The Observer is the Observed
Ojai, California. 4th Public Talk 1946
In the last three talks we have been considering that intelligence which is developed through the activities and habits of the self; that desire which is constantly accumulating and with which thought identifies itself as the me and the mine. This accumulative, identifying habit is called intelligence; the aggressive and self-expanding desire ever seeking security, certainty, is called intelligence. This enchaining habit-memory binds thought and so intelligence is imprisoned in the self. How can this intelligence, this mind that is petty, narrow, cruel, nationalistic, envious, comprehend the Real? How can thought which is the outcome of time, of self-protective activity comprehend that which is not of time?
We sometimes experience a state of tranquillity, of extraordinary clarity and joy, when the mind is serene and still. These moments come unexpectedly, without invitation. Such experiencing is not the result of calculated, disciplined thought. It occurs when thought is self-forgetful; when thought has ceased to become, when the mind is not in the conflict of its own self-created problems. So our problem is not how such a creative, joyous moment shall come and be maintained but how to bring about the cessation of self-expansive thought, which does not imply self-immolation but the transcending of the activities of the self. When a machine is revolving very fast, as a fan with several blades, the separate parts are not visible but appear as one. So the self, the me, seems to be a unified entity but if its activities can be slowed down then we shall perceive that it is not a unified entity but made up of many separate and contending desires and pursuits. These separate wants and hopes, fears and joys make up the self. The self is a term to cover craving in its different forms. To understand the self there must be an awareness of craving in its multiple aspects. The passive awareness, the choiceless discernment reveal the ways of the self, bringing freedom from bondage. Thus when the mind is tranquil and free of its own activity and chatter, there is supreme wisdom.
Our problem then is how to free thought from its accumulated experiences, memories. How can this self cease to be? Deep and true experience takes place only when the activity of this intelligence ceases. We see that unless there is an experience of truth none of our problems can be solved whether sociological, religious or personal. Conflict cannot come to an end by merely rearranging frontiers or reorganizing economic values or imposing a new ideology; throughout the centuries we have tried these many ways but conflict and sorrow have continued. Till there is a comprehension of the Real, merely pruning the branches of our self-expansive activity is of little use, for the central problem remains unsolved. Till we discover Truth there is no way out of our sorrows and problems. The solution is the direct experience of Truth when the mind is still, in the tranquillity of awareness, in the openness of receptivity.
Questioner: Would you please explain again what you mean?
Krishnamurti: We often have religious experiences sometimes vague, sometimes definite; experiences of intense devotion or joy, of being deeply vulnerable, of fleeting unity with all things; we try to utilize these experiences in meeting our difficulties and sorrows. These experiences are numerous but our thought, caught in time, turmoil and pain, tries to use them as stimulants to overcome our conflicts. So we say God or Truth will help us in our difficulties, but these experiences do not actually resolve our sorrow and confusion. Such moments of deep experience come when thought is not active in its self-protective memories; these experiences are independent of our striving and when we try to use them as stimulants for strength in our struggles, they only further the expansion of the self and its peculiar intelligence. So we come back to our question: how can this intelligence so sedulously cultivated cease? It can cease only through passive awareness.
Awareness is from moment to moment, it is not the cumulative effect of self-protective memories. Awareness is not determination nor is it the action of will. Awareness is the complete and unconditional surrender to what is, without rationalization, without the division of the observer and the observed. As awareness is non-accumulative, non-residual, it does not build up the self, positively or negatively. Awareness is ever in the present and so, non-identifying and non-repetitive; nor does it create habit.
Take, for instance, the habit of smoking and experiment with it in awareness. Be aware of smoking, do not condemn, rationalize or accept, simply be aware. If you are so aware there is the cessation of the habit; if you are so aware there will be no recurrence of it but if you are not aware the habit will persist. This awareness is not the determination to cease or to indulge.
Be aware; there is a fundamental difference between being and becoming. To become aware you make effort and effort implies resistance and time, and leads to conflict. If you are aware in the moment there is no effort, no continuance of the self-protective intelligence. You are aware or you are not; the desire to be aware is only the activity of the sleeper, the dreamer. Awareness reveals the problem completely, fully, without denial or acceptance, justification or identification, and it is freedom which quickens understanding. Awareness is a unitary process of the observer and the observed.
Questioner: Can open, still receptivity of the mind come with the action of will or desire?
