What is it that you feel when you feel I? I’ll tell you. What do you do when somebody says “Pay attention!” What is the difference between looking at something and taking a hard look at it? And between hearing something and listening intently? What’s the difference? What’s the difference between waiting while something goes on and enduring it. Why? The difference is this that when you pay attention instead of just looking you screw up your face you frown. And stare that is a muscular activity around here. When you will, you grit your teeth or clench or this when you endure or control yourself you pull yourself together,physically, and therefore you get uptight. You hold your breath, you do all kinds of muscular things to control the functioning of your nervous system and none of them have the slightest effect on the proper operation of the nervous system. If you stare at things, you will rather fuzz the image than see them clearly if you listen intently by concentrating on muscles around the ears you will be so much attending to muscles here that you won’t hear things properly and you may get singing in the ears. If you tighten up with your body to pull yourself together, all you do is constrict yourself. I remember in school I sat next to a boy who had great difficulty in learning to read. And what they always say to children is “try!” If you can do something as tries so the boy tries to muddy done when he’s trying to get out words he grunts and groans as if he were lifting weights. And the teachers impress the boys really trying gives him B for effort. Has nothing to do with it.
Now we all make this muscular strain, with the thought that it’s achieving psychological results. The sort of psychological results it’s intended to achieve and all this amounts to is this like you’re taking off on a jet plane you’ve gone a mile down the runway and the thing is not in the air yet, and you get nervous, so you start pulling at your seatbelt. That’s what it is. Now that is a chronic feeling we have it us all the time and it corresponds to the word I. That’s what you feel when you say I. You feel that chronic tension because when an organ is working properly you don’t feel it. If you see your eye you’ve got cataract. If you hear your ears, you’ve got singing in the areas you know getting in the way of hearing. When you of fully functioning, you are unaware of the organ. When you are thinking clearly your brain isn’t getting in your way. Actually of course you are seeing your eyes in the sense that everything you see out in front of you is a condition in the optic nerves at the back of the skull. That’s where you’re aware of all this, but you’re not aware of the I as the I. I’m talking about the optical eye.
So when we are aware of the ego I we are aware of this chronic tension inside ourselves and that’s not us, it’s a futile tension. So when we get the illusion the image of ourselves married to a futile tension you’ve got an illusion married to a futility. And then you wonder why I can’t do anything. Why I feel in the face of all the problems of the world impotent, and why I somehow cannot manage to transform I? Now here we get to the real problem, because we’re always telling each other that we should be different. I’m not going to tell you that tonight. Why not, because I know you can’t be. Nor can I. That may sound depressing but I’ll show you it isn’t, it’s very heartening. But everybody you see who is at all sensitive, and awake to their own problems and human problems is trying to change himself. We know we can change the world unless we change ourselves if we are all individually selfish we’re going to be collectively selfish. If we don’t really love people and only pretend to, somehow we’ve got to find a way to love. After all it’s said in the Bible that our shalt love the Lord thy God. And your neighbor as yourself. You must love. We all agree sure. But we don’t. In fact one psychologist very smartly asked the patient with whom are you in love against.
And this is particularly becomes appalling when we enter into the realm of higher things by which I mean spiritual development. Everybody these days is interested in spiritual development. And wisely because we want to change our consciousness. Many people are well aware that this egocentric consciousness is a hallucination. And that they presume it’s the function of religion to change it because that’s what the Zen Buddhists and yogis and all these people in the Orient to doing. They’re changing their state of consciousness to get something called Satori, all mystical experience or Nirvana or moksha or what have you and everybody around here has a really enthused about that because you don’t get that in church. I mean that has been Christian mystics but the church has been very quiet about them.
Then the average church all you get is talk. There’s no meditation, no spiritual discipline, they tell God what to do interminably as if he didn’t know. And then they tell the people what to do as if they could or even wanted to. And then they sing religious nursery rhymes. And then to cap it all the Roman Catholic Church, which did at least have an unintelligible service which was… Which was you know it was real mysterious and suggested bad magic was going on there when put the thing into bad English. And they took away incense and they took away they became a bunch of Protestants and there was a terrible So now all these Catholics are at loose ends it’s clear booth loosed put it up to be a pun but she said you know. It’s no longer possible to practise contemplative prayer mats. As you’re being advised, exhausted, edified all the time.
And it becomes a bore. Think of God listening to all those prayers. We do have I mean talking about grieving the Holy Spirit. It’s just awful. People have no consideration for God at all. So. But in pursuing these spiritual disciplines yoga and Zen and so forth and also psychotherapy there comes up a big difficulty. And the big difficulty is this. I want to find a method whereby I can change my consciousness. But the, therefore to improve myself, but then the self that needs to be improved is the one that is doing the improving.
