The Observer is the Observed
Ojai, California. 6th Public Talk 1946
As this is the last talk of this series perhaps it might be well to make a brief summary of what we have been considering during the past five Sundays. We have been discussing whether the process of what we call intelligence can resolve any of our problems and sorrows; whether the ant-like activity which has developed self-protective intelligence can bring about enlightenment and peace.
This activity on the surface, called intelligence, cannot resolve our many difficulties for within there is still confusion, turmoil and darkness. This intelligence has been developed through the expansion of the self, the ego, the me and the mine; this activity is the outcome of inner insufficiency, incompleteness. Outwardly thought is active, building and destroying, contradicting and modifying, renewing and suppressing; but within there is void and despair. The outer activity of plastic and steel, reform and counter reform, is ever lost in the inward emptiness and confusion. You may build wonderful structures or organize spaciously over a smoldering volcano but what you construct is soon smothered by ashes and destroyed. So this expansive activity of the self, this intelligence, however alert, capable and industrious, cannot penetrate through its own darkness to Reality. This intelligence cannot at any time resolve its own conflicts and miseries for they are the outcome of its own activity. This intelligence is incapable of discovering Truth and only Truth can free us from ever increasing conflicts and sorrows.
We further considered how this self-expansive intelligence is to cease reshaping itself negatively. Whether positive or negative, the activity of craving is still within the framework of the self and can this activity ever come to an end? We said that only through self-awareness can this accumulative intelligence of the self cease. We saw this awareness to be from moment to moment, without cumulative power; that in this awareness self-identification-condemnation- modification cannot take place and so there is deep and full understanding. We said that this awareness is not progressive but an instantaneous perception and that the thought of progressive becoming prevents immediate clarification.
This morning we shall consider meditation. In understanding it we can perhaps comprehend the full and deep significance of passive awareness. Awareness is right meditation and without meditation there can be no self-knowledge. Earnestness in the discovery of one's motives is more important than to seek out a method of meditation. The more earnest one is the more capacity one has to probe and to perceive. So it is essential to be earnest rather than to form and pursue a conclusion, to be earnest rather than arbitrarily hold to an intention. If we merely hold to an intention, a conclusion, a resolution, thought becomes narrow, obstinate, fixed, but if there is earnestness this very quality is capable of deep penetration. The difficulty is in being constantly earnest. Spiritual window shopping is not an indication of seriousness. If you have the capacity to allow thought to unroll itself fully then you will perceive that one thought contains, or is related to, all thought. There is no need to go from teacher to teacher, from guru to guru, from leader to leader, for all things are contained in you, the beginning and the end. None can help you to discover the Real; no ritual, no collective worship, no authority can help you. Another may point out the direction but to make of him an authority, a gateway to the Real, a necessity, is to be ignorant, which breeds fear and superstition.
To delve deeply within oneself and discover needs earnestness. This probing we consider tedious, uninspiring, so we depend upon stimulants, Masters, saviours, leaders, to encourage us to understand ourselves. This encouragement or stimulation becomes a necessity, an addiction, and weakens the quality of earnestness. Being in contradiction and sorrow we think we are incapable of finding a solution so we look to another or try to find the answer in a book. To look within demands earnest application which is not brought about through the practice of any method. It comes through serious interest and awareness. If one is interested in something thought pursues it, consciously or unconsciously, in spite of fatigue and distraction. If you are interested in painting then every light, every shade has meaning; you do not have to exert to be interested, you do not have to force yourself to observe but through the very intensity of interest even unconsciously you are observing, discovering, experiencing. Similarly if there is an interest in the comprehension and dissolution of sorrow then that very interest turns the pages of the book of self-knowledge. To have a goal, an end to be achieved, prevents self-knowledge; earnest awareness reveals the ways of the self. Without self-knowledge there can be no understanding; self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Our thought is the result of the past; our thinking is based on the past, upon conditioning. Without comprehending this past there is no understanding of the Real. The comprehension of the past lies through the present. The Real is not the reward for self-knowledge. The Real is Causeless and thought that has cause cannot experience it. Without a foundation there can be no lasting structure and the right foundation for understanding is self-knowledge. So all right thinking is the outcome of self-knowledge. If I do not know myself how can I understand anything else? For without self-knowledge all knowledge is in vain. Without self-knowledge incessant activity is of ignorance; this incessant activity, inner or outer, only causes destruction and misery.
