The Observer is the Observed
Ojai, California. 5th Public Talk 1945
This morning I am going to answer questions only. These answers and talks will be of little significance if they remain merely on the verbal level. Most of us seek stimulation and find it in various ways but it soon wears out. Only experience keeps the mind-heart pliable and alert but experience is beyond and above intellectual and emotional gratification and stimulation. Feeling makes reason pliable and it is this pliability of reason with the vulnerability of feeling that brings experience. It is experience, when rightly understood, that transforms.
At all times, and especially now, there is need for transformation through vital experience; this transformation is essential in a world that has become utterly ruthless, a world whose values are predominantly sensate, a world that is corrupt in its own degradation. Without deeply and widely experiencing eternal value we shall not find any solution to our problems; any answer other than that of the Real will only increase our burden and sorrow. To so experience each one must stand alone, not dependent on any authority, on any organization, religious or secular, for dependence of any kind creates uncertainty and fear thus preventing the experiencing of the Real. In the outer world there is no hope, no clarity, no creative and renewing understanding, there is only bloodshed and confusion and mounting disaster. Only within is there understanding and this understanding is to be discovered, not through example, not through authority. Through self-awareness and self-knowledge only can come tranquillity and wisdom. There is no tranquillity if you are following another; there is no peace if you are worldly; there is no understanding if there is self-ignorance. Through silent awareness of the outer and in being objectively aware of the events of life you are inevitably forced to be aware of the inner, the subjective; in comprehending the self the outer becomes clear and significant. The outer has no significance in itself; it has significance only in relation to the inner. To experience and understand the inner you must be prepared to be alone; you must withstand the persuasive weight of the outer, its logical and cunning deceits.
Questioner: You said last Sunday that each one of us is responsible for these terrible wars. Are we also responsible for the abominable tortures in the concentration camps and for the deliberate extermination of a people in Central Europe?
Krishnamurti: Is it not very evident that each one of us is responsible for war? Wars do not come into being out of unknown causes, they have definite sources and those who wish to extricate themselves from this periodical madness called war must search out these causes and free themselves. War is one of the greatest calamities that could happen to man who is capable of experiencing the Real. He must be concerned with eliminating the cause of war within himself, not with who is less or more degraded and terrible in war. We must not be carried away with secondary issues but be aware of the primary issue which is organized killing itself. The secondary issues may cause fear and the desire for vengeance, but without understanding the essential reasons for war conflict and sorrow will not cease.
To kill another is the greatest crime.for man is capable of realizing the Highest. War, the deliberate organization of murder, is the greatest catastrophe that man can bring upon himself for with it comes untold misery and destruction, degradation and corruption; when once you admit such a vast "evil" as the organized murder of others, then you open the door to a host of minor disasters. Each one of us is responsible for war for each one has brought about the present condition, consciously or unconsciously by his attitude towards life, by the false values he has given to existence. Having lost the eternal value the passing sensory values become all important. There is no end to ever expanding desire. Things are necessary but have no eternal value and the mad desire for possessions ever leads to strife and misery.
When acquisitiveness in every form is encouraged, when nationalism and separate sovereign states exist, when religion separates, when there is intolerance and ignorance then killing your fellowman is inevitable. War is the result of our every day life. Passion, ill will and oppression are justified when they are national; to kill for the State, for the country, for an ideology, is considered necessary, noble. Each one indulges in this degrading ruthlessness for there is in each one the desire to do harm. War becomes a means of releasing one's own brutal instincts and encourages irresponsibility. Such a state is only possible when sensate values predominate.
As each one is responsible for the shaping of this culture, if each one does not radically transform himself then how can there be an end to this brutal world and its ways? Each one is responsible for these tragedies and disasters, for tortures and bestialities, if he thinks-feels in terms of nations, groups, or thinks of himself as Hindu or Buddhist, Christian or Moslem. If a so-called "foreigner" in India is killed by a nationalist, then I am responsible for that murder if I am a nationalist; but I am not responsible if I do not think-feel in terms of nations, groups or classes, if I am not lustful, if I have no ill will, if I am not worldly. Then only is there freedom from responsibility for killing, torturing, oppressing.
We have lost the feeling of humanity; we feel responsible only to the class or group to which we belong; we feel responsible to a name, to a label. We have lost compassion, the love of the whole, and without this quickening flame of life we look to politicians, to priests, to some economic planning for peace and happiness. In these there is no hope. In each one alone is there creative understanding, that compassion which is necessary for the well-being of man. Right means create right ends, wrong means will bring only emptiness and death, not peace and joy.
