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The Observer is the Observed

Ojai, California. 5th Public Talk 1946

We have been considering the problem of intelligence, that intelligence which has been developed during the course of self-assertive struggles and self-protective pursuits, of acquisitive demands and imitative conformities; we saw that with that intelligence we hoped to solve our conflicts and discover or experience Truth or God. Can that intelligence ever experience the Real? If it cannot then how can it come to an end or be transformed? We saw that this is possible only through passive awareness and that we can at any time be aware without the will to become aware. To understand what is implied in awareness we examined greed and tried to understand its activities; greed not only for the tangible but also for power, for authority; greed for affection, for knowledge, for service and so on; we saw that we either condemn or justify greed thereby identifying ourselves with it. We saw, too, that awareness is a process of discovery which becomes blocked through identification. When we are rightly aware of greed in its complexity there is no struggle against it, no negative assertion of non-greed, which is only another form of self-assertiveness; and in that awareness we will find that greed has ceased.

Awareness is not the result of practice for practice implies the formation of habit; habit is the denial of awareness. Awareness is of the moment and not a cumulative result. To say to ourselves that we shall become aware is not to be aware. To say that we are going to be non-greedy is merely to continue to be greedy, to be unaware of it.

How do we approach a complex problem? We do not surely meet complexity with complexity; we must approach it simply and the greater our simplicity the greater will be the clarification. To understand and experience Reality there must be utter simplicity and tranquillity. When we suddenly see a magnificent scenery or come upon a great thought, or listen to great music, we are utterly still. Our minds are not simple but to recognize complexity is to be simple. If you would understand yourself, your complexity, there must be open receptivity, the simplicity of non-identification. But we are not aware of beauty or complexity and so we chatter endlessly.

Questioner: We must not criticize then if we are to be aware?

Krishnamurti: Without probing deeply into oneself self-knowledge is not possible. What do we mean by self-criticism? The function of the mind is to probe and to comprehend. Without this probing into ourselves, without this deep awareness, there can be no understanding. We often indulge in the stupidity of criticizing others but few are capable of probing deeply into themselves. The function of the mind is not only to probe, to delve, but also to be silent. In silence there is comprehension. We are ever probing but we are rarely silent; in us rarely are there alert, passive intervals of tranquillity; we probe and are soon weary of it without the creative silence. But self-probing is as essential for the clarity of understanding as is stillness. As the earth is allowed to lie fallow during the winter so must thought be still after deep searching. This very fallowness is its renewal. If we delve deeply into ourselves and are still then in this stillness, in this openness, there is understanding.

Questioner: This complexity is so deep that one does not seem to have an opportunity for quietness.

Krishnamurti: Must there be an opportunity to be still, to be quiet? Must you create the occasion, the right environment to be peaceful? Is it then peace? With right probing there comes right stillness. When do you look into yourself? When the problem demands it, when it is urgent, surely. But if you are seeking an opportunity to be silent then you are not aware. Self-probing comes with conflict and sorrow, and there must be passive receptivity to understand. Surely self-probing, stillness and understanding are in awareness a single process and not three separate states.

Questioner: Would you enlarge that point?

Krishnamurti: Let us take envy. Any resolution not to be envious is neither simple nor effective, it is even stupid. To determine not to be envious is to build walls of conclusions around oneself and these walls prevent understanding. But if you are aware you will discover the ways of envy; if there is interested alertness you will find its ramifications at different levels of the self. Each probing brings with it silence and understanding; as one cannot continuously probe deeply, which would only result in exhaustion, there must be spaces of alert inactivity. This watchful stillness is not the outcome of weariness; with self-probing there come easily and naturally moments of passive alertness. The more complex the problem the more intense is the probing and the silence. There need be no specially created occasion or opportunity for silence; the very perception of the complexity of a problem brings with it deep silence.

Our difficulty lies in that we have built around ourselves conclusions which we call understanding. These conclusions are hindrances to understanding. If you go into this more deeply you will see that there must be complete abandonment of all that has been accumulated for the being of understanding and wisdom. To be simple is not a conclusion, an intellectual concept for which you strive. There can be simplicity only when the self with its accumulation ceases. It is comparatively easy to renounce family, property, fame, things of the world; that is only a beginning; but it is extremely difficult to put away all knowledge, all conditioned memory. In this freedom, this aloneness, there is experience which is beyond and above all creations of the mind. Do not let us ask whether the mind ever can be free from conditioning, from influence; we shall find this out as we proceed in self-knowledge and understanding. Thought which is a result cannot understand the Causeless.

The ways of accumulation are subtle; accumulation is self-assertiveness, as is imitation. To come to a conclusion is to build a wall around oneself, a protective security which prevents understanding. Accumulated conclusions do not make for wisdom but only sustain the self. Without accumulation there is no self. A mind weighed down with accumulations is incapable of following the swift movement of life, incapable of deep and pliable awareness. Questioner: Are you not encouraging separateness, individualism?

Krishnamurti: He who is influenced is separate, knowing the division of the high and the low, of merit and demerit. Aloneness in the sense of being free from influence is not separative, not antagonizing. It is a state to be experienced, not speculated upon. The self is ever separative, it is the cause of division, conflict and sorrow. Do you not feel separate; are not your activities those of a self-assertive, self-expansive individual? Obviously your thoughts and activities are now individualistic, narrow; it is your work, your achievement, your country, your belief, even your God. You are separate and so your social structure is based on self-assertiveness which causes untold misery and destruction; you may assert we are all one but in actual daily life your activities are separative, individualistic, competitive, ruthless, leading ultimately to war and misery.

