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The Observer is the Observed

Ojai, California. 2nd Public Talk 1945

We are confronted every day, are we not, with dualistic problems, problems which are not theoretical or philosophical but actual? Verbally, emotionally, intellectually, we face them every day; good and bad, mine and yours, collectivism and individualism, becoming and non-becoming, worldliness and non-worldliness, and so on; an endless corridor of opposites in which thought-feeling shuffles back and forth. Are these problems of greed and non-greed, war and peace to be solved within the dualistic pattern or must thought-feeling go above and beyond to find a permanent answer? Within the pattern of duality there is no lasting answer. Each opposite has an element of its own opposite and so there can never be a permanent answer within the conflict of the opposites. There is a permanent, unique answer only outside of the pattern.

It is important to understand this problem of duality as deeply as possible. I am not dealing with it as an abstract, theoretical subject, but as an actual problem of our everyday life and conduct. We are aware, are we not, that our thought is a constant struggle within the pattern of duality, of good and bad, of being and not-being, of yours and mine? In it there is conflict and pain; in it all relationship is a process of sorrow; in it there is no hope but travail. Now, is the problem of love and hate to be solved within the field of its own conflict or must thought-feeling go above and beyond its known pattern?

To find the lasting solution to the conflict of duality and to the pain involved in choice, we must be intensely aware, in silent observation of the full implication of conflict. Only then will we discover that there is a state in which the conflict of duality has ceased. There can be no integration of the opposites, greed and non-greed. He who is greedy, when he attempts to become non-greedy, is still greedy. Must he not abandon both greed and non-greed to be above and beyond the influence of both? Any becoming involves non-becoming and as long as there is becoming there must be duality with its endless conflict.

The cause of duality is desire, craving; through perception and sensation and contact there arise desire, pleasure, pain, want, non-want which in turn cause identification as mine and yours, and thus the dualistic process is set going. Is not this conflict worldliness? As long as the thinker separates himself from this thought, so long the vain conflict of the opposites will continue. As long as the thinker is concerned only with the modification of his thoughts and not with the fundamental transformation of himself, so long conflict and sorrow will continue. Is the thinker separate from his thought? Are not the thinker and his thought an inseparable phenomenon? Why do we separate the thought from the thinker? Is it not one of the cunning tricks of the mind so that the thinker can change his garb according to circumstances, yet remain the same? Outwardly there is the appearance of change but inwardly the thinker continues to be as he is. The craving for continuity, for permanency, creates this division between the thinker and his thoughts. When the thinker and his thought become inseparable then only is duality transcended. Only then is there the true religious experience. Only when the thinker ceases is there Reality. This inseparable unity of the thinker and his thought is to be experienced but not to be speculated upon. This experience is liberation; in it there is inexpressible joy.

Right thinking alone can bring about the understanding and the transcending of cause-effect and the dualistic process; when the thinker and his thought are integrated through right meditation, then there is the ecstasy of the Real.

Questioner: These monstrous wars cry for a durable peace. Every one is speaking already of a Third World War. Do you see a possibility of averting the new catastrophe?

Krishnamurti: How can we expect to avert it when the elements and values that cause war continue? Has the war that is just over produced a deep fundamental change in man? Imperialism and oppression are still rampant, perhaps cleverly veiled; separate sovereign states continue; nations are maneuvering themselves into new positions of power; the powerful still oppress the weak; the ruling elite still exploit the ruled; social and class conflicts have not ceased; prejudice and hatred are burning everywhere. As long as professional priests with their organized prejudices justify intolerance and the liquidation of another being for the good of your country and the protection of your interests and ideologies, there will be war. As long as sensory values predominate over eternal value there will be war.

What you are the world is. If you are nationalistic, patriotic, aggressive, ambitious, greedy, then you are the cause of conflict and war. If you belong to any particular ideology, to a specialized prejudice, even if you call it religion, then you will be the cause of strife and misery. If you are enmeshed in sensory values then there will be ignorance and confusion. For what you are the world is; your problem is the world's problem.

