Quote of the Day

by Jiddu Krishnamurti

This evening I shall answer questions only, and before I do so I would like to point out one or two things. I think there is an art in listening. Most of us listen through a screen of prejudice. Either we are expecting a definite solution to our problems, or we are not aware of the innumerable prejudices which prevent us from really hearing what another says, or we are not sufficiently interested or concentrated to listen at all, To listen truly is to listen without strain, without struggle, without the effort of hearing; it is to listen as we would to music, to something that we know and enjoy, not merely to the repetition of a record, but to something fresh, new. You know what I mean. When you are enjoying something, a conversation, a piece of music, or when reading literature, you listen, and the words, the music, the sound, the silence between two notes, slips in, enters without your struggling to understand. So, if I may suggest, it will be good if we can listen without making the effort to listen, without accepting or rejecting; if we can listen without erecting a barrier of defence, or trying too eagerly to grasp what is being said. There must be a certain tension, like that of the violin string. When it is at the right tension, it gives the right note.

Similarly, if we listen with right tension, with right awareness, then I think we will understand far more deeply and extensively than by merely listening to verbal expression. Then, if you are really aware, the words have a different significance, they penetrate far more deeply. It is like a seed that is sown in rich soil. So, if I may suggest, please listen to these answers, not so much with the intention of grasping the solution to the question, but rather let us consider that you and I are going to think out the problem together aloud and see where it leads us. Because, answering questions must be a rediscovery, to me as well as to you, not merely a repetition of an old record which you and I have learnt by heart. After all, music is the silence between two notes. If it were a continuous sound, there would be no music. It is the silence between two notes that gives emphasis, beauty to the notes. Similarly, it is silence between words, between thoughts, that gives significance, meaning to the thought.

So, in listening to the answers to these questions, what is important is neither to accept nor to reject, but to understand what is being said without the barrier of prejudice. This is extremely arduous, because most of us are so grossly prejudiced, and are so unconscious of our prejudice, that it is very difficult to penetrate the thick armour of our own intentions, of our own bias; but if we can, at least for an evening, put this thick armour aside and listen as though we were really enjoying something together, then I think this and other meetings will have a definite significance.

Public Talk 29th February, 1948
Mumbai, India