The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Public Talk 14th December, 1947
It is always difficult to communicate because the verbal expression and understanding are on different levels, are they not? We listen to words but the understanding comes only when we hear within ourselves what is being said. So, I think there is a difference between listening and hearing. Those of us who are accustomed to listening, really hardly ever understand because our understanding then is merely verbal, on the verbal level. But hearing I think is different. Hearing is more subjective, not as an opposite but in itself. Hearing is more what is taking place, you are hearing what is taking place in yourself rather than listening to some one outside. So, as I have been suggesting in all these talks and discussions, it would be a waste of time if you merely listen to words and do not hear in yourself their significance, it would be gathering from outside rather than hearing your own process of thinking and feeling.
As I have said over and over again, communication can only exist, on the same level, at the same time. If you are merely listening to the words of someone else and not to their different significance and meaning, then the words become a barrier. And communion between you and me can exist only when there is pliability, a pliability of mind and heart which is love, which is affection. After all when two people love, not merely seek gratification in each other, but really love, there is communion, instantaneous, on the same level and at the same time. And that is the beauty of love when there is instantaneous comprehension in words. I feel that real understanding comes only when there is such communion between people, between you and myself, not in you listening to a talk or in my giving a talk, which as a matter of fact I am not, for I am just thinking aloud with you, and therefore I am not teaching you and you are not my pupil, but we both think aloud together so that we both might comprehend the extraordinary significance of living and suffering. So, I am not giving a discourse nor are you listening to one, but as we are trying together to find out what is true, it requires a different kind of understanding rather than merely listening to words. It demands a certain letting down of verbal barriers, a certain freedom from our usual, everyday prejudices, because we must go beyond. But, if we can, at least temporarily, put away our screen, our prejudices, our frame of references, our demands and feelings as though we were really enjoying, hearing things which we really love, which we want to inquire about and discover, then perhaps we will be able to go beyond the verbal level and therefore bring understanding into our daily life and action. If we do not do this I do not see the point of listening to any talk. If there is no integration between thinking, feeling and action, we cease to be really intelligent human beings. We merely live in compartments and compartmental living is really very destructive and distracting and that is what has happened in the world, and what is happening at the present time. We have developed the intellect so abnormally that we have lost all sense of proportion and sensitivity to existence.
As I have been taking different subjects at different talks, I want to take this evening briefly and naturally, the problem of suffering. Happiness is not the denial of sorrow, but the understanding of sorrow. Most of us think that suffering will make us intelligent. At least we have been told that through suffering you will awaken understanding and intelligence, that through suffering you store up knowledge, through suffering you acquire comprehension. Whereas, if you examine a little more closely you will find that suffering like pain and conflict really dulls what is and to regard suffering as a means to understanding or intelligence is really fallacious. That is what we have been accustomed to think. Does suffering bring understanding? To find out what actually takes place we must examine, must we not, what happens to us when we suffer? What do we mean by suffering? A sense of disturbance, is it not? An inward, psychological disturbance. I am not for the moment dealing with the outward suffering, diseases and so on, but inward suffering, psychological suffering as when you lose somebody, when you feel frustrated, when your existence has no meaning, when the future becomes all important, or when you regard with yearning the past as more beautiful, more happy than the present, and so on. That implies a contradiction, a dissatisfaction with the present, pain and responsibility, the sense of emptiness, the utter emptiness of relationship which has no meaning except the merely physical, the sense of void that can never be filled.
So, to understand suffering we must not take anything for granted, it seems to me, but really examine what is actually taking place in us when we suffer, what is our natural and instinctive response. Generally is it not to run away from it? To escape through explanations, through beliefs, through theories, through the priest, through the image; we know the various systems of escapes, the radio, the newspaper, the movie, drugs, gurus. We try anything to get away from the constant ache, pain and suffering. Even the very inquiry into the cause of suffering, is that not also an escape? If we examine it with a little care, we know very well what is the cause of suffering. We need not spend hours, days, we need not go to a guru to find out what is the cause of suffering. We know it. I do not think we need to be told what the cause of suffering is; it is obvious, is it not? But what happens when we inquire into the reason for suffering? We are really escaping intellectually into the cause or into the search for the cause. So, what generally happens is that we become very skilful, very clever in our escapes, but suffering continues and this becoming intelligent in escapes is called intelligent living. That is, you progress - it is called progress through the change of objects of escape, but suffering, in some way or other, continues.