Have you fundamentally changed because of this present catastrophe? Do you not still call yourself an American, an Englishman, an Indian, a German and so on? Are you not still greedy for position and power, for possessions and riches? Worship becomes hypocrisy when you are cultivating the causes of war; your prayers lead you to illusion if you allow yourself to indulge in hate and in worldliness. If you do not eradicate in yourself the causes of enmity, of ambition, of greed, then your gods are false gods who will lead you to misery. Only goodwill and compassion can bring order and peace to the world and not political blueprints and conferences. You must pay the price for peace. You must pay it voluntarily and happily and the price is the freedom from lust and ill will, worldliness and ignorance, prejudice and hate. If there were such a fundamental change in you, you could help to bring about a peaceful and sane world. To have peace you must be compassionate and thoughtful.

You may not be able to avert the Third World War but you can free your heart and mind from violence and from those causes that bring about enmity and prevent love. Then in this dark world there will be some who are pure of heart and mind, and from them perhaps the seed of a true culture might come into being. Make pure your heart and mind for by your life and action only can there be peace and order. Do not be lost and confused in organizations but remain wholly alone and simple. Do not seek merely to prevent catastrophe but rather let each one deeply eradicate those causes that breed antagonism and strife.

Questioner: I have written down, as you suggested last year, my thoughts and feelings for several months, but I don't seem to get much further with it. Why? What more am I to do?

Krishnamurti: I suggested last year, as a means to self-knowledge and right thinking, that one should write down every thought-feeling, the pleasant as well as the unpleasant. Thus one becomes aware of the whole content of consciousness, the private thoughts and secret motives, intentions and bondages. Thus through constant self-awareness there comes self-knowledge which brings about right thinking. For without self-knowledge there can be no understanding. The source of understanding is within oneself and there is no comprehension of the world and your relationship to it without deep self-knowledge.

The questioner wants to know why he is not able to penetrate within himself deeply and discover the hidden treasure that lies beyond the superficial attempts at self-knowledge. To dig deeply you must have the right instrument, not merely the desire to dig. To cultivate self-knowledge there must be capacity and not a vague wish for it. Being and wishing are two different things.

To cultivate the right instrument of perception thought must cease to condemn, to deny, to compare and judge or to seek comfort and security. If you condemn or are gratified with what you have written down then you will put an end to the flow of thought- feeling and to understanding. If you wish to understand what another is saying surely you must listen without any bias, without being distracted by irrelevancies. Similarly, if you wish to understand your own thoughts-feelings, you must observe them with kindly dispassion and not with an attitude of condemnation or approval. Identification prevents and perverts the flow of thought-feeling; tolerant disinterestedness is essential for self-knowledge; self-knowledge opens the door to deep and wide understanding. But it is difficult to be calm with regard to oneself, to one's reactions and so on, for we have set up a habit of self-condemnation, of self-justification and it is of this habit that one must be aware. Through constant and alert awareness, not through denial, does thought free itself from habit. This freedom is not of time but of understanding. Understanding is ever in the immediate present.

To cultivate the right instrument of perception there must be no comparison for when you compare you cease to understand. If you compare, approximate, you are being merely competitive, ambitious and your end then is success in which inherently is failure. Comparison implies a pattern of authority according to which you are measuring and guiding yourself. The oppression of authority cripples understanding. Comparison may produce a desired result but it is an impediment to self-knowledge. Comparison implies time and times does not yield understanding.

You are a complex living organism; understand yourself not through comparison but through perception of what is, for the present is the doorway to the past and to the future. When thought is free of comparison and identification and their uncreative burden, it is then able to be calm and clear. This habit of comparison, as also the habit of condemnation and approval, leads to conformity and in conformity there is no understanding.

