all our beauty, tenderness and joy. The observation of all this, not verbally or intellectually but actually, makes our body and mind highly sensitive. The body will then demand the right kind of food; then the mind will not be caught in words, in symbols, in platitudes of thought. Then we shall know how to live both in the valley and on the mountaintop; then there will be no division or contradiction between the two.

“The fragmentation of the I and the not-I is surely the basic cause of this division, though the I tries to identify itself with the not-I, which may be the wife, the family, the community, or the formula of God which thought has made, the I is ever striving to find an identity, but what it identifies itself with is still a concept, a memory, a structure of thought.”




Contemplation on the space where violence sprouts:

“… and this thinking-image – because of his isolation – obviously makes a sphere around himself.”

There is space that divides and encloses, and space that is unlimited. The space between man and man, in which grows mischief is the limited space of division; there is division between you as you are and the image you have about yourself; there is division between you and your wife; there is division between what you are and the ideal of what you should be; there is division between hill and hill. And there is the beauty of space that is without the boundary of time and line.

Is there space between thought and thought? Between remembrances? Between actions? Or is there no space at all between thought and thought? Between reason and reason? Between health and ill-health – cause becoming the effect, and the effect becoming the cause?

If there were a break between thought and thought, then thought would be always new, but because there is no break, no space, all thought is old. You may not be conscious of the continuity of a thought; you may pick it up a week later after dropping it, but it has been working within the old boundaries.

So the whole of consciousness, both the conscious and the unconscious – which is an unfortunate word to have to use – is within the limited, narrow space of tradition, culture, custom and remembrance. Technology may take you to the moon, you may build a curving bridge over a chasm or bring some order within the limited space of society, but this again will breed disorder.

Space exists not only beyond the four walls of this room, there is also the space which the room makes. There is the enclosing space, the sphere, which the observer creates around himself through which he sees the observed – which also creates a sphere around itself. When the observer looks at the stars of an evening, his space is limited. He may be able, through a telescope, to see many thousands of light years away, but he is the maker of space and therefore it is finite. The measurement between the observer and the observed is space, and time to cover that space.

There is not only physical space but the psychological dimension in which thought covers itself – as yesterday, today and tomorrow. So long as there is an observer, space is the narrow yard of the prison in which there is no freedom at all.

Question: “But we’d like to ask if you are trying to convey space without the observer? That seems to be utterly impossible, or it might be a fancy of your own.”

Freedom, sir, is not within the prison, however comfortable and decorated it may be. If one has a dialogue with freedom it cannot possibly exist within the boundaries of memory, knowledge and experience. Freedom demands that you break the prison walls, though you may enjoy the limited disorder, the limited slavery, the toil within this boundary.
Freedom is not relative; either there is freedom or there is not. If there is not, then one must accept the narrow, limited life with its conflicts, sorrows and aches – merely bringing about a little change here and there.

Freedom is infinite space. When there is a lack of space there is violence – as with the predator, and the bird who claims his space, his territory, for which he will fight. This violence may be relative under the law and the policeman just as the limited space the predators and the birds demand, for which they will fight, is limited violence. Because of the limited space between man and man aggression must exist.

Question: “Are you trying to tell us, sir, that man will always be in conflict within himself and with the world so long as he lives within the sphere of his own making?”

Yes, sir. So we come to the central issue of freedom. Within the narrow culture of society there is no freedom, and because there is no freedom there is disorder. Living within this disorder man seeks freedom in ideologies, in theories, in what he calls God. This escape is not freedom. It is the yard of the prison again which separates man from man.

Can thought, which has brought this conditioning upon itself, come to an end, break down this structure, and go beyond and above it? Obviously it cannot, and that is the first factor to see. The intellect cannot possibly build a bridge between itself and freedom. Thought, which is the response of memory, experience and knowledge, is always old, as is the intellect, and the old cannot build a bridge to the new. Thought is essentially the observer with his prejudices, fears and anxieties, and this thinking-image – because of his isolation – obviously makes a sphere around himself. Thus there is a distance between the observer and the observed. The observer tries to establish a relationship preserving this distance – and so there is conflict and violence.

In all this there is no fancy. Imagination in any form destroys truth. Freedom is beyond thought; freedom means infinite space not created by the observer. Coming upon this freedom is meditation.

There is no space without silence, and silence is not put together by time as thought. Time will never give freedom; order is possible only when the heart is not covered over with words.

(Krishnamurti, The Only Revolution pp 92 97)





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