Meditation is unpremeditated art

I saw a video recently in which Krishnamurti said that meditation is “unpremeditated art”. I felt this is a beautiful way of expressing the nature of an activity which is intrinsically creative, spontaneous, uncontrived.

Meditation is unpremeditated art

You can’t prepare for meditation. There is no system, no method. The system, the method is premeditated. Somebody has thought he has meditated, invented a system, and we follow that, hoping to get something. So one has to find out what it is - unpremeditated art, which is meditation…

First of all we can banish all the systems, all the methods, the postures, the breathing, forcing the mind, thought, to be controlled and so on, so on. The controller is the controlled. Right? Thought creates the controller and then the controller says, 'I must control thought in order to meditate’…

It is to deny everything that man has thought about meditation: about silence, about truth, about eternity, whether there is a timeless state and so on. To be free of other people’s knowledge completely, and that goes very, very far.

That is, to deny your gods, your sacred books, your tradition, your beliefs, everything wiped away because you understand they are the result of thought…

So when there is this absolute denial of all the psychological accumulation then the brain becomes very quiet. It hasn’t to be induced to be quiet.

Then illumination is not an experience. Illumination means to see things clearly as they are, and to go beyond them.

(Talk 6, Chennai, 1981)

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James, Thanks for the information.

It made me wonder to the original video and the silences and searching for the right words are adding something extra. For those who wonder too here the link:


This is the essence of the teaching, isn’t it? Authority, Authority provides an answer to what is obviously an unanswerable question - the question of what is actually going on all around us. Authority narrows the question to a specific and by so doing makes it answerable by the intellect, by one’s knowledge of the teaching. But to not deny the teaching is to do them the greatest disservice,

A question of everything rather than that of something is unanswerable.

A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose?

~ Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

We asked in another thread recently what would bring about the perception of this mystery? It seems to me that it a matter of sensitivity, of refusing answers, the intellect, the words, of not repeating K words as if they were one’s own rather than imbibing their spirit of casting off everything, Is it not to get to this point that we study them here? Not to refashion them into self-gratifying platitudes. To no longer run from confusion. For how could we not be lost, given what we are asking? And you can only be sensitive if you are lost, really and truly at a loss. Not because you choose to be. Because that is where your study has led you. Your reality has been revealed. You know nothing. You understand nothing. You lie, unknowingly. You see things that aren’t there. miss things that are but realize you can’t do otherwise. Then only, it seems to me, out of that raw sensitivity can unpremeditated looking surface. As.a natural, unsentimental response to total confusion. Not in order to get something. Not to better understand yourself. Not to find silence. Not to end thought. Not to remain with sorrow. Not to be free. These are all specifics. Specifics are answerable. They limit the unlimited. Fragment the whole. Manage the unmanageable. Unpremeditated looking is the essence of simplicity. There is no vantage point that needs to be meticulously sustained.

Krishnamurti: You know, Sirs, if I may deviate a little, I think it is essential to appreciate beauty. The beauty of the sky, the beauty of the sun upon the hill, the beauty of a smile, a face, a gesture, the beauty of the moonlight on the water, of the fading clouds, the song of the bird, it is essential to look at it, to feel it, to be with it, and I think this is the very first requirement for a man who would seek truth. Most of us are so unconcerned with this extraordinary universe about us; we never even see the waving of the leaf in the wind; we never watch a blade of grass, touch it with our hand and know the quality of its being. This is not just being poetic, so please do not go off into a speculative emotional state. I say it is essential to have that deep feeling for life and not be caught in intellectual ramifications, discussions, passing examinations, quoting and brushing something new aside by saying it has already been said. Intellect is not the way. Intellect will not solve our problems; the intellect will not give us that nourishment which is imperishable. The intellect can reason, discuss, analyse, come to a conclusion from inferences and so on, but intellect is limited for intellect is the result of our conditioning. But sensitivity is not. Sensitivity has no conditioning; it takes you right out of the field of fears and anxieties. The mind that is not sensitive to everything about it - to the mountain, the telegraph pole, the lamp, the voice, the smile, everything - is incapable of finding what is true.

