The Observer is the Observed
Ojai, California. 7th Public Talk 1945
Existence is painful and complex. To understand the sorrow of our existence we must think-feel anew, we must approach life simply and directly; if we can, we must begin each day anew. We must be able each day to revalue the ideals and patterns that we have brought into being. Life can be deeply and truly understood only as it exists in each one; you are that life and without comprehending it there can be no enduring joy and tranquillity.
Our conflict within and without arises, does it not, from the changing and contradictory values based on pleasure and pain? Our struggle lies in trying to find a value that is wholly satisfying, unvarying and un-disturbing; we are seeking permanent value that will ever gratify without any shadow of doubt or pain. Our constant struggle is based on this demand for lasting security; we crave security in things, in relationship, in thought.
Without understanding the problem of insecurity there is no security. If we seek security we shall not find it; the search for security brings its own destruction. There must be insecurity for the comprehension of Reality, the insecurity that is not the opposite of security. A mind that is well anchored, which feels safe in some refuge, can never understand Reality. The craving for security breeds slothfulness; it makes the mind-heart unliable and insensitive, fearful and dull; it hinders the vulnerability to Reality. In deep insecurity is Truth realized.
But we need a certain security to live; we need food, clothes and shelter, without which existence is not possible. It would be a comparatively simple matter to organize and distribute effectively if we were satisfied with our daily fundamental needs only. Then there would be no individual, no national assertiveness, competitive expansion and ruthlessness; there would be no need for separate sovereign governments; there would be no wars if we were wholly satisfied with our daily needs. But we are not.
Yet why is it not possible to organize our needs? It is not possible because of the incessant conflict of our daily life with its greed, cruelty, hatred. It is not possible because we use our needs as a means of gratifying our psychological demands. Being inwardly uncreative, empty, destructive, we use our needs as a means of escape; so needs assume far greater significance than they really have. Psychologically they become all important; so sensate values assume great significance; property, name, talent, become the means for position, power, domination. Over things made by hand or by mind we are ever in conflict; hence economic planning for existence becomes the dominating problem. We crave for things which create the illusion of security and comfort but which bring us only conflict, confusion and antagonism. We lose in the security of things made by the mind that joy of creative Reality, the very nature of which is insecurity. A mind that is seeking security is ever in fear; it can never be joyous, it can never know creative being. The highest form of thinking-feeling is negative comprehension and its very basis is insecurity.
The more we consider the world without understanding our psychological cravings, demands and conflicts, the more complex and insoluble the problem of existence becomes. The more we plan and organize our economic existence without understanding and transcending the inner passions, fears, envies, the more conflict and confusion will come into being. Contentment with little comes with the understanding of our psychological problems, not through legislation or the determined effort to possess little. We must eliminate intelligently those psychological demands which find gratification in things, in position, in capacity. If we do not seek power and domination, if we are not self-assertive, there will be peace; but as long as we are using things, relationship or ideas as means to gratify our ever increasing psychological cravings, so long will there be contention and misery. With the freedom from craving there comes right thinking and right thinking alone can bring tranquillity.
Questioner: I come from a part of the world which has suffered terribly in this war. I see around me widespread hunger, disease, and a great danger of civil war and bloodshed unless these problems are tackled immediately. I feel it my duty to make my contribution to their solution. On the other hand I see in the world of today the need for a point of view like yours. Is it possible for me to pursue my first objective without neglecting the second? In other words, how can I continue the two?
Krishnamurti: Only in the search of the Real can there be an enduring solution to our problems. To separate existence from the Real is to continue in ignorance and sorrow. To grapple with the problems of hunger, mass murder and destruction on their own planes, is to further misery and catastrophe. In the search of the Real the world's problem which is the individual problem will find a lasting answer. But if you are only concerned with the reorganization of greed, ill will and ignorance there will be no end to confusion and antagonism.
If the reformer, the contributor to the solution of the world's problems, has not radically transformed himself, if he has had no inner revolution of values then what he contributes will only add further to conflict and misery. He who is eager to reform the world must first understand himself for he is the world. The present misery and degradation of man is brought on by man himself and if he merely plans to reform the pattern of conflict without fundamentally understanding himself he will only increase ignorance and sorrow. If each one seeks eternal value then there will be an end to the conflict within and so peace will come into the world; then only will those causes that perpetuate antagonism, confusion and misery cease.
