Our greater Being is a boundless ocean of energy. Every movement of energy by the various streams of energy of which this ocean consists, leaves an impression. These impressions are one aspect of what we call memory. Without the faculty of storing past impressions we could not even know that we are. Memory is thus a fundamental aspect of manifest consciousness. The data which sentient beings have accumulated over eons allows us to learn how to interact smoothly with the external conditions we call ‘the world’. When an impression is retained on our brain, it creates an infinitesimal (or larger) scar on the brain tissue. These ‘scratches on the mind’ as Krishnamurti calls them, produce what is known as conditioned consciousness. There is also stored information accessible to us that is not directly stored in the brain and which has been called akashic (or space) storage of information.
In this context I am focusing on the scratches of memory in our individual minds. I can hold on to and retain such memory impressions or I can allow them to dissipate. When I do that my brain, my mind, can regenerate and be like that of a newborn, or at least much less conditioned than when I deliberately hold on to memories of all kinds.
The inner posture of letting go of past impressions of other people, events, and of things is a posture of trust and confidence that I will ‘know’ whatever is required for me to successfully meet any challenge that arises in my life. This ‘knowing’ is not of the linear kind as when I call up past experiences, rather it is the result of a hemisphere-synchronized brain (see this article by Erwin Laszlo) that has access to the big mind, as it is known in Zen.
With this trust comes the courage to let go of all that which comes from the past and clogs my direct perception of the event that is right before my eyes, which is new and fresh. Almost all of the activity of my memory constitutes the flow of conditioned consciousness. To the extent that I can disengage myself from that flow (of the past), I become immersed in the flow of NOW consciousness, which is free of time, of the past, of the future and of all anxiety and fear. In this different dimension of consciousness my brain can regenerate and become fresh and young again. In this state I am able to meet and interact with all conditions as a new person, as my true person.
Below you will find Chapter 11 of Krishnamurti’s book Freedom from the Known, in which he expounds on this phenomenon.
“So is it possible to meet a problem immediately without any distortion
and be immediately, completely, free of it and
not allow a memory, a scratch on the mind,
WE HAVE BEEN enquiring into the nature of love and have come to a point, I think, which needs much greater penetration, a much greater awareness of the issue. We have discovered that for most people love means comfort, security, a guarantee for the rest of their lives of continuous emotional satisfaction. Then someone like me comes along and says, ‘Is that really love?’ and questions you and asks you to look inside yourself. And you try not to look because it is very disturbing – you would rather discuss the soul or the political or economic situation – but when you are driven into a corner to look, you realize that what you have always thought of as love is not love at all; it is a mutual gratification, a mutual exploitation.
When I say, `Love has no tomorrow and no yesterday’, or, `When there is no centre then there is love’, it has reality for me but not for you. You may quote it and make it into a formula but that has no validity. You have to see it for yourself, but to do so there must be freedom to look, freedom from all condemnation, all judgement all agreeing or disagreeing.
Now, to look is one of the most difficult things in life – or to listen – to look and listen are the same. If your eyes are blinded with your worries, you cannot see the beauty of the sunset. Most of us have lost touch with nature. Civiliza- tion is tending more and more towards large cities; we are becoming more and more an urban people, living in crowded apartments and having very little space even to look at the sky of an evening and morning, and therefore we are losing touch with a great deal of beauty. I don’t know if you have noticed how few of us look at a sunrise or a sunset or the moonlight or the reflection of light on water.
Having lost touch with nature we naturally tend to develop intellectual capacities. We read a great many books, go to a great many museums and concerts, watch television and have many other entertainments. We quote endlessly from other people’s ideas and think and talk a great deal about art. Why is it that we depend so much upon art? Is it a form of escape, of stimulation? If you are directly in contact with nature; if you watch the movement of a bird on the wing, see the beauty of every movement of the sky, watch the shadows on the hills or the beauty on the face of another, do you think you will want to go to any museum to look at any picture? Perhaps it is because you do not know how to look at all the things about you that you resort to some form of drug to stimulate you to see better.
There is a story of a religious teacher who used to talk every morning to his disciples. One morning he got on to the platform and was just about to begin when a little bird came and sat on the window sill and began to sing, and sang away with full heart. Then it stopped and flew away and the teacher said, `The sermon for this morning is over’.
It seems to me that one of our greatest difficulties is to see for ourselves really clearly, not only outward things but inward life. When we say we see a tree or a flower or a person, do we actually see them? Or do we merely see the image that the word has created? That is, when you look at a tree or at a cloud of an evening full of light and delight, do you actually see it, not only with your eyes and intellectually, but totally, completely?
Have you ever experimented with looking at an objective thing like a tree without any of the associations, any of the knowledge you have acquired about it, without any prejudice, any judgement, any words forming a screen between you and the tree and preventing you from seeing it as it actually is? Try it and see what actually takes place when you observe the tree with all your being, with the totality of your energy. In that intensity you will find that there is no observer at all; there is only attention. It is when there is inattention that there is the observer and the observed. When you are looking at something with complete attention there is no space for a conception, a formula or a memory. This is important to understand because we are going into something which requires very careful investigation.