Poona 5th Public Talk 21st September 1958


Sounds good as an esoteric statement, strong, decisive authoritative but what does it mean… why can’t I find “what is true” if I’m not sensitive to the “telegraph pole”?

For what it’s worth, I can say what I understand from the K quote you referred to Dan. I understand he’s saying that truth can be found all around us every day if we have the eyes to see it. Even in something as mundane as a telegraph pole, there is a reality to be observed if we’re sensitive enough to do it. I also understand that he says that meditation, in the way he defines it, can take place anywhere. You could be in a meditative state sitting on a bus without the need to go to a temple in Tibet.

How do the rest of you see this?

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We cannot find what is true, if we are insensitive. Sensitivity, Clarity, Truth are synonyms. Truth is not in words but direct sensitive perception, which is same as perception without conflict, division. It is care, attention, love

Hi Sean,

I would change your words ‘can be found’ in '‘is’ :thinking:
We lack sensitivity which sometimes breaks trough the the boundary of ‘I’.

What is it that this energy is so volatile, so tenuous ?

Yes. I feel the limits of the intellect, of an intellectual comprehension of life, has to be clearly seen for our sensitivity, our awareness - unpremeditated looking - to have the space it needs to flourish.

I have fleshed this out a bit more on a new thread (so as to not take up space unnecessarily here). But this is the essence of it.

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So unpremeditated looking is to look not at K’s ‘teachings’ (i.e. the specific ideas, the fragmentary mental artefacts we associate with K’s teachings), but at the actuality that K was pointing to - one’s life as a whole, one’s existence as a whole, one’s consciousness as a whole.

In life we find thinking; we find fear, confusion, hurt, pleasure and sorrow; we find nature, the lamppost, our relationships with other people; we find moments of silence, moments of freedom, moments of beauty.

Unpremeditated looking - or sensitivity - is to take in the whole of this, or to take in whatever aspect of this whole is showing its face in the present moment.

And outside of this activity of unpremeditated looking, sensitivity, there is no authority. Not even the authority of the teachings. Because all external or psychological authority is a projection or recollection of thought, intellect, knowledge of experience.

So this unpremeditated looking or sensitivity is the only light. There can be no other light than this.


The benefit of meditating on a bus (!) is that one doesn’t need to be under the rule of the monastery, under the authority of the monks, of their particular interpretation of what the Buddha said, of what their tradition says about truth or the mind or silence or meditation. Unpremeditated looking or sensitivity is looking or being sensitive out of a sense of freedom - freedom from spiritual authority.

Then, as you say,

It has been something of an epiphany for me to realize that it is because our minds have become dulled to the miracle of existence that we find the mundane monotonous. There is a great price to pay when we carve the world into pieces. At times, it seems that all is required is a slight tilt of the head to see life in a whole new light.

I remember K once saying the right question needs no answer. We, perhaps, have been asking the wrong question.


What do you feel the right question is in this context?

The context being the ability to see life as a miracle?

Would a right question be something along the lines of:

What does it mean to see?

What does it mean to feel?

What does it mean to be sensitive?

What does it mean to pay attention with one’s heart and mind, with all one’s senses fully heightened?

The way I understand it, the real answer to these questions is not a verbal answer but an action that comes if we have really perceived the significance of the question.

The problem is that in daily life we generally don’t see the significance of these questions, because we are occupied with survival, or mental worries, or with mentally becoming something.

When there is a break in this stream of mental preoccupation then these questions, if asked, can take on a profound significance.

So what is the fundamental question? The question of what does it mean to see? Or the question:

Can the stream of mental preoccupation end, have a stop?

The mental stream being our life as we ordinarily live it.

The same question posed differently:

Can the movement of psychological thought end?

Psychological thought being our fear, doubt, pleasure, worry, anxiety, loneliness, hurt, greed, etc.

So, again, the same question posed differently:

Can the contents of consciousness be emptied?

The contents of consciousness being what we are, what makes up ‘me’, the self.

So the same question asked differently:

Can the ‘me’, the ‘I’, be wiped out - whether momentarily or lastingly?

I think this question is implicit in the question of ‘What does it mean to see?’, because unless the ‘me’ - one’s memory and conditioning, one’s reactions of consciousness, one’s thoughts, one’s mental preoccupation, etc, what K calls the observer - is in abeyance, then one cannot see anything afresh.

