I must have been around twenty years old when I discovered Krishnamurti and experienced one of those literary-spiritual shocks which are so transformative and life-changing. Here was a sensible, practical, calming and soul-nourishing philosophy that seemed to give a solution to all those religious, political, social and family issues I was struggling with at the time — though Krishnamurti himself would have rejected any notion of promoting a 'philosophy', just as he disowned any role as all-knowing sage or disciple-seeking guru. His teaching — gentle, simple, loving and humane — was centred on unity, wholeness and self-reliance. It helped you free yourself from the constricting bonds of ideology and received opinion, from the tyranny of both mind and body. Based on Eastern thought, his ideas were truly revolutionary in the West — but this was a peaceful revolution, a revolution of one's complete comprehension of and attitude to the world and how one lives in it. It is difficult to quote adequately from Krishnamurti without quoting whole pieces, as he is not given to attention-grabbing soundbites and hollow aphorisms (good, I say). However, in The Second Penguin Krishnamurti Reader he talks a lot about meditation, and these extracts are taken from the first few pages:
Meditation is not an escape from the world; it is not an isolating, self-enclosing activity, but rather the comprehension of the world and its ways. The world has little to offer apart from food, clothes and shelter, and pleasure with its great sorrows.
Meditation is wandering away from this world; one has to be a total outsider. Then the world has a meaning, and the beauty of the heavens and the earth is constant. Then love is not pleasure. From this all action begins that is not the outcome of tension, contradiction, the search for self-fulfilment or the conceit of power.
What is important in meditation is the quality of the mind and the heart. It is not what you achieve, or what you say you attain, but rather the quality of a mind that is innocent and vulnerable. Through negation there is the positive state. Merely to gather, or to live in, experience, denies the purity of meditation. Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end. The mind can never be made innocent through experience. It is the negation of experience that brings about that positive state of innocency which cannot be cultivated by thought. Thought is never innocent. Meditation is the ending of thought, not by the meditator, for the meditator is the meditation. If there is no meditation, then you are like a bind man in a world of great beauty, light and colour.
Wander by the seashore and let this meditative quality come upon you. If it does, don't pursue it. What you pursue will be the memory of what it was — and what was is the death of what is. Or when you wander among the hills, let everything tell you the beauty and the pain of life, so that you awaken to your own sorrow and to the ending of it. Meditation is the root, the plant, the flower and the fruit. It is words that divide the fruit, the flower, the plant and the root. In this separation action does not bring about goodness: virtue is the total perception.
Despite all the Oshos and Tolles and Kabat-Zinns, and the many other enlightened, spiritual, self-help facilitators of the world, I always come back to Krishnamurti in the end; for me, he said it the first and the best, the most humbly and the most beautifully. There is so much contained in the above few paragraphs; they alone could form the basis of a meditation which might last a hundred years.
Meditation is the root, the plant, the flower and the fruit. It is words that divide the fruit, the flower, the plant and the root. In this separation action does not bring about goodness: virtue is the total perception . . .