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The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 31st December, 1947

When you do not understand fully "the now" in which you are, how can you know about tomorrow? When you do not know anything about living, how can you understand death? Knowledge gathered from books or from others or from one's own experience is really an impediment to the understanding of 'what is'. You say that some knowledge of psychology is necessary to understand what we are discussing. Words are useful only so long as they are not hindrances to communication. It is really very difficult to understand how we use words and how to interpret. There is no need to learn any psychological terminology to understand what we have been discussing, especially as we have been using only ordinary words.

Knowledge and book-learning will be a help only in connection with the learning of a technique. For instance, when you study Engineering you begin to know what has been previously experimented with and, as you experiment, you learn more.

Self-knowledge is quite different from technical knowledge. Accumulation of Engineering knowledge and also knowledge about other technical subjects has gone on through centuries and you cannot do without them. But it is not the case with self-knowledge which cannot be communicated to another. For instance, you suffer not because the book says so; to find a solution for suffering you have to start anew independent of others' experience. You have to start with yourself to enquire and to find out the solution. Any amount of understanding of what others have said about suffering will not be the same as your own understanding of your suffering or sorrow. Nowadays, people go to psycho-analysts in order to dissolve their sorrow. When you gather knowledge in regard to psychology, you are only assimilating the various systems of psycho-analysis relating to the mind. Gathering of such knowledge makes your mind conditioned; and there is also a constant choice and discarding of the knowledge given by others. Mere gathering of knowledge from books really conditions your mind because you search for security in knowledge, and you agree with what is pleasant to you; for instance, war is disastrous, everyone knows it; and yet, people are ready to go to war. You read a number of knowledge-giving books but you don't relate what you read to your action in daily life.

If you care to analyse the question seriously, you will find definitely that you can understand and face 'what is' without reading a single book. You have got your own prejudice which translates the knowledge that you gather from books; and no book can point out to you that you are prejudiced nor can it teach you how to love. You can only discover when the mind is fresh without any burden of book knowledge.

Using knowledge to further thinking really amounts to treating knowledge as memory. Thinking is the response of memory to a challenge. How can understanding which is new be the outcome of memory, of book-knowledge, which is old? The new cannot be the outcome of the old.

To understand today, your attachment to yesterday must cease, as yesterday prevents you from experiencing anew.

An incomplete experience leaves a scar or a residue whereas a completed experience does not leave any residue. This residue is memory. Similarly suppression of any feeling leaves a residue. The problem then is how to act without leaving a residue. Psychologically, you have to give an end to every one of your feelings. Otherwise, you carry it over and it becomes a burden. When you see the implications of continuing the feeling and the truth of ending the feeling so as to leave no residue, there is an immediate ending. Then there will be no continuity but there will be renewal. Memory continuing on and on is incapable of understanding. Therefore a mind seeking continuity can never meet the new. Therefore your mind should not be interested in accumulating; and it can meet the new only when it is not burdened with memory. Similar is the case with your thought and with your feeling.

It is necessary to experiment with this in your daily life and so live that every thought and feeling comes to an end. This means you should be extremely careful as to what you say consciously or unconsciously, what you feel and what you do. Every word has a verbal and a nervous reaction which sets a wave going. Do not allow other's words to react upon you. Be careful not to use words which produce responses in others. Be careful about what books and newspapers you read. Similarly, what you feel affects you nervously and you will find what tremendous effect cinema-going has upon you. Cinema shows awaken responses which continue in that state and are not ended. Therefore, you are inclined to go again and again to movies. You have to understand this and be free from all these excitements. Love is not memory and it comes into being only before you have a feeling. The ending of feeling is not a battle to overcome a struggle but it is really seeing directly the truth of ending the feeling. A feeling is a thought when named. When words have nervous responses both on yourself and on the individual in relationship with you, they become important, so, you are silent. Similarly, when you end a feeling, there is immediate communion and there is complete understanding.

You should all of you live a personal life of inner awareness which is possible only through love and understanding. You will find Truth only through awareness of your own thoughts, feelings and actions. Such an awareness will free you from your shortcomings and will enable you to solve your problems without your striving to force any solution. Life will then become rich and you will find joy in every one of life's moments, and you will not be interested in any habitual or mechanical pursuits. Then, to you, Reality will come into being.

The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 31st 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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