Question: How can one be aware of an emotion without naming or labeling it? If I am aware of a feeling, I seem to know what the feeling is almost immediately after it arises. Or do you mean something different when you say, ‘Do not name’?
Krishnamurti: Why do we name anything? Why do we give a label to a flower, to a person, to a feeling? Either to communicate one’s feelings, to describe the flower and so on and so on; or to identify oneself with that feeling. Is not that so? I name something, a feeling, to communicate it. ‘I am angry.’ Or I identify myself with that feeling in order to strengthen it or to dissolve it or to do something about it. We give a name to something, to a rose, to communicate it to others or, by giving it a name, we think we have understood it. We say, “That is a rose”, rapidly looking at it and go on. By giving it a name, we think we have understood it; we have classified it and think that thereby we have understood the whole content and beauty of that flower.
By giving a name to something, we have merely put it into a category and we think we have understood it; we don’t look at it more closely. If we do not give it a name, however, we are forced to look at it. That is we approach the flower or whatever it is with a newness, with a new quality of examination; we look at it as though we had never looked at it before. Naming is a very convenient way of disposing of things and of people—by saying that they are Germans, Japanese, Americans, Hindus, you can give them a label and destroy the label. If you do not give a label to people you are forced to look at them and then it is much more difficult to kill somebody. You can destroy the label with a bomb and feel righteous, but if you do not give a label and must therefore look at the individual thing—whether it is a man or a flower or an incident or an emotion—then you are forced to consider your relationship with it, and with the action following. So terming or giving a label is a very convenient way of disposing of anything, of denying, condemning or justifying it. That is one side of the question.
What is the core from which you name, what is the centre which is always naming, choosing, labeling? We all feel there is a centre, a core, do we not?, from which we are acting, from which we are judging, from which we are naming. What is that center, that core? Some would like to think it is a spiritual essence, God, or what you will. So let us find out what is that core, that centre, which is naming, terming, judging. Surely that core is memory, isn’t it? A series of sensations, identified and enclosed—the past, given life through the present. That core, that centre, feeds on the present through naming, labeling, remembering.
We will see presently, as we unfold it, that so long as this centre, this core, exists, there can be no understanding. It is only with the dissipation of this core that there is understanding, because after all, that core is memory; memory of various experiences which have been given names, labels, identifications. With those named and labeled experiences, from that centre, there is acceptance or rejection, determination to be or not to be, according to the sensations, pleasures and pains of the memory of experience. So that centre is the word. If you do not name that center, is there a center? That is if you do not think in terms of words, if you do not use words, can you think? Thinking comes into being through verbalization; or verbalization begins to respond to thinking. The centre, the core is the memory of innumerable experiences of pleasure and pain, verbalized. Watch it in yourself, please, and you will see that words have become much more important, labels have become much more important, than the substance; and we live on words.
For us, words like truth, God, have become very important—or the feeling which those words represent. When we say the word ‘American’, ‘Christian’, ‘Hindu’ or the word ‘anger’—we are the word representing the feeling. But we don’t know what that feeling is, because the word has become important. When you call yourself a Buddhist, a Christian, what does the word mean, what is the meaning behind that word, which you have never examined? Our centre, the core is the word, the label. If the label does not matter, if what matters is that which is behind the label, then you are able to inquire but if you are identified with the label and stuck with it, you cannot proceed. And we are identified with the label: the house, the form, the name, the furniture, the bank account, our opinions, our stimulants and so on and so on. We are all those things—those things being represented by name. The things have become important, the names, the labels; and therefore the centre, the core, is the word.