And so I’m rather stuck. I found out the reason that I think I believe say in god, is that I sure hope that somehow God will rescue me. In other words, I want to hang on to my own existence and I feel rather shaky about doing that for myself but I just hope there’s a God who’ll take care of it. Or if I could be loving. I would have a better opinion of myself. I feel better about it I could face myself as people say. If I were more loving so the unloving me somehow by some gimmickry has to turn itself into a loving me and this is just like trying to lift yourself off the ground with your own bootstraps. It can’t be done. And that’s why religion in practice mainly produces hypocrisy. And guilt. Because of the constant failure of these enterprises. People go and study Zen. And they come back and say wow getting rid of your ego is a superhuman task. I assure you it’s going to be very very difficult to get rid of your ego you have to sit for a long time and you’re going to get the sorest legs. It’s hard work and all you wretched kids you think you’re getting rid of your ego on part or something or other and easy yoga you don’t know what you’re in for when it really comes down to the nitty gritty.
But you know the biggest ego trip going is getting rid of your ego. And the joke of it all is your ego doesn’t exist. There’s nothing to get rid of. It’s an illusion as I tried to explain. But you still want to ask how to stop the illusion. And who’s asking? I mean, do you think in the ordinary sense in which you use the word ‘I’, how can I stop identify myself with the wrong me? But the answer is simply you can’t. The Christians put this in their way when they say that mystical experience is a Gift of Divine Grace. Man as such cannot achieve this experience it is a gift of God and if God doesn’t give it to you there’s no way of getting it. Now that is solidly true. You can’t do anything about it because you don’t exist. Well you say that’s pretty depressing news.
But the whole point is it isn’t depressing news, it is the joyous news! There’s a Zen poem which puts it like this talking about it, it means the mystical experience the Satori, the realisation that you are the eternal energy of the universe like Jesus did. It says like this you cannot catch hold of it nor can you get rid of it. In not being able to get it you get it. When you speak, it is silent, when you are silent it speaks. Now in not being able to get it you get it because this whole feeling what Krishnamurthi is trying to explain to people, for example, when he says why do you ask for a method there is no method all methods are simply gimmicks for strengthening your ego.
So how do we not do that this is you’re still asking for a method there is no method if you really understand what your ‘I’ is you will see there is no method. This is so so sad. But it’s not this is the gospel the good news. Because if you cannot achieve it if you cannot transform yourself. That means that the main obstacle to mystical vision has collapsed. That was you. What happens you can’t do anything about. You’re at your wit’s end. What are you going to do, commit suicide? But supposing you just put that off for a little while. Wait and see what happens. You can’t control your thoughts, you can’t control your feelings. Because there is no control. You are your thoughts and your feelings and they’re running along running along running along to sit and watch them. There they go you’re still breathing aren’t you. Still growing your hair. Still seeing and hearing. Are you doing that? I mean is breathing something that you do? Do you see I mean do you organize the operations of your eyes and know exactly how to work those rods and cones in the retina? Do you do that? It’s a happening. It happens so you can feel all this happening. You are breathing it’s happening, your thinking is happening, you’re feeling is happening you’re hearing you’re seeing the clouds are happening across the sky the sky is happening blue the sun is happening shining.
There it is. All this happening. And may I introduce you, this is yourself. This begins to be a vision of who you really are. And that’s the way you function you function by happening that is to say by spontaneous occurrence. And this is not a state of affairs that you should realise. I cannot possibly preach it to you because the minute you start thinking I should understand that this is the stupid notion again that I should bring it about when there is no you to bring it about so that’s why I’m not preaching you can only preach to egoss.
All I can do is to talk about what is. It amuses me to talk about what it is because it’s wonderful. I love it and therefore I like to talk if I get paid for it. And I make my living and sensible people get paid for doing what they enjoy doing. So this is not an easy this is the whole approach is not to convert you not to make you over not to improve you but for you to discover if you really knew the way you are, things would be would be sane. But you see you can’t do that. You can’t make that discovery because you’re in your own way. So long as you think “I’m I.” So long as that hallucination knocks it. And the hallucination disappears only in the realisation of its own futility. When at last you see you can’t do it. You cannot make yourself over, you cannot really control your own mind. See, when we try to control the mind. A lot of yoga teachers try to get you to control your own mind mainly to prove to you that you can’t do it. There’s nothing, you know a fool who persists in his folly will become wise, so they what they do is they speed up the folly. And so you get concentrating. And you can have a certain amount of superficial and initial success by a process commonly called self-hypnosis. And you can think you’re making progress. And a good teacher will let you go along that way for a while until he really throws you with one. Why are you concentrating?