The self is not a static entity but very active, alertly capable in its demands and pursuits; to follow and to understand the endless movement of the self a keen, pliable mind-heart is necessary, a mind capable of intense self-awareness. To understand, mind must delve deeply and yet it must know when to be alertly passive. It would be foolish and unbalanced to keep on digging without the recuperative and healing power of passivity. We search, analyze, look into ourselves, but it is a process of conflict and pain; there is no joy in it for we are judging or justifying or comparing. There are no moments of silent awareness, of choiceness passivity. It is this choiceless awareness, this creative passivity that is even more essential than self-observation and investigation. As the fields are cultivated, sown, harvested and allowed to lie fallow so must we live the four seasons in a day. If you cultivate, sow and harvest without giving rest to the soil it would soon become unproductive. The period of fallowness is as essential as tilling; when the earth lies fallow the winds, the rains, the sunshine bring to it creative productivity and it renews itself. So must the mind-heart be silent, alertly passive after travail, to renew itself.

Thus through self-awareness of every thought-feeling the ways of the self are known and understood. This self-awareness with its self-observation and alert passivity brings deep and wide self-knowledge. From self-knowledge there comes right thinking; with out right thinking there is no meditation.

Questioner: The problem of earning a decent living is predominant with most of us. Since economic currents of the world are hopelessly interdependent I find that almost anything I do either exploits others or contributes to the cause of war. How is one who honestly wishes to achieve right means of livelihood to withdraw from the wheels of exploitation and war?

Krishnamurti: For him who truly wishes to find a right means of livelihood economic life, as at present organized, is certainly difficult. As the questioner says, economic currents are interrelated and so it is a complex problem, and as with all complex human problems it must be approached with simplicity. As society is becoming more and more complex and organized, regimentation of thought and action is being enforced for the sake of efficiency. Efficiency becomes ruthlessness when sensory values predominate, when eternal value is set aside.

Obviously there are wrong means of livelihood. He who helps in manufacturing arms and other methods to kill his fellowman is surely occupied with furthering violence which never brings about peace in the world; the politician who, either for the benefit of his nation or of himself or of an ideology, is occupied in ruling and exploiting others, is surely employing wrong means of livelihood which lead to war, to the misery and sorrow of man; the priest who holds to a specialized prejudice, dogma or belief, to a particular form of worship and prayer is also using wrong means of livelihood, for he is only spreading ignorance and intolerance which set man against man. Any profession that leads to and maintains the divisions and conflict between man and man is obviously a wrong means of livelihood. Such occupations lead to exploitation and strife.

Our means of livelihood are dictated, are they not, through tradition or through greed and ambition? Generally we do not deliberately set about choosing the right means of livelihood. We are only too thankful to get what we can and blindly follow the economic system that is about us. But the questioner wants to know how to withdraw from exploitation and war. To withdraw from them he must not allow himself to be influenced, nor follow traditional occupation, nor must he be envious and ambitious. Many of us choose some profession because of tradition or because we are of a family of lawyers or soldiers or politicians or traders; or our greed for power and position dictates our occupation; ambition drives us to compete and be ruthless in our desire to succeed. So he who would not exploit or contribute to the cause of war must cease to follow tradition, cease to be greedy, ambitious, self-seeking. If he abstains from these he will naturally find right occupation.

But though it is important and beneficial, right occupation is not an end in itself. You may have a right means of livelihood but if you are inwardly insufficient and poor you will be a source of misery to yourself and so to others; you will be thoughtless, violent, self-assertive. Without that inward freedom of Reality you will have no joy, no peace. In the search and discovery of that inward Reality alone can we be not only content with little, but aware of something that is beyond all measure. It is this which must be first sought out; then other things will come into being in its wake.

