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The Observer is the Observed

Ojai, California. 3rd Public Talk 1946

Without the experience of the Real there con never be freedom from conflict and sorrow; the Real alone can transform our life, not mere resolution. All activity of the self with its resolutions and negations must cease for the Real to be. To understand the activities of the self there must be earnest endeavour, sustained alertness and interest. Many of us hold to our beliefs or to our experiences and this only breeds obstinacy. Earnestness is not dependent on moods, on circumstances nor on stimulation. Some who are attempting to live an earnest life are strenuous along some particular groove of thought, belief or discipline and thus become intolerant and rigid. Such strenuous effort prevents deep understanding and close the door upon Reality. If you will consider this closely you will see that what is necessary is natural effortless discernment, the freedom to discover and understand. These ideas, if allowed, will take root and bring about a radical transformation of our daily life. The unforced receptivity is much more significant than the effort made to understand.

Questioner: I am afraid it is not very clear.

Krishnamurti: Most of us here are making an effort to understand; such effort is the activity of will which only creates resistance and resistance is not overcome by another resistance, by another act of will; such effort actually prevents understanding; whereas if we were alertly pliable and aware we would understand deeply. All effort we now make issues from the desire for self-expansion; only when there is an effortless awareness can there be discovery and understanding, a perception of the true.

When we see a painting we first want to know who the painter is, we then compare and criticize it, or try to interpret it according to our conditioning. We do not really see the picture or the scenery but are only concerned with our clever capacity for interpretation, criticism or admiration; we are generally so full of ourselves that we do not really see the picture or the scenery. If we could banish our judgment and clever analysis then perhaps the picture might convey its significance. Similarly these discussions will have meaning only if we are open to the experience of discovery which is prevented by our clinging obstinately to beliefs, memories and conditioned prejudices.

Questioner: Is there anything that one can do to be passively aware? Can I do anything to be open?

Krishnamurti: The very desire to be open can be an effort of the self which only creates resistance. We can but be aware that we are enclosed, that the activity of will is resistance and that the very desire itself to gain passive awareness is another hindrance. To make a positive effort to be open is to throw up the barrier of greed. To be aware of the self-enclosing activities is to break them down; to be unaware and yet desire to be open is to create further resistance. Passive awareness comes only when the mind-heart is tranquil. In this stillness the Real comes into being. This stillness is not to be induced nor is it the outcome of the activity of will. An intelligence which is the product of desire, of self-expansion, is ever creating resistance and it can never bring about tranquillity. Such intelligence of self-protectiveness is the product of time, of the impermanent, and so can never experience the Timeless.

Questioner: Is not this intelligence useful in other ways?

Krishnamurti: Its only use is in protecting itself which has caused untold misery and pain. Questioner: From the amoeba to man the intelligence to be secure, to self-expand is inevitable and natural; it is a closed and vicious circle.

Krishnamurti: That may seem so but the activity to be secure has not led man to security, to happiness, to wisdom. It has led him to ever increasing confusion, conflict and misery. There is a different activity which is not of the self, which must be sought out. A different intelligence is needed to experience the Timeless, which alone will free us from incessant strife and sorrow. The intelligence that we now possess is the result of craving gratification, security, in crude or subtle form; it is the result of greed; it is the outcome of self-identification. Such an intelligence can never experience the Real.

Questioner: Do you say that intelligence and self-consciousness are synonymous?

Krishnamurti: Consciousness is the outcome of identified continuity. Sensation, feeling, rationalization and the continuity of identified memory make up self-consciousness, do they not? Can we say precisely where consciousness ends and intelligence begins? They flow into each other, do they not? Is there consciousness without intelligence?

Questioner: Does a new intelligence come into being if we are aware of the self-expansive intelligence?

Krishnamurti: We shall know, as experience, the new form of intelligence only when the self-protective and self-expansive intelligence ceases.

Questioner: How can we go beyond this limited intelligence?

Krishnamurti: Through being passively aware of its complex and interrelated activities. In so being aware the causes that nourish the intelligence of the self come to an end without self-conscious effort.

Questioner: How can one cultivate the other intelligence?

