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The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 22nd April, 1948

I do not consider it necessary to discuss again about what we talked about the day before yesterday, viz., that as we try to look at every problem in the light of our own opinions and conclusions, it is not possible to arrive at the state where there is both the interval and also the sense of 'not knowing', when alone real comprehension comes into being.

Question: If I understand correctly, you said that we have to feel "I am nothing". How am I to get this feeling?

Question: (1) When I say 'I cannot do anything' to bring about transformation, is it the same as 'I am nothing'? This point requires clarification.

Question: (2) The state preceding that when I say 'I don't know', is when I feel that 'I am nothing'.

Krishnamurti: We shall discuss this now. Are we something? Before you can say you are nothing, you should see what you are.

Question: Our beliefs, our bias, our prejudices, our commitments do not lead us anywhere. This can be experienced; but, to say 'I am nothing' appears to be different.

Krishnamurti: Are you aware that you are something?

Question: When I do something, I feel I am something.

Krishnamurti: When there is conflict, or awareness of resistance, or awareness of action, one feels one is something. Is this correct?

Question: In any thought-process, I feel I am something.

Krishnamurti: So, we think we are something whenever the thought- process is functioning. Is that it? When there is the continuance of the 'I', I am something. Can we go beyond that or not? Can we go beyond the screen of 'I am'?

Question: Whenever I think, the 'I' comes in. Therefore, I don't know anything beyond that.

Question: (1) When I feel frustrated, I feel I am nothing.

Krishnamurti: When you feel frustrated, when your self-consciousness comes against a barrier which it cannot overcome, your 'I' is enormously strengthened. So, probably you seek other ways to get what you want. The thought-process is certainly not a way of bringing about transformation. Can the past be wiped away? We saw that it is not possible to wipe away yesterdays which are very large in number, by allowing each 'yesterday' to project itself into consciousness and understanding it. This will take a very very long time which we cannot afford to spare. Therefore, we cannot examine completely all these and be free from our entire past. Then we came to the point that you cannot act; because, every act is within the field of resistance. When you have a problem, a real human problem, and you cannot solve it, what do you do?

Question: You do nothing.

Krishnamurti: Have you ever been against such a problem?

Question: Yes. Then, I pushed off the problem and got on with something else.

Krishnamurti: You say that when a problem is insoluble, you go to another. What is the state of the mind previous to the verbal

expression 'I don't know', especially when the problem demands an urgent solution? Here is a problem that immediate transformation is necessary and you feel that the thought-process cannot lead you to it and that whatever you do is within the thought-process. As the problem demands an answer, you feel that it is imperative to find out the solution and you are quite willing to find it out. Then you find that you are unable to do anything about it. So long as you think that you must do some action, either on your own volition or by pressure from outside, it is still within the field of thought and therefore it cannot lead to the solution of the problem. When you come to this point, what is the state of your mind?

Question: Despair.

Question: (1) My mind has become still, alert and watchful.

Krishnamurti: What happens now to it? Do you not see the imperative necessity for transformation and that whatever you do is a barrier? Question: I begin to pray.

Krishnamurti: Prayer is another form of thought-process and it will not lead you anywhere. I want to know now what the state of your mind is when it has enquired and felt this need for immediate, constant revolution, constant renewal and regeneration. Thought which is the response of memory, the outcome of a response to a challenge, cannot do anything. You realize the deep significance of saying "there must be immediate transformation", but thought cannot do this. No action is possible and you cannot do anything about this to bring about transformation.

Question: We are not thinking anything at all.

Question: (1) My mind is absolutely quiet, standing still.

Krishnamurti: Go into it please. What does absolute stillness mean?

There is an interval between two thoughts, between the ending of one thought and the arising of another. Without that interval thought would be continuous. What is happening in that interval? Have you watched your own process of mind?

Question: I feel nothing, but consciousness is not extinct. The sense of the 'I' is not there.

Krishnamurti: Let us view it differently. As long as I know the solution to a problem, I have no difficulty. I have a new problem and I have no previous ready-made answer. It is an entirely new problem. How will I tackle it? Regeneration can take place only immediately and I cannot do anything about it. To understand completely, I must come with a fresh mind, a mind free from the residue left by previous experiences. What is the state of your mind now when you similarly face this problem?

Question: A state of expectancy.

Krishnamurti: Is that so? My mind is not asleep. It is extraordinarily alert. The difficulty is to recognize the problem as new. If you see an entirely new insect, you will find it very difficult to recognize it, to focus on it; the whole thing appears to be blurred to you so far as that insect is concerned. Generally speaking, the mind sees quicker and more than the eye, and mind is more aware than the eye. Why? Because the mind has recorded all such things and memory is functioning. If you are face to face with a new thing like this insect and the mind has no memory, the mind is out of focus; and you have to observe the thing much more closely till the mind builds up sufficient memory through which it can recognize it; the eye has therefore to make much greater effort to observe.