This inward freedom of creative Reality is not a gift; it is to be discovered and experienced. It is not an acquisition to be gathered to yourself to glorify yourself. It is a state of being, as silence, in which there is no becoming, in which there is completeness. This creativeness may not necessarily seek expression; it is not a talent that demands an outward manifestation. You need not be a great artist nor have an audience; if you seek these you will miss that inward Reality. It is neither a gift, nor is it the outcome of talent; it is to be found, this imperishable treasure, when thought frees itself from lust, ill will and ignorance; when thought frees itself from worldliness and personal craving to be; it is to be experienced through right thinking and meditation. Without this inward freedom of Reality existence is pain. As a thirsty man seeks water, so must we seek. Reality alone can quench the thirst of impermanency.

Questioner: I am an inveterate smoker. I have tried several times to give it up but failed each time. How am I to give it up once and for all?

Krishnamurti: Do not strive to give it up; as with so many habits mere struggle against them only strengthens them. Understand the whole problem of habit, the mental, emotional and physical. Habit is thoughtlessness and to struggle against thoughtlessness by determined ignorance is vain, stupid. You must understand the process of habit through constant awareness of the grooves of the mind and of the habitual emotional responses. In understanding the deeper issues of habit the superficial ones fall away. Without understanding the deeper causes of habit, suppose you are able to master the habit of smoking or any other habit, you still will be as you are, thoughtless, empty, a plaything of environment.

How to give up a particular habit is surely not the primary question for much deeper things are involved. No problem can be solved on its own level. Is any problem solved within the pattern of opposites? Obviously there is conflict within the pattern but does this conflict resolve the problem? Must you not go outside the pattern of conflict to find a lasting answer? The struggle against a habit does not necessarily result in its abandonment; other habits may be developed or substituted. The struggle merely to overcome habits, without uncovering their deeper significance, makes the mind-heart thoughtless, superficial, insensitive. As with anger, as with armies, conflict exhausts, and no major issue is solved. Similarly conflict between opposites only blunts the Mind-heart and it is this dullness that prevents the understanding of the problem. Please see the importance of this. Conflict between two opposing desires must end in weariness, in thoughtlessness.

It is this thoughtlessness that must be considered, not the mere giving up of a habit or conflict. The abandonment of a habit will naturally follow if there is thoughtfulness, if there is sensitivity. This sensitivity is blunted, hardened, by the constant struggle of opposing desires. So if you want to smoke, smoke; but be intensely aware of all the implications of habit: thoughtlessness, dependency, loneliness, fear and so on. Do not merely struggle against habit but be aware of its full significance.

It is considered intelligent to be in the conflict of the opposites; the struggle between good and evil, between collectivism and individualism, is thought to be necessary for the growth of man; the conflict between God and Devil is accepted as an inevitable process. Does this conflict between the opposites lead to Reality? Does it not lead to ignorance and illusion? Is evil to be transcended by its opposite? Must not thought go above and beyond the conflict of both? This conflict of the opposites does not lead to righteousness, to understanding; it leads to weariness, thoughtlessness, insensitivity. Perhaps the criminal, the sinner may be nearer comprehension than the man who is self-righteous in his smug struggle of opposing desires. The criminal could be aware of his crime so there is hope for him, whereas the man in self-righteous conflict of the opposites is merely lost in his own petty ambition to become. The one is vulnerable while the other is enclosed, hardened by his conflict; the one is still susceptible while the other is made insensitive through the conflict and pain of constant struggle to become.

Do not lose yourself in the conflict and pain of the opposites. Do not compare and strive to become the opposite of that which you are. Be wholly, choicelessly aware of what is, of your habit, of your fear, of your tendency and in this single flame of awareness that which is, is transformed. This transformation is not within the pattern of duality; it is fundamental, creative, with the breath of reality. In this flame of awareness all problems are finally resolved. Without this transformation life is a struggle and pain and there is no joy, no peace.

The Observer is the Observed

Ojai, California. 2nd Public Talk 1945

Jiddu Krishnamurti texts. The Observer Is the Observed. Contains reports of spontaneous discourses about life and reality, given at different times between 1945 and 1948.


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