Jiddu Krishamurti: Silence, the Still Mind, Meditation

Krishnamurti young

I’ve compiled a few quotes by J. Krishnamurti on the subject of silence/stillness, and I’ve broadly arranged them so the initial quotes are more introductory and the latter quotes expand on the depth and subtleties of the teachings. Are we not blessed to have such teachings available to us? I hope you find these of use to you, with love and best wishes:

What lies beyond can be found only if the mind is still. There may be something or there may be nothing at all. So the only thing that is important is for the mind to be still.

What lies beyond can be found only if the mind is still…the only thing that is important is for the mind to be still.

Again, if you are concerned with what lies beyond, then you are not looking at what the state of actual stillness is. If stillness to you is only a door to that which lies beyond, then you are not concerned with that door, whereas what is important is the very door itself, the very stillness itself.

Therefore you cannot ask what lies beyond. The only thing that is important is for the mind to be still. Then what takes place? That is all we are concerned with, not with what lies beyond silence.

Eight Conversations


When you realize that there is no method, no system, no mantra, no teacher, nothing in the world that is going to help you to be quiet, when you realize the truth that it is only the quiet mind that sees, then the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet.

…it is only the quiet mind that sees…

It is like seeing danger and avoiding it. In the same way, seeing that the mind must be completely quiet, it is quiet.

Now, the quality of silence matters. A very small mind can be very quiet, it has its little space in which to be quiet; that little space, with its little quietness, is the deadest thing – you know what it is.

In that silence there is no observer at all.

But a mind that has limitless space and that quietness, that stillness, has no center as the ‘me’, the observer, is quite different. In that silence there is no observer at all. That quality of silence has vast space, it is without border and intensely active; the activity of that silence is entirely different from the activity which is self-centered.

If the mind has gone that far (and really it is not that far, it is always there if you know how to look), then perhaps that which man has sought throughout the centuries – God, truth, the immeasurable, the nameless, the timeless – is there.

…it is always there if you know how to look…

Without your invitation, it is there.

The Flight of the Eagle


There is no other fact but silence which has not been invited, induced, sought after, but which is the natural outcome of observation and of understanding oneself and the world about one. In this there has been no motive which has brought silence. If there is any shadow or suspicion of a motive, then that silence is directed and deliberate, so it is not silence at all.

If there is any shadow or suspicion of a motive, then that silence is directed and deliberate, so it is not silence at all.

If you can honestly say that that silence is free, then what actually takes place in that silence is our only concern. What is the quality and the texture of that silence? Is it superficial, passing, measurable? Are you aware of it after it is over, or during the silence? If you are aware that you have been silent, then it is only a memory, and therefore dead. If you are aware of the silence while it is happening, then is it silence?

Eight Conversations


If you have followed this inquiry into what is meditation, and have understood the whole process of thinking, you will find that the mind is completely still. In that total stillness of the mind, there is no watcher, no observer, and therefore no experiencer at all; there is no entity who is gathering experience, which is the activity of a self-centred mind.

In that total stillness of the mind, there is no watcher, no observer, and therefore no experiencer at all; there is no entity who is gathering experience, which is the activity of a self-centred mind.

Don’t say, “That is samadhi”, which is all nonsense, because you have only read of it in some book and have not discovered it for yourself. There is a vast difference between the word and the thing. The word is not the thing; the word door is not the door.

So, to meditate is to purge the mind of its self-centered activity. And if you have come this far in meditation, you will find there is silence, a total emptiness.

The mind is uncontaminated by society; it is no longer subject to any influence, to the pressure of any desire. It is completely alone, and being alone, untouched, it is innocent.

So, to meditate is to purge the mind of its self-centered activity…you will find there is silence, a total emptiness…The mind is uncontaminated by society;

Therefore there is a possibility for that which is timeless, eternal, to come into being. This whole process is meditation.

J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life


Disciplines, renunciations, detachments, rituals, the practice of virtue, all these, however noble, are the process of thought, and thought can only work toward an end, toward an achievement, which is ever the known.

Achievement is security, the self-protective certainty of the known. To seek security in that which is nameless is to deny it. The security that may be found is only in the projection of the past, of the known.

For this reason, the mind must be entirely and deeply silent; but this silence cannot be purchased through sacrifice, sublimation, or suppression. This silence comes when the mind is no longer seeking, no longer caught in the process of becoming. This silence is not cumulative, it may not be built up through practice.

This silence comes when the mind is no longer seeking, no longer caught in the process of becoming. This silence is not cumulative, it may not be built up through practice.

This silence must be as unknown to the mind as the timeless, for if the mind experiences the silence, then there is the experiencer who is the result of past experiences, who is cognizant of a past silence, and what is experienced by the experiencer is merely a self-projected repetition. The mind can never experience the new, and so the mind must be utterly still.