If you want to put an end to the conflict, confusion and misery with which we are confronted everywhere, from where are you to begin? Are you to begin with the world, with the outer, and try to rearrange its values while maintaining your own nationalism, acquisitiveness and hatred, religious dogma and superstition? Or must you begin with yourself to eliminate drastically those causes that produce conflict and sorrow? If you are able to set aside the passion and worldliness on which present culture is built, then you will discover and experience eternal value which is never within any framework; then you might be able to help others free themselves from bondage. We desire, unfortunately, to combine the eternal with a whole series of values which lead to antagonism, conflict and misery. If you would seek Truth you must abandon those values that are based on sensation and gratification, on passion and ill will, possessiveness and greed. You need not let your lives be guided by economists, by politicians and priests with their endless plans for peace; they have led you to death and destruction. You have made them your leaders but now, with deep awareness, you must become responsible for yourself for within you is the cause and the solution of all conflict and sorrow. You created it and you alone can free yourself, not another can save you.
Therefore our first duty, if one may use that word, is to search out the Real which alone can bring peace and joy. In it alone is there enduring unity of man; in it alone can conflict and sorrow cease; in it alone is there creative being. Without this inward treasure the outward organization of law and economic planning have little significance. With the awareness of the Real the outer and inner cease to be separate.
Questioner: I have tried to meditate along the lines you suggested last year. I have gone into it fairly deeply. I feel that meditation and dreams have a relationship. What do you think?
Krishnamurti: For those who practice meditation, it is a process of becoming, of building up, of denying or of imitating, of concentration, of narrowing down thought-feeling. They either cultivate virtue as a means towards a formulated end, or try to focus their wandering attention on a saint, a teacher, or an idea. Many use various techniques to go beyond the reach of the means, but the means shape the mind-heart, and so in the end they become slaves to the means. The means and the end are not different, they are not separate. If you are seeking an end you will find the means for it, but such an end is not the Real. The Real comes into being, you cannot seek it; it must come, you cannot induce it. But meditation as generally practised is craving to become or not to become; it is a subtle form of self-expansion, self-assertiveness; and so it becomes merely a series of struggles within the pattern of duality. The effort of becoming, positively or negatively, on different levels does not put an end to conflict; only with the cessation of craving is there tranquillity.
If the meditator does not know himself his meditation is of little value and becomes even a hindrance to comprehension. Without self-knowledge meditation is not possible, and without meditative awareness there is no self-knowledge. If I do not understand myself, my cravings, my motives, my contradictions, how can I comprehend truth? If I am not aware of my contradictory states, if I am passionate, ignorant, greedy, envious, meditation only strengthens the self-enclosing process; without self-knowledge there is no foundation for right thinking; without right thinking thought-feeling cannot transcend itself.
A lady once said that she had practised meditation for a number of years and presently went on to explain that a certain group of people must be destroyed for they were bringing misery and destruction to man. Yet she practised brotherhood, love and peace, which she said had guided her life. Do not many of you who practice meditation talk of love and brotherhood, yet condone or participate in war which is organized murder? What significance then has your meditation? Your meditation only strengthens your own narrowness, ill will and ignorance.
Those who would understand the deep significance of meditation must begin first with themselves, for self-knowledge is the foundation of right thinking. Without right thinking how can thought go far? You must begin near to go far. Self-awareness is arduous; to think-out, feel-out every thought-feeling is strenuous; but this awareness of every thought-feeling will bring to an end the wandering of the mind. When you try to meditate do you not find that your mind wanders and chatters ceaselessly? It is of little use to brush aside every thought but one and try to concentrate upon that one thought which you have chosen. Instead of trying to control these wandering thoughts become aware of them, think-out, feel-out every thought, comprehend its significance, however pleasant or unpleasant; try to understand each thought-feeling. Each thought-feeling so pursued will yield its meaning and thus the mind, as it comprehends its own repetitive and wandering thoughts, becomes emptied of its own formulations.
