Krishnamurti gives instruction on how to do Zazen
20 minute video (Saanen, 1980)
The instructions I was given at the zen temple were much simpler:
Me: I’d like to try some meditation please - how do I do it?
Monk: Sit on this cushion.
Me: Okay. What do I do whilst on the cushion?
Monk: Nothing special, just sit.
Me: What for?
Monk: For no reason. Just sit.
PS - Because an existence purely determined by fear and separation is a kind of psychosis. Because a rest from strife and the search for security is a breath of air, and weakens the hold of fear. Because freedom and silence invite clarity.
The impression I get from this entertaining Krishnamurti clip, is that he was against getting into mediation blindly or for farcical reasons. He does not reject ‘sitting quietly’ if the motivation is right.
If he forgot to say that meditation was essential, its because he thought it was vitally more important to tell us what idiots we are.
He does say its essential elsewhere - even in this video (about half way through) he encourages us to meditate.
Fully agree with this! Just want to expand a bit with my own insight. From the definition of psychosis, it is a “state” where thoughts and emotions are so impaired, that “contact” is lost with “external reality”. So, an existence based on the separation between “the observer and the observed,” is an illusory thought-based structure, whose goal is to “attain” stability, security.
“…a rest from strife and the search for security…” The seeing of the nature of conflict, is without a process, which is a breath of fresh air. Such an “expansion” allows for freedom, order in the brain, and lets one see the fact of fear.
Thanks for your post, macdougdoug!
Thank you. While we all have our opinions on the subject (of psychological freedom and clarity?) how we came to hold those opinions (and the hold they have on us) is also important.
So I’m going to repeat that “meditation is essential”; not debate, not complexe philosophical models of mind, not conclusions, not hypotheses, not the endless mentation and conjecture.
PS - I’m not so much responding to the insight that you have shared, but rather to all the endless debate on Kinfonet.
Exactly! Yet, something so essential seems to get lost with the hidden want, or possible need people feel to “get their voice out there.” It seems a difficult balance between sharing insight, and looking at a fact from a “different angle” to maybe “help” others to come together on the same fact, not go around in endless mentation, as you have so well put. There’s just something lost online, when you’re not able to talk “face-to-face”
back to this topic, if I might kindly point out, K doesn’t point to a “right motivation,” but to the “complete” seeing of motivation. “When there is no one who is meditating,” as is most often quoted (maybe not in those exact words).
from about 10:30 to 12:00 in the video, K says something that is quite surprising. When we “see the false as the false,” we then try to reconcile “truth” with our “conditioning.” All the insight, ideas, seeing facts… we view that “progress” as “spiritual progress”. There is “seeing of the fact,” and all the ideas about facts.
(at 18:19) This morning, I “listened to the prompting of my own movement,” that “today is going to be a great day!” …the wanting was seen, and also the desire to “fill the void” left by the halting of that “movement.”
You are supporting and continuing an issue which I have started in anoher thread and which I feel has a basic importance.
(see: Why Don't We Change After All These Years?)
It’s an aspect of K.'s teaching which is quite negletted and misunderstood.
I think the problem lies in the various interpretations of what meditation is or should be. K. himself was not coherent about the practice of sitting quietly, sometimes saying that was not meditation and sometimes saying it was. The affirmations or answers varied according to who asked the question or the context of the discussion. And this to me has sense.
So I want to point out that the “instructions” for meditation should be carefully tailored on the person one has in front and in most cases a too simple and short information will not help the average searcher.
The instructions you received in the Zen temple could be suitable for you but not for a whole different kind of people.
I forgot another important aspect.
K. used to give seven talks (at least in Saanen and Brokwood). He introduced meditation only in the seventh talk. Before that he talked about understanding what thought is, fear, desire, attachment and so on, and then the awakening of intelligence and the discovery of love. Without that preliminary work meditation has no sense and can easily become a self-deception. Once he summarized the problem stating: “If there is no love don’t meditate”.
Someone could interpret this to mean that there are special methods that we can learn if we had the right guru - but as we are on a K forum, I’m sure no one will make that mistake.
“First I think one must be careful in observing that meditation is not something that you do. Meditation is a movement into the whole question of our living. That is the first thing: how we live, how we behave, whether we have fears, anxieties, sorrows, or if we are pursuing everlastingly pleasure, whether we have built images about ourselves and about others. That is part of our life and in the understanding of that life and of those various issues involved in life and being free from those, actually being free, then we can proceed to enquire into what is meditation. That is why we have, for the last ten days or the last week, we have said we must put order in our house - our house is ourselves - complete order. Then when that order is established not according to a pattern, but when there is understanding, complete understanding of what is disorder, what is confusion, why we are in contradiction in ourselves, why there is this constant struggle between the opposites and so on, which we have been talking about for the last ten days or last week. Having put that in order, our life in order, and the very placing things in their proper place is the beginning of meditation. Right? If we have not done that, actually, not theoretically, but in daily life, every moment of our life, then if you have not done that then meditation becomes another form of illusion, another form of prayer, another form of wanting something - money, position, refrigerator and so on.”
Brockwood Park 4th Public Talk September 3rd 1978
‘Sitting quietly’ is a wonderful expression conveying a sense of peace and respect for what surrounds you, it doesn’t necessarily mean meditation. And meditation doesn’t necessarily mean sitting quietly, these days walking meditation is very popular in buddhist meditation courses, zen groups practise meditation while performing different daily chores, etc. Anyway, I think meditation always implies your inner being ‘feels’ connected with some sort of spiritual community with a sense of being ‘there’ detached from your ‘social being’. Krishnamurti never found a different word for this, he would simply say ‘this is real meditation’!
