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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


Could we discuss one of the chief blockages to understanding, that is, the factor of self-centred activity?

K: When you talk about self-centredness, a centre implies a periphery. Can we say, where there is a centre there is a boundary, a limitation and all action must be within the circle of centre and periphery? That is self-centred activity.

P: What are the boundaries of the self?

K: It can be limitless or within the limits, but there is always a boundary.

D: Limitless?

K: You can push it as far as you like. As long as there is a centre, there is a periphery, a boundary, but that boundary can be stretched.

P: Does that mean, sir, there is no limit to this stretching?

K: Let us go slowly. When we talk about self-centred activity, that is what is implied - a centre and a periphery, a limitation and within that circle all action takes place: to think about oneself, to progress towards something is still from the centre to a periphery. Where there is a centre, there is a boundary, and that centre may expand itself, but it is still within that boundary, and therefore within that circle all action takes place. From the centre you can stretch as far as you like, through social service, democratic or electorate dictatorship and tyranny, everything is within that area.

A: The point is, sir, is action possible which does not nourish a centre? K: Or, can there be no centre?

A: Sir, that cannot be said from our position because we start with a centre. We can honestly, factually say that we know there is a centre, and we know that every activity, including breathing, nourishes that centre.

K: The point is this: the energy that is expanded within the circumference and the centre is a limited energy, a mechanical energy. Do you know, not verbally but actually inside you, that where there is a centre, there must be a circumference and that any action that takes place within that area is limited, fragmented and therefore a wastage of energy?

VA: We have been discussing the circumference and the centre. To realize the self in ourselves would be the first problem.

K: That is the problem, sir. We are selfish entities. We are self-centred human beings, we think about ourselves, our worries, our family - we are the centre. We can move the centre to social work, to political work, but it is still the centre operating.

P: That is a little more subtle to see, because you can concern yourself with something in which you feel the centre is not involved.

K: You may think so. It is `I' who work for the poor, but I am still working within this limitation.

P: Sir, I want some clarification. It is not the work for the poor which you are questioning?

K: No. It is the identification of myself with the poor, my identification of myself with the nation, identification of myself with God, identification of myself with some ideal and so on, that is the problem.

Apa: I think the question that Pupulji asked was whether this movement of the mind with its habits can be stilled? Can this movement of the mind which is exhausted by identification, by a constant movement, from the centre to the periphery, from the periphery to the centre, can it be silenced? Is there an energy which can gush out, which will silence it or make it irrelevant, make it seem a shadow?

K: I don't quite follow this.

P: It is really like this: we have done everything to understand the nature of this self-centred activity. We have observed, we have meditated, but the centre does not cease, sir.

K: No, because I think we are making a mistake. We don't actually see, perceive in our heart, in our mind, that any action within this periphery, from the centre to the periphery and the circumference, and then from the circumference to the centre, this movement back and forth is a wastage of energy and must be limited and must bring sorrow. Everything within that area is sorrow. We don't see that.

P: Sir, if it is part of our brain cells and if it is the action of our brain cells to constantly throw out these ripples which get caught, which is in a sense self-centred existence, then...

K: No, Pupul, the brain needs two things: security and a sense of permanency.

P: Both are provided by the self.

K: That is why it has become very important.

Apa: Sir, the brain is a mechanical, a physical entity in its habit of seeking security or continuance. Now, how do you break out of its habits, its mechanical operations? That is what Pupulji has been hinting at.

K: I don't want to go into that, sir. Any movement to break out, is still within the periphery. Is there an action, a move which is not self-centred?

P: We know states, for instance, when it appears as if the self is not, but then if the seed of self-centred activity is held within the brain cells, it will repeat itself again. Then I say to myself there must be another energy, there must be another quality which will wipe it out. Apa: Our brains are computers and our behaviour patterns and actions are conditioned and programmed to that. The feed-backs are becoming more and more complicated. Now, sir, what is the energy; is it attention, is it silence, is it exterior, is it interior?

