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The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 13th April, 1948

We were talking about the importance of immediate transformation and about the things that prevent us from radical regeneration. We were discussing the importance of the individual and his relationship with the world; how when there is a contradiction, there cannot be honest thinking; and how real understanding brings about transformation; and also, that love is not sentiment or emotion.

We must find out for ourselves the truth about the individual and his relation to the world, how the transformation of the individual immediately affects the world in which he lives. The world we live in is the world of our immediate relationship with our family, our boss, our cook etc., and not with a geographical world. If you can transform intrinsically, then there is sure to be an immediate transformation, not superficially but deeply, in the relationship in your world. Will not this effect produce a revolution in your relationship? Is it not important to understand the necessity of individual transformation which will affect the world in which you live? Is that not a practical way of affecting the world you live in?

In confronting the war with its miseries, the limitations imposed by national frontiers, the economic confusion, the vast complexity, we feel frustrated with the enormity of the problem; but that frustration is a false response. You are not called upon to deal with the problems of America and Europe. Your talk about all this is mere gossip. You may rebel against atom bombs etc., you can talk gossip about it and about what others say about it. But, you cannot do anything about atom bombs. You and I cannot do anything about them. They are not our problems. But, you and I can do directly something in the world in which we live, by transforming ourselves.

So the individual transformation is the only solution for this chaos. Individual transformation alone will lead to other individuals transforming themselves and this will bring about a revolution in thought and therefore in action. This means you will be free of all organizations, systems, beliefs. You cannot rely on these absurdities, as you know it to be futile and empty. If this is clear we can proceed further. Do you see the truth of it? There can be transformation in the world only when there is regeneration of the individual. Mass action is therefore fallacious. The crowd, the mob, is invented by the politician. There is mass psychology which is used by clever people, but there is no such thing as the mass.

Question: There seems to be a general idea that unless the mass changes, there is no use of any individual working.

Krishnamurti: Are you caught up in the idea that individual action is without meaning unless there is a mass action? Mere belief is sluggishness indulged in in a hot climate. Is mass action the only action? Is there the mass, the crowd? Groups can be influenced, infuriated to act - Hindus to kill all Muslims and Muslims to kill all Hindus. Mass is composed of individuals and individuals can be persuaded, regimented to accept nationalism and to kill others. The action of the mass is thus influenced. If you begin to think, to be aware, to question, you cease to be the mass. When you do not accept authority, tradition, belief, then you become an individual; otherwise, you are one of a conglomeration of people driven. If it is so, then all our actions must correspondingly change. It is a fallacy to think that there can be no radical transformation in the world unless there is mass action. Label is the mass. The mass may be killed but it is difficult to kill an individual. When you look at another individual as an individual and not as a mass, your action is different; this means a radical revolution in your ways of thinking. You are an individual seeking the truth for itself and therefore you are inviting an infinite lot of trouble. If you really have an inward revolution, your ways of behaviour to your family and to others will be transformed.

We discussed whether contradiction can lead to honesty of thought. There can be immediate transformation only when there is clear, honest perception of the problems. Is not our living in contradiction one of our difficulties - opposing desires, opposing demands? Therefore, we never see the problem as it is and we give it a different interpretation from what it is.

Why do we live in contradiction? Are we aware we live in contradiction? We talk about peace and anything we do is towards war. We talk about brotherhood and we have castes, classes and titles. We want physical security and we do everything to destroy that security. We stand for unity and brotherhood yet we are exclusive in various ways.

Question: What is it that destroys security?

Krishnamurti: Nationalism destroys physical security. It brings about war. Everything we do psychologically is against peace.

Question: When we jump out of our state of contradiction, will there be honest thinking? Or, must we isolate ourselves?

Krishnamurti: Are you aware that you are in contradiction? You cannot call yourself a nationalist and at the same time talk of peace. When property is used for self-expansion, it leads to hatred. It is a contradiction. When you have particular beliefs, can you maintain real brotherhood?