Understanding of the ways of the self leads to freedom. Virtue is freedom, orderliness; without order, freedom, there can be no experiencing of the Real. In virtue there is freedom, not in the becoming virtuous. The desire to become, negatively or positively, is self-expansive and in the expansion of the self there can be no freedom.
Questioner: You said the Real should not be an incentive. It seems to me that if I try to think of the Real I am better able to understand myself and my difficulties.
Krishnamurti: Is it possible to think about the Real? We may be able to formulate, imagine, speculate upon what we consider the Real to be but is it the Real? Can we think about the unknowable? Can we think, meditate upon the Timeless when our thought is the result of the past, of time? The past is ever the Mown and thought which is based on it can only create the known. So to think about Truth is to be caught in the net of ignorance. If thought is able to think about Truth then it will not be Truth. Truth is a state of being in which the so-called activity of thought has ceased. Thinking, as we know it, is the result of the self-expansive process of time, of the past; it is the result of the movement of the known to the known. Thought which is the outcome of a cause can never formulate the Causeless. It can only think about the known for it is the product of the known.
What is known is not the Real. Our thought is occupied with the constant search for security, for certainty. Self-expansive intelligence by its very nature craves a refuge, either through negation or assertion. How can a mind that is ever seeking certainty, stimulation, encouragement, possibly think of that which is illimitable? You may read about it which is unfortunate, you may verbalize it which is a waste of time, but it is not the Real. When you say that by thinking about Truth you can better solve your difficulties and sorrows, you are using the supposed truth as a palliative; as with all drugs, sleep and dullness soon follow. Why seek external stimulants when the problem demands an understanding of its maker?
As I was saying, virtue gives freedom but there is no freedom in becoming virtuous. There is a vast and unbridgeable difference between being and becoming.
Questioner: Is there a difference between truth and virtue?
Krishnamurti: Virtue gives freedom for thought to be tranquil, to experience the Real. So virtue is not an end in itself, only Truth is. To be a slave to passion is to be without freedom and in freedom alone can there be discovery and experience of the Real. Greed like anger is a disturbing factor, is it not? Envy is ever restless, never still. Craving is ever changing the object of its fulfillment, from things to passion, to virtue, to the idea of God. The greed for Reality is the same as the greed for possessions.
Craving comes through perception, contact, sensation; desire seeks fulfillment so there is identification, the me and the mine. Being satiated with things desire pursues other forms of gratification, more subtle forms of fulfillment in relationship, in knowledge, in virtue, in the realization of God. Craving is the root cause of all conflict and sorrow. All forms of becoming, negative or positive, cause conflict, resistance.
Questioner: Is there any difference between awareness and that of which we are aware? Is the observer different from his thoughts?
Krishnamurti: The observer and the observed are one; the thinker and his thoughts are one. To experience the thinker and his thought as one is very arduous for the thinker is ever taking shelter behind his thought; he separates himself from his thoughts to safeguard himself, to give himself continuity, permanency; he modifies or changes his thoughts, but he remains. This pursuit of thought apart from himself, this changing, transforming it leads to illusion. The thinker is his thought; the thinker and his thoughts are not two separate processes.
The questioner asks if awareness is different from the object of awareness. We generally regard our thoughts as being apart from ourselves; we are not aware of the thinker and his thought as one. This is precisely the difficulty. After all, the qualities of the self are not separate from the self; the self is not something apart from its thoughts, from its attributes. The self is put together, made up, and the self is not when the parts are dissolved. But in illusion the self separates itself from its qualities in order to protect itself, to give itself continuity, permanency. It takes refuge in its qualities through separating itself from them. The self asserts that it is this and it is that; the self, the I, modifies, changes, transforms its thoughts, its qualities, but this change only gives strength to the self, to its protective walls. But if you are aware deeply you will perceive that the thinker and his thoughts are one; the observer is the observed. To experience this actual integrated fact is extremely difficult and right meditation is the way to this integration.