K: Our brain is programmed to function from the centre to the periphery, from the circumference to the centre, this back-and-forth movement. It is programmed for that, it is trained for that, it is conditioned for that. Is it possible to break that momentum of the brain cells?

P: Is there an energy which will, without my volition, wipe out that momentum?

K: Can this momentum, can this programme of the brain, which has been conditioned for millennia, can that stop?

Apa: And de-condition itself.

K: The moment it stops, you have broken it. Now, is there an energy which is not self-centred movement, an energy without a motive, without a cause, an energy which without these would be endless?

P: Yes. And is it possible, I am putting it very tentatively, is it possible to investigate that energy?

K: We are going to.

A: The only instrument we have is attention. So, any energy that you posit must manifest itself as attention. I say attention is the only instrument we have.

P: If I may say so, I don't want to postulate anything. I am asking Krishnaji something which we have not asked before. How do I put it into words?

K: You are asking, is there an energy which is not from the centre, an energy which is without a cause, an energy which is inexhaustible and therefore non-mechanical. We have discovered something. That is, the brain has been conditioned through millennia to move from the centre to the circumference and from the circumference to move to the centre, back and forth, extending it, limiting it and so on. And is there a way of ending that movement? We just now said it ends when there is a stopping, when the plug is pulled out. That is, the brain stops moving in that direction, but if there is any causation for the stopping, you are back again in the circle. Does that answer you? That is, can the brain which has been so conditioned for millennia to act from the centre to the periphery and from the periphery to the centre, can that movement stop? Now, the next question will be: Is it possible? You follow? I think that is a wrong question. When you see the necessity of stopping, when the brain itself sees the necessity of the movement ceasing, it stops. I wonder if I am making myself clear.

Q: Yes. But it starts again. It stops the movement for a while, but then it starts.

K: No, sir, the moment you say you want it again, you are back in the centre.

Q: Probably I want to bring about a permanent stopping.

K: That is greed. If I see the truth of the fact, the moment there is the cessation of this movement, the ending of that movement, the thing is over. It is not a continuous stoppage. When you want it to be continuous, it is a time movement.

Apa: The seeing then is without movement. The seeing has come to an end. That seeing, is it a movement of the centre?

K: Seeing, observing the whole movement of the centre to the circumference, from the circumference to the centre, that movement is `what is'.

Apa: But that seeing is without any centre.

K: Of course.

Q: So, sir, that seeing is on a different plane, a different dimension altogether.

K: I `see'. There is perception when you are aware without any choice. Just be aware of this movement. The programme stops. Let us leave that. We will come back to that. Pupul's question is: Is there an energy which is non-mechanical, which has no causation, and therefore an energy that is constantly renewing itself?

VA: That is the energy of death.

K: What do you mean, sir? Death in the sense of ending?

VA: A total ending.

K: You mean a total ending of the periphery.

VA: What I know as myself.

K: Just listen. You said something. The total ending of this movement from the centre to the circumference, that is death, in one sense. Then, is that the energy which is causeless?

VA: It is causeless, sir. It comes, like the blood in the body.

K: I understand. But, is that a supposition, a theory or an actuality?

VA: An actuality.

K: Which means what? That there is no centre from which you are acting?

VA: During that period when that energy is there.

K: No, no. Not periods.

VA: There is a sense of timelessness at that time.

K: Yes, sir. Then, what takes place?

VA: Then again thought comes back.

K: And so, you are back again from the centre to the periphery.

VA: One is afraid of that particular thing happening, not only the wanting it again. One gets afraid of that particular thing happening again because it is like total death.

K: It has happened without your invitation.

VA: Yes. K: Now, you are inviting it.

VA: I don't know whether I am inviting it or whether I am afraid of it.

K: Afraid or inviting, whatever it is, it is still within the field of this. That is all.

The other question is what Pupulji raised about an endless journey. You want to discuss kundalini?

