The Observer is the Observed
Ojai, California. 9th Public Talk 1945
The desire to be secure in things and in relationship only brings about conflict and sorrow, dependence and fear; the search for happiness in relationship without understanding the cause of conflict leads to misery. When thought lays emphasis on sensate value and is dominated by it there can be only strife and pain. Without self-knowledge relationship becomes a source of struggle and antagonism, a device for covering up inward insufficiency, inward poverty.
Does not craving for security in any form indicate inward insufficiency? Does not this inner poverty make us seek, accept and cling to formulations, hopes, dogmas, beliefs, possessions; is not our action then merely imitative and compulsive? So anchored to ideology, belief, our thinking becomes merely a process of enchainment.
Our thought is conditioned by the past; the I, the me and the mine, is the result of stored up experience, ever incomplete. The memory of the past is always absorbing the present; the self which is memory of pleasure and pain is ever gathering and discarding, ever forging anew the chains of its own conditioning. It is building and destroying but always within its own self-created prison. To the pleasant memory it clings and the unpleasant it discards. Thought must transcend this conditioning for the being of the Real.
Is evaluating right thinking? Choice is conditioned thinking; right thinking comes through understanding the chooser, the censor. As long as thought is anchored in belief, in ideology, it can only function within its own limitation; it can only feel-act within the boundaries of its own prejudices; it can only experience according to its own memories which give continuity to the self and its bondage. Conditioned thought prevents right thinking which is non-evaluation, non-identification.
There must be alert self-observation without choice; choice is evaluation and evaluation strengthens the self-identifying memory. If we wish to understand deeply there must be passive and choiceless awareness which allows experience to unfold itself and reveal its own significance. The mind that seeks security through the Real creates only illusion. The Real is not a refuge; it is not the reward for righteous action; it is not an end to be gained.
Questioner: Should we not doubt your experience and what you say? Though certain religions condemn doubt as a fetter is it not, as you have expressed it, a precious ointment a necessity?
Krishnamurti: Is it not important to find out why doubt ever arises at all? What is the cause of doubt? Does it not arise when there is the following of another? So the problem is not doubt but the cause of acceptance. Why do we accept, why do we follow?
We follow another's authority, another's experience and then doubt it; this search for authority and its sequel, disillusionment, is a painful process for most of us. We blame or criticize the once accepted authority, the leader, the teacher, but we do not examine our own craving for an authority who can direct our conduct. Once we understand this craving we shall comprehend the significance of doubt.
Is there not in us a deep rooted tendency to seek direction, to accept authority? Wherefrom does this urge in us come? Does it not arise from our own uncertainty, from our own incapacity to know what is true at all times? We want another to chart for us the sea of self-knowledge; we desire to be secure, we desire to find a safe refuge and so we follow anyone who will direct us. Uncertainty and fear seek guidance and compel obedience and worship of authority; tradition, education create for us many patterns of obedience. If sometimes we do not accept and obey symbols of outward authority we create our own inner authority, the subtle voice of our self. But through obedience freedom cannot be known; freedom comes with understanding, not through acceptance of authority nor through imitation.
The desire for self-expansion creates obedience and acceptance which in turn give rise to doubt. We conform and obey for we crave self-expansion and thus we become thoughtless. Acceptance leads to thoughtlessness and doubt. Experience, especially that called religious, gives us great joy and we use it as a guide, a reference; but when that experience ceases to sustain and inspire us we begin to doubt it. Doubt arises only when we accept. But is it not foolish, thoughtless to accept an experience of another? It is you who must think-out, feel-out and be vulnerable to the Real, but you cannot be open if you cover yourself with the cloak of authority, whether that of another or of your own creation. It is far more essential to understand the craving for authority, for direction, than to praise or dispel doubt. In comprehending the craving for direction doubt ceases. Doubt has no place in creative being.
He who clings to the past, to memory, is ever in conflict. Doubt does not put an end to conflict; only when craving is understood can there be the bliss of the Real. Beware of the man who says he knows.
Questioner: I want to understand myself, I want to put an end to my stupid struggles and make a definite effort to live fully and truly.
Krishnamurti: What do you mean when you use the term myself? As you are many and ever changing is there an enduring moment when you can say that this is the ever me? It is the multiple entity, the bundle of memories that must be understood and not seemingly the one entity that calls itself the me.