If we are aware of this self-aggressive process in ourselves and understand its implications then there is a possibility of bring about a peaceful and happy relationship between man and man. The very awareness of what is, is a liberative process. So long as we are unaware of what we are, and are trying to become something else, so long will there be distortion and pain. The very awareness of what I am brings about transformation and the freedom of understanding.

Questioner: Cannot one think about the Uncreated, about Reality, God?

Krishnamurti: The created cannot think about the Uncreated. It can think only about its own projection which is not the Real. Can thought which is the result of time, of influence, of imitation, think about that which is not measurable? It can only think about that which is known. What is knowable is not the Real, what is known is ever receding into the past and what is past is not the Eternal. You may speculate upon the unknown but you cannot think about it. When you think about something you are probing into it, subjecting it to different moods and influences. But such thinking is not meditation. Creativeness is a state of being which is not the outcome of thinking. Right meditation opens the door to the Real.

But let us go back to what we were considering. Are we aware that our so-called thinking is the result of influence, of conditioning, of imitation? Are you not influenced by propaganda, religious or secular, by the politician and the priest, by the economist and the advertiser? Collective worship and regimentation of thought are alike and both hinder the discovery and experience of Reality. Propaganda is not the instrument of Truth, whether of organized religion or politics or business. If we would discover Truth we must be aware of the subtleties of influence, of challenge and of our response. Learning a technique, a method, does not lead to creative being. When the past ceases to influence the present, when time ceases, there is creative being which can be experienced only in deep meditation.

Questioner: Is not thinking the initial step to creativeness?

Krishnamurti: The initial step is to be self-aware. Our thinking, as we said, is the result of the past; it is the result of conditioning, of imitation; that being so all effort it makes to free itself is vain. All it can do and must do is be aware of its own conditioning and cause; through the understanding of the cause there comes freedom from it. If we were aware of our stupidity, ignorance then there would be a possibility of wisdom; but to consider stupidity as a necessary beginning for intelligence is wrong thinking. If we recognize that we are stupid then that very recognition is the beginning of thoughtfulness; but recognizing it, if we try to become clever, then that very becoming is another form of stupidity.

Any definite pattern of thought prevents understanding. Understanding is not substitution; mere change of patterns, of conclusions, does not yield understanding. Understanding comes with self-awareness and self-knowledge. There is no substitute for self-knowledge. Is it not important first to understand oneself, to be aware of one's own conditioning rather than seek understanding outside of oneself? Understanding comes with the awareness of what is.

Questioner: Being imitative what shall we do?

Krishnamurti: Be self-aware which will reveal the hidden motives of imitation, envy, fear, the craving for security, for power and so on. This awareness when free of self-identification brings understanding and tranquillity which lead to the realization of supreme wisdom.

Questioner: Is not this process of awareness, of self-unfoldment another form of acquisition? Is not probing another means of self-expansive acquisitiveness?

Krishnamurti: If the questioner experimented with awareness he would discover the truth about his question. Understanding is never accumulative; understanding comes only when there is stillness, when there is passive alertness. There is no stillness, no passivity when the mind is acquisitive; acquisitiveness is ever restless, envious. As we said, awareness is not cumulative; through identification accumulation is built up, giving continuity to the self through memory. To be aware without self-identification, without condemnation or justification is extremely arduous, for our response is based on pleasure and pain, reward and punishment. How few are aware of constant identification; if we were we would not ask these questions which indicate unawareness. As a sleeper dreams that he must awaken but does not, for it is only a dream, so we are asking these questions without actually experimenting with awareness.

Questioner: Is there anything that one can do to be aware?

Krishnamurti: Are you not in conflict, in sorrow? If you are do you not search out its cause? The cause is the self, its torturing desires. To struggle with these desires only creates resistance, further pain, but if you are choicelessly aware of your craving then there comes creative understanding. It is the truth of this understanding that liberates, not your struggle against resistance to envy, anger, pride and so on. So awareness is not an act of will for will is resistance, the effort made by the self through desire to acquire, to grow, whether positively or negatively. Be aware of acquisitiveness, passively observing its ways on different levels; you will find this rather arduous, for thought-feeling sustains itself on identification and it is this which prevents the understanding of accumulation.

Be aware take the journey of self-discovery. Do not ask what is going to happen on this journey which only betrays anxiety, fear, indicating your desire for security, for certainty. This desire for refuge prevents self-knowledge, self-unfoldment and so, understanding. Be aware of this inward anxiety and directly experience it; then you will discover what this awareness reveals. But unfortunately most of you only desire to talk about the journey without undertaking it.

Questioner: What happens to us at the end of the journey?

Krishnamurti: Is it not important for the questioner to be aware of why he is asking this question? Is it not because of the fear of the unknown, the desire to gain an end, or the assurance of self-continuity? Being in sorrow we seek happiness; being impermanent we search after the permanent; being in darkness we look for light. But if we were aware of what is, then the truth of sorrow, of impermanency, of imprisonment would liberate thought from its own ignorance. Questioner: Is there no such thing as creative thinking?

Krishnamurti: It would be rather vain to consider what is creativeness. If we were aware of our conditioning then the truth of this would bring about creative being. To speculate upon creative being is a hindrance; all speculation is a hindrance to understanding. Only when the mind is simple, purged of all self-deception and cunning, cleansed of all accumulation, is there the Real. The purgation of the mind is not an act of will nor the outcome of imitative compulsion. Awareness of what is, is liberating.

The Observer is the Observed

Ojai, California. 5th 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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