P: Yes, sir.

K: Sir, first of all, if you really want to discuss, have a dialogue about kundalini, would you forget everything you have heard about it? Would you? We are entering into a subject which is very serious. Are you willing to forget everything you have heard about it, what your gurus have told you about it, or your attempts to awaken it? Can you start with a completely empty state?

Then you have to enquire, really not knowing anything about kundalini. You know what is happening now in America, in Europe. Kundalini centres have been opened by people who say they have had the experience of the awakening of kundalini. Scientists are interested in it today. They feel that by doing certain forms of exercise, breathing, they will awaken the kundalini. It has all become a moneymaking concern, and it is being given to people who are terribly mischievous.

Q: We just want to know whether there is an energy that can wipe out conditioning.

K: So long as self-centred activity exists, you cannot touch it. That is why I object to any discussion on kundalini or whatever that energy is, because we have not done the spade work. We don't lead a life of correctness and we want to add something new to it and so carry on our mischief.

VA: Even after awakening kundalini, self-centred activity continues.

K: I question whether the kundalini is awakened. I don't know what you mean by it. VA: Sir, we really want to understand this, because it is an actuality sometimes.

P: Do you know of an energy when self-centred activity ends? We assume that this is the source of this endless energy.It may not be.

K: Are you saying the ending of this movement from the centre to the circumference and from the circumference to the centre, the end of that...

P: Momentary ending of it...

K: No, the ending of it, the complete ending of it - is the release of that energy which is limitless?

P: I don't say that.

K: I am saying that.

P: Which is a very different thing to my saying it.

K: Can we put kundalini energy in its right place? A number of people have the experience of what they call kundalini, which I question. I question whether it is an actual reality or some kind of physiological activity which is then attributed to kundalini. You live an immoral life in the sense of a life of vanity, sex, etc. and then you say that your kundalini is awakened. But your daily life, which is a self-centred life, continues.

P: Sir, if we are going to examine it, let us see how it operates in one. The awakening of kundalini is linked to certain psychic centres located at certain physical parts of the body. That is what is said. The first question I would like to ask is whether that is so? Has the release of this energy, which has no end, anything to do with the psychic centres in the physical parts of the body?

A: Before we go into that, sir, is it not essential to enquire whether the person who acquires that energy is incapable of doing harm.

K: No, sir. Do be careful. How can we say somebody is incapable of doing harm? They say many Indian gurus have done tremendous harm misleading people. A: That is what I say, sir. I feel that unless the person's heart is cleansed of hate, and his thirst to do harm is completely transmuted, unless that has happened, then this energy can do nothing but more mischief.

K: Achyutji, what Pupulji is asking about is the standard acceptance of the power of this energy going through various centres and the releasing of energy and so on.

A: I say, sir, that before we ask that question, there is in the Indian tradition a word which I think is very valuable. That word is `adhikar'. Adhikar means that the person must cleanse himself sufficiently before he can pose this question to himself. It is a question of cleansing.

K: Are you saying that unless there is a stoppage of this movement from the centre to the circumference and from the circumference to the centre, that Pupulji's question is not valid?

A: I think so. I will use another word, the Buddhist word is `sheela'. It is really the same. The word `adhikar' used by the Hindus and the word `sheela' used by the Buddhist really mean the same thing.

P: I take it that when one asks the question, there is a depth of self-knowing with which one asks. It is not possible to investigate the self which also releases energy, if one's life has not gone through a degree of inner balance, otherwise what K says has no meaning. When one listens to Krishnaji, one receives at the depth to which one has exposed oneself, and therefore I think it is right to ask the question. Why is this question more dangerous than any other question? Why is it more dangerous than inquiring into what is thought, what is meditation, what is this, what is that? To the mind which will comprehend, it will comprehend this and that. To the mind which will not comprehend, it will comprehend neither. To the mind which wants to misuse, it will misuse anything.

