Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An Introduction to the Teachings of J Krishnamurti

An Introduction to the Teachings of J Krishnamurti

by David Bohm

My first acquaintance with Krishnamurti's work was in 1959 when I read his book, 'First and Last Freedom'. What particularly aroused my interest was his deep insight into the question of the observer and the observed. This question has long been close to the centre of my own work, as a theoretical physicist, who was primarily interested in the meaning of the quantum theory. In this theory, for the first time in the development of physics, the notion that these two cannot be separated has been put forth as necessary for the understanding of the fundamental laws of matter in general. Because of this, as well as because the book contained many other deep insights, I felt that it was urgent for me to talk with Krishnamurti directly and personally as soon as possible. And when I first met him on one of his visits to London, I was struck by the great ease of communication with him, which was made possible by the intense energy with which he listened and by the freedom from self-protective reservations and barriers with which he responded to what I had to say. As a person who works in science I felt completely at home with this sort of response, because it was in essence of the same quality as that which I had met in these contacts with other scientists with whom there had been a very close meeting of minds. And here, I think especially of Einstein who showed a similar intensity and absence of barrier in a number of discussions that took place between him and me. After this, I began to meet Krishnamurti regularly and to discuss with him whenever he came to London.

We began an association which has since then become closer as I became interested in the schools, which were set up through his initiative. In these discussions, we went quite deeply into the many questions which concerned me in my scientific work. We probed into the nature of space and time, and of the universal, both with regard to external nature and with regard to the mind. But then, we went on to consider the general disorder and confusion that pervades the consciousness of mankind. It is here that I encountered what I feel to be Krishnamurti's major discovery. What he was seriously proposing is that all this disorder, which is the root cause of such widespread sorrow and misery, and which prevents human beings from properly working together, has its root in the fact that we are ignorant of the general nature of our own processes of thought. Or to put it differently it may be said that we do not see what is actually happening, when we are engaged in the activity of thinking. Through close attention to and observation of this activity of thought, Krishnamurti feels that he directly perceives that thought is a material process, which is going on inside of the human being in the brain and nervous system as a whole.

Ordinarily, we tend to be aware mainly of the content of this thought rather than how it actually takes place. One can illustrate this point by considering what happens when one is reading a book. Usually, one is attentive almost entirely to the meaning of what is being read. However, one can also be aware of the book itself, of its constitution as made up out of pages that can be turned, of the printed words and of the ink, of the fabric of the paper, etc. Similarly, we may be aware of the actual structure and function of the process of thought, and not merely its content.

How can such an awareness come about? Krishnamurti proposes that this requires what he calls meditation. Now the word meditation has been given a wide range of different and even contradictory meanings, many of them involving rather superficial kinds of mysticism. Krishnamurti has in mind a definite and clear notion when he uses this word. One can obtain a valuable indication of this meaning by considering the derivation of the word. (The roots of words, in conjunction with their present generally accepted meanings often yield surprising insight into their deeper meanings.) The English word meditation is base on the Latin root "med" which is, "to measure." The present meaning of the word is "to reflect," "to ponder" (i.e. to weigh or measure), and "to give close attention." Similarly the Sanskrit word for meditation, which is dhyana, is closely related to "dhyati," meaning "to reflect." So, at this rate, to meditate would be, "to ponder, to reflect, while giving close attention to what is actually going on as one does so."

This is perhaps what Krishnamurti means by the beginning of meditation. That is to say, one gives close attention to all that is happening in conjunction with the actual activity of thought, which is the underlying source of the general disorder. One does this without choice, without criticism, without acceptance or rejection of what is going on. And all of this takes place along with reflections on the meaning of what one is learning about the activity of thought. (It is perhaps rather like reading a book in which the pages have been scrambled up, and being intensely aware of this disorder, rather than just "trying to make sense" of the confused content that arises when on just accepts the pages as they happen to come.)

Krishnamurti has observed that the very act of meditation will, in itself, bring order to the activity of thought without the intervention of will, choice, decision, or any other action of the "thinker." As such order comes, the noise and chaos which are the usual background of our consciousness die out, and the mind becomes generally silent. (Thought arises only when needed for some genuinely valid purpose, and then stops, until needed again.)

In this silence, Krishnamurti says that something new and creative happens, something that cannot be conveyed in words, but that is of extraordinary significance for the whole of life. So he does not attempt to communicate this verbally, but rather, he asks those who are interested that they explore the question of meditation directly for themselves, through actual attention to the nature of thought.

Without attempting to probe into this deeper meaning of meditation, one can however say that meditation, in Krishnamurti's sense of the word, can bring order to our overall mental activity, and this may be a key factor in bringing about an end to the sorrow, the misery, the chaos and confusion, that have, over the ages, been the lot of mankind, and that are still generally continuing without visible prospect of fundamental change, for the foreseeable future.

Krishnamurti's work is permeated by what may be called the essence of this scientific approach, when this is considered in its very highest and purest form. Thus, he begins from a fact, this fact about the nature of our thought processes. This fact is established through close attention, involving careful listening to the process of consciousness, and observing it assiduously. In this, one is constantly learning, and out of this learning comes insight, into the overall or general nature of the process of thought. This insight is then tested. First, one sees whether it holds together in a rational order. And then one sees whether it leads to order and coherence, on what flows out of it in life as a whole.