Questioner: I feel I cannot reach the other shore without help, without the Grace of God. If I can say Thy Will be Done and dissolve myself in it, do I not dissolve my limitations? If I can relinquish myself unconditionally is there not Grace to help me bridge the gulf which separates God and me?
Krishnamurti: This abandonment of the self is not an act of will; this crossing over to the other shore is not an activity of purpose or of gain. Reality comes in the fullness of silence and wisdom. You may not invite Reality, it must come to you; you may not choose Reality, it must choose you.
We must understand effort, unconditional stillness, self-abandonment; for through right awareness alone comes meditative tranquillity.
What is right effort? There is an understanding of right effort when there is an awareness of the process of becoming. just as long as effort is made to become, so long will duality exist, the thinker separating himself from his thought. This conflict of opposites is considered inevitable and necessary for freedom and growth. When one who is greedy makes an effort to become non-greedy, this effort we consider righteous and spiritual. But is it right effort? Is effort spent in overcoming the opposite productive of understanding? Is one not still greedy in trying to become non-greedy? He may take on a new, gratifying verbal garb, but the maker of the effort is still the same, he is still greedy. The effort made to become, not only creates the conflict of opposites but also is directed along wrong channels, for, to become is still to be in conflict and sorrow; so there is no freedom for experiencing Truth in the long corridor of opposites.
Our effort is spent in denying or accepting and thus thought-feeling is made blunt in this endless conflict. This surely is wrong effort for it is not productive of creative understanding. Right endeavour consists in being choicelessly aware of this conflict, in being silently observant without identification. It is this silent, choiceless awareness of conflict that brings freedom. In this passive awareness that is tranquil, Reality comes into being.
Be aware of your conflict, of how you deny, justify, compare or identify; of how you try to become; be aware of the deep, full significance of the pain of the opposites. Then will come the experience of the inseparability of the thinker and his thought, the stillness of understanding through which alone there can be radical transformation, the crossing over to the other shore without the action of will.
There is a vast difference between becoming still and being still. We must die each day to all experiences and accumulations, fears and hopes, and we can only do this by actively being aware of our conflicts, and then being passively still. We must live each day the four seasons, the spring, summer, autumn and winter of passivity. As in winter the fields lie fallow, open to the heavens, to revitalize themselves, so the mind-heart must allow itself to be open, creatively empty. Then only can there be the breath of Reality.
This creative emptiness, this ardent passivity, is not brought about through an act of will. It is extremely difficult for those who are slaves to distraction, who are incessantly active, who are ever striving to become, to be alertly passive. If you would understand, the mind-heart must be still; there must be heightened sensitivity to receive and there can be tranquillity only in understanding. This silent awareness is not an act of determination but it comes in`to being when thought-feeling is not caught in the net of becoming. You never say to a child become still, but be still. We say to ourselves we will become and for this becoming we have various excuses and interminable reasons and so we are never still. The becoming still can never be the being still; only with the death of becoming is there being.
In moments of great creativity, in moments of great beauty, there is utter tranquillity; in these moments there is complete absence of the self with all its conflicts; it is this negation, the highest form of thinking-feeling, that is essential for creative being. But these moments are rare with most of us, the moments when the thinker and his thought are transcended; these occasions happen unexpectedly, but the self soon returns. Having once experienced this living stillness thought-feeling clings to its memory thus preventing the further experience of Reality. This cultivation of memory is effort directed along wrong channels, resulting in the strengthening of the self with its conflict and pain; but if we are deeply aware of our problems and conflicts and understand them, then this very cultivation of self-knowledge brings about alert passivity and tranquillity. In this living silence is Reality. Only in utter simplicity, when all craving has ceased, is the bliss of Reality.
Questioner: I am an inventor and I happen to have invented several things which have been used in this war. I think I am opposed to killing but what am I to do with my capacity? I cannot suppress it as the power to invent drives me on.
Krishnamurti: Which do you think-feel is the more urgently important problem to understand, the power to kill or the capacity to invent? If you are concerned only with inventing, with the mere expression of your talent, then you must find out why you give so much emphasis to it. Does not your capacity give you a means of escape from life, from reality? Then is not your talent a barrier to relationship? To be is to be related and nothing can exist in isolation. So without self-knowledge your capacity to invent becomes dangerous to your neighbour and to yourself.