K: Unless your life, your daily life is a completely nonself-centred way of living, the other cannot possibly come in. VA: There is arising of energy - there is delight at first, then fear.

S: We would like to know why that energy creates fear.

VA: Fear comes later. One experiences death and everything vanishes. You are alive again and you are surprised that you are alive again. You find the world again, and your thoughts, and your possessions and desires and the whole world slowly come back.

K: Would you call that, sir, the awakening of kundalini?

VA: I don't know, sir.

K: But why do you label it as the awakening of kundalini?

VA: For a few days after that, for a period of a month, the whole life changes. Sex vanishes, desires vanish.

K: Yes, sir, I understand. But you do come back to it again.

VA: One comes back to it because one doesn't understand.

K: That is what I am saying, sir. When there is a coming back to something, I question whether you have had that energy.

P: Why has this question awakened so many ripples? Most people go through a great deal of psychic experiences in the process of self-knowing. One also understands, at least one has understood because one has listened to Krishnaji, that all psychic experiences when they arise, have to be put aside.

K: Is that understood? Psychic experience must be totally put aside.

A: We put them aside, not only give no importance to them.

VA: Some new passages do get opened in the body, and the energy keeps rising in those passages whenever it is required.

K: Sir, why do you call it something extraordinary? Why do we attribute something extraordinary to this? I am just suggesting, it may be that you have become very sensitive. That is all. Very acutely sensitive. VA: I have more energy.

K: Sensitivity has more energy. But why do you call it extraordinary, kundalini this, that or the other?

P: The real problem is to what extent is your life totally changed. I mean the only meaning of awakening is if there is a totally new way of looking, a new way of living, a new way of relationship.

Q: Sir, I want to ask a question. Taking for granted that one is leading a holistic life, is there something like kundalini?

K: Sir, are you living a holistic life?

Q: No.

K: Therefore, don't that question.

P: I am asking from a totally different point. As it is understood, kundalini is the wakening of certain psychic energies which exist at certain physical points in the human body, and that it is possible to awaken the psychic energies through various practices which then, as they go through these various psychophysical states and centres, transmute consciousness, and when they finally break through, they pierce through self-centred activity. This must be the basic meaning of the whole thing.

Apa: Mescaline can do it; you can do it.

P: I am just asking Krishnaji whether there is an energy which, on awakening, not being awakened, but on awakening completely wipes out the centre.

K: I would put it the other way. Unless the self-centred movement stops, the other can't be.

A: I say that the whole Hatha yoga tradition has engendered a belief that by manipulating these centres, you can do things to yourself. The whole idea is based on a wrong belief.

P: Wipe out everything.

A: We should wipe it out. P: As it does not seem possible to proceed with this discussion, may I put another question? What is the nature of the field which needs to be prepared, to be able to receive that which is limitless?

K: Are you cultivating the soil of the brain, of the mind, in order to receive it?

P: I understand your question. But I can neither say yes nor no to it.

K: Then, why call it energy and bring the word `soil'? Prepare, work at it. We live a life of contradiction, conflict, misery. I want to find out if it can end sorrow, the whole of human sorrow and enquire into the nature of compassion.

S: Is there any other way of living in which compassion is also part of cultivating the self? Why are you asking this question, why do you want to cultivate the soil?

K: I say as long as you have motive to cultivate that soil in order to receive that energy, you will never receive it.

S: What is the motive, sir? It is the whole prison. To see the whole prison and ask whether there is any other way out of this, is it a motive? Then, one gets caught in a circle, in a trap.

K: No, you haven't listened. I live a life of torture, misery, confusion. That is my basic feeling and can that end? There is no motive.

S: Here there is no motive. But you are also asking a further question.

K: No. I don't have further questions, only that first question. Can that whole process end? Only then can I answer the other questions, which have tremendous significance.