It is only a mind that looks at a tree or the stars or the sparkling waters of a river with complete self-abandonment that knows what beauty is, and when we are actually seeing we are in a state of love. We generally know beauty through comparison or through what man has put together, which means that we attribute beauty to some object. I see what I consider to be a beautiful building and that beauty I appreciate because of my knowledge of architecture and by comparing it with other buildings I have seen. But now I am asking myself, `Is there a beauty without object?’ When there is an observer who is the censor, the experiencer, the thinker, there is no beauty because beauty is something external, something the observer looks at and judges, but when there is no observer – and this demands a great deal of meditation, of enquiry then there is beauty without the object.
Beauty lies in the total abandonment of the observer and the observed and there can be self-abandonment only when there is total austerity – not the austerity of the priest with its harshness, its sanctions, rules and obedience – not austerity in clothes, ideas, food and behaviour – but the austerity of being totally simple which is complete humility. Then there is no achieving, no ladder to climb; there is only the first step and the first step is the everlasting step.
Say you are walking by yourself or with somebody and you have stopped talking. You are surrounded by nature and there is no dog barking, no noise of a car passing or even the flutter of a bird. You are completely silent and nature around you is also wholly silent. In that state of silence both in the observer and the observed – when the observer is not translating what he observes into thought – in that silence there is a different quality of beauty. There is neither nature nor the observer. There is a state of mind wholly, completely, alone; it is alone – not in isolation – alone in stillness and that stillness is beauty. When you love, is there an observer? There is an observer only when love is desire and pleasure. When desire and pleasure are not associated with love, then love is intense. It is, like beauty, something totally new every day. As I have said, it has no today and no tomorrow.
It is only when we see without any preconception, any image, that we are able to be in direct contact with anything in life. All our relationships are really imaginary – that is, based on an image formed by thought. If I have an image about you and you have an image about me, naturally we don’t see each other at all as we actually are. What we see is the images we have formed about each other which prevent us from being in contact, and that is why our relationships go wrong.
When I say I know you, I mean I knew you yesterday. I do not know you actually now. All I know is my image of you. That image is put together by what you have said in praise of me or to insult me, what you have done to me – it is put together by all the memories I have of you – and your image of me is put together in the same way, and it is those images which have relationship and which prevent us from really communing with each other.
Two people who have lived together for a long time have an image of each other which prevents them from really being in relationship. If we understand relationship we can co-operate but co-operation cannot possibly exist through images, through symbols, through ideological conceptions. Only when we understand the true relationship between each other is there a possibility of love, and love is denied when we have images. Therefore it is important to understand, not intellectually but actually in your daily life, how you have built images about your wife, your husband, your neighbour, your child, your country, your leaders, your politicians, your gods – you have nothing but images.
These images create the space between you and what you observe and in that space there is conflict, so what we are going to find out now together is whether it is possible to be free of the space we create, not only outside ourselves but in ourselves, the space which divides people in all their relationships.
Now the very attention you give to a problem is the energy that solves that problem. When you give your complete attention – I mean with everything in you – there is no observer at all. There is only the state of attention which is total energy, and that total energy is the highest form of intelligence. Naturally that state of mind must be completely silent and that silence, that stillness, comes when there is total attention, not disciplined stillness. That total silence in which there is neither the observer nor the thing observed is the highest form of a religious mind. But what takes place in that state cannot be put into words because what is said in words is not the fact. To find out for yourself you have to go through it.
Every problem is related to every other problem so that if you can solve one problem completely – it does not matter what it is – you will see that you are able to meet all other problems easily and resolve them. We are talking, of course, of psychological problems. We have already seen that a problem exists only in time, that is when we meet the issue incompletely. So not only must we be aware of the nature and structure of the problem and see it completely, but meet it as it arises and resolve it immediately so that it does not take root in the mind.
If one allows a problem to endure for a month or a day, or even for a few minutes, it distorts the mind. So is it possible to meet a problem immediately without any distortion and be immediately, completely, free of it and not allow a memory, a scratch on the mind, to remain? These memories are the images we carry about with us and it is these images which meet this extraordinary thing called life and therefore there is a contradiction and hence conflict. Life is very real – life is not an abstraction – and when you meet it with images there are problems.
Is it possible to meet every issue without this space-time interval, without the gap between oneself and the thing of which one is afraid? It is possible only when the observer has no continuity, the observer who is the builder of the image, the observer who is a collection of memories and ideas, who is a bundle of abstractions.
When you look at the stars there is you who are looking at the stars in the sky; the sky is flooded with brilliant stars, there is cool air, and there is you, the observer, the experiencer, the thinker, you with your aching heart, you, the centre, creating space. You will never understand about the space between yourself and the stars, yourself and your wife or husband, or friend, because you have never looked without the image, and that is why you do not know what beauty is or what love is. You talk about it, you write about it, but you have never known it except perhaps at rare intervals of total self-abandonment. So long as there is a centre creating space around itself there is neither love nor beauty.
When there is no centre and no circumference then there is love. And when you love you are beauty.
When you look at a face opposite, you are looking from a centre and the centre creates the space between person and person, and that is why our lives are so empty and callous. You cannot cultivate love or beauty, nor can you invent truth, but if you are all the time aware of what you are doing, you can cultivate awareness and out of that awareness you will begin to see the nature of pleasure, desire and sorrow and the utter loneliness and boredom of man, and then you will begin to come upon that thing called `the space’.
When there is space between you and the object you are observing you will know there is no love, and without love, however hard you try to reform the world or bring about a new social order or however much you talk about improvements, you will only create agony. So it is up to you. There is no leader, there is no teacher, there is nobody to tell you what to do. You are alone in this mad brutal world.
source: Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, PDF file, pp. 72 -77