Jiddu Krishnamurti – on Sensitivity

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Here are some quotes from Jiddu Krishnamurti about ‘sensitivity’. Why is it that we are not sensitive to the many horrors and pains in the world, with all it’s suffering and strife? And what relevance does this have at all in daily life and in the spiritual quest?

Krishnamurti addresses these in his usual holistic manner, raising questions such as are we sensitive to the trees and birds, to nature? Do we notice not only beauty but also ugliness. Do we allow ourselves to feel both positive and negative emotions or do we run away from them, seeking solace in objects, entertainment and substances? Do we judge, condemn, label and see things through the veil of opinion and past knowledge, rather than see things afresh as they actually are? Do we seek security and knowledge in place of allowing ourselves to feel emotional content in our daily lives?

I hope you find the below quotes to be of benefit to you. If you would like to learn more about Krishnamurti’s approach to this I would recommend his short book Education and the Significance of Life, which I believe you can easily find as a free online download.

Best wishes

Tom


Without sensitivity there can be no affection; personal reaction does not indicate sensitivity; you may be sensitive about your family, about your achievement, about your status and capacity. This kind of sensitivity is a reaction, limited, narrow, and is deterioration. Sensitivity is not good taste for good taste is personal and the freedom from personal reaction is the awareness of beauty. Without the appreciation of beauty and without the sensitive awareness of it, there is no love.

This sensitive awareness of nature, of the river, of the sky, of the people, of the filthy road, is affection. The essence of affection is sensitivity.

But most people are afraid of being sensitive; to them to be sensitive is to get hurt and so they harden themselves and so preserve their sorrow. Or they escape into every form of entertainment, the church, the temple, the gossip and cinema and social reform. But being sensitive is not personal and when it is, it leads to misery. To break through this personal reaction is to love, and love is for the one and the many; it is not restricted to the one or to the many.

To be sensitive, all the senses must be fully alive, active, and the fear of being a slave to the senses is merely the avoidance of a natural fact. The awareness of the fact does not lead to slavery; it is the fear of the fact that leads to bondage. Thought is of the senses and thought makes for limitation but yet you are not afraid of thought. On the contrary; it is ennobled with respectability and enshrined with conceit.

To be sensitively aware of thought, feeling, of the world around you, of your office and of nature, is to explode from moment to moment in affection. Without affection, every action becomes burdensome and mechanical and leads to decay.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, Krishnamurti’s Notebook


If you say you will learn gradually about yourself, adding more and more,  little, you are not studying yourself now as you are but through acquired knowledge. Learning implies a great sensitivity. There is no sensitivity if there is an idea, which is of the past, dominating the present. Then the mind is no longer quick, pliable, alert.

Most of us are not sensitive even physically. We overeat, we do not bother about the right diet, we oversmoke and drink so that our bodies become gross and insensitive; the quality of attention in the organism itself is made dull. How can there be a very alert, sensitive, clear mind if the organism itself is dull and heavy? We may be sensitive about certain things that touch us personally but to be completely sensitive to all the implications of life demand that there be no separation between the organism and the psyche. It is a total movement.

To understand anything you must live with it, you must observe it, you must know all its content, its nature, its structure, its movement. Have you ever tried living with yourself? If so, you will begin to see that yourself is not a static state, it is a fresh living thing. And to live with a living thing your mind must also be alive. And it cannot be alive if it is caught in opinions, judgements and values. In order to observe the movement of your own mind and heart, of your whole being, you must have a free mind, not a mind that agrees and disagrees, taking sides in an argument, disputing over mere words, but rather following with an intention to understand – a very difficult thing to do because most of us don’t know how to look at, or listen to, our own being any more than we know how to look at the beauty of a river or listen to the breeze among the trees.

When we condemn or justify we cannot see clearly, nor can we when our minds are endlessly chattering; then we do not observe what is we look only at the projections we have made of ourselves. Each of us has an image of what we think we are or what we should be, and that image, that picture, entirely prevents us from seeing ourselves as we actually are.

It is one of the most difficult things in the world to look at anything simply. Because our minds are very complex we have lost the quality of simplicity. I don’t mean simplicity in clothes or food, wearing only a loin cloth or breaking a record fasting or any of that immature nonsense the saints cultivate, but the simplicity that can look directly at things without fear – that can look at ourselves as we actually are without any distortion – to say when we lie we lie, not cover it up or run away from it.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom From The Known


We are disturbed about life, politics, the economic situation, the horror, the brutality, the sorrow in the world as well as in ourselves, and from that we realize how terribly narrowly conditioned we are. And what shall we do? Accept that disturbance and live with it as most of us do? Get used to it as one gets used to living with a backache? Put up with it

There is a tendency in all of us to put up with things, to get used to them, to blame them on circumstances. `Ah, if things were right I would be different’, we say, or, `Give me the opportunity and I will fulfil myself’, or, ‘I am crushed by the injustice of it all’, always blaming our disturbances on others or on our environment or on the economic situation.