Krishnamurti: You may succeed in forcibly stilling the mind but what is the outcome of such effort? Death, is it not? You may succeed in silencing the mind but thought still remains petty, envious, contradictory, does it not? Through exertion, through an act of will we think an effortless state can be achieved in which we may experience the ecstasy of the Real. The experience of inexplicable joy or intense devotion or profound understanding comes only when there is effortless being.
Questioner: Are there not two kinds of intelligence, the one with which we function daily and the other which is higher, which guides, controls and is beneficial?
Krishnamurti: Does not the self for the sake of its own permanency divide itself into the high and the low, the controller and the controlled? Does not this division arise from the desire for continued self-expansion? However cunningly it might divide itself, the self is still the result of craving, it is still seeking different objectives through which to fulfil itself. A petty mind cannot possibly formulate something which is not also petty. The mind is essentially limited and whatever it creates is of itself. Its gods, its values, its objectives and activities are narrow and measurable and so it cannot understand that which is not of itself, the Immeasurable.
Questioner: Can a petty thought go beyond itself?
Krishnamurti: How can it? Greed is still greed even if it reaches for heaven. Only when it is aware of its own limitation does the limited thought cease. The limited thought cannot become the free; when limitation ceases there is freedom. If you will experiment with awareness you will discover the truth of this.
It is the petty mind that creates problems for itself and through awareness of the cause of problems, the self, they are dissolved. To be aware of narrowness and its many results implies deep understanding of it on all the different levels of consciousness; pettiness in things, in relationship, in ideas. When we are conscious of being petty or violent or envious we make an effort not to be; we condemn it for we desire to be something else. This condemnatory attitude puts an end to the understanding of what is and its process. The desire to put an end to greed is another form of self-assertion and so is the cause of continued conflict and pain.
Questioner: What is wrong with purposeful thinking if it is logical?
Krishnamurti: If the thinker is unaware of himself though he may be purposeful, his logic will inevitably lead him to misery; if he is in authority, in a position of power, he brings misery and destruction upon others. That is what is happening in the world, is it not? Without self-knowledge thought is not based on Reality, it is ever in contradiction and its activities are mischievous and harmful.
To come back to our point: through awareness only can there be cessation of the cause of conflict. Be aware of any habit of thought or action; then you will recognize the rationalizing, condemnatory process which is preventing understanding. Through awareness - the reading of the book of habit page by page - comes self-knowledge. It is truth that frees, not your effort to be free. Awareness is the solution of our problems; we must experiment with it and discover its truth. It would be folly merely to accept; to accept is not to understand. Acceptance or non-acceptance is a positive act which hinders experimentation and understanding. Understanding that comes through experiment and self-knowledge brings confidence.
This confidence may be called faith. It is not the faith of the foolish; it is not faith in something. Ignorance may have faith in wisdom, darkness in light, cruelty in love, but such faith is still ignorance. This confidence or faith of which I am speaking comes through experimentation in self-knowledge, not through acceptance and hope. The self-confidence that many have is the outcome of ignorance, of achievement, of self-glory or of capacity. The confidence of which I speak is understanding, not the understand, but understanding without self-identification. The confidence or faith in something, however noble, breeds only obstinacy and obstinacy is another term for credulity. The clever ones have destroyed blind faith but when they themselves are in serious conflict or sorrow they accept faith or become cynical. To believe is not to be religious; to have faith in something which is created by the mind is not to be open to the Real. Confidence comes into being, it cannot be manufactured by the mind; confidence comes with experiment and discovery; not the experiment with belief, theory or memory but experimentation with self-knowledge. This confidence or faith is not self-imposed nor is it identified with belief, formulation, hope. It is not the outcome of self-expanding desire. In experimenting with awareness there is a discovery which is freeing in its understanding. This self-knowledge through passive awareness is from moment to moment, without accumulation; it is endless, truly creative. Through awareness there comes vulnerability to Truth.
To be open, vulnerable to the Real, thought must cease to be accumulative. It is not that thought-feeling must become non-greedy, which is still accumulative, a negative form of self-expansion, but it must be non-greedy. A greedy mind is a conflicting mind; a greedy mind is ever fearful, envious in its self-growth and fulfillment. Such a mind is ever changing the objects of its desire and this changing is considered growth; a greedy mind which renounces the world in order to seek Reality, God, is still greedy; greed is ever restless, ever seeking growth, fulfillment, and this restless activity creates self-assertive intelligence but is not capable of understanding the Real.
