I was recently reminded of a discussion with Anderson (‘Being hurt and hurting others’, from 1974) in which Krishnamurti shares his own understanding of what religion truly means.
Religion, for Krishnamurti, is not organised religion, what most people understand by the word religion. For Krishnamurti, popular or organised religion is merely
a vast superstition, a great propaganda, incredible beliefs and superstitions, worship of images made by the hand or by the mind.
All this is not religion for Krishnamurti. Rather, religion means
gathering together all energy, at all levels, physical, moral, spiritual, at all levels, gathering all this energy which will bring about a great attention…
The gathering of all energy so that there is total attention, and in that quality of attention the immeasurable comes into being?
In the discussion they talk about how religion, in Krishnamurti’s sense, originally had to do with a feeling for, or proximity to, nature, and the sense of an immeasurable quality or sacredness of nature.
If you have read the Rig Veda - I was told about it because I don’t read all this - that there, in the first Veda there is… only this worship of something immense, expressed in nature, in the earth, in the clouds, in the trees, [etc.]
However, this was lost when human beings lost touch with nature. And it was then that the role of priestly interpreters of the sacred became important, who became intermediaries between the individual person and the sacred.
If one can deny this mediated form of religion, the religion of belief and faith, then the question for us, according to Krishnamurti, is
Can the mind be so attentive in the total sense that the unnameable comes into being? … one sees the absolute necessity of a mind that is completely quiet. Because it’s only out of quietness you perceive what is happening.
If I am chattering I won’t listen to you. If my mind is constantly rattling away, to what you are saying I won’t pay attention. To pay attention means to be quiet…
Attention means not only the brain giving its energy, but also the mind, the heart, the nerves, the total entity, the total human mind giving all its energy to perceive.
So Krishnamurti re-defines religion as essentially an act of total attention. Rather than a belief system, a series of ideas and dogmas, religion is a gathering of all one’s energy - intellectual, emotional, sensory - so as to be completely attentive, to be in a state of total attentiveness.
Elsewhere (Talk 3, Ojai, 1955) Krishnamurti has also said
There is goodness only when there is complete attention.
So religion means total attention.
In a light hearted reflection, I was wondering what participating in a religion of total attention might mean in practice? (though clearly this is meant tongue-in-cheek, because by ‘religion’ Krishnamurti didn’t mean a special club, an identity, but rather an action).
If one’s religion was to be totally attentive, then wouldn’t one experiment daily with looking at things with all one’s senses fully active, fully heightened?
From talk 4, Brockwood Park, 1978:
Is it possible for the senses to operate as a whole; to look at the movement of the sea, the bright waters, the eternally restless waters, to watch those waters completely, with all your senses? Or a tree, or a person, or a bird in flight, a sheet of water, the setting sun, or the rising moon, to observe it, look at it with all your senses fully awakened.
One would probably experiment constantly with looking and listening and being aware of oneself and others. One would find out if one’s mind or brain can be quiet, be still, so as to be able to see, listen, perceive more clearly. This would be one’s primary interest and concern.
What do others think about all this?