Krishnamurti: Is not that a wrong question? I wonder if we are paying interested attention to what is being said. The wrong cannot cultivate the right. We are still thinking in terms of self-expanding intelligence and that is our difficulty. We are unaware of it and so we ask, without thought, how can the other intelligence be cultivated? Surely there are certain obvious, essential requirements which will free the mind from this limited intelligence; humility which is related to humor and mercy; to be without greed which is to be without identification; to be unworldly which is to be free from sensate values; to be free from stupidity, from ignorance which is the lack of self-knowledge, and so on. We must be aware of the cunning and devious ways of the self, and in understanding them virtue comes into being, but virtue is not an end in itself. Self-interest cannot cultivate virtue, it can only perpetuate itself under the mask of virtue; under the cover of virtue there is still the activity of the self. It is as though we were attempting to see the clear, pure light through coloured glasses, which we are unaware of wearing. To see the pure light we must first be aware of our coloured glasses; this very awareness, if the urge to see the pure light is strong, helps to remove the coloured glasses. This removal is not the action of one resistance against another but is an effortless action of understanding. We must be aware of the actual and the understanding of what is will set thought free; this very understanding will bring about open receptivity, transcending the particular intelligence.

Questioner: How does the intelligence with which we are all familiar come into being?

Krishnamurti: It comes into being through perception, sensation, contact, desire, identification, all of which give continuity to the self through memory. The principle of pleasure, pain, identification is ever sustaining this intelligence which can never open the door to Truth.

Questioner: We do have to make some kind of effort, do we not?

Krishnamurti: The effort that we now make is an activity of the expansion of the self with its particular intelligence. This effort can only strengthen, positively or negatively, the self-protective intelligence or resistance. This intelligence can never experience the Real which alone brings liberation from our conflict, confusion and sorrow.

Questioner: How has this intelligence come into being?

Krishnamurti: Has it not been cultivated through specialization? Has it not come into being through imitation, through conditioning? The cultivation of the me and the mine is specialization; the me that is special, all important: my work, my action, my success, my virtue, my country, my saviour; this positive and negative striving to become implies specialization. Specialization is death, the lack of infinite pliability. Questioner: I see that but what am I to do?

Krishnamurti: Be aware, without choice, of this process of specialization and you will discover that a deep revolutionary change is taking place within you. Do not say to yourself that you are going to be aware, or that awareness has to be cultivated, or that it is a matter of growth or craftsmanship, which is an indication of postponement, laziness. You are or you are not aware. Be aware now of this specializing process.

Questioner: All this implies extensive self-study and self-knowledge, does it not?

Krishnamurti: And that is the very thing we are attempting here; we are exposing to ourselves the ways of our thought-feeling, its cunning, its subtlety, its pride in its so-called intelligence and so on. This is not book knowledge but actual experience, from moment to moment, in the ways of the self. Thus we are trying to uncover the ways of the self. The desire to expand in the world or to pursue virtue is still the activity of the self; the urge to become, negatively or positively, is the factor in specialization. This desire which prevents infinite pliability must be understood through awareness of the specializing process of the me.

Questioner: If I am just pliable can't I go wrong and therefore must I not be anchored in truth?

Krishnamurti: Truth is discovered in the uncharted sea of self-knowledge. But why do you ask this question? Is it not because you are frightened lest you go astray? Does it not imply that you crave to achieve, to succeed, to be ever in the right? We crave security and this craving prevents the freedom of Truth. Those who are deep in self-knowledge are pliable. We see that one of the causes of resistance is specialization; and another is imitation. The desire to copy is complex and subtle. The structure of our thought is based on imitation, religious or worldly. Newspapers, radios, magazines, books, education, governments, organized religions, all these and other factors help to make thought conform. Also each one desires to conform; for it is easier to conform than to be aware. Conformity is the basis of our social existence and we are afraid to be alone. Fear and thoughtlessness bring about acceptance and conformity, the acceptance of authority. As with the individual so with the group, with the nation.

Conformity is one of the many means through which the self maintains itself. Thought moves from the known to the known, ever fearful of the unknown, of the uncertain, and yet only when there is uncertainty, when the mind is not in the bondage of the known is there the ecstasy of the Real. Thought must be alone for the comprehension of the Real. Through self-knowledge the imitative process comes to an end.

Questioner: Must we always face the unknown?