So perhaps in asking this one simple question ‘What does it mean to see?’, all other questions are contained. Seeing clearly - however briefly we are able to see - is already the miracle.

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Because the brain / mind is ‘occupied’ with the past, the self-image, the myth and burden of being an ‘individual’, the constant movement of thinking / memory; ‘noise’ …it is not ‘sensitive’, open, alive to what is actually around it.

Will the right question ever be asked if there are no more questions to answer when the whole s available?

Hi Dev and all. Maybe a slight tilt of the head is all that’s needed. This made me think of the film “Dead Poets Society” where Robin Williams, playing the role of a brilliant high-school teacher, asks his students to stand on their desks so that they can see the classroom and what they’re doing from a new angle. That’s an interesting thing to do.

It also seems that some people go through a radical change after a serious event has severely shaken them up.

I not sure what it takes to see life with fresh, new eyes every day. K obviously thought it wasn’t a lost cause trying to point the way.

What is at the root of the conflict between the inner and the outer? Is it not a contradiction between the old and the new? And what is the old that contradicts the new? Is it not knowledge?

There are two elements that have to come together as far as I can tell.

First, the question has to have an emotional charge that speaks to you personally. And secondly the nature of the question has to be such that it is obvious that you are not and cannot ever be in possession of the knowledge required to proceed.

This can be the source of emotional energy that sustains interest in the question for some. But for others it falls flat. That is not their question.

An example of the second aspect - the insufficiency of thought/knowledge - is the question of space or time having no beginning or end. Trying to envision what that could mean in conceptual terms. We simply cannot imagine infinity. We have to resort to models. So thought is inadequate. However, for us here, this type of academic question lacks the emotional element so interest in it is fleeting.

I think this is a question that has the potential to have universal appeal and to satisfy both requirements. At least to those who have a deep intellectual understanding of the teaching, not a mere verbal one. The kind of emotional (not sentimental) understanding that K refers to as having entered into your very cells, ‘shocks’ one into realizing that you do not “see” reality as it is, and that using thought as the instrument of perception, as we do, is the reason for the distortion of reality.

Emotionally charged Insight, the acknowledgement of the inadequacy of thought and choiceless awareness are all facets of this, what must be most extraordinary, state of mind.


Yes. All our questions must have something in them which moves us to ask them, but some questions are clearly more vital, more emotionally impacting, than others. Finding the right question then - a question that comes from the heart, from our guts, and not just from the head - is an art all of its own.

Yes. The difficulty here as that we all have a knowledge of what K has said about these questions, which muffles their impact to some extent. Or we may believe ourselves to be in possession of the answer already: i.e. that we are living in insight, question closed!

Frankly, between those who think they know better than K, and those who think they are living embodiments of K, it is very difficult to find people who are willing to start from scratch and ask fundamental questions with a truly open mind and heart.

It helps to be at least on the same page when it comes to using language, which implies having at least understood intellectually the kinds of things that K is talking about. But beyond that we need to have a quality of innocent stupidity with regards to any fundamental question - we need to have a sense of “I don’t know, but I’m willing to find out”.

So there are perhaps two areas of questioning that you are suggesting:

  1. what does it mean to see?


  1. are we aware of how much our thinking participates in what we think we see (thereby distorting it)?

Given what Dev has said, what do you feel is an emotionally meaningful way of opening this question up? (the question being, what does it mean to see anew, afresh, beyond the confines and limits of our thinking?)

Or is there another question that has more emotional impact for you or for others?

I proposed a question on another thread - ‘Is there an ending to sorrow?’ - which I feel has the potential to be a deeply significant question. But perhaps people need to be in the right place in their lives to ask this question, or feel safe enough to ask this question (which they may not feel on Kinfonet).

Another question might be: ‘What is our deep response to the crisis (crises) in the world?’

But again, I’m not sure that this question will impact people here, as we have heard this question so often, or we may not feel we can answer it properly.

Is there a question that some of us can get behind and really explore with a full heart, without reservation, without resistance?

The present question is, as I understand it, ‘What does it mean to see?’

Do you feel it is a question we can ask at depth? Or is there another related question that strikes home more for you?