If there is no word, no label, there is no centre, is there? There is a dissolution, there is an emptiness—not the emptiness and fear, which is quite a different thing. There is a sense of being as nothing; because you have removed all the labels or rather because you have understood why you give labels to feelings and ideas you are completely new, are you not? There is no center from which you are acting. The center, which is the word, has been dissolved. The label has been taken away and where are you as the center? You are there but there has been a transformation. That transformation is a little bit frightening; therefore, you do not proceed with what is involved in it; you are already beginning to judge it, to decide whether you like it or don’t like it. You don’t proceed with the understanding of what is coming but you are already judging, which means you have a center from which you are acting. Therefore you stay fixed the moment you judge; the words ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ become important. But what happens when you do not name? You look at an emotion, at a sensation, more directly and therefore have quite a different relationship to it, just as you have to a flower when you do not name it. You are forced to look at it anew. When you do not name a group of people, you are compelled to look at each individual face and not treat them all as the mass. Therefore you are much more alert, much more observing, more understanding; you have a deeper sense of pity, love; but if you treat them all as the mass, it is over.
If you do not label, you have to regard every feeling as it arises. When you label, is the feeling different from the label? Or does the label awaken the feeling? Please think it over. When we label, most of us intensify the feeling. The feeling and the naming are instantaneous. If there were a gap between naming and feeling, then you could find out if the feeling is different from the naming and then you would be able to deal with the feeling without naming it.
The problem is this, is it not?, how to be free from a feeling which we name, such as anger? Not how to subjugate it, sublimate it, suppress it, which are all idiotic and immature, but how to be really free from it? To be really free from it, we have to discover whether the word is more important than the feeling. The word ‘anger’ has more significance than the feeling itself. Really to find that out there must be a gap between the feeling and the naming. That is one part.
If you do not name a feeling, that is to say if thought is not functioning merely because of words or if I do not think in terms of words, images or symbols, which most of us do—then what happens? Surely the mind then is not merely the observer. When the mind is not thinking in terms of words, symbols, images, there is no thinker separate from the thought, which is the word. Then the mind is quiet, is it not?—not made quiet, it is quite. When the mind is really quiet, then the feelings which arise can be dealt with immediately. It is only when we give names to feelings and thereby strengthen them that the feelings have continuity; they are stored up in the center, from which we give further labels, either to strengthen or to communicate them.
When the mind is no longer the centre, as the thinker made up of words, of past experiences—which are all memories, labels, stored up and put in categories, in pigeonholes—when it is not doing any of those things, then, obviously the mind is quiet. It is no longer bound, it has no longer a center as the me—my house, my achievement, my work—which are still words, giving impetus to feeling and thereby strengthening memory. When none of these things is happening, the mind is very quiet. That state is not negation. On the contrary, to come to that point, you have to go through all this, which is a n enormous undertaking; it is not merely learning a few sets of words and repeating them like a school-boy—‘not to name’, ‘not to name’. To follow through all its implications, to experience it, to see how the mind works and thereby come to that point when you are no longer naming, which means that there is no longer a centre apart from thought—surely this whole process is real meditation.
When the mind is really tranquil, then it is possible for that which is immeasurable to come into being. Any other process, any other search for reality, is merely self-projected, home-made and therefore unreal. But this process is arduous and it means that the mind has to be constantly aware of everything that is inwardly happening to it. To come to this point, there can be no judgment or justification from the beginning to the end—not that this is an end. There is no end, because there is something extraordinary still going on. This is no promise. It is for you to experiment, to go into yourself deeper and deeper and deeper, so that all the many layers of the center are dissolved and you can do it rapidly or lazily. It is extraordinarily interesting to watch the process of the mind, how it depends on words, how the words stimulate memory or resuscitate the dead experience and give life to it. In that process the mind is living either in the future or in the past. Therefore words have an enormous significance, neurologically as well as psychologically. And please do not learn all this from me or from a book. You cannot learn it from another or find it in a book. What you learn or find in a book will not be the real. But you can experience it, you can watch yourself in action, watch yourself thinking, see how you think, how rapidly you are naming the feeling as it arises—and watching the whole process frees the mind from its center. Then the mind, being quiet, can receive that which is eternal.