Question: Please expand the ideas about property?

Krishnamurti: I need a little property. It is not a pursuit of exclusion. But the psychological expansion through property leads to hatred.

Question: I may not, but another may seek self-expansion. What to do then? Krishnamurti: Then you will not cause hatred. You will start a new culture. If you really enquire into the causes why there is no immediate transformation, then you will see.

Question: Where is contradiction in seeking self-expansion through property?

Krishnamurti: As I said, seeking security through property leads to hatred and therefore there will be no peace. As we live in contradiction in different ways, through organizations, through rituals etc., we do everything to destroy affection. If that is so, we must first be aware of it and put an end to contradiction. We cannot jump out of it, it is not a net. We must become conscious of our thoughts and actions and become intelligent about every one of our activities. This is really difficult in a hot climate, where there are many things preventing clear, honest thinking. If you want to think clearly, you must have sufficient food but no indulgence. Contradiction has a great deal to do with immediate transformation. This means that we must focus our attention on everything we do. This is very difficult. We eat food placed before us on a feast-day, without thinking. This has direct relationship with our daily life. You must have a clear swift mind to follow this clearly. You cannot indulge as you like. Contradiction is one of the hindrances to transformation as it will not allow any moment of full attention on something directly.

See what happens when we are voluntarily or spontaneously giving our attention to something, without seeking a result - examining a human problem. The mind is then in an extraordinary state, passive, pliable and capable of seeing clearly. Such a state is not possible when there is contradiction. You know for yourself inwardly when you are not living in a state of contradiction, when you are in a state of integration.

Why is there this contradiction? Is it not because you have never thought about a problem completely to the end? If you have really thought out a belief, then there will be no contradiction about your analysis of the problem. You will then be so swift in perception that you will see clearly.

Question: Has this not something to do with capacity?

Krishnamurti: No. Only a few have capacity; capacity is a gift. You want to know if we can do this even when we have not got any special capacity. Have we not got intelligence to understand? When we want something, we go after it. Now, you want to live in a state in which there is no contradiction. If you really see that a mind in contradiction cannot see honestly, then you pursue every talk alertly and see where the contradiction lies and so on, till there is no contradiction. You can either shut your eyes to your state of contradiction or you can be aware of the contradiction that exists. If you are aware, you go after every contradiction. You cannot do away with contradiction unless you are healthy physically, and you must become intelligent about everything you do. This has nothing to do with capacity.

Question: Some are more aware and others less aware.

Krishnamurti: Why compare yourself with others? You are this and why should you become that? To watch yourself from moment to moment, your thoughts and your feelings, does it mean capacity? Please try for yourself and experiment.

Question: I want to try and therefore I want to get that capacity.

Krishnamurti: Your desire for capacity is preventing experimentation. I am not interested in capacity.

Question: How to try to be aware from moment to moment?

Krishnamurti: Try to be conscious of, to know and to understand what you are doing. You want to know what to do to try.

Audience: He must wake up.

Audience: I feel I am aware of what I am doing.

Krishnamurti: Are you? Are you aware of the contradiction? You go after a thing when you take interest in it. Do you understand your doing pooja, do you find the whole meaning of it, i.e., whether you do it on authority or because your family likes it or because it gives you sensation or a self-hypnosis or an emotional kick? This finding of the whole meaning of what you do, is what is meant by being aware.

Question: The fundamental urge is to seek happiness. As long as it gives me satisfaction, is it not happiness?

Krishnamurti: Then, what is your problem? Is it for satisfaction to continue? You can take a drink and be blind to the world, and you can think you are happy. But, the morning after the drink, you pay for it. You cannot maintain the immediate pleasure always.

It is not a question of capacity or gift. On the contrary, we can all do this. Only we must take interest in it, experiment with it and go at it seriously. Asking for a way, etc., is just postponement. A contradictory mind cannot have honest thought. You must have honest direct thinking to bring about transformation.