The mind can never experience the new, and so the mind must be utterly still.

The mind can be still only when it is not experiencing, that is, when it is not terming or naming, recording or storing up in memory. This naming and recording is a constant process of the different layers of consciousness, not merely of the upper mind. But, when the superficial mind is quiet, the deeper mind can offer up its intimations. When the whole consciousness is silent and tranquil, free from all becoming – which is spontaneity – then only does the immeasurable come into being.

Commentaries on Living, Series I


That silence which is not the silence of the ending of noise is only a small beginning. It is like going through a small hole to an enormous, wide, expansive ocean, to an immeasurable, timeless state. But this you cannot understand verbally unless you have understood the whole structure of consciousness and the meaning of pleasure, sorrow and despair, and the brain cells themselves have become quiet. Then perhaps you may come upon that mystery which nobody can reveal to you and nothing can destroy.

…the brain cells themselves have become quiet. Then perhaps you may come upon that mystery which nobody can reveal to you and nothing can destroy.

Freedom from the Known


Is silence to be cultivated, carefully nurtured and strengthened? And who is the cultivator? Is he different from the totality of your being? Is there silence, a still mind, when one desire dominates all others, or when it sets up resistance against them? Is there silence when the mind is disciplined, shaped, controlled? Does not all this imply a censor, a so-called higher self who controls judges, chooses?

Is there silence when the mind is disciplined, shaped, controlled? Does not all this imply a censor, a so-called higher self who controls judges, chooses?

And is there such an entity? If there is, is he not the product of thought? Thought dividing itself as the high and the low, the permanent and the impermanent, is still the outcome of the past, of tradition, of time. In this division lies its own security.

Thought or desire now seeks safety in silence, and so it asks for a method or a system which offers what it wants. In place of worldly things it now craves the pleasure of silence, so it breeds conflict between what is and what should be. There is no silence where there is conflict, repression, resistance.

Q: Should one not seek silence?

K: There can be no silence as long as there is a seeker. There is the silence of a still mind only when there is no seeker, when there is no desire.

Q: Should one not seek silence?

K: There can be no silence as long as there is a seeker. There is the silence of a still mind only when there is no seeker, when there is no desire. Without replying, put this question to yourself: Can the whole of your being be silent? Can the totality of the mind, the conscious as well as the unconscious, be still?

Commentaries On Living Series II Chapter 50 


The mind is silent only with the abundance of energy, when there is that attention in which all contradiction, the pulling of desire in different directions, has ceased. The struggle of desire to be silent does not make for silence. Silence is not to be bought through any form of compulsion; it is not the reward of suppression or even sublimation.

The struggle of desire to be silent does not make for silence. Silence is not to be bought through any form of compulsion; it is not the reward of suppression or even sublimation.

But the mind that is not silent is never free; and it is only to the silent mind that the heavens are opened. The bliss which the mind seeks is not found through its seeking, nor does it lie in faith. Only the silent mind can receive that blessing which is not of church or belief.

But the mind that is not silent is never free; and it is only to the silent mind that the heavens are opened. The bliss which the mind seeks is not found through its seeking, nor does it lie in faith. Only the silent mind can receive that blessing which is not of church or belief.

For the mind to be silent, all its contradictory corners must come together and be fused in the flame of understanding. The silent mind is not a reflective mind. To reflect, there must be the watcher and the watched, the experiencer heavy with the past.

The silent mind is not a reflective mind. To reflect, there must be the watcher and the watched, the experiencer heavy with the past.

In the silent mind there is no centre from which to become, to be, or to think. All desire is contradiction, for every centre of desire is opposed to another centre. The silence of the total mind is meditation.

Commentaries On Living, Series III, Chapter 51

The silence of the total mind is meditation.


When you watch attentively, with diligence, there is nothing to learn; there is only that vast space, silence and emptiness, which is all-consuming energy.

Krishnamurti to Himself

Q: I never get it when you say ‘be still’

Question: Tom, I never get it when you say ‘be still’. In my experience there is a contradiction between ‘Allow things to be as they are: No need to suppress or control.’ and ‘disengaging from thoughts’ because when I cease controlling, my mind just wonders so much. I definitely won’t detach from my thoughts by relaxing or even by any other means.

Tom: Yes, good point. When you set aside time to practice this you will naturally stumble upon that balance between not controlling/allowing and yet not engaging in thoughts. The secret is to practice again and again.

Q: So the technique is to be aware of thoughts but not get engaged? Then when you get caught up in thoughts, just return to watching them?

Tom: Yes. But no need to watch the thoughts… See here for more: How to meditate for spiritual enlightenment

The Natural Path to the Natural State

Lake calm new zealand meditation nonduality

Through the mind being increasingly more still, all is revealed, naturally and directly, non-verbally and non-conceptually, beyond any set of words or stock-phrases.

