Awareness isn’t something mysterious that you must practise; it isn’t something that can be learnt. All that kind of fanciful stuff is too absurd. Just to be aware-what does it mean? To be aware that you are sitting there and I am sitting here; that I am talking to you and you are listening to me; to be aware of this hall, its shape, its lighting, its acoustics; to observe the various colours that people wear, their attitudes, their effort to listen, their scratching, yawning, boredom, their dissatisfaction at not being able to get from what they hear something to carry home with them; their agreement or disagreement with what is being said. All that is part of awareness-a very superficial part.
Behind that superficial observation there is the response of our conditioning: I like and I don’t like, I am British and you are not British, I am a Catholic and you are a Protestant. And our conditioning is really very deep. It requires a great deal of investigation, understanding. To be conscious of our reactions, of our hidden motives and conditioned responses, this also is part of awareness.
You can’t be totally aware if you are choosing. If you say, ‘This is right and that is wrong’, the right and the wrong depend on your conditioning. What is right to you may be wrong in the Far East. You believe in a saviour, in the Christ, but they don’t, and you think they will go to hell unless they believe as you do. You have the means to build marvellous cathedrals, while they may worship a stone image, a tree, a bird, or a rock, and you say, ‘How silly, how pagan!’ To be aware is to be conscious of all this, choicelessly, it is to be aware totally of all your conscious and unconscious reactions. And you can’t be aware totally if you are condemning, if you are justifying, or if you say, ‘I will keep my beliefs, my experiences, my knowledge.’ Then you are only partially aware, and partial awareness is really blindness.
Seeing or understanding is not a matter of time, it is not a matter of gradations. Either you see or you don’t see. And you can’t see if you are not deeply aware of your own reactions, of your own conditioning. Being aware of your conditioning, you must watch it choicelessly; you must see the fact and not give an opinion or judgement about the fact. In other words. you must look at the fact without thought. Then there is an awareness, a state of attention without a centre, without frontiers, where the known doesn’t interfere . . .
This article has been written by by Jiddu Krishnamurti.