Krishnamurti & the Art of Awakening
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On Awareness

Talks and Dialogues, Saanen 1967 | 6th Public Dialogue, August 7th, 1967

Krishnamurti: This is the last discussion or dialogue. We have talked during these past five days about various forms of violence, self-knowing and the processes of thought. So what shall we talk about this morning?

Questioner: Sir, it seems to me we have forgotten to consider another aspect of our intelligence. Thought can combine in different ways material from our past and therefore bring about something which is apparently new and generally called invention.

Krishnamurti: I understand. I think we have much more important things to discuss, talk about, than merely invention.

Questioner: Sir, you said when there are no thoughts there is energy. There are many ideas about energy. Is it possible to speak about energy?

Krishnamurti: Is it possible to talk about that energy which comes into being, which is part of thought, when thought doesn't bring about a contradiction in itself?

Questioner: Sir, you talked about two kinds of ideas, technical ideas which we are not talking about here, and the ideas created by thought. But aren't there ideas beyond the human mind in the universe?

Krishnamurti: I think it would be much more worthwhile this morning if we could spend some time talking over together the question of awareness, attention and meditation.

We shall perhaps answer some of these questions that have just been put this morning. We'll begin by enquiring into ourselves and finding out what we mean by awareness. Because it seems to me most of us are not aware, not only of what we are talking about, but aware of our feelings, aware of our environment, aware of the colours around us, the people, the kind of cars that we pass by on the road, the shape of the trees, the clouds, the movement of the water. To see the birds - and perhaps some of you saw this morning, very early, long before the sun rose, how extraordinarily clear it was - the air was perfumed. We're not aware of the outside things at all. Perhaps it is because we are so concerned with ourselves, with our problems, with our ideas, with our own pleasures, pursuits and ambitions, that we are not aware, outside, objectively. And yet we talk a great deal about 'being aware'. Once the speaker was travelling with some people in a car, there was a chauffeur driving and I was sitting beside him. There were three gentlemen behind discussing awareness very intently and asking me questions about awareness. Unfortunately at that moment the driver was looking somewhere else and ran over a goat - the three gentlemen were still discussing awareness (laughter) - and yet were totally unaware, unconscious, that they had run over a goat. And the chauffeur was not in the least concerned. When we pointed out this lack of attention, or awareness, on the part of the people who were trying to be aware, it was a total surprise to them. And it is the same with most of us. We are not aware either of outward things or of inward things. So may we this morning spend some time talking about this awareness?

Most of our minds are rather dull, insensitive, because we are unhealthy, we've had problems with which we have lived for days together, months, years - the problem of children, marriage, earning a livelihood, the brutal society in which we live - all that has made us insensitive, dull, our reactions are rather slow. Such a mind attempts to be aware, hoping thereby somehow to go beyond the limitations which society, the individual and so on, have placed upon it. In talking about awareness I think it is important to understand how very simple it is; not to complicate it, not to say, 'it must be this', 'it must not be that', but to begin very, very simply because it's a tremendously complex problem. We must begin very simply, go into it step by step, not analytically, but observing ourselves as we are and being aware of what we are, and from there move step by step. Can we do that this morning, just for the fun of it? I think that will sharpen the mind, because we are rather crude people, assertive, aggressive, self-important, wanting to tell others what we think, what they should do, what they should not do. We want to boss others, we assume responsibility which is none of ours. So we live in a kind of self-important, self-projecting world of our own, and living in that, we talk about awareness as being something extraordinarily mysterious.

So, if we may this morning discuss or talk over together a problem which is very interesting, and also if we could go into it very deeply, we will take a journey without end. Shall we do that? Don't agree with me please. See for yourself if it is important or not. Because I feel if we can understand this very simple thing we shall be able to understand the structure of our own mind, the states of various levels of our own being - where there is contradiction, where there is blindness, where there is self-assertiveness, brutality; we shall then become aware of all the boiling, burning things in us. So let's begin.

First of all don't let us define what awareness is. Because if we do, each one of us will give it a different meaning, a different definition; but we shall find out what awareness means as we go along. The moment you define what awareness is, you've already blocked yourself by words, by a conclusion. But if you say, I'm going to find out what it means, then your mind becomes supple, elastic, and you can go along So let's go into it. Don't complicate it, because as we begin to look into awareness it will become more and more complex, but if you start with the complexity of it you won't be able to see its extraordinary simplicity, and therefore through the very simplicity discover the diversity and the contradictoriness and the dissimilarity that exists in this awareness. Am I making it complex?