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The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 2nd December, 1947

It seems to me that, without self-knowledge, there will be no right thinking. I mean by self-knowledge, not the mysterious, the hidden, the super-self, the higher self, the Atman or anything of that kind; I mean the self that thinks, feels and acts now, here, in our everyday existence. Without understanding the thoughts, the feelings, the actions that we go through every day almost automatically, without seeing their deep significance, there can be no right thinking. That is the self-knowledge I am talking about.

You must begin very near to go very far. It is no good beginning very far for coming near. Paramatman, the super-atman and all the rest of it are mere assumption based on belief and therefore utterly valueless to a really thoughtful man. In discovering the process of our own thinking we shall find out - not through an authority, not through books, but for each one of us - whether there is such a thing as Reality or not. This idea that there is a super-self, is still part of thought and is therefore conditioned; therefore, the super-self cannot be superior to mind.

Wisdom is not found in books, nor in repetition, nor in rituals. Wisdom is found through right thinking and right thinking cannot possibly exist without self-knowledge.

I wish to talk to you today about "belief", a thing which is very near and in which most of us are caught. You may say that we have gone over that subject ten different times.

Mind is constantly wrapping itself in belief, belief in ideation, belief in memory, etc. Essentially we believe in order to be secure, not to get lost in the wood, to have a lighthouse, to have a point towards which thought is culminating, progressing, focussing. This focal point helps us to guide ourselves. A belief, whether physiological or psychological, is a necessity to him who is frightened. 'It is my experience and therefore I hold on to it as a guide, a conviction which helps me to progress in life.' Surely belief, a conclusion, a working hypothesis, a conviction, an experience which I hold on to as a guide, an ideal, a conviction which helps me to progress in life, are all merely a pattern, a mould in which the thought functions.

The ideal, the belief, is in the future, something projected or accepted by you as a pattern for you to be modified; and therefore it is in the net of time and therefore that does not lead you to the eternal, to happiness. The end is of the same nature as the means; if you use wrong means, you create wrong ends.

Are we aware of the fact that we have belief? Beauty is considered to be an ideal, a distant thing. The man who does not see the beauty around him keeps the ideal of beauty, and he has no beauty in him. There is beauty now, in the face that smiles, in the stars, in the leaves, and so on. Because we do not see that beauty, we have recourse to the ideal of beauty. Some of you say that life would be impossible if we do not believe - for example, in the existence of London. But several things are involved in this. That is the question of verification. You can ask ten different people and they will tell you where London is; you can also go and see. That is verification. But you all believe in reincarnation or in something else of that kind, which is incapable of verification.

A million people tell me that they believe there is God or there is a Master. Does their belief prove to me that there is God? Any belief that I hold, projects itself as an experience; and then I say it is true because I have experienced it. I believe in reincarnation because it gives me a future chance, a psychological hope; I project that hope, and experience it as an actual experience. How often you have heard people say "I know it, it has happened" as though there is no more to be said! You can only verify when you do not believe.

I do not care whether the Master exists or does not exist, because I want to find out whether he is important in life. I find out that he is not important, and therefore I am not concerned whether he exists or not.

Physical verification is one thing, and psychological verification is quite another thing. Millions of people can be made, by modern propaganda, to believe in anything - as it has been proved over and over again - in war, in nationalism, in butchery, in calling themselves Mohammedans or Hindus and killing each other.

You believe in reincarnation. But it does not affect your life at all. If it has affected your life a single second, you attitude would have been quite different. So belief has no importance whatsoever, it is just a marvellous escape. Similarly, our belief in God is merely a matter of convenience to you; it does not make any vital difference in your life.

Some one among you said that he believed in Communism because he saw its good effect. This means that you believe in what produces a good effect and you do not believe in what produces a bad effect. If you are concerned with the effect only, you believe even if a good result is produced through a bad means. For instance, you believe that by butchering and by creating misery now, you will produce peace and plenty in the future. You believe in things that are gratifying. Whether it is true or false, as long as it satisfies you, you believe in that. There is positive gratification and negative gratification. If I do not achieve gratification positively, I say 'no' and that denial also gives me pleasure. You are doing ceremonies because it gratifies you. When you say it is helping others who are dead and gone, you are bringing in a different problem; which means you are doing it on authority because you books say so, your grandfather did so, or your religion says so.

Your beliefs divide you into antagonistic groups. Beliefs induce mere habits which make you dull and which make you do things without knowing why you do them.

The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 2nd December, 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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