We don’t need to wrestle with ideas and questions such as:
– Is there a separate self?
– Is the world an illusion?
– Is everything really me?
– Do I survive after death?
– Am I really not the body?
– Is there free will?
– Are all these teachings actually just ramblings of self-deluded people? (It’s not impossible!)

All of the above is just ego-play, the mind perpetuating itself.

Through being still, as the thoughts lessen and lessen, the distorting veil of the ego lessens and its illusions are naturally seen through. Insight pours in all by itself, insight simply being the recognition of illusion for what it is, and the falling away of illusion.

All practices eventually take us to this stillness, so do what you need to do to be still. Often uplifting, blissfull, loving, positive and invigotating practices and techniques are needed first to root out negative tendencies (tamasic vasanas), and soothing calming practices are needed to calm passionate activated energies (rajasic vasanas) prior to allowing yourself to be still. Do what you need to do to allow stillness into your life.

Any teachings that have given you lasting benefit just bring you to this stillness, even if just momentarily. Through repeated prolongued immersion in stillness, the tendency to identify with the body-mind reduces then, after much time, eventually disappears, and with that the belief in the solidity of the world and other people also disappears, as does the notion of subject-object and time. This just happens by itself.

No need to take my word for it. Just be still and find out for yourself. Let go of belief in the ‘me’, the body, the world, the future, the past, etc, allow all thoughts to gently settle down and let go of all thinking. No need to push anything away or supress anything, just allow yourself (the ego-mind) to die…all will naturally work itself out.

Of course you will not find discover anything new or realise anything: the ego-illusion, the centre that is seeking – that will simply end. This is not about gaining new special knowledge or a new insight into reality, so if you are not getting special experiences/understanding or don’t appear to be ‘making progress’ through being still, don’t worry, that’s perfect. This is about the end of the ‘me’ that is seeking all of that.

Also, don’t underestimate the tenaciousness, endurance and pervasiveness of the ego. Even when thoughts do not appear to be consciously present, the ego is still fully there, dormant and in seed form, ready to sprout, just like in deep sleep. Therefore the stillness, even when thoughts appear not to be present, still needs to be be further deepened and the sadhana (spiritual practice) still needs to be continued until there is no individuality-duality left. A superficial absense of thoughts will not do. If this seems too difficult or daunting, don’t worry – just start, just start! What at first appears difficult or even impossible becomes easy with repeated attempts and practice. Take the example of a child learning to walk, ride a bike, swim or speak a language.

What remains when the ego/’me’ is gone can’t be put into words, and cannot be understood by the ego/mind. Thinking that this can be put into words such as ‘all is one’, or ‘Atman is Brahman’ or ‘there’s nobody here’ or any other set of words is seen to be false and just more toys for the ego. At the same time, it can be seen what these words may be trying (and failing) to point to.

So, no need to figure any of this out – that is more ego – instead be still. No need to cling to insights or words or knowledge or experiences – that too is more ego – instead be still.

Do not try to be still – that is just more activity, more ego. Seeing this, just allow everything to be as it is, not in order to get something, as that too is more ego.

Seeing the ego is always trying to gain, and intuitively non-verbally seeing this is just an unnecessary waste of energy, the ego can spontaneouly be let go of, for no reason, and not supressed, but just allowed, and in that the egoic drive has been removed, and this is being still. You need to try it and experiment to find this out for yourself.

Just like unplugging an electric fan, the blades of the ego-fan may appear to turn for a while, a good while, but no need to try to stop the blades rotating – that is more ego-effort and causes more issues – just be still and the ego-thoughts will naturally slow down when it is ready, just like the electric fan blades eventually stop by themselves when the power is taken away.

The other thing is don’t get stuck in a trance, a static feel-good state of mind. That is also another play of the mind looking for escape and pleasure. Stillness is not a trance, it’s much gentler than that – it’s the natural state. Try, experiment and practice and you will find the way, not by sitting on the sidelines thinking about it, but by actually doing it.

In summary: be still, all will be revealed.

Which means nothing will really be revealed, just the illusion/illusory seeker will die. The illusion-free state, the egoless state, the non-dual state, which of course is not a state, is the natural state.

If this is confusing, don’t worry. The words are never it. Instead just be still. Actually do it. Again and again forget everything, let go of your thoughts and thinking, bring yourself back to stillness, become nothing, let go of it all, be still.

This is the natural path to the natural state.

Wishing you peace.

Some fundamentals of the path

meditation advaita om self-realisation

Rest for a while.
Allow your heart and feelings to lead you:

Gently,
Sink into your heart,
And be still.

Let that Silence overpower you,
Let that Presence stir and move you,
Both inwardly and outwardly,
Guiding your words, thoughts and actions,
Bringing you back to ever-present Stillness.

Know that Stillness as your Essential Being,
And be happy and well.

