I wondered about this, why do we feel so good walking through the meadows? The sparkling grass, the flowers, raindrops hanging from the leaves and branches. Clouds and animals. Why does it feel so healing? So in touch. Is it because a leaf does not think? And therefore does not vibrate with confusion? It’s either a little brown bud, the first green glossy opening of tiny leaves, and now bright yellow, orange and red. There are no regrets here, no wanting. No fearing. Does the leaf want to come out? Is it afraid to turn red? I don’t know, I’ve never been a leaf. Nor a tree. It doesn’t affect one this way. It’s all here the way it is: cracked branches, upright ones, dried, crumpled leaves and nibbled ones. A lot of nibbling has gone on for these leaves. There they are, full of holes, like the finest of lace. Somebody put some out on the dining room table. It was neat to see: nibbled, holy leaves. Almost transparent. No sob story emanating from them.
I’m not denying that there is freedom. Of course there is!
But there is a lot of buzz and fuzz in this thinking organism. Which is no one’s fault. It has evolved this way, and now we’re stuck with it, or we feel we are. Caught up in our thinking, in the emotions triggered by thought and memory, and taking for real what is imagination about ourselves and each other. Imagining the dream to be true! The pain that goes with it, the suffering, or the momentary ecstasy.
Can that buzz of thinking, of imagining, of wanting and fearing, and the organism humming along with it, can it clear up in quiet listening and looking? Be seen for what it is and seen through? Not changed, but seen through. In openness, stillness, emptiness.
Not the words.
Chirping of cicadas and breathing and people moving, leaves rustling and gentle rain dropping… is that thought? Wanting? Or is it just happening, plain and simple, with no one doing it?
No one doing it. No one.
That is all.
The man had been sitting there on the bank of the beautiful
river, motionless; he was there for over an hour. He would come
there every morning, freshly bathed, he would chant in Sanskrit for
some time and presently he would be lost in his thoughts; he didn’t
seem to mind the sun, at least the morning sun. One day he came
and began to talk about meditation. He did not belong to any
school of meditation, he considered them useless, without any real
significance. He was alone, unmarried and had put away the ways
of the world long ago. He had controlled his desires, shaped his
thoughts and lived a solitary life. He was not bitter, vain or
indifferent; he had forgotten all these some years ago. Meditation
and reality were his life. As he talked and groped for the right
word, the sun was setting and deep silence descended upon us. He
stopped talking. After a while, when the stars were very close to
the earth, he said: “That is the silence I have been looking for
everywhere, in the books, among the teachers and in myself. I have
found many things but not this. It came unsought, uninvited. Have
I wasted my life in things that did not matter? You have no idea
what I have been through, the fastings, the self-denials and the
practices. I saw their futility long ago but never came upon this
silence. What shall I do to remain in it, to maintain it, to hold it in
my heart? I suppose you would say do nothing, as one cannot
invite it. But shall I go on wandering over this country, with this
repetition, this control? Sitting here I am conscious of this sacred
silence; through it I look at the stars, those trees, the river. Though
I see and feel all this, I am not really there. As you said the other
day, the observer is the observed. I see what it means now. Thebenediction I sought is not to be found in the seeking. It is time for me to go.”
The river became dark and the stars were reflected on its waters
near the banks. Gradually the noises of the day were coming to an
end and the soft noises of the night began. You watched the stars
and the dark earth and the world was far away. Beauty, which is
love, seemed to descend on the earth and the things of it.
As a meditative exercise, I wonder if it is possible to pay attention to a single thought, watch it arise along with all the symphony of the emotions that it arouses and that arouse it, and then watch it fall away into silence.
What usually happens is that there is a core me that adds fuel to the fire and propels thoughts this way and that according to what I find gratifying or painful. This me invites certain strings of memories and tries to project coherent scenarios of the future.
These spinnings of the thought-emotion complex are like a stick with a spark of flame at its end whirled around rapidly. The illusion of continuity is thus born.
Let’s try to observe the blossoming and fading of each thought and emotion, uncaused and empty in the world.
How do we sense the passage of time in daily living? One way of course is to know the physical sense of time: the sun rises and sets, we fall asleep and wake, our fingernails grow longer, we become hungry and full and hungry again.
If we were only left with this physical sense of the passage of time, we would have not many problems in life. But apart from this purely physical sense of time, we have a mental time, or what Krishnamurti would call psychological time.
Psychological time involves yesterday and tomorrow. It involves a sense of me smeared across past, present and future. And because of this, it involves emotions such as fear and regret. Time and emotion both seem to construct each other. I am afraid because I project a future. I feel guilt and regret because I look back at the past.
Time, thought and emotion are all deeply interwoven.
But because the present moment is the only reality we have (and the present moment lacks the dimension of a smeared out time), time itself may be a distortion of reality. Also, if the ego is in a sense out of touch with reality, and the ego is bound up with time-emotion, again this suggests that time is a distortion of reality.
In a logical sense we may see this, but how do we understand deeply the role and limitation of mental time in daily living?
Watching the flow of time and the way the ego is caught in its clutches. Perhaps the sense of watching itself is timeless. This awareness is what we deepen in ourselves.
It was a cloudless morning, so early and time seemed to have stopped. It was four-thirty but time seemed to have lost its entire meaning. It was as though there was no yesterday or tomorrow or the next moment. Time stood still and life without a shadow went on; life without thought and feeling went on. The body was there on the terrace, the high tower with its flashing warning light was there and the countless chimneys; the brain saw all these but it went no further. Time as measure, and time as thought and feeling had stopped. There was no time; every movement had stopped but there was nothing static. On the contrary there was an extraordinary intensity and sensitivity, a fire that was burning, without heat and colour. Overhead were the Pleiades and lower down towards the east was Orion and the morning star was over the top of the roofs. And with this fire there was joy, bliss. It wasn’t that one was joyous but there was ecstasy. There was no identification with it, there couldn’t be for time had ceased. That fire could not identify itself with anything nor be in relationship with anything. It was there for time had stopped. And dawn was coming and Orion and the Pleiades faded away and presently the morning star too went its way. Krishnamurti’s Notebook
The meditative attitude has to sit very deep in our bodies and minds, rooted in our flesh, bones and in the very essence of consciousness.
When we begin this journey, we may think occasionally about awareness, or about impermanence. These thoughts and memories may serve to direct our energies in some meaningful way.
But as our understanding grows, the awareness of emptiness or the sense of being in a world is not just a matter of words and thoughts that we read about. Rather, these become a part of a whole vision, to the extent that they challenge, moment to moment, our very conception of reality.
Then we have a chance to step on a path that pulls us out of our ego-centric minds and into a life lived with clarity, in the breath of reality.
For the longest time, I considered the word freedom to mean my ability to do what I wanted, in all realms of life: vocational, religious, romantic-sexual, social.
But as I grew older I discovered (as I suppose all of us discover) that the need to act in a particular way in fact diminishes my inner freedom. In other words, if I am driven by my desires, compelled to do certain things or be a certain way, then I am most emphatically not free. An upside-down perception that is extremely liberating.
Then the question arises: what constitutes freedom?
My current understanding is that freedom is essentially freedom from inner compulsion. We are, most of our waking lives, slaves to our desires. Meditative philosophies teach us to watch our inner worlds, dissolve them, discover peace and compassion and an other-oriented life.
Freedom, ultimately, might mean freedom from our inner patterns of thought and emotion.