Questioner: How can I be on the defence against aggression without action? Morality demands that we should do something against evil?
Krishnamurti: To defend is to be aggressive. Should you fight evil by evil? Through wrong means can right be established? Can there be peace in the world by murdering those who are murderers? As long as we divide ourselves into groups, nationals, different religions and ideologies there will be the aggressor and the defender. To be without virtue is to be without freedom, which is evil. This evil cannot be overcome by another evil, by another opposing desire.
Questioner: Experiencing is not necessarily a becoming is it?
Krishnamurti: Additive process prevents the experiencing of the Real. Where there is accumulation there is a becoming of the self which is the cause of conflict and pain. The accumulative desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain is a becoming. Awareness is non-accumulative for it is ever discovering truth and truth can only be when there is no accumulation, when there is no imitation. Effort of the self can never bring about freedom for effort implies resistance and resistance can be dissolved only through choiceless awareness, effortless discernment. It is truth alone that frees, not the activity of will. The awareness of truth is liberating; the awareness of greed and of the truth about it brings liberation from greed.
Meditation is the purgation from the mind of all its accumulations; the purgation of the power to gather, to identify, to become; the purgation of self-growth of self-fulfilment; meditation is the freeing of the mind from memory, from time. Thought is the product of the past, it is rooted in the past; thought is the continuation of accumulative becoming, and that which is a result cannot understand or experience that which is without a cause. What can be formulated is not the Real and the word is not the experience. Memory, the maker of time, is an impediment to the Timeless.
Questioner: Why is memory an impediment? Krishnamurti: Memory, as the identifying process, gives continuity to the self. Memory then is an enclosing, hindering activity. On it the whole structure of the ego, the I, is built. We are considering psychological memory not the memory for speech, facts, for the development of technique and so on. Any activity of the self is an impediment to truth; any activity or education that conditions the mind through nationalism, through identification with a group, an ideology, a dogma, is an impediment to Truth.
Conditioned knowledge is a hindrance to Reality. Understanding comes with the cessation of all activity of the mind - when the mind is utterly free, silent, tranquil. Craving is ever accumulative and time-binding; desire for a goal, knowledge, experience, growth, fulfillment and even the desire for God or Truth is an impediment. The mind must purge itself of all its self-created impediments for supreme wisdom to be.
Meditation as it is generally understood and practised is a process of the expansion of the self; often meditation is a form of self-hypnosis. In so-called meditation effort very often is directed towards becoming like a Master, which is imitation. All such meditation leads to illusion.
The craving for achievement demands a technique, a method, practice of which is considered meditation. Through compulsion imitation and through the formation of new habits and disciplines, there will be no freedom, no understanding; through the means of time the Timeless is not experienced. The change of the objects of desire does not bring release from conflict and sorrow. Will is self-expansive intelligence and the activity of will to be or not to be, to gather or renounce, is still of the self. To be aware of the process of craving with its accumulative memory is to experience Truth which is the only liberator.
Awareness flows into meditation; in meditation, Being, the Eternal, is experienced. Becoming can never transform itself into Being. Becoming, the expansive and enclosing activity of the self, must cease; then there is Being. This Being cannot be thought about, cannot be imagined; the very thought about it is a hindrance; all that thought can do is to be aware of its own complex and subtle becoming, its own cunning intelligence and will. Through self-knowledge there comes right thinking which is the foundation for right meditation. Meditation should not be confused with prayer. Supplicatory prayer does not lead to supreme wisdom for it ever maintains the division between self and the Other.
In silence, in supreme tranquillity when the restless activity of memory has ceased, there is the Immeasurable, the Eternal.
The Observer is the Observed
Ojai, California. 6th 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.