Krishnamurti constantly emphasizes that he is in no sense an authority. He has made certain discoveries, and he is simply doing his best to make these discoveries accessible to all those who are able to listen. His work does not contain a body of doctrine, nor does he offer techniques or methods, for obtaining a silent mind. He is not aiming to set up any new system of religious belief. Rather, it is up to each human being to see if he can discover for himself that to which Krishnamurti is calling attention, and to go on from there to make new discoveries on his own.

It is clear then that an introduction, such as this, can at best show how Krishnamurti's work has been seen by a particular person, a scientist, such as myself. To see in full what Krishnamurti means, it is necessary, of course, to go on and to read what he actually says, with that quality of attention to the totality of one's responses, inward and outward, which we have been discussing here.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Fixing time for daily prayer

Just as there is a definite time-table for work at school, office or the shop, so should we set apart for divine contemplation a few minutes out of the twenty-four hours of every day, preferably in the morning and evening. One must make a fixed resolve that this little time shall be dedicated to God throughout life. During this period no worldly activity should be allowed to encroach upon the contemplation of God. A fixed time for prayer or meditation must be allotted to all the members of the family including the servants. If this practice is continued for long, divine contemplation will become a part of your nature. Once the habit is established, the future course of your life will be made quite easy. You will feel the flow of the mysterious Divine Grace feeding all your thoughts and giving you new strength. You get a pension or bonus after years of hard work, so that you need no longer earn your livelihood. In the spiritual realm the reward for good, sincere and selfless work is even far greater and can be obtained more easily.

Sri Anandamayi Ma


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mind's arrogance and God's grace

Foolishly , through my mind's arrogance , I was forgetful of the Self's eternal reality and was lost ,until the Lord ,through his gracious teaching that is like sweet ambrosia , reunited me with that eternally existing pure awareness that is my own true nature .

From Sri Guru Ramana Prasadam verse 182 ,pg.33

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sri Guru Ramana Prasadam

Sri Guru Ramana Prasadam is a devotional work composed by Mukavai Kanna Muruganar, a devotee of Ramana Maharshi, an enlightened Master who lived in South India at the foot of the holy mountain Arunachala until his maha nirvana in 1950. It is more than just a devotional work, since it embodies the teachings imparted by Ramana to Muruganar, through the medium of silence, and through the practice of self-enquiry, in which the aspirant dwells upon the 'I' sense in order to investigate the nature of his own consciousness.
Sri Guru Ramana Prasadam is simply the outpouring of love and devotion of a single devotee for his guru , and as such it is the reflection in the consciousness of another of the luminous presence of Sri Ramana Maharshi .
The love he feels for Ramana is no different from the knowledge of the truth of his own existence that Muruganar , like all devotees , so urgently seeks:

He is my Master manifesting as the light of true knowledge whose nature is love , and that same knowledge is the means by which I worship him , so that the awareness that is holy silence ,wherein love and knowledge are industinguishably merged ,has arisen within my heart as my true nature .

Muruganar in Sri Guru Ramana Prasadam

Currently an English Translation of the book Sri Guru Ramana Prasadam by Robert Butler is available for Rs.150 at Sri Ramana Ashram, Thiruvanamalai .

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Your duty

The Power that created you has created the world as well.
If it can take care of you , it can similarly take care of the world also..
If God has created the world , it is His business to look after it , not yours .

Your duty is to 'be'
and not to be this or that .
sums up the whole truth .

Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi


Reason for my long break

I have not been updating my blog for the past 2 months and the reason was that I was involved in first preparing for my Sadhana Intensive Course at the Sivananda Ashram in Madurai in Jan 2009 .Since the course involved being completely cut off from Internet ,email , phones ,chats etc I started to lay the foundation for the same few days itself before the course to prepare myself for the same and after the course was over I wanted to maintain the same to digest and nurture the benefits I experinced in the course and hence was not updating the blogs nor particpating in any activity in the various online fourms of which I was a member .I just restricted myself to being online to check my emails and do some online banking , purchases etc and have chats with few selected friends who are close to me spiritually .
Even now I am not active very much online/offline and apart from confining myself to my private Yoga teaching to my select group of serious students I am not talking much with others or meeting others and prefer to be left alone and I enjoy the solitude of seclusion . Of course I do come out of my seclusion to talk to some very good friends of mine who are also deeply in the spiritual path either online or offline or through telephone .I consider the year 2009 as a year of Sadhana( deep spiritualpractice ) for me .I derived lots of benefits by doing the Sadhana Intensive Course at the Sivananda Ashram in Madurai in Jan 2009 and felt the need to maintain my sadhana at home also .I intend redoing the same course at the Sivananda Ashram in Netala ,Uttarrkashi in May 2009 in order to keep the fame of Sadhna burning bright in me .I do know that from the Non Dual point of view these Sadhana's have no direct role but they have an indirect role in purifying my body ,making my mind one pointed /disciplined and energising me with lots of prana and this helps me feel more energised and spiritually very clear .
So with this background I will be restaring my blogs and will keep them updated as and when I find an intersting insight /article /quote etc .