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The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 13th November, 1947

Without self-knowledge, order and peace cannot be brought about within oneself and so outside, ie in the world. We considered some of the hindrances to that understanding. When we are up against a hindrance, we immediately think of ways and means to overcome or conquer that hindrance; but overcoming leads us nowhere as we shall have to keep on overcoming or conquering an enemy - politically, economically or religiously, because the hindrance repeats itself. You cannot overcome a hindrance; the hindrance has to be understood by approaching it without condemnation, without judging, without a desire to alter it. Unfortunately, most of us either condemn or pursue it. So long as there is this condemnatory and identifying attitude, the hindrance is not understood.

We saw that the mind has to slow itself down if its restlessness and vagrancy are to be understood. The quietening of the mind was regarded as a problem outside; in following it out, we saw that, in becoming aware of the problem and following each of its responses completely, the mind had become quiet and alert, as the mind had to be quiet to think out each response fully.

Thus, the problem is 'you' and not outside you. It is a trick of the mind to pose the problem as though it was taken from outside. Therefore, the approach is very important. To understand Truth, the mind has first to free itself from the framework of organised society or religion. Most of us agree to this verbally; but, we do not abandon such framework because of the fear that, by freeing ourselves, we are going to create extraordinary disturbances in our daily life.

Understanding leads to right action and to an urge to speak of that understanding. A truth, probably heard by you, ceases to be a truth when you merely repeat it; it will be a truth to you only when you, for yourself, have discovered it to be true. Propaganda is mere repetition of another's truth; it ceases to be propaganda when you yourself have discovered the truth.

As fear is one of the chief impediments to right action it has to be understood. In trying to understand fear - whether physical or psychological - we shall be making a wrong approach if we discuss fear as a problem outside us.

Physical fear: - Physical body is alert and the instinct of self-preservation makes the body act even without any conscious effort of the person who experiences fear - e.g., nearness to a snake.

Psychological fears: - Fear of losing (i) things, (ii) relationship, i.e., people connected to us and (iii) ideas - i.e., beliefs etc.

At the moment of fear, the person who experiences fear and the quality of fear are one, i.e. a joint phenomenon. Immediately afterwards, there is a separation and you say that you do not like it and that you must do something about it. The moment of fear is unexpected and you meet it unprepared; and at that moment, there is only a state which contains no quality, a state of most heightened sensitivity. As it is physically impossible to continue in that state without collapse or without getting mad, the instinct of self-protection leads to the separation of the thinker and the quality; if pleasant, the thinker identifies himself with it; if unpleasant the thinker condemns the quality and sets about to do something about it. In the case of fear, the thinker wants to get rid of it by developing courage, going to a temple, or guru, etc, etc, thus developing a whole philosophy; yet, the fear continues to lurk inside all the time. Therefore, the correct approach to the problem is not how to get rid of fear but to realise that there will be fear as long as we are protecting ourselves with property, relationship, name, ideas, beliefs, etc. If we let go any of these, we are nothing; therefore, we are the property, the idea, etc. Thus, frightened of being nothing, we hold on to property, etc, and thereby create a lot of misery in the world. If we tackle our desire for self-protection, then, there will be a transformation, and property etc. will have altogether a different significance.

The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 13th November, 1947

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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