Krishnamurti: The Eternal is ever the unknown for a mind that accumulates; what is accumulated is memory and memory is ever the past, the time-binder. That which is the result of time cannot experience the Timeless, the Unknown.

We shall always be faced with the unknown till we understand the knowable, which is ourselves. This understanding cannot be given to you by the specialist, the psychologist or the priest; you must seek it for yourself, in yourself, through self-awareness. Memory, the past, is shaping the present according to the pattern of pleasure and pain. Memory becomes the guide, the path towards safety, security; it is this identifying memory that gives continuity to the self.

The search for self-knowledge demands constant alertness, an awareness without choice which is difficult and arduous.

Questioner: Are we worms which must turn into butterflies?

Krishnamurti: Again how easily we slip into ignorant ways of thinking! Being evil we will eventually become good; being mortal we will become immortal. With these comforting thoughts we drug ourselves. Evil can never become good; hate can never become love; greed can never become non-greed. Hate must be abandoned, it cannot be changed into something which it is not. Through growth, through time evil cannot become good. Time does not make the ignoble noble. We must be aware of this ignorance and its illusions. We are educated to think that the conflict of the opposites produces a hoped for result, but this is not so. An opposite is the outcome of resistance and resistance is not overcome by opposition. Each resistance must be dissolved not by its opposite but through understanding the resistance itself.

Conflict exists between various desires, not between light and darkness. There can never be struggle between light and darkness for where there is light darkness is not, where there is truth the false is not. When the self divides itself into the higher and the lower, this very contradiction begets conflict, confusion and antagonism. To be aware of what is and not escape into fanciful illusion is the beginning of understanding. We should be concerned with what is, the craving for self-expansion, and not try to transform it, for the transformer is still craving which is the action of the self; the very awareness of what is brings about understanding. To be aware from moment to moment brings its own clarification. The desire for achievement and recognition prevents awakening; the sleeper dreams that he must awaken and struggles in his dream but it is only a dream. The sleeper cannot awaken through dreams; he must cease sleeping. Thought itself must be aware of creating the structure of the self and its perpetuation. One who is earnest must discover for himself the truth about self-perpetuation.

Questioner: What is there to prove that the perpetuation of the self is in itself bad?

Krishnamurti: Nothing at all, if we are satisfied with it and unaware of the issues of life, but we are all in comparative strife and sorrow. Some cover up their pains or escape from them. They have not resolved their confusion and misery.

Realizing our state of self-contradiction and its painful conflicts we want to find the right way of transcending it; for in incompleteness there is no peace. Is it not the very nature of the self, at all times, to be contradictory? This contradiction breeds conflict confusion and enmity. Craving, the very basis of the self, is ever unfulfilled; in trying to overcome incompleteness man is ever in conflict within and without. Those who are in earnest must discover for themselves the truth about incompleteness. This discovery does not depend on any authority or formula nor on the acquisition of knowledge. To discover truth we must be passively aware. Since we are afraid and enclosed we must be aware of the causes that create resistance, of the desire for self-perpetuation which creates conflict.

Questioner: What happens to that self-perpetuating intelligence when a soldier in battle throws himself in front of a gun to save another?

Krishnamurti: Probably at the moment of great tension the soldier forgets himself but is that a recommendation for war?

Questioner: Do we not hear that war brings out noble, self-sacrificing qualities?

Krishnamurti: Through a wrong act, the killing of another, can a right worthy end be realized?

Questioner: Is not self-knowledge a difficult pursuit?

Krishnamurti: It is and yet it is not. It demands effortless discernment, sensitive receptivity. Constant alertness is arduous because we are lazy; we would rather gain through others, through much reading, but information is not self-knowledge. In the mean- while we continue with greed, wars and the vain repetition of rituals. All this indicates, does it not, the desire to run away from the real problem which is you and your inner insufficiency? Without understanding yourself mere outward activity, however worthy and satisfying, only leads to further confusion and conflict. The earnest search for truth through self-knowledge is truly religious. The truly religious individual begins with himself; his self-knowledge and understanding form the basis of all his activity. As he understands he will know what it is to serve and what it is to love.

The Observer is the Observed

Ojai, California. 3rd Public Talk 1946

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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