James Fowler, who wrote the book The Present Moment, distinguishes between ‘active contemplatrion’ and ‘infused contemplation’ and I understand he considered both ‘true meditation’. James Fowler was a teacher in Brockwood Park (UK) and in India and he deserved the following appreciation of Mark Lee (who has published books of Krishnamurti) about this book The Present Moment: ’ At a time when the shadow of religion - intolerant fundamentalism - seems to be rising all over the world, this lucid book is a beautifully expressed response to the unease many of us may be feeling. J Fowler outlines clearly the ways in which the act of contemplation can bring us to a place that is free of the dualism which ruins so much of our lives and brings about so much suffering. But it is not just as a desperate measure to counteract the horrors of the world that contemplation is a necessity. Fowler points out that it is far more than that. The desire and the need to transcend the divisions within oneself - which seem also to reflect the divisions in the world - this desire is incomplete without a longing for something else, for that which lies beyond the power of words to convey: «Those seeking the Truth must sooner or later reach a point of no return. Faced with the upper inadequacy of words, they burn their boats behind them and perforce continue in their endeavours to empty the mind of attachment to the self, not in the hope of regard but rather with the clear recognition that no other human endeavour is worthwhile» (…) both contemplation and meditation are ways to bring us back to where we should be, this exact Now.’
This I think it’s the most interesting part.
It is very easy to think of meditation as a cure. So it is worth noting all the points made about putting ourselves in order, and then there is meditation. I don’t suppose we can see it is possible to watch our selves. I am shopping and I am observing this. I am impatient and I am observing this. Don’t get stuck in the verbal dilemma posed by these words. It is just pointing to something to look into. This would always be considered a dilemma. We would think watching ourselves is a task in itself, and be at odds with what we are doing. This is a crisis, and precisely what we would see, watching ourselves, first hand. Rather than relate to everything as a reflection of ideas, and explain all our actions, all our motives, we could be simply observing the crisis.
You may be interested in this I came across in the Free Dictionary.
Zen, a word that evokes the most characteristic and appealing aspects of Japanese culture for many English speakers, is ultimately of Indo-European origin. The Japanese word zen is a borrowing of a medieval Chinese word (now pronounced chán, in modern Mandarin Chinese) meaning “meditation, contemplation.” Chán is one of the many Buddhist terms in Chinese that originate in India, the homeland of Buddhism. A monk named Bodhidharma, said to be of Indian origin, introduced Buddhist traditions emphasizing the practice of meditation to China in the 5th century and established Chan Buddhism. From the 7th century onward, elements of Chan Buddhism began to reach Japan, where chán came to be pronounced zen. The Chinese word chán is a shortening of chán’nǎ “meditation, contemplation” a borrowing of the Sanskrit term dhyānam. The Sanskrit word is derived from the Sanskrit root dhyā-, dhī-, “to see, observe,” and the Indo-European root behind the Sanskrit is *dheiə-, *dhyā-, “to see, look at.” This root also shows up in Greek, where *dhyā- developed into sā-, as in the Common Greek noun *sāma, “sign, distinguishing mark.” This noun became sēma in Attic Greek and is the source of English semantic.
Short and simple 5 minute interview. (1970)
As usual we are told that “method implies mechanical repetition, which is not meditation”
But that the “observation of thought is absolutely necessary” and that this may bring about a silence and an “emptying of the mind of the known” which is truth.
First problem: if one’s goal is to bring about silence through observation, this is just further conditioning, not meditation.
Second problem: If one has not seen the observer observing the thoughts, or discriminates between the observer and what it observes, conflict and conditioning of the self continues.
Emptiness is not empty - everything continues to happen in emptiness. Silence is not static - silence is non discrimination
Maybe we have a tendency to make a problem out of everything.
“Just do it!” or “sit down and shut up” would be too simple for such noble intellects as ourselves.
Although K is addressing a real problem : millions of people do recite mantras, or practise visualisations, or sit in special postures with the aim of attaining a special imagined state of bliss/enlightenment.
And we all do have the habit of living under the guidance of the self - so familiar is it that we don’t even notice its presence - so very often we think there is choiceless awareness when there is in fact judgement, interpretation and discrimination. We feel that our automatic interpretation of what is happening (truck passing by, bird singing outside, pain, itch, conclusion etc) is not just another conditioned response but reality itself.
As Buddhism arrived in China it was influenced by Taoism - and integrated the notion of Wu Wei - which dictionaries define as “effortless action”.
Hi Douglas. I think we have debated this point before but I don’t understand what you are saying here. As I understand it, Krishnamurti says that we don’t actually see or hear the full reality of the bird singing outside because thought rushes in when we observe the bird. It says “Oh that’s a Blackbird and it’s a male because it has a yellow beak etc,”. All our previous knowledge of the bird comes in through thought and acts as a screen or filter which gets in the way of clear or total observation of the bird. If we can observe the bird with a silent mind, we will actually experience clarity of observation. Krishnamurti said in the video (according to you Douglas) that “observation of thought is absolutely necessary”. Well, that seems to makes a lot of sense. If I am not even aware of the fact that I am thinking when I am looking at the bird, then there can surely not be a silent mind. As far as I can see Douglas, you seem to be saying that there is always interpretaion and conditioning operating when we look at the bird even if we are under the impression that we are observing with our mind silent and without thought jumping in. Is that right?