The mind is the result of the past, it is a storehouse of many interests, of contradictory values; it is ever gathering, ever becoming. We must be aware of these accumulations and understand them as they arise. Suppose you have collected letters for many years; now you look into the drawer and read letter after letter, keeping some and discarding others; what you keep you reread and again you discard till the drawer is empty. Similarly, be aware of every thought-feeling, comprehend its significance, and should it return reconsider it for it has not been fully understood. As a drawer is useful only when empty so the mind must be free of all its accumulations for only then can there be that openness to wisdom and the ecstasy of the Real. Tranquillity of wisdom is not the result of an act of will, it is not a conclusion, a state to be achieved. It comes into being in the awareness of understanding.
Meditation becomes significant when the mind-heart is aware, thinking-out, feeling-out every thought-feeling that arises without comparison or identification. For identification and comparison maintain the conflict of duality and there is no solution within its pattern. I wonder how many of you have really practised meditation? If you have, you will have noticed how difficult it is to be extensively aware without the narrowing down of thought-feeling. In trying to concentrate, the conflicting thoughts-feelings are suppressed or pushed aside or overcome and through this process there can be no understanding. Concentration is gained at the expense of deep awareness. If the mind is petty and limited, concentration will not make it any the less small and trivial; on the contrary it will strengthen its own nature. Such narrow concentration does not make the mind-heart vulnerable to Reality; it only hardens the mind-heart in its own obstinacy and ignorance and perpetuates the self-enclosing process.
When the mind-heart is extensive, deep and tranquil there is the Real. If the mind is seeking a result, however noble and worthy, if it is concerned with becoming it ceases to be extensive and infinitely pliable. It must be as the unknown to receive the Unknowable. It must be utterly tranquil for the being of the Eternal.
So the mind must understand every value it has accumulated and in this process the many layers of consciousness, both the open and the hidden, are uncovered and understood. The more there is an awareness of the conscious layers the more the hidden layers come to the surface; if the conscious layers are confused and disturbed then the deeper layers of consciousness cannot project themselves into the conscious, save through dreams.
Awareness is the process of freeing the conscious mind from the bondages which cause conflict and pain and thus making it open and receptive to the hidden. The hidden layers of consciousness convey their significance through dreams and symbols. If every thought-feeling is thought-out, felt-out, as fully and deeply as possible, without condemnation or comparison, acceptance or identification, then all the hidden layers of consciousness will reveal themselves. Through constant awareness the dreamer ceases to dream, for through alert and passive awareness every movement of thought-feeling of the open and hidden layers of consciousness is being understood. But if one is incapable of thinking-out, feeling-out every thought completely and fully then one begins to dream. Dreams need interpretation and to interpret there must be free and open intelligence; instead, the dreamer goes to a dream specialist, thus creating for himself other problems. Only in deep extensive awareness can there be an end to dreams and their anxious interpretation.
Right meditation is very effective in freeing the mind-heart from its self-enclosing process. The open and hidden layers of consciousness are the result of the past, of accumulation, of centuries of education, and surely such an educated, conditioned mind cannot be vulnerable to the Real. Occasionally, in the still silence after the storm of conflict and pain, there comes inexpressible beauty and joy; it is not the result of the storm but of the cessation of conflict. The mind-heart must be passively still for the creative being of the Real.
Questioner: Will you please explain the idea that one must die each day, or that one must live the four seasons in a day?
Krishnamurti: Is it not essential that there should be a constant renewal, a rebirth? If the present is burdened with the experience of yesterday there can be no renewal. Renewal is not the action of birth. and death; it is beyond the opposites; only freedom from the accumulation of memory brings renewal and there is no understanding save in the present.
Mind can understand the present only if it does not compare, judge; the desire to alter or condemn the present without understanding it gives continuance to the past. Only in comprehending the reflection of the past in the mirror of the present, without distortion, is there renewal.