We are everchanging contradictory thoughts-feelings: love and hate, peace and passion, intelligence and ignorance. Now which is the me in all of this? Shall I choose what is most pleasing and discard the rest? Who is it that must understand these contradictory and conflicting selves? Is there a permanent self, a spiritual entity apart from these? Is not that self also the continuing result of the conflict of many entities? Is there a self that is above and beyond all contradictory selves? The truth of it can be experienced only when the contradictory selves are understood and transcended.
All the conflicting entities which make up the me have also brought into being the other me, the observer, the analyser. To understand myself I must understand the many parts of myself including the I who has become the watcher, the I who understands. The thinker must not only understand his many contradictory thoughts but he must understand himself as the creator of these many entities. The I, the thinker, the observer watches his opposing and conflicting thoughts-feelings as though he were not part of them, as though he were above and beyond them, controlling, guiding, shaping. But is not the I, the thinker, also these conflicts? Has he not created them? Whatever the level, is the thinker separate from his thoughts? The thinker is the creator of opposing urges, assuming different roles at different times according to his pleasure and pain. To comprehend himself the thinker must come upon himself through his many aspects. A tree is not just the flower and the fruit but is the total process. Similarly to understand myself I must without identification and choice be aware of the total process that is the me.
How can there be understanding when one part is used as a means of comprehending the other? Is it possible to understand one contradiction by another? There is understanding only when contradiction as a whole ceases, when thought is not identifying itself with the part.
So it is important to understand the desire to condemn or approve, to justify or compare for it is this desire that prevents the full comprehension of the whole being. Who is the judge, who is the entity that is comparing, analysing? Is he not an aspect only of the total process, an aspect of the self that is ever maintaining conflict? Conflict is not dissolved by introducing another entity who may represent condemnation, justification or love. In freedom alone can there be understanding but freedom is denied when the observer through identification condemns or justifies. Only in understanding the process as a whole can right thinking open the door to the Eternal.
Questioner: As you are so much against authority are there any unmistakable signs by which the liberation of another can be objectively recognized, apart from the personal affirmation of the individual regarding his own attainment?
Krishnamurti: It is again the problem of acceptance differently stated, is it not? Suppose one does assert that one is liberated, of what great significance is it to another? Suppose you are free from sorrow, of what importance is it to another? It becomes significant only if one seeks to free oneself from ignorance, for it is ignorance that causes sorrow. So the primary point is not who has attained but how to free thought from its self-enchaining sorrow. Most of us are not concerned with this essential issue but rather with outward signs by which we may recognize one who is liberated in order that he may heal our sorrows. We desire gain rather than understanding; our craving for guidance, for comfort, makes us accept authority and so we are ever seeking the expert. You are the cause of your sorrow and you alone can understand and transcend it, none can give you deliverance from ignorance save yourself.
It is not important who has attained but it is important to be aware of your attitude and how you listen to what is being said. We listen with hope and fear; we seek the light of another but are not alertly passive to be able to understand. If the liberated seems to fulfil our desires we accept him; if not, we continue our search for the one who will; what most of us desire is gratification at different levels. What is important is not how to recognize one who is liberated but how to understand yourself. No authority here or hereafter can give you knowledge of yourself; without self-knowledge there is no liberation from ignorance, from sorrow.
You are the creator of misery as you are the creator of ignorance and authority; you bring the leader into being and follow him; your craving fashions the pattern of your religious and worldly life so it is essential to understand yourself and so transform the way of your life. Be aware of why you follow another, why you search out authority, why you crave direction in conduct; be aware of the ways of craving. The mind-heart has become insensitive through fear and gratification of authority but through deep awareness of thought-feeling comes the quickening of life. Through choiceless awareness the total process of your being is understood; through passive awareness comes enlightenment.
Questioner: Though you have answered several questions on meditation I find that you have not said anything about group meditation. Should one meditate with others or alone?
Krishnamurti: What is meditation? Is it not the understanding of the ways of the self, is it not self-knowledge? Without self-knowledge, without awareness of the total process that which you build into character, that which you strive for, has no reality. Self-knowledge is the very beginning of true meditation. Now will you understand yourself through being alone or with many? The many can be a hindrance to meditation as can also the being alone. The very weight of ignorance of the many who do not understand themselves can overpower one who is attempting to understand himself through meditation. The group can stimulate one but is stimulation meditation? Dependence on the group creates conformity; congregational worship or prayer is susceptible to suggestion, to influence, to thoughtlessness.
