QUESTION 19 'ON PRAYER AND MEDITATION'
Question: Is not the longing expressed in prayer a way to God?
Krishnamurti: First of all, we are going to examine the problems contained in this question. In it are implied prayer, concentration and meditation. Now what do we mean by prayer? First of all, in prayer there is petition, supplication to what you call God, reality. You, as an individual, are demanding, petitioning, begging, seeking guidance from something which you call God; therefore your approach is one of seeking a reward, seeking a gratification. You are in trouble, national or individual, and you pray for guidance; or you are confused and you beg for clarity, you look for help to what you call God. In this is implied that God, whatever God may be - we won't discuss that for the moment - is going to clear up the confusion which you and I have created. After all, it is we who have brought about the confusion, the misery, the chaos, the appalling tyranny, the lack of love, and we want what we call God to clear it up. In other words, we want our confusion, our misery, our sorrow, our conflict, to be cleared away by somebody else, we petition another to bring us light and happiness.
Now when you pray, when you beg, petition for something, it generally comes into being. When you ask, you receive; but what you receive will not create order, because what you receive does not bring clarity, understanding. it only satisfies, gives gratification but does not bring about understanding, because, when you demand, you receive that which you yourself project. How can reality, God, answer your particular demand? Can the immeasurable, the unutterable, be concerned with our petty little worries, miseries, confusions, which we ourselves have created? Therefore what is it that answers? Obviously the immeasurable cannot answer the measured, the petty, the small. But what is it that answers? At the moment when we pray we are fairly silent, in a state of receptivity; then our own subconscious brings a momentary clarity. You want something, you are longing for it, and in that moment of longing, of obsequious begging, you are fairly receptive; your conscious, active mind is comparatively still, so the unconscious projects itself into that and you have an answer. It is surely not an answer from reality, from the immeasurable - it is your own unconscious responding. So don't let us be confused and think that when your prayer is answered you are in relationship with reality. Reality must come to you; you cannot go to it.
In this problem of prayer there is another factor involved: the response of that which we call the inner voice. As I said, when the mind is supplicating, petitioning, it is comparatively still; when you hear the inner voice, it is your own voice projecting itself into that comparatively still mind. Again, how can it be the voice of reality? A mind that is confused, ignorant, craving, demanding, petitioning, how can it understand. reality? The mind can receive reality only when it is absolutely still, not demanding, not craving, not longing, not asking, whether for yourself, for the nation or for another. When the mind is absolutely still, when desire ceases, then only reality comes into being. A person who is demanding, petitioning, supplicating, longing for direction will find what he seeks but it will not be the truth. What he receives will be the response of the unconscious layers of his own mind which project themselves into the conscious; that still, small voice which directs him is not the real but only the response of the unconscious.
In this problem of prayer there is also the question of concentration. With most of us, concentration is a process of exclusion. Concentration is brought about through effort, compulsion, direction, imitation, and so concentration is a process of exclusion. I am interested in so-called meditation but my thoughts are distracted, so I fix my mind on a picture, an image, or an idea and exclude all other thoughts. This process of concentration, which is exclusion, is considered to be a means of meditating. That is what you do, is it not? When you sit down to meditate, you fix your mind on a word, on an image, or on a picture but the mind wanders all over the place. There is the constant interruption of other ideas, other thoughts, other emotions and you try to push them away; you spend your time battling with your thoughts. This process you call meditation. That is you are trying to concentrate on something in which you are not interested and your thoughts keep on multiplying, increasing, interrupting, so you spend your energy in exclusion, in warding off; pushing away; if you can concentrate on your chosen thought, on a particular object, you think you have at last succeeded in meditation. Surely that is not meditation, is it? Meditation is not an exclusive process - exclusive in the sense of warding off, building resistance against encroaching ideas. Prayer is not meditation and concentration as exclusion is not meditation.
What is meditation? Concentration is not meditation, because where there is interest it is comparatively easy to concentrate on something. A general who is planning war, butchery, is very concentrated. A business man making money is very concentrated - he may even be ruthless, putting aside every other feeling and concentrating completely on what he wants. A man who is interested in anything is naturally, spontaneously concentrated. Such concentration is not meditation, it is merely exclusion.