Buddhism works this way, Buddha said if you suffer you suffer because you desire and your desires are either unattainable or always being disappointed or something. So cut out desire. So those disciples went away and they stamped on desire jumped on desire cut the throat of desire and threw out desire but then they came back and but as said but you are still desiring not to desire. It. I wonder how to get rid of that so when you see that that’s nonsense they are naturally comes over you a quietness. In seeing that you cannot control your mind, you realize there is no control. What you took to be the thinker of thoughts is just one of the thoughts what you took to be the feeler of the feelings which was that chronic muscular strain was just one of the feelings. What you took to be the experience of experience is just part of the experience.
So there isn’t any thinker of thoughts feel or feelings we get into that bind because we have a grammatical rule that verbs have to have subjects. And the funny thing about that is that verbs are processes and subjects and nouns which are supposed to be things how does a noun start a verb. How does the thing put a process into action. Obviously it can’t. But we always insist that there is this subject called the knower. And without a knower there can’t be knowing. Well that’s just a grammatical rule it isn’t the rule of nature. In nature there’s just knowing like you’re feeling it and how to say you are feeling it as if you were somehow different from the feeling when I say I am feeling I what I mean is there is feeling here. When I say you are feeling I mean there is feeling there. I have to say even “There is feeling. What a cumbersome language we have. Chinese is easier you don’t have to put all that in writing that why you can say things twice as fast in Chinese as you can in any other language.
Well anyway. When you come to see that you can do nothing that the play of thought of feeling etc just goes on by itself as a happening. Then you are in a state which we will call meditation. And slowly. Without being pushed your thoughts will come to silence that is to say all the verbal symbolic chatter going on in the skull. Don’t try and get rid of it. Because that will again produce the illusion that there’s a controller. Just, it goes on it goes on it goes on finally it gets tired of itself and bored and stops. And so then there’s a silence. And this is a deeper level of meditation. And in that silence. You suddenly begin to see the world as it is. And you don’t see any past. And you don’t see any future. You don’t see any difference between yourself and the rest of it that’s just an idea you can put your hand on the difference between myself and you. You know you can’t blow it, you can’t bounce it, you can’t pull it. It’s just an idea. You can’t find any material body. Because material body is an idea, so is spiritual body, somebody is philosophical notions see reality isn’t material. That’s an idea reality isn’t spiritual That’s an idea reality is [claps].
So we find, if I’ve got to put it back into words that we live in an eternal now. You’ve got all the time in the world because you’ve got all the time there is which is now. And you are this universe. And you feel this strange feeling when when when ideas don’t define the differences you feel that other people’s doings or your doings. And that makes it very difficult to blame other people. If you’re not sophisticated theologically You may of course run screaming in the streets and say that you’re God.
In a way that’s what happened to Jesus because he wasn’t sophisticated theologically he only had Old Testament Biblical theology behind him. If he’d had Hindu theology he could have put it more subtly. But it was only that rather primitive theology of the Old Testament. And that was a conception of God as a monarchical boss. And you can’t go around sandboxes son. If you’re going to say “I’m God,” you must allow it for everyone else too. But this was a heretical idea from the point of view of Hebrew theology and so what they did with Jesus was they pedestalised him, I mean they kicked him upstairs so that he wouldn’t be able to influence anyone else and only you maybe god. And that stopped the Gospel cold right at the beginning. It couldn’t spread.
Well anyway. This is therefore to say that the transformation of human consciousness through meditation is frustrated so long as we think of it in terms of something that I myself can bring about. By some kind of wangled, by some sort of gimmick. Because you see that leads to endless games of spiritual one upmanship. And of guru competitions, of my guru is more effective than your guru, my yoga faster than your yoga, I’m more aware of myself than you are I’m humbler than you are I’m sorry for my sins than you are I love you more than you love me it is interminable goings on about which people fight and wonder whether they’re a little bit more evolved than somebody else and so on all that can just fall away. And then. We get this strange feeling that we have never had to see in our lives except occasionally by accident some people get a glimpse. That we are no longer. This poor little stranger and afraid in a world it never made. But that you are this universe and you are creating it at every moment because YOU SEE IT STARTS NOW. It didn’t begin in the past there was no past so if the universe began in the past when that happened it was now, see. But it’s still now and the universe is still beginning now and it’s trailing off like the wake of a ship from now in the wake of the ship fades out so does the past. You can look back there to explain things but the explanation disappears, you never find things are not explained by the past or explained by what happens now. That creates the past and it begins here. That’s the birth of responsibility. Because otherwise you can always look over your shoulder and say well I’m the way I am because my mother dropped me and she dropped me because she was neurotic because a mother dropped her, and away we go back to Adam and Eve, to disappearing monkey or something and we never get at iit. But in this way you’re faced with it you’re doing all this. And it’s an extraordinary shock. So. Cheer up. You can’t blame anyone else for the kind of world you’re in. And if you know you see that I, in the sense of the person, the front, the ego really doesn’t exist. Then it won’t go to your head too badly if you wake up and discover that your god.