The Flame of Attention

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The Flame of Attention

Before we go into the question of meditation we ought to discuss, or share together, perhaps that is the right word, the importance of discipline. Most of us in the world are not disciplined, disciplined in the sense that we are not learning. The word `discipline’ comes from the word disciple, the disciple whose mind is learning not from a particular person, a guru, or from a teacher, or preacher, or from books but learning through the observation of his own mind, of his own heart, learning from his own actions. And that learning requires a certain discipline, but not the conformity most disciplines are understood to require. When there is conformity, obedience and imitation, there is never the act of learning, there is merely following. Discipline implies learning, learning from the very complex mind one has, from the life of daily existence, learning about relationship with each other, so that the mind is always pliable, active. 

To share together what meditation is, one must understand the nature of discipline. Discipline as ordinarily understood implies conflict; conforming to a pattern like a soldier, or conforming to an ideal, conforming to a certain statement in the sacred books and so on. Where there is conformity there must be friction, and therefore wastage of energy. One’s mind and one’s heart, if in conflict, can never possibly meditate. We will go into that; it is not a mere statement which you accept or deny, but something we are enquiring into together. 

We have lived for millennia upon millennia in conflict, conforming, obeying, imitating, repeating, so that our minds have become extraordinarily dull; we have become secondhand people, always quoting somebody else, what he said or did not say. We have lost the capacity, the energy, to learn from our own actions. It is we who are utterly responsible for our own actions, not society or environment, nor the politicians, we are responsible entirely for our actions and for learning from them. In such learning we discover so much because in every human being throughout the world there is the story of mankind; in us is the anxiety of mankind and the fears, loneliness, despair, sorrow and pain; all this complex history is in us. If you know how to read that book then you do not have to read any other book except, for example, books on technology. But we are negligent, not diligent, in learning from ourselves, from our actions, and so we do not see that we are responsible for our actions and for what is happening throughout the world and for what is happening in this unfortunate country. 

One must put one’s house in order, because nobody on earth, or in heaven, is going to do it for one, neither one’s gurus, nor one’s vows, nor one’s devotion. The way one lives, the way one thinks, the way one acts, is disorderly. How can a mind that is in disorder perceive that which is total order, as the universe is in total order? 

What has beauty to do with a religious mind? You might ask why all the religious traditions and the rituals never referred to beauty. But the understanding of beauty is part of meditation, not the beauty of a woman or a man or the beauty of a face, which has its own beauty, but about beauty itself, the actual essence of beauty. Most monks, sannyasis and the so-called religiously inclined minds, totally disregard this and become hardened towards their environment. Once it happened that we were staying in the Himalayas with some friends; there was a group of sannyasis in front of us, going down the path, chanting; they never looked at the trees, never looked at the beauty of the earth, the beauty of the blue sky, the birds, the flowers, the running waters; they were totally concerned with their own salvation, with their own entertainment. And that custom, that tradition, has been going on for a thousand years. A man who is supposed to be religious, must shun, put aside, all beauty, and his life becomes dull, without any aesthetic sense; yet beauty is one of the delights of truth. 

When you give a toy to a child who has been chattering, naughty, playing around, shouting, when you give that child a complicated toy he becomes totally absorbed in it, he becomes very quiet, enjoying the mechanics of it. The child becomes completely concentrated, completely involved with that toy; all the mischief has been absorbed. And we have toys, the toys of ideals, the toys of belief, which absorb us. If you worship an image of all the images on earth none is sacred, they are all made by man’s mind, by his thought then we are absorbed, just as the child is absorbed in a toy, and we become extraordinarily quiet and gentle. When we see a marvelous mountain, snowcapped against the blue sky and the deep shadowed valleys, that great grandeur and majesty absorb us completely; for a moment we are completely silent because its majesty takes us over, we forget ourselves. Beauty is where “you” are not. The essence of beauty is the absence of the self.

 The essence of meditation is to enquire into the abnegation of the self. 

One needs tremendous energy to meditate and friction is a wastage of energy. When in one’s daily life there is a great deal of friction, of conflict between people, and dislike of the work which one does, there is a wastage of energy. And to enquire really most profoundly not superficially, not verbally one must go very deeply into oneself, into one’s own mind and see why we live as we do, always wasting energy, for meditation is the release of creative energy. 