To meditate in isolation can also create hindrances and strengthen one's prejudices and conformities. If there is no pliability, eager awareness, mere living alone strengthens one's tendencies and idiosyncrasies, hardens the habits and deepens the grooves of thought-feeling. Without understanding the significance of meditation, meditating alone can become a self-enclosing process, the narrowing of mind-heart in self-delusion and the strengthening of
So whether you meditate with a group or by yourself will have little meaning if the significance of meditation is not rightly understood. Meditation is not concentration, it is the creative process of self-discovery and understanding; meditation is not a process of self-becoming; beginning with self-knowledge it brings tranquillity and supreme wisdom, it opens the door to the Eternal. The purpose of meditation is to be aware of the total process of the self. The self is the result of the past and does not exist in isolation; it is made up. The many causes that have brought it into being must be understood and transcended; only through deep awareness and meditation can there be liberation from craving, from self. Then only is there true aloneness. But when you meditate by yourself you are not alone for you are the result of innumerable influences, of conflicting forces. You are a result, a product, and that which is made up, selected, put together, cannot understand that which is not. When the thinker and his thought are one, having gone above and beyond all formulation, there is that tranquillity in which alone is the Real. To meditate is to penetrate the many conditioned, educated layers of consciousness.
Since we are self-enclosed, in conflict and pain, it is essential to be keenly aware for through self-knowledge thought-feeling frees itself from its own self-created impediments of ill will and ignorance, worldliness and craving. It is this meditative understanding that is creative; this understanding brings about not withdrawal, not exclusion, but spontaneous solitude.
The more we are meditatively aware during the so-called waking hours the less there are dreams, and less is the anxious fear of their interpretation; for if there is self-awareness during waking hours the different layers of consciousness are being uncovered and understood and in sleep there is the continuation of awareness. Meditation is not for a set period only but is to be continued during the waking hours and hours of sleep as well. In sleep, because of right meditative awareness during waking hours, thought can penetrate depths that have great significance. Even in sleep meditation continues.
Meditation is not a practice; it is not the cultivation of habit; meditation is heightened awareness. Mere practice dulls the mind. heart for habit denotes thoughtlessness and causes insensitivity. Right meditation is a liberative process, a creative self-discover which frees thought-feeling from bondage. In freedom alone is there the Real. Questioner: In discussing the problem of illness you introduced the concept of psychological tension. If I remember correctly you stated that the non-use or abuse of psychological tension is the ca use of illness. Modern psychology on the other hand mostly stresses relaxation, release from nervous tension and so forth. What do you think?
Krishnamurti: Must we not be strenuous if we would understand? As you are listening to this talk is there not attention, a tension? Is not all awareness an intensity of right tension? Awareness is necessary for comprehension; a strenuous attention is needed if we would grasp the full significance of a problem. Relaxation is necessary, sometimes beneficial; but is not awareness, right tension, necessary for deep understanding? Must not the strings of a violin be tuned or stretched to produce the right tone? If they are stretched too much they break and if they are not stretched or tuned just rightly they do not give the correct tone. Likewise we break down when our nerves are strained too much; tension beyond endurance causes various forms of mental and physical disorders.
But is not awareness, the widening and stretching of the mind-heart, necessary for understanding? Is understanding the result of relaxation, inattention, or does it come with awareness in which there is not that tension caused by the desire to grasp, to gain? Is not alert stillness necessary for deep understanding?
Tension can either mend or mar. In all relationship is there not tension? This tension becomes harmful when relationship becomes an escape from one's own insufficiency, a self-protective shelter from painful self-discovery. Tension becomes harmful when relationship hardens and is no longer a self-revealing process. Most of us use relationship for self-gratification, self-aggrandizement, but when it fails us a harmful tension is created which leads to frustration, jealously, delusion and conflict. As long as the craving of the self continues there will be the harmful psychological tension of inner insufficiency that causes varieties of delusion and misery. But to understand emptiness, aching loneliness, there must be right awareness, right tension. The tension of greed, fear, ambition, hate, is destructive, is productive of psychological and physical ailments, and to transcend that tension there must be choiceless awareness.
Craving which expresses itself in many ways, in the material and so-called spiritual world, is the cause of conflict in all the different layers of consciousness. The tension of becoming is endless conflict and pain. In being aware of craving and so understanding it thought liberates itself from ignorance and sorrow.
The Observer is the Observed
Ojai, California. 9th 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.