Krishnamurti used to say that if you really listen and understand comprehensively you will change fundamentally on the instant. He also said that intellectual understanding is no understanding. It is a deterrent to true understanding which must take place on all levels of our being (including the unconscious and the feelings).
IN his dialogues with David Bohm, he said that if you really listen to me (by me he meant a voice in the wilderness that said that there is water), if you really listened that way you would be transformed in a moment and not take time over it.
He also said that through time you can never reach the timeless (which is an example of an iron-clad logic that can mislead - I will explain later in this message).
Let us now investigate each of these points individually. The first point was about really listening. First of all, the inner climate of a person’s mind is so vast and variegated that to change merely by listening to someone seems far-fetched. Let us take an example from K’s conversation with David Bohm in the book: The Ending of Time.
K: Yes, but man asks, help me to get past the wrong turn. Put me on the right path. And to that one says, please don’t become anything.
DB: Right. What is the problem then?
K: He won’t even listen.
DB: Then it seems to me that it is necessary for the one who sees this to find out what is the barrier to listening.
K: Obviously you can see what is the barrier.
DB: What is the barrier?
DB: Yes, but I meant more deeply.
K: More deeply, all your thoughts, deep attachments - all that is in your way. If you can’t leave these, then you will have no relationship with that. But man doesn’t want to leave these.
K himself says that the barrier to listening deeply is the I, and he explains that it means his thoughts and deep attachments. Now, it is obvious to any straight thinking man that to leave all your deep attachments and conditioning you need time, and listening to a wise person will not cut the deep feeding roots of attachment on the instant through a great insight. You need time to reflect on what your attachments mean, how you are conditioned by your attachments and so on. Also, there is the question of love. How much do you love ? Do you think you can become an extraordinarily loving person just through a great insight ? That is impossible. So the gradual approach is the only way. Those who “get it” suddenly like some zen people talking about getting it suddenly through satori (enlightenment experience) have had years of mind training, meditation, reflection on the Buddha’s teachings and working with energy before they get that experience. So it was not sudden. There was a causal link to what they were doing.
Also, before you are born into your present life, you “roughly” plan your whole life with wise Elders who discuss with you about your strengths and weaknesses and what you have to learn and what habits you have to give up and so on. When the plan is finalized and you are about to take birth, for 9 months some specialist psychic surgeons prepare your various bodies (mental, emotional, and so on) in such a way that those weaknesses and strengths that have to manifest in your present life can manifest very easily through “life situation triggers”. In other words, what you have to learn in this life is made easy to learn through life situations. Let us take an example: Let us say that you have not yet learnt empathy for other people’s suffering. Then your life plan and your life situations will be arranged in such a manner that you will experience being in close contact with people close to you who suffer a lot. This way you have a chance of developing empathy.
There are many other tendencies that lie dormant in the unconscious mind that will not be triggered by life situations because that was not part of the plan for this life.
That is why, it is not possible to change completely just by “honing the art of listening”. You need to go step by step and dissolve all your tendencies over a period of many lifetimes. Each such lifetime will present to you tendencies that you have to resolve.
There is an exception to the above rule. If a person becomes very serious about his spiritual life and spends almost the whole of his free time enquiring, learning, growing, then what was to be accomplished in his next life, manifests in this very life with new life situations manifesting in his life in response to his hard work at working on himself.
So that is why it is not possible to end the “me” in one birth, unless you have, in previous births, ended a great deal of the “me” (meaning, resolved your problems and ended your conditioning in certain areas).
Next, let us talk about what K said that intellectual understanding is no understanding, but a deterrent to real understanding which is on all levels of your being.
What is the truth about this ?
The truth according to me is that understanding comes about through six stages: linguistic, intellectual, reflective, releasing, emotional and finally at the level of feelings (or what you really feel about something or vital understanding).
First, linguistic understanding. If you do not have a fine grasp of the way the writer or speaker uses language to convey his teachings, you will be lost in a jungle of unfriendly words that go against how you personally use language and words. So the first step is to have linguistic understanding.
Second, with the help of words, and reading between the lines, you intuit, also with the help of your present understanding, what the speaker or teacher is saying. If you dont even understand this, then how will you have so-called “total understanding” ?
Third, you reflect on what you have intellectually understood, by seeing the connecting links between the central idea that you are trying to understand and some of the subsidiary false ideas, thoughts and conditioning. Through associative thinking sometimes the main idea gets linked to other ideas, a process that can be unravelled by reflection.
Fourth, the false ideas and thoughts that have been established through reflection as being connected to the main idea or principle that you are trying to understand must be relinquished and released.
Fifth, this process must reach the solar plexus or the stomach, so that in your guts you know the new idea to be based in truth.
Sixth, all your feelings must be brought into harmony with your new understanding.
It is only after the completion of these six stages that you can say that “I have understood this”.
But intellectual understanding stands at the base of all this and cannot be neglected or avoided.
Finally, Krishnamurti said that through time you can never reach the timeless, which sounds very impressive, but let us see the truth of this.
Shedding a conditioning is an organic process that needs psychological as well as chronological time. IT is not always so easy as saying “I was this and I want to become that”. Sometimes, the psyche must be unraveled for you to be able to shed a conditioning and that takes psychological time, not as becoming this or that but as a means of exploring.