Question: There are several systems of , both Occidental and . Which do you recommend?
Jiddu Krishnamurti : To understand what is right meditation is really a very complex problem, and to know how to meditate, how to be in the state of meditation, is important; but to follow any system, whether Occidental or Oriental, is not to meditate. When you follow a system, all that you learn is to conform, to shape the mind to a particular pattern or drive it along a particular groove. If you pursue it ardently enough, you will produce the result that the system guarantees, but surely, that is not meditation. There is a lot of nonsense taught about meditation, especially by those people who come from the Orient. (Laughter) Please don’t laugh or clap – this is not that kind of meeting. We are trying to find out what meditation is.
You can see that those who pursue a system, who drive the mind into certain practices, obviously condition the mind according to that formula. Therefore, the mind is not free. It is only the free mind that can discover, not a mind conditioned according to any system, whether Oriental or Occidental. Conditioning is the same, by whatever name you may call it. To see the truth there must be freedom, and a mind that is conditioned according to a system can never see the truth.
Now, to see the truth that there can be no freedom through the discipline of any system requires theof the process of the mind, because the mind clings to systems, to beliefs, to particular formulas. To discover the truth of that, surely you have to see that you are caught in a system, and to be aware of the process by which the mind gets caught in a system is meditation. To be aware of the whole process of thinking is self- , is it not?
So, meditation is the beginning of self-knowledge. Without knowing the process of your own thinking, merely to sit in a corner and go off into silence, or whatever you do, is not meditation – it is just a wish to become, to acquire, to gain something. And obviously, concentration is not meditation. Merely focusing the mind on an idea, an image, or a phrase and excluding all other thoughts is not meditation, is it? You may learn concentration in that way, but concentration is exclusion, and when the mind excludes, it is not free.
Why do we want to focus the mind on an image or an idea, or practice a system of so-called meditation – the more mysterious the better? Because we think that by concentration, or through prayer, the constant repetition of certain words, the mind will be made quiet. As I said, concentration is a process of exclusion. We choose a particular idea or thought and dwell on it, and while we are forcing the mind to concentrate on it, other thoughts come in; so, there is a conflict going on, and we spend our energy in this wasteful battle.
But if we can be open to each thought as it arises and understand it, then we shall see that the mind does not revert to any particular thought. The mind reverts to a thought because it has not understood it; that is, what is not understood is repeated over and over again, and mere exclusion will not prevent it. So, concentration, which is exclusion, is not meditation. Most of us want to live exclusively, with our private memories, private experiences, private knowledge; and concentration, which we call meditation, is merely a further process of self-enclosure, self-isolation. But the mind can never be free through isolation, however wide your projected idea may be.
Now, you canthe mind to be quiet through what is called prayer, the constant repetition of words, but when the mind is into , is that a state of meditation? Surely, that only dulls the mind, does it not? Though the mind may be pacified through discipline, which is based on the desire for particular results, such a mind is obviously not a free mind. Freedom can never come through discipline.
Though we think we must discipline ourselves in order to be free, the beginning determines the end, and if the mind is disciplined at the beginning, it will be disciplined at the end; therefore, it can never be free. But if we can understand the whole process of discipline, control, suppression, sublimation, substitution, then there will be freedom from the very beginning, for the means and the end are one – they are not two separate processes, either politically or religiously.
So, discipline through concentration is not meditation, nor are the various forms of prayer. Those are all tricks by which the mind is forced to be still, and a mind that is made still through will, through desire, can never be free. If we really look at all these things – concentration, prayer, systems of meditation, and all the various tricks that we learn to quiet, to hypnotize the mind – we shall discover that they are the ways of thought, the ways of the self; and this discovery is the beginning of meditation, which is the beginning of self-knowledge.
Without knowing yourself, merely to concentrate, to conform to a pattern, to follow a system, to quiet the mind through a discipline, only leads to further misery, further confusion. But if you begin to know the ways of your own thought by being choicelessly aware of yourself in relationship, in your talking, in your walking, when you are observing a bird or looking at somebody else, then, in that awareness, the responses of your conditioned state come into being – and in that spontaneity there is the discovery of yourself as yourself. And the more you are aware of yourself without choice, without justification or condemnation, the more there is freedom. It is this freedom that is the process of meditation. But you cannot cultivate freedom any more than you can cultivate love. Freedom comes into being, not through the search for it, but when you understand the whole process and structure of yourself.
Meditation, then, is the beginning of self-knowledge. When you begin very near, you can go very far, and then you will see that thought, which is the projection of the mind, comes to an end of itself without being compelled, forced. Then there is silence – not the silence that is willed, created by the mind, but a silence that is not of time; and in that silence there is the state of creation, the timelessness’ which is reality.
So, without understanding the ways of thought, merely to force the mind to meditate is an utter waste of time and energy and only creates more confusion, more misery. But to understand the process of the self as the thinker, to know the ways of the self as thought, is the beginning of wisdom. For wisdom to be, there must be the understanding of the accumulating process – which is the thinker. Without understanding the thinker, meditation has no meaning because whatever he projects is according to his own conditioning, and that is obviously not reality. Only when the mind understands the whole process of itself as thought, is it capable of being free, and only then does the timeless come into being.
Source: Jiddu Krishnamurti Talk at New York & Seattle 1950