If one gets used to disturbance it means that one’s mind has become dull, just as one can get so used to beauty around one that one no longer notices it. One gets indifferent, hard and callous, and one’s mind becomes duller and duller. If we do not get used to it we try to escape from it by taking some kind of drug, joining a political group, shouting, writing, going to a football match or to a temple or church or finding some other form of amusement.

Why is it that we escape from actual facts? We are afraid of death – I am just taking that as an example – and we invent all kinds of theories, hopes, beliefs, to disguise the fact of death, but the fact is still there. To understand a fact we must look at it, not run away from it. Most of us are afraid of living as well as of dying. We are afraid for our family, afraid of public opinion, of losing our job, our security, and hundreds of other things. The simple fact is that we are afraid, not that we are afraid of this or that. Now why cannot we face that fact?

You can face a fact only in the present and if you never allow it to be present because you are always escaping from it, you can never face it, and because we have cultivated a hole network of escapes we are caught in the habit of escape.

Now, if you are at all sensitive, at all serious, you will not only be aware of your conditioning but you will also be aware of the dangers it results in, what brutality and hatred it leads to. Why, then, if you see the danger of your conditioning, don’t you act? Is it because you are lazy, laziness being lack of energy? Yet you will not lack energy if you see an immediate physical danger like a snake in your path, or a precipice, or a fire. Why, then, don’t you act when you see the danger of your conditioning? If you saw the danger of nationalism to your own security, wouldn’t you act?

The answer is you don’t see. Through an intellectual process of analysis you may see that nationalism leads to self-destruction but there is no emotional content in that. Only when there is an emotional content do you become vital. If you see the danger of your conditioning merely as an intellectual concept, you will never do anything about it. In seeing a danger as a mere idea there is conflict between the idea and action and that conflict takes away your energy. It is only when you see the conditioning and the danger of it immediately, and as you would see a precipice, that you act. So seeing is acting.

Most of us walk through life inattentively, reacting unthinkingly according to the environment in which we have been brought up, and such reactions create only further bondage, further conditioning, but the moment you give your total attention to your conditioning you will see that you are free from the past completely, that it falls away from you naturally.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom From The Known


To understand and to be free of any problem we need a great deal of passionate and sustained energy, not only physical and intellectual energy but an energy that is not dependent on any motive, any psychological stimulus or drug. If we are dependent on any stimulus that very stimulus makes the mind dull and insensitive. By taking some form of drug we may find enough energy temporarily to see things very clearly but we revert to our former state and therefore become dependent on that drug more and more. So all stimulation, whether of the church or of alcohol or of drugs or of the written or spoken word, will inevitably bring about dependence, and that dependence prevents us from seeing clearly for ourselves and therefore from having vital energy.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom From The Known


When you do not compare at all, when there is no ideal, no opposite, no factor of duality, when you no longer struggle to be different from what you are – what has happened to your mind? Your mind has ceased to create the opposite and has become highly intelligent, highly sensitive, capable of immense passion, because effort is a dissipation of passion – passion which is vital energy – and you cannot do anything without passion.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom From The Known


In the life we generally lead there is very little solitude. Even when we are alone our lives are crowded by so many influences, so much knowledge, so many memories of so many experiences, so much anxiety, misery and conflict that our mind become duller and duller, more and more insensitive, functioning in a monotonous routine. Are we ever alone? Or are we carrying with us all the burdens of yesterday?

Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom From The Known


To understand all this is not to be caught in it, not to depend on it. It means never to deny anything, never to come to any conclusion or to reach any ideological, verbal state, or principle, according to which you try to live. The very perception of this whole map which is being unfolded is already intelligence.

It is this intelligence that will act and not a conclusion, a decision or an ideological principle.

Our bodies have been made dull, just as our minds and hearts have been dulled, by our education, by our conformity to the pattern which society has set and which denies the sensitivity of the heart. It sends us to war, destroying all our beauty, tenderness and joy. The observation of all this, not verbally or intellectually but actually, makes our body and mind highly sensitive. The body will then demand the right kind of food; then the mind will not be caught in words, in symbols, in platitudes of thought. Then we shall know how to live  both in the valley and on the mountaintop; then there will be no division or contradiction between the two.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, The Only Revolution


It is opinion and belief that prevent the observation of what actually is. The seeing of what is is part of that intelligence which you are asking about. There is no intelligence if there is no sensitivity of the body and of the mind – the sensitivity of feeling and the clarity of observation. Emotionalism and sentimentality prevent the sensitivity of feeling.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, The Only Revolution


Sensitivity to beauty and to ugliness does not come about through attachment; it comes with love, when there are no self-created conflicts. When we are inwardly poor, we indulge in every form of outward show, in wealth, power and possessions. When our hearts are empty, we collect things. If we can afford it, we surround ourselves with objects that we consider beautiful, and because we attach enormous importance to them, we are responsible for much misery and destruction.