Greed is a complex problem! To live in the world of greed without greed needs deep understanding; to live simply, earning a right livelihood in a world organized on economic aggression and expansion is possible only for those who are discovering inward riches.
Questioner: In the very act of coming here are we not seeking some spark to enlighten us?
Krishnamurti: What is it that you are seeking?
Questioner: Wisdom and knowledge.
Krishnamurti: Why do you seek?
Questioner: We are seeking to fill the deep, hidden inner void.
Krishnamurti: We are then seeking something to fill our emptiness; this filler we call knowledge, wisdom, truth and so on. So we are not seeking truth, wisdom, but something to fill our aching loneliness. If we can find that which can enrich our inward poverty we think our search will end. Now can anything fill this void? Some are painfully conscious of it and others are not; some have sought to escape through activity, through stimulation, through mysterious rituals, through ideologies and so on; others are conscious of this void but have not found a way of covering it up. Most of us know this fear, this panic of nothingness. We are seeking to overcome this fear, this emptiness; we are seeking something that can heal the aching agony of inner insufficiency. As long as you are convinced that you can find some escape you will go on seeking but is it not part of wisdom to see that all escape, no matter how alluring, is useless? When the truth about escape dawns on you will you persist in your search? Obviously not. Then we accept inevitably what is; this complete surrender to what is, is the liberating Truth, not the attainment of the objects of search.
Our life is conflict, pain; we crave security, permanency, but are caught in the net of the impermanent. We are the impermanent. Can the impermanent find the Eternal, the Timeless? Can illusion find Reality? Can ignorance find wisdom? Only with the cessation of the impermanent is there the permanent; with the cessation of ignorance is there wisdom. We are concerned with the cessation of the impermanent, the self.
Questioner: One of our great teachers has said, "Seek and ye shall find". Is it not advantageous to seek?
Krishnamurti: By this question we betray ourselves and how little we are aware of the ways of our thought. We are forever thinking of what is advantageous for us and that we desire. Do you think a mind that is seeking profit can find truth? If it is seeking truth as an advantage, then it is no longer seeking truth. Truth is beyond and above all personal advantage and gain. A mind that is seeking gain, achievement, can never find Truth. The search for gain is for security, for refuge, and Truth is not a security, a refuge. Truth is the liberator, sweeping away all refuge and security.
Besides, why do you seek? Is it not because you are in confusion and pain? Instead of seeking an escape through activity, through psychologists, through priests, through rituals, must you not search out the cause of conflict and sorrow in yourself? The cause is the self, craving. The deliverance from confusion and pain is in yourself and not another can free you.
Questioner: If we can open our consciousness to truth is that not sufficient?
Krishnamurti: We revert to this question in different ways over and over again. Can the mind, the self-consciousness, which is the product of time, understand or experience the Timeless? When the mind seeks will it find Reality, God? When the mind asserts that it must be open to Reality is it capable of being so?
If thought is aware that it is the product of ignorance, of the limited self, then there is a possibility for it to cease formulating, imagining, being occupied with itself. Only through awareness can thought transcend itself, not through will, which is another form of self-expansive desire. When are we joyous? Is it the result of calculation, of an act of will? It happens when conflicting problems and demands of desire are absent. As a lake is calm when the winds stop so the mind is still when craving with its problems ceases. The mind cannot induce itself to be quiet, to be still; the lake is not calm till the winds cease. Till the problems the self creates cease there can be no tranquillity. The mind has to understand itself and not try to escape into illusion, or seek something that it is incapable of experiencing or understanding.
Questioner: Is there a technique for being aware?
Krishnamurti: What does this question imply? You seek a method by which you may learn to be aware. Awareness is not the result of practice, habit or time. As a tooth that causes intense pain has to be attended to immediately so sorrow, if intense, demands urgent alleviation. But instead we seek an escape or explain it away; we avoid the real issue which is the self. Because we are not facing our conflict, our sorrow, we assure ourselves lazily that we must make an effort to be aware and so we demand a technique for becoming aware.
So it is not by an act of will that truth is uncovered but through tranquil vulnerability the Real comes into being.
The Observer is the Observed
Ojai, California. 4th Public Talk 1946
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.