Does your occupation aid in destroying your fellowman? Your inventions and activities may temporarily help but if they lead him to ultimate destruction then of what use are they? If the end result of this culture is mass murder then of what significance is your talent? What is the purpose of inventing, improving, rearranging if it all leads to the destruction of man? If you are only interested in fulfilling your particular capacity, disregarding the wider issues of life and the ultimate end of existence, then your talent is meaningless and worthless. Only in relation to the ultimate Reality is your capacity significant. I feel that all of you are not vitally interested in this question. Is this not also your problem? You may be an artist, a carpenter or have some other occupation and this question is as vital to you as to the inventor. If you are an artist or a doctor your occupation or the expression of your talent must have its foundation in reality, otherwise it becomes merely a form of self-expression and mere expression of the self leads inevitably to sorrow. If you are interested only in self-expression then you are contributing to the conflict, confusion and antagonism of man. Without first searching out the meaning of life mere self-expression, however gratifying, will only bring misery and disaster.
Beware of mere talent. With self-knowledge the craving for self-fulfilment is transformed. The craving for fulfillment brings its own frustration and disillusionment, for the desire for self-fulfilment arises from ignorance.
Questioner: Can I find God in a foxhole?
Krishnamurti: A man who is seeking God will not be in a fox-hole. How false are the ways of our thinking We create a false situation and in that hope to find truth; in the false we try to find the real. Happy is he who sees the false as the false and that which is true as true.
We have become perverted in the ways of our thinking-feeling. In sorrow we wish to find happiness; only in abandoning the cause of sorrow is there joy. You and the soldier have created a culture which forces you to murder and to be murdered, and in the midst of this cruelty you desire to find love. If you are seeking God you will not be in a foxhole but if you are there and seek Him you will know how to act. We justify murder and in the very act of murdering we try to find love. We create a society essentially based on sensate value, on worldliness, which necessitates the foxhole. We justify and condone the foxhole and then, in the foxhole or in the bomber, we hope to find God, love. Without fundamentally altering the structure of our thought-feeling, the Real is not to be found. Being envious, greedy and ignorant we want to be peaceful, tolerant and wise; with one hand we murder and with the other we pacify. It is this contradiction that must be understood; you cannot have both greed and peace, the foxhole and God; you cannot justify ignorance and yet hope for enlightenment.
The very nature of the self is to be in contradiction; and only when thought-feeling frees itself from its own opposing desires can there be tranquillity and joy. This freedom with its joy comes with deep awareness of the conflict of craving. When you become aware of the dual process of desire and are passively alert there is the joy of the Real, joy which is not the product of will or of time.
You cannot escape from ignorance at any time, it must be dis- pelled through your own awakening; none can awaken you save yourself. Through your own self-awareness does the problem of your making cease to be.
Questioner: What is a lasting way to solve a psychological problem?
Krishnamurti: There are three stages of awareness, are there not, in any human problem? First, being aware of the cause and effect of the problem; second, being aware of its dual or contradictory process; and third, being aware of self and experiencing the thinker and his thought as one.
Take any problem that you have: for example, anger. Be aware of its cause, physiological and psychological. Anger may arise from nervous tiredness and tension; it may arise from certain conditioning of thought-feeling, from fear, from dependence or from craving for security, and so on; it may arise through bodily and emotional pain. Many of us are aware of the conflict of the opposites; but because of pain or disturbance due to conflict, we instinctively seek to be rid of it violently or in varieties of subtle ways; we are concerned with escaping from the struggle rather than with understanding it. It is this desire to be rid of the conflict that gives strength to its continuity, and so maintains contradiction; it is this desire that must be watched and understood. Yet it is difficult to be alertly passive in the conflict of duality; we condemn or justify, compare or identify; so we are ever choosing sides and thus maintaining the cause of conflict. To be choicelessly aware of the conflict of duality is arduous but it is essential if you would transcend the problem.
The modification of the outer, of the thought, is a self-protective device of the thinker; he sets his thought in a new frame which safeguards him from radical transformation. It is one of the many cunning ways of the self. Because the thinker sets himself apart from his thought, problems and conflicts continue, and the constant modification of his thought alone, without radically transforming himself merely continues illusion.
The complete integration of the thinker with his thought cannot be experienced if there is no understanding of the process of becoming and the conflict of opposites. This conflict cannot be transcended through an act of will, it can only be transcended when choice has ceased. No problem can be solved on its own plane; it can be resolved lastingly only when the thinker has ceased to become.
The Observer is the Observed
Ojai, California. 5th Public Talk 1945
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.