P: What is the nature of the soil of the human mind which has to be cultivated to receive the other? You tell me that is also a wrong question. You say I am in conflict, I am suffering and I see that a life of conflict and suffering has no end. K: That is all. If it cannot end, then the other enquiry and investigation, and the wanting to awaken the other in order to wipe this out is a wrong process.

P: Obviously.

K: It is asking an outside agency to come and clear up your house. I say in the process of clearing the house, this house, there are a great many things that are going to happen. You will have clairvoyance, the so-called `siddhis' and all the rest of it. They will all happen. But if you are caught in them, you cannot proceed further. If you are not caught in them, the heavens are open to you. You are asking, Pupul, is there a soil that has to be prepared, not in order to receive that, but the soil has to be prepared? Prepare, work at that, clean the house so completely that there isn't the shadow of escape. Then, we can ask, what is the state we are all talking about. If you are doing that, preparing, working at the ending of sorrow, not letting go, if you are working at that and you come along and say is there something known as kundalini power, then I am willing to listen.

A: Sir, the reason why I objected is that in the Hatha yoga Pradipika text we make a statement that this investigation into kundalini is in order to strengthen you in your search.

K: For God's sake, Achyutji, are you working at clearing up the house?

A: Definitely.

K: Now, what is the question? Is there an energy which is non-mechanistic, which is endless, renewing itself? I say there is. Most definitely. But it is not what you call kundalini. The body must be sensitive. If you are working, clearing up the house, the body becomes very sensitive. The body then has its own intelligence, not the intelligence which the mind dictates to the body. Therefore, the body becomes extraordinarily sensitive, not sensitive to its desires, or sensitive to wanting something, but it becomes sensitive per se. Right? Then, what happens? If you really want me to go into it, I'll do so. The people who speak of the awakening of kundalini, I question. They have not worked at the other, but say they have awakened kundalini. Therefore, I question their ability, their truth. I am not antagonistic, but I am questioning it. A man who eats meat, wants publicity, wants this and that and says his kundalini is awakened, I say it is nonsense. There must be a cleansing of this house all the time. Then Pupul says, `Can we talk about an energy which I feel must exist?', not theoretically but of which she has had a glimpse, the feeling of it, an energy that is endless; and K comes along and says `yes', there is such a thing. There is an energy which is renewing itself all the time, which is not mechanistic, which has no cause, which has no beginning and therefore no ending. It is an eternal movement. I say there is. What value has it to the listener? I say `yes' and you listen to me. I say to myself what value has that to you? Will you go off into that and not clear up the house?

P: That means, sir, that to the person who enquires, it is the cultivation of the soil which is the ending of suffering, which is essential.

K: The only job. Nothing else. It is the most sacred thing, therefore you can't invite it. And you are all inviting it.

Clearing the house demands tremendous discipline, not the discipline of control, suppression and obedience, you follow? In itself it demands tremendous attention. When you give your complete attention, then you will see a totally different kind of thing taking place, an energy in which there is no repetition, and energy that isn't coming and going. It is not as though I have it one day and a month later I don't have it. It implies, keeping the mind completely empty. Can you do that?

VA: For a while.

K: No, no. I have asked: Can the mind keep itself empty? Then, there is that energy. You don't even have to ask for it. When there is space, it is empty and therefore full of energy. So, in cleansing, in ending the things of the house, of sorrow, can the mind be completely empty, without any motive, without any desire? When you are working at this, keeping the house clean, other things come naturally. It isn't you who are preparing the soil for that. That is meditation.

P: And the nature of that is the transformation of the human mind.

K: You see as Apa Saheb was saying, we are programmed to centuries of conditioning. When there is the stopping of it, there is an ending of it. If you pull the plug out of the computer, it can't function any more. Now, the question is: Can that centre, which is selfishness, end? And not keep on and on? Can that centre end? When that ends, there is no movement of time. That is all. When the movement of the mind from the centre to the periphery stops, time stops. When there is no movement of selfishness, there is a totally different kind of movement.