Suppose the mind, accustomed to deal with some problems, faces a new problem. It looks to all the previous answers to find an answer to the new problem. However, as the problem is entirely new, memory will not help and there will be no response from the old. Therefore, the mind is not in focus with this new problem. In other words, the mind does not look at the problem but always tries to look to the record it has already built up. As the problem demands a new point of view, it is not able to find a ready-made answer from the old records which it searches to find an answer. Since it cannot find an answer to the new problem, your saying "I am expecting" means that you are not observing the problem but only waiting for an answer to come out of the old. If you see that all this attempt to get an answer to the new problem by a reference to your past memories, is futile, then you do not expect, you do not watch. What is your mind doing then?

Question: Cessation of thought.

Question: (1) I am expecting to hear what you are going to say next.

Krishnamurti: Watch your own mind. I am only unfolding my own mind. I am now focusing my attention on the problem itself and my eyes are focused on the new insect without translating the insect in terms of what I have seen in the past. Therefore, my attitude is not one of expectation or interpretation.

Are there other screens intervening between me and the problem? There is the desire to be transformed which urges me to look at the problem; this means, I want a result. I want to do something, seeking a result; and therefore I am creating the actor who is going to do something. The desire to be transformed implies the desire for an end, which creates the actor who wants to do something. This desire for transformation is a very difficult screen to get rid of.

Question: This is part of the problem itself.

Krishnamurti: That is so. The mind wants to translate the new into the old but the new insect says "I am entirely new and you cannot understand me if you bring in any of your old". The psychological demand for a result is preventing me from looking at the new. My looking for a result out of the new is entirely different from my looking at the new.

Desire for an end creates action and the action creates the actor. The actor says "I will get it." Here there is no necessity for a result, no necessity for an actor. The problem is not that I must transform myself but that there must be immediate transformation in me. You must not seek a way of using transformation. Any expectation from the past as an answer to the new, any interpretation based on that past, or any desire for an end or to seek a result - all these must go as these are barriers to my understanding the problem.

Is there any other screen? When my mind has wiped away the three screens referred to above as irrelevant, then what is the state of my mind? My mind is new, fresh and can look at the new problems anew. The mind is transformed, because it is no longer the old as it has been cleansed of the past and has become the new.

The importance is to see that this cleansing of the mind can be done and done immediately.

I started out to understand the new insect which I had never seen before. The mind, being out of focus, battles with it and tries to translate the insect in terms of the old. No help, however, comes out of the past. Therefore, the eye observes the insect more closely. I have no desire for a result out of this insect because I do not know the insect nor how to use it. In such a state I am merely observing the insect.

Action creates the actor. First there is perception, then contact, pleasure, then more action. Thus we have desire, end in view, action and then actor. Which comes first, action or actor? Action is first. First there is perception, then contact, then sensation and then only desire. In desire you have the 'I' and the 'mine' but the 'I' and the 'mine' comes into existence only after action which consists of perception, contact, and sensation. We are always used to think in terms of getting a result, when the 'I' is strengthened.

I know that there must be transformation. I don't know what this transformation is and what it will do. When do I say that transformation is imperative? Only when I see the futility of all that I have done and all that I can do. This thinking out, after full examination of the problem, implies intelligence. When I am looking for a new approach, I am still expecting something from the old. So, expectation goes and then the interpreter. My mind has now become sharper in itself. I may have thrown out the Master but not the desire to achieve. My approach is not to get anything but to see and to understand the new approach, not to get a result. Seeking a result means being caught with the old. We want a result to become something, to become happy, etc., all this implies strife. So, this goes when there is more and more observation and intelligence.

When all these three screens go, the mind is new, all attention. It has examined all the things that are not worthwhile, and discarded them. Then only it has become new.

Because you have not discarded these screens but are playing with them, you do not see the need for transformation. The problem exists as long as the screens exist. In the removal of the screens is freedom. The removal of the screens can be done immediately, now; then there will be regeneration.

There is no "how to be transformed". If you go after it now, it is done. That is the beauty of it.

That state when the mind is cleansed of the past, corresponding to a clean slate, is the state of "not knowing". This state is the state of highest activity. When the cup is empty, something new can be put into it; but, if there is already some tea in a cup you can only fill it up with tea and not with anything new. Therefore, the mind has to be cleansed of the past to view a new problem anew.

The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 22nd 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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