So what is meditation? Surely meditation is understanding - meditation of the heart is understanding. How can there be understanding if there is exclusion? How can there be understanding when there is petition, supplication? In understanding there is peace, there is freedom; that which you understand, from that you are liberated. Merely to concentrate or to pray does not bring understanding. Understanding is the very basis, the fundamental process of meditation. You don't have to accept my word for it but if you examine prayer and concentration very carefully, deeply, you will find that neither of them leads to understanding. They merely lead to obstinacy, to a fixation, to illusion. Whereas meditation, in which there is understanding, brings about freedom, clarity and integration.
What, then, do we mean by understanding? Understanding means giving right significance, right valuation, to all things. To be ignorant is to give wrong values; the very nature of stupidity is the lack of comprehension of right values. Understanding comes into being when there are right values, when right values are established. And how is one to establish right values - the right value of property, the right value of relationship, the right value of ideas? For the right values to come into being, you must understand the thinker, must you not? If I don't understand the thinker, which is myself what I choose has no meaning; that is if I don't know myself, then my action, my thought, has no foundation whatsoever. Therefore self-knowledge is the beginning of meditation - not the knowledge that you pick up from my books, from authorities, from gurus, but the knowledge that comes into being through self-inquiry, which is self-awareness. Meditation is the beginning of self-knowledge and without self-knowledge there is no meditation. If I don't understand the ways of my thoughts, of my feelings, if I don't understand my motives, my desires, my demands, my pursuit of patterns of action, which are ideas - if I do not know myself, there is no foundation for thinking; the thinker who merely asks, prays, or excludes, without understanding himself, must inevitably end in confusion, in illusion.
The beginning of meditation is self-knowledge, which means being aware of every movement of thought and feeling, knowing all the layers of my consciousness, not only the superficial layers but the hidden, the deeply concealed activities. To know the deeply concealed activities, the hidden motives, responses, thoughts and feelings, there must be tranquillity in the conscious mind; that is the conscious mind must be still in order to receive the projection of the unconscious. The superficial, conscious mind is occupied with its daily activities, with earning a livelihood, deceiving others, exploiting others, running away from problems - all the daily activities of our existence. That superficial mind must understand the right significance of its own activities and thereby bring tranquillity to itself. It cannot bring about tranquillity, stillness, by mere regimentation, by compulsion, by discipline. It can bring about tranquillity, peace, stillness, only by understanding its own activities, by observing them, by being aware of them, by seeing its own ruthlessness, how it talks to the servant, to the wife, to the daughter, to the mother and so on. When the superficial, conscious mind 1s thus fully aware of all its activities, through that understanding it becomes spontaneously quiet, not drugged by compulsion or regimented by desire; then it is in a position to receive the intimation, the hints of the unconscious, of the many, many hidden layers of the mind - the racial instincts, the buried memories, the concealed pursuits, the deep wounds that are still unhealed. It is only when all these have projected themselves and are understood, when the whole consciousness is unburdened, unfettered by any wound, by any memory whatsoever, that it is in a position to receive the eternal.
Meditation is self-knowledge and without self-knowledge there is no meditation. If you are not aware of all your responses all the time, if you are not fully conscious, fully cognizant of your daily activities, merely to lock yourself in a room and sit down in front of a picture of your guru, of your Master, to meditate, is an escape, because without self-knowledge there is no right thinking and, without right thinking, what you do has no meaning, however noble your intentions are. Thus prayer has no significance without self-knowledge but when there is self-knowledge there is right thinking and hence right action. When there is right action, there is no confusion and therefore there is no supplication to someone else to lead you out of it. A man who is fully aware is meditating; he does not pray, because he does not want anything. Through prayer, through regimentation, through repetition and all the rest of it, you can bring about a certain stillness, but that is mere dullness, reducing the mind and the heart to a state of weariness. it is drugging the mind; and exclusion, which you call concentration, does not lead to reality - no exclusion ever can. What brings about understanding is self-knowledge, and it is not very difficult to be aware if there is right intention. If you are interested to discover the whole process of yourself - not merely the superficial part but the total process of your whole being - then it is comparatively easy. If you really want to know yourself, you will search out your heart and your mind to know their full content and when there is the intention to know, you will know. Then you can follow, without condemnation or justification, every movement of thought and feeling; by following every thought and every feeling as it arises you bring about tranquillity which is not compelled, not regimented, but which is the outcome of having no problem, no contradiction. It is like the pool that becomes peaceful, quiet, any evening when there is no wind; when the mind is still, then that which is immeasurable comes into being.