The accumulation of memory is called knowledge; with this burden, with the scars of experience, thought is ever interpreting the present and so giving continuity to its own scars and conditioning. This continuity is time-binding and so there is no rebirth, no renewal. If you have lived an experience fully, completely, have you not found that it leaves no traces behind? It is only the incomplete experiences that leave their mark, giving continuity to self-identified memory. We consider the present as a means to an end, so the present loses its immense significance. The present is the Eternal. But how can a mind that is made up, put together, understand that which is not put together, which is beyond all value, the Eternal? As each experience arises live it out as fully and deeply as possible; think it out, feel it out extensively and profoundly; be aware of its pain and pleasure, of your judgments and identifications. Only when experience is completed is there a renewal. We must be capable of living the four seasons in a day; to be keenly aware, to experience, to understand and be free of the gatherings of each day. With the end of each day the mind-heart must empty itself of the accumulation of its pleasures and pains. We gather consciously and unconsciously; it is comparatively easy to discard what has been consciously acquired but it is more difficult for thought to free itself from the unconscious accumulations, the past, the incompleted experiences with their recurring memories. Thought-feeling clings so tenaciously to what it has gathered because it is afraid to be insecure.
Meditation is renewal, the dying each day to the past; it is an intense passive awareness, the burning away of the desire to continue, to become. As long as mind-heart is self-protecting there will be continuity without renewal. Only when the mind ceases to create is there creation.
Questioner: How would you cope with an incurable disease?
Krishnamurti: Most of us do not understand ourselves, our various tensions and conflicts, our hopes and fears, which often produce mental and physical disorders.
Of primary importance is psychological understanding and well being of the mind-heart, which then can deal with the accidents of disease. As a tool wears out so does the body, but those who cling to sensory values find this wasting away to be a sorrow beyond measure; they live for sensation and gratification and the fear of death and pain drives them to delusion. As long as thought-feeling is predominantly sensate there will be no end to delusion and fear; the world in its very nature being a distraction it is essential that the problem of delusion and health be approached patiently and wisely.
If we are organically diseased then let us cope with this condition as with all mechanism, in the best way possible. The psychological delusions, tensions, conflicts, maladjustments produce greater misery than organic disease. We try to eradicate symptoms rather than cause; the cause itself may be sensate value. There is no end to the gratification of the senses which only creates greater and greater turmoil, tension, fear and so on; such a living must culminate in mental and physical disorder or in war. Unless there is a radical change in value there will and must be ever increasing disharmony within, and so, without. This radical change in value must be brought about through understanding the psychological being; if you do not change, your delusions and ill health will inevitably increase; you will become unbalanced, depressed, giving continuous employment to physicians. If there is no deep revolution of values then disease and delusion become a distraction, an escape, giving opportunity for self-indulgence. We can unconditionally accept an incurable disease only when thought-feeling is able to transcend the value of time.
The predominance of sensory values cannot bring sanity and health. There must be a cleansing of the mind-heart which cannot be done by any outer agency. There must be self-awareness, a psychological tension. Tension is not necessarily harmful; there must be right exertion of the mind. It is only when tension is not properly utilized that it leads to psychological difficulties and delusions, to ill health and perversions. Tension of the right kind is essential for understanding; to be alertly and passively aware is to give full attention without the conflict of opposition. Only when this tension is not properly understood does it lead to difficulty; living, relationship, thought demand heightened sensitivity, a right tension. We are conscious of this tension and generally misread or avoid it thus preventing the understanding that it would bring. Tension or sensitivity can heal or destroy.
Life is complex and painful, a series of inner and outer conflicts. There must be an awareness of the mental and emotional attitudes which cause outward and physical disturbances. To understand them you must have time for quiet reflection; to bc aware of your psychological states there must be periods of quiet solitude, a withdrawal from the noise and bustle of daily life and its routine. This active stillness is essential not only for the well being of the mind-heart but for the discovery of the Real without which physical or moral well being is of little significance.
Unfortunately most of us give little time to serious and quiet self-recollectedness. We allow ourselves to become mechanical, thoughtlessly following routine, accepting and being driven by authority; we become mere cogs in the vast machine of the present culture. We have lost creativeness; there is no inward joy. What we are inwardly that we project outwardly. Mere cultivation of the outer does not bring about inward well being; only through constant self-awareness and self-knowledge can there be inward tranquillity. Without the Real, existence is conflict and pain.
The Observer is the Observed
Ojai, California. 7th 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.