The acquisitive spirit is not the love of beauty; it arises from the desire for security, and to be secure is to be insensitive. The desire to be secure creates fear; it sets going a process of isolation which builds walls of resistance around us, and these walls prevent all sensitivity. However beautiful an object may be, it soon loses its appeal for us; we dull. Beauty is still there, but we are no longer open to it, and it has been absorbed into our monotonous daily existence.

Since our hearts are withered and we have forgotten how to be kindly, how to look at the stars, at the trees, at the reflections on the water, we require the stimulation of pictures and jewels, of books and endless amusements. We are constantly seeking new excitements, new thrills, we crave an ever increasing variety of sensations. Art is this craving and its satisfaction that make the mind and heart weary and dull. As long as we are seeking sensation, the things that we call beautiful and ugly have but a very superficial significance. There is lasting joy only when we are capable of approaching all things afresh – which is not possible as long as we are bound up in our desires. The craving for sensation and gratification prevents the experiencing of that which is always new. Sensations can be bought, but not the love of beauty.

When we are aware of the emptiness of our own minds and hearts without running away from it into any kind of stimulation or sensation, when we are completely open, highly sensitive, only then can there be creation, only then shall we find creative joy. To cultivate the outer without understanding the inner must inevitably build up those values which lead men to destruction and sorrow.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, Education and the Significance of Life


Sensitivity can never be awakened through compulsion. One may compel a child to be outwardly quiet, but one has not come face to face with that which is making him obstinate, impudent, and so on. Compulsion breeds antagonism and fear. Reward and punishment in any form only make the mind subservient and dull; and if this is what we desire, then education through compulsion is an excellent way to proceed.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, Education and the Significance of Life


…fear kills creative thinking. Fear dulls the mind and heart so that we are not alert to the whole significance of life; we become insensitive to our own sorrows, to the movement of the birds, to the smiles and miseries of others.

Conscious and unconscious fear has many different causes, and it needs alert watchfulness to be rid of them all. Fear cannot be eliminated through discipline, sublimation, or through any other act of will: its causes have to be searched out and understood. This needs patience and an awareness in which there is no judgement of any kind.

It is comparatively easy to understand and dissolve our conscious fears. But unconscious fears are not even discovered by most of us, for we do not allow them to come to the surface; and when on rare occasions they do come to the surface, we hasten to cover them up, to escape from them. Hidden fears often make their presence known through dreams and other forms of intimation, and they cause greater deterioration and conflict than do the superficial fears. Our lives are not just on the surface, their greater part is concealed from casual observation.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, Education and the Significance of Life


In our search for knowledge, in our acquisitive desires, we are losing love, we are blunting the feeling for beauty, the sensitivity to cruelty; we are becoming more and more specialized and less and less integrated. Wisdom cannot be replaced by knowledge, and no amount of explanation, no accumulation of facts, will free man from suffering. Knowledge is necessary, science has its place; but if the mind and heart are suffocated by knowledge, and if the cause of suffering is explained away, life becomes vain and meaningless. And is this not what is happening to most of us?

Jiddu Krishnamurti, Education and the Significance of Life


The love of beauty may express itself in a song, in a smile, or in silence; but most of us have no inclination to be silent. We have not the time to observe the birds, the passing clouds, because we are too busy with our pursuits and pleasures. When there is no beauty in our hearts, how can we help the children to be alert and sensitive? We try to be sensitive to beauty while avoiding the ugly; but avoidance of the ugly makes for insensitivity.

If we would develop sensitivity in the young, we ourselves must be sensitive to beauty and to ugliness, and must take every opportunity to awaken in them the joy there is in seeing, not only the beauty that man has created, but also the beauty of nature.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, Education and the Significance of Life

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Paris Terrorist Attacks/ Be still for the presence of the Lord

eiffel tower paris attacks

In the wake of the tragic atrocities in Paris that took place on Friday, I would like to offer my condolences and sympathies to all those victims who have been affected and their families and loved ones. It is truly shocking to have this happen, and yes, it feels more shocking to me that it has happened in Northern Europe (my own personal bias, I know).

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