Let devotion, prayer and gratitude,
Naturally well up as they please,
Purifying the Heart-Mind.
Cleansing the system.

All experiences come and go,
And occur within the depths of awareness,
Which in itself in-essence remains ever-unchanged and unharmed,
Like the screen and the movie projected onto it.

Grounded in the firm knowledge of awareness,
There is no need to hold anything back.

These are some fundamentals of the path.

Krishnamurti: stillness can in no way be manufactured by thought

Continuing the series of Krishnamurti posts this week, the following is written by Jiddu Krishnamurti, taken from BULLETIN 4, 1969:

Innocence alone can be passionate. The innocent have no sorrow, no suffering, though they have had a thousand experiences.

It is not the experiences that corrupt the mind but what they leave behind, the residue, the scars, the memories. These accumulate, pile up one on top of the other, and then sorrow begins.

This sorrow is time. Where time is, innocency is not. Passion is not born of sorrow. Sorrow is experience, the experience of everyday life, the life of agony and fleeting pleasures, fears and certainties. You cannot escape from experiences, but they need not take root in the soil of the mind. These roots give rise to problems, conflicts and constant struggle. There is no way out of this but to die each day to every yesterday.

The clear mind alone can be passionate. Without passion you cannot see the breeze among the leaves or the sunlight on the water. Without passion there is no love.

Seeing is the doing. The interval between seeing and doing is the waste of energy.

Love can only be when thought is still. This stillness can in no way be manufactured by thought. Thought can only put together images, formulas, ideas, but this stillness can never be touched by thought.

Thought is always old, but love is not.

Satsang

meditation lake stones

If you have no questions,
We can sit here,
Selfless,
Self seen through,
And be.
This is the real sadhana:
Just an unforced appreciation of the way things are.

If you have questions, ask them, do not hold back.
The true answer is when the question disappears.
Do not cling to knowledge.
This is the advanced path for advanced seekers.

Sufi mystic Abol-Hasan speaks

soul and loaf bread

Here are some gems from Sheikh Abol-Hasan, a Sufi mystic from the 11th century AD. His words continue to astound me. I have followed each quote with my commentary in italics and hope this does not detract from the quotes themselves.

One may speak of those absent,
but one who is Ever Present,
one can say nothing of
Sheikh Abol-Hasan, saying 92

How can we speak of Him? How can we talk of Him? All talk of Him is fanciful, all the more so if we take our descriptions and theories about Him seriously. Continue reading

Eckhart Tolle: Your true self

Lake sunset

‘You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.’
Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle p. 52

The truth is that you cannot know your true self. You are your true self – already. It’s difficult to put into words, but when you know who you really are, it is not the same as knowing how tall Mount Everest is or knowing what your favourite colour is. These worldly things are known with the mind, with thought, with the intellect. These things are known by ‘you’, the ego who knows, the false non-existent self. Your true self is not known in that way.
Continue reading

Ramana Maharshi: Be still

buddha silver

All the texts say that in order to gain release one should render the mind quiescent; therefore their conclusive teaching is that the mind should be rendered quiescent; once this has been understood there is no need for endless reading.

Ramana Maharshi (from Who Am I)

One of the problems of Ramana’s teachings is that they are so simple. Most people do not want to be still and keep the mind quiet. They want to avoid themselves by discussing and understanding the concepts.

Now conceptual discussion has its place, but once one has understood the import of the teachings, namely silence, then it is time to sit down and shut up. Muruganar, who is regarded as Ramana’s closest and most influential devotee, says the same about Ramana’s teachings in his masterpiece Guru Vachaka Kovai:

What our Master clearly teaches by way of great, good, powerful tapas (spiritual effort) is only this and nothing more
BE STILL
Apart from this the mind has no task to do or thought to think

Guru Vachaka Kovai
(verse 773)

And in case you still haven’t got the message, here’s another quote from Who Am I, which is the publication that Ramana had issued at his Ashram as an introduction to his teachings. Note that the Sanskrit word ‘Jnana’ below literally means ‘knowledge’ and in a spiritual context refers to Self-Knowledge/Realisation or Liberation itself:

Questioner: What is wisdom-insight (jnana-drsti)?
Ramana Maharshi: Remaining quiet is what is called wisdom-insight.

Ramana Maharshi (from Who Am I)

Krishnamurti: Meditation is natural

evening sky

I recall walking in the gardens of a local convent in Autumn last year. After meandering around for a while I found my self standing by a tree. I looked up to see a dark angular leaf-less branch silhouetted against a luminous evening blue sky. There was complete stillness and a sense of vastness. The universe was functioning, but “I” was not there. Everything was happening by itself, seemingly magical and uncaused. The silence was deafening, as they say. The universe was, as ever, mysterious, strange and peaceful. It was both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Continue reading