A simple man does not live in a state of contradiction. Simplicity of heart and mind is the thing to transform you from moment to moment. We are all simple outwardly but complicated inwardly. Simplicity must begin at the psychological and not at the outward end.

Question: When we see the contradiction, we are lost in positive or negative thinking.

Krishnamurti: When you see the contradiction you will not be lost. You go into the problem, look at it and then see what is.

Question: I am not aware of any contradiction.

Krishnamurti: That is it. You can be aware of contradictions only when you are alert; then only you can go into the contradictions.

Question: I don't see any contradiction but I pursue what I like.

Krishnamurti: If you do not see any contradiction, it does not mean that there is no contradiction. You can know for yourself whether you are in a state of contradiction or not. If there is no contradiction, your mind will be still, quiet. Apparently your mind is not quiet, but restless. To know you, I must look at you and focus my attention on you without being distracted. There is no exclusiveness in awareness.

Question: I don't understand you.

Krishnamurti: I don't want to go into it now. Attention is not exclusive. If I exclude, there is effort and effort leads to distortion. Awareness is not effort. When you go out for a walk what happens? You are receiving all the impressions, about birds, people, cars, etc., if you are alert and if you are not immersed in a problem. You can give your attention to any one of these things and yet be receptive to the other impressions also. The mind, if not drugged by a problem, is receiving impressions; in that state of receptivity, one object, out of all the many, can be looked at more closely.

If I have a problem and concentrate on it through effort, it is exclusive. Through exclusion, I cannot understand it. Through exclusion, I miss something which may help me to understand it. I must come to the problem without a sense of exclusion; which means, I must be open all round to any impression with regard to that problem, to every movement of thought. When I examine any one part, I am not excluding anything else but I am sensitive to everything that may arise. For instance, I must listen to you and at the same time be alert to listen to what anyone else says and then find out the truth in everything that is said.

Question: I am beginning to understand you. If all of us talk simultaneously can you listen?

Krishnamurti: It is no possible even to hear clearly and listen to anyone if several of you talk at the same time. To be aware is to be open. Therefore, awareness is not a practice, it is not a habit. The moment I create a habit, it is exclusion. To be aware of my contradiction is not to have a screen between me and my contradiction, the screen of conclusion or answer. If I want to understand you, I must have no screen of prejudice between you and me. When I am aware of the screen, the screen is removed. I am open to find out in what way I am living in contradiction, which is different from not being in a state of contradiction. I am then inviting all the contradictions, including all those in the hidden layers of consciousness. Question: This means we must not approach a problem with a preconceived conception.

Krishnamurti: Yes. It is difficult. You must free the mind from all conclusions. For this, we must be aware of the existence of conclusions. I am not open to you if I have prejudice against you. If I understand the prejudice and let it go away, then I am open. The problem will cease when the prejudices are removed.

I have now discovered that a contradictory mind has no capacity to look directly, and it is a dishonest mind. To understand contradiction, I must be aware of the contradictions without any exclusion. Exclusion prevents understanding; therefore, concentration which is exclusion prevents understanding. All our attempts are made to concentrate. All this has got to be undone.

Question: When you approach a problem without a screen, you say there is no problem. What does this mean? What is meant by justification and condemnation?

Krishnamurti: Take any psychological problem. You always quote and get the screen between you and the problem. If the screen is removed, you see the problem clearly.

Individual transformation brings about immediate revolution in the world in which we live. Individual revolution is of the highest importance and not mass revolution. The mass is only an invention of the capitalists and others; it does not exist.

Question: If I am happy, how can the people who are here share it?

Krishnamurti: If there is a smile, even an ignorant man responds. It is our conception that an ignorant man cannot be happy. When there is exclusion, there is no understanding. Only when there is passive alertness there is openness. A primary factor that brings about revolution, is love. Love is not sentiment, not emotion.

It is sufficient if you are aware even momentarily. When you are aware you see great wisdom; then there is an interval and in that interval there is relaxation and it will be revealing.

The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 13th April, 1948

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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