Religion has played an immense part in man’s history. From the beginning of time he has struggled to find truth. And now the accepted religions of the modern world are not religions at all, they are merely the vain repetition of phrases, gibberish and nonsense, a form of personal entertainment without much meaning. All the rituals, all the gods specially in this country where there are, I do not know how many, thousands of gods are invented by thought. All the rituals are put together by thought. What thought creates is not sacred; but we attribute to the created image the qualities that we like that image to have. And all the time we are worshipping, albeit unconsciously, ourselves. All the rituals in the temples, the pujas, and all that thought has invented in the Christian churches, is invented by thought: and that which thought has created we worship. 

Just see the irony, the deception, the dishonesty, of this. 

The religions of the world have completely lost their meaning. All the intellectuals in the world shun them, run away from them, so that when one uses the words the `religious mind’, which the speaker does very often, they ask: `Why do you use that word religious?’ Etymologically the root meaning of that word is not very clear. It originally meant a state of being bound to that which is noble, to that which is great; and for that one had to live a very diligent, scrupulous, honest life. But all that is gone; we have lost our integrity. So, if you discard what all the present religious traditions, with their images and their symbols, have become, then what is religion? To find out what a religious mind is one must find out what truth is; truth has no path to it. There is no path. When one has compassion, with its intelligence, one will come upon that which is eternally true. But there is no direction; there is no captain to direct one in this ocean of life. As a human being, one has to discover this. One cannot belong to any cult, to any group whatever if one is to come upon truth. The religious mind does not belong to any organization, to any group, to any sect; it has the quality of a global mind. 

A religious mind is a mind that is utterly free from all attachment, from all conclusions and concepts; it is dealing only with what actually is; not with what should be. It is dealing every day of one’s life with what is actually happening both outwardly and inwardly; understanding the whole complex problem of living. The religious mind is free from prejudice, from tradition, from all sense of direction. To come upon truth you need great clarity of mind, not a confused mind. 

So, having put order in one’s life, let us then examine what meditation is, not how to meditate, that is an absurd question. When one asks how, one wants a system, a method, a design carefully laid out. See what happens when one follows a method, a system. Why does one want a method, a system? One thinks it is the easiest way, does one not, to follow somebody who says, `I will tell you how to meditate’. When somebody tells one how to meditate he does not know what meditation is. He who says, `I know’, does not know. One must, first of all, see how destructive a system of meditation is, whether it is any one of the many forms of meditation that appear to have been invented, stipulating how you should sit, how you should breathe, how you should do this, that and the other. Because if one observes one will see that when one practices something repeatedly, over and over again, one’s mind becomes mechanical; it is already mechanical and one adds further mechanical routine to it; so gradually one’s mind atrophies. It is like a pianist continually practicing the wrong note; no music comes of it. When one sees the truth that no system, no method, no practice, will ever lead to truth, then one abandons them all as fallacious, unnecessary…

And one must have that complete freedom to come upon that which is eternally true….

The mind must be free, utterly still, not controlled. When the mind is completely religious it is not only free but capable of enquiring into the nature of truth to which there is no guide, no path. It is only the silent mind, the mind that is free, that can come upon that which is beyond time. 

Have you not noticed if you have observed yourself that your mind is eternally chattering, eternally occupied with something or other? If you are a Sannyasi your mind is occupied with god, with prayers, with this and that. If you are a housewife, your mind is occupied with what you are going to have for the next meal, how to utilize this and that. The businessman is occupied with commerce; the politician with party politics; and the priest is occupied with his own nonsense. So our minds are all the time occupied and have no space. And space is necessary. 

Space also implies an emptiness, a silence, which has immense energy. You can make your mind silent through taking a drug; you can make your thought slow down and become quieter and quieter by some chemical intake. But that silence is concerned with suppressing sound. Have you ever enquired what it is to have a mind that is naturally, absolutely, silent without a movement, that is not recording except those things that are necessary, so that your psyche, your inward nature, becomes absolutely still? Have you enquired into that; or are you merely caught in the stream of tradition, in the stream of work and worrying about tomorrow? 

Where there is silence there is space not from one point to another point as we usually think of it. Where there is silence there is no point but only silence. And that silence has that extraordinary energy of the universe. 

 

Our deep gratitude to J. Krishnamurti 

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