Quote of the Day

by Jiddu Krishnamurti

Questioner: The other day you spoke of memory as a hindrance to true understanding. I have recently had the misfortune of losing my brother. Should I try to forget that loss?

Krishnamurti: I explained the other day what I mean by memory. I shall try to explain it again.

After you have seen a beautiful sunset, you return to your home or office and begin again to live in that sunset, as your home or office is not as you would have it, it is not beautiful; so to escape from that ugliness you return in memory to that sunset. Thus, you create in your mind a distinction between your home, which does not give you joy, and the thing that gives you great delight, the sunset. So, when you are confronted by circumstances which are not pleasant, you turn to the memory of that which is joyous. But if, instead of turning to a dead memory, you would try to alter the circumstances that are unpleasant, then you would be living intensely in the present and not in the dead past.

So, when one loses someone whom one loves greatly, why is there this constant looking back, this constant holding on to that which gave us pleasure, this longing to have that person back again? This is what everyone goes through when he experiences such a loss. He escapes from the sorrow of that loss by turning to the remembrance of the person who is gone, by living in a future, or by belief in the hereafter - which is also a kind of memory. It is because our minds are perverted through escape, because they are incapable of meeting suffering openly, freshly, that we have to revert to memory, and thus the past encroaches upon the present.

So, the question is not whether you should or should not remember your brother or your husband, your wife or your children; rather, it is a matter of living completely, wholly, in the present, though that does not imply that you are indifferent to those who are about you. When you live completely, wholly, there is in that intensity the flame of living, which is not the mere imprint of an incident.

How is one to live completely in the present, so that the mind is not perverted with past memories and future longing - which are also memory? Again, the question is not how you should live completely, but what prevents you from living completely. For when you ask how, you are looking for a method, a means, and to me a method destroys understanding. If you know what prevents you from living completely, then out of yourself, out of your own awareness and understanding, you will free yourself from that hindrance. What prevents you from freeing yourself is your search for certainty, your continual longing for gain, for accumulation, for achievement. But do not ask, ''How am I to conquer these hindrances?'' for all conquering is but a process of further gain, further accumulation. If this loss is really creating suffering in you, if it is really giving you intense - not superficial - sorrow, then you will not ask how; then you will see immediately the futility of looking back or forward for consolation.

When most people say that they suffer, their suffering is but superficial. They suffer, but at the same time they want other things: they want comfort, they are afraid, they search out ways and means of escape. Superficial sorrow is always accompanied by the desire for comfort. Superficial suffering is like shallow plowing of the soil; it achieves nothing. Only when you till the soil deeply, to the full depth of the plowshare, is there richness. In the state of complete suffering there is complete understanding, in which hindrances as memories, both of the present and of the future, cease to exist. Then you are living in the eternal present.

You know, to understand a thought or an idea does not mean merely to agree with it intellectually.

There are various kinds of memories: there is the memory that forces itself upon you in the present, the memory to which you turn actively, and the memory of looking forward to the future. All these prevent your living completely. But do not begin to analyze your memories. Do not ask, ''Which memory is preventing my complete living?'' When you question in that way, you do not act; you merely examine memory intellectually, and such an examination has no value because it deals with a dead thing. From a dead thing there is no understanding. But if you are truly aware in the present, in the moment of action, then all these memories come into activity; then you need not go through the process of analyzing them.

Frognerseteren, Norway
2nd Public Talk, 8th September, 1933