U: I would like to know what J Krishnamurti says about techniques as he did not follow any gurus or techniques. Did he practice meditation techniques before he gained wisdom?
Jay: In our ordinary way of thinking, life is based on techniques. By technique, I think we probably mean a series of actions – which can be remembered, practiced, and perfected – in order to achieve a certain result, either in the external world or in our body or mind.
I can’t speak for Krishnamurti but from my understanding of how he speaks and from my own experience with meditative work, simple presence with what is happening at this moment is not the result of techniques and is not made easier by techniques. As long as the mind is concerned with techniques, the mind is not listening to what is here right now. It is concerned with a goal – which is an image held onto by the brain. Holding onto a goal in the brain takes energy. If you get tired of holding onto your goal, the brain will naturally forget it. This is usually relaxing but if the goal feels very important, then there may be anxiety when it is forgotten.
When the mind is not holding onto anything in particular, it can become sensitive. When the mind is sensitive, it opens and perceives without a goal or agenda.
So, if you are very concerned with becoming a good meditator in order to achieve a goal, such as wisdom or freedom, you can ask yourself, when you meditate, “What am I right now that I am so dissatisfied with?” Then just sit and observe what you are. What we are does not reveal itself immediately, so be patient. Thoughts and feelings come and go. The mind falls asleep, or daydreams. The body becomes tense or relaxes. All of these things come and go, sometimes beautiful, sometimes difficult. But you can see that none of them is who I am.
It may be that the particular question “Who am I” does not mean much to you. That’s ok. It’s not important what question you ask. What is important is to look right here each moment, where we almost never look. But it may be helpful to ask yourself what it is that you do really want. What motivates you to meditate? Then if you can come in touch with what motivates you, question it. Where does this motivation come from? And then, most importantly, do not continue to think about it but just stop and observe, silently. Listen to yourself and to the world quietly.
There is nothing wrong with having goals and working toward them. However, we usually do not listen deeply to our goals or consider where they come from and if they are even valid. This kind of consideration requires very careful, quiet listening. It is ok to think about these things but after a while, there is no more to think about. Then continue to listen.
We have goals that are personal: I want to be a person who people like. I want to be wise. I want to be a teacher of people. I want to be a humble sage. And so on. Looking deeply, there are also goals that are not personal: I want the people in the world to be happier. I want there to be less anger. I want there to be less greed and violence. I am sad that each of us must die. I am sad that so many people suffer.
Each of these goals is like a wave on the ocean. It is the part that we see but underneath it is something deeper. It is this deeper world that we, in our hearts, want to come in touch with. The world wants to heal us, to answer our doubts and to shed light on our concerns. If we sit quietly enough, the world will have a chance to do its work in us. This cannot happen if we are busy applying techniques but it will happen for sure if we are quiet and just listen.
I don’t know if I have addressed your concerns. When this listening comes alive in us, it is clear that all of the techniques of traditional religions are limited. They are only temporary things that may have some temporary value but they do not shed light on who we are. Only listening can do this. Krishnamurti followed the teachings of his teachers (Theosophists) very carefully and devotedly. But when his mind/heart opened to the world, he saw that these teachings were nothing but confused ideas that had not been examined carefully by anyone.
If I have not been too clear, please do write back with any questions. If you don’t agree with something I said, please let me know and explain your thoughts.