So, how is suffering to be understood? Merely to inquire into the cause is stupid, for obviously we know what it is; our everyday stupid existence, our prejudices, our greeds, our pettiness, our desire to continue. So, it is merely information and it is of no significance when we begin to understand what suffering is. You do not have to run away from it. The more you are familiar with it, the more you are acquainted with it, the more you love it, the more you invite it, talk with it, sleep with it, the more it gives off its perfume, its significance. But the moment you run away from it, whether through your intellect or through superstition, science or romance, suffering continues.
So, suffering is really to be understood and not overcome, because any form of overcoming can be conquered again; suffering can only be understood through self-knowledge, which is right thinking. And right thinking is not possible when you condemn suffering or become identified, push away, that with which you identify, you accept, but to understand suffering you have to live with it, take it as it is. You do not deny beauty, but you accept it. Similarly if we deny suffering we also deny beauty, happiness; because happiness is not the opposite of suffering and beauty is not the denial of the ugly. When you deny the one you deny the other. Only right thinking which comes through awareness of every day feeling and action, can dissolve the cause that brings about pain and suffering.
Question: I heard your last Sunday talk about duality and the pain of it, but as you did not explain how to overcome the opposite, will you please go further into it?
Krishnamurti: Let us go into it very delicately. Let us find out its enormous significance. We know the conflict of the opposites. We are caught in that long corridor of pain, always overcoming the one and trying to become the other. That is our existence. I am this and I want to become that; I am not this and I would like to be that; that is the constant struggle of everyone; of the bank-clerk, the manager, the seeker after truth. Our everyday struggle in life is based on a constant battle of becoming, of transforming this into that. So, I needn't go into more details concerning the conflict and the pain of the opposites.
Now, does the opposite exist? We know that what exists is only the actual. But the opposite is only the negative response to what is, is it not? It has no existence apart from `what is.' That is : I am arrogant and that is a fact and the negative response to that is humility and I accept humility as an opposite because I have been told that arrogance is wrong; or I have found it to be painful; or religiously, morally, and ethically it is taboo. So, I want to get rid of arrogance, it no longer pays me to be arrogant. So, I would like to become humble, the opposite. What actually happens is that I am arrogant and I would like to become humble. Humility is an idea, not an actuality. The actual is the arrogance, the other is not, but I would like to become that other. Therefore the desire to become what I am not creates the opposite but the opposite is non-existent, it is only an ideal which I would like to realize. So, it seems to me an utter waste of time to meditate or try in some other way to become the opposite. Love is not the opposite of hate. If it is, it would not be love, because after all, an opposite has within it the seed of its own opposite; as humility is the outcome of arrogance, therefore it has the seed of arrogance. Whereas if we understood the whole significance of arrogance, then its opposite also would cease. What exists is arrogance and if I can understand that, I need not go into the battle of becoming something.
To put it differently, the present is the result of the past and whatever the present is, it must create the future which is its opposite, yet still caught in the net of time. So, if I can understand the whole significance of the present, I see the present as the passage of the past into the future. As long as thought is caught in the conflict of the opposites, it cannot understand what is. If I want to understand what is, I must give my whole attention, my whole being to it and not be distracted by the opposites. The opposite is merely the ideal, that which is not, that which I would like to become. Therefore it is non-existent, it is merely the negative wish of what is.
So, that is one point. The second is: why do we name a feeling? Why do we name a reaction as anger, as jealousy, as envy, as hate, and so on? Why do we term it? Do you term it in order to understand it or do you term it as a means of recognizing it? Is the feeling independent of the term? Or do you understand the feeling through the term? If you understand the feeling through the term, through the word, through the name, then the name becomes important and not the feeling and would it be possible not to name the feeling at all? Would it be possible not to term it but when you do term it, what happens? You bring a framework of references to a living feeling and thereby absorb the living feeling into time, which only strengthens memory, which is the I. And what happens, if you do not name a feeling, give it a term? If you do not give that feeling, that reaction, that response a name, a term, what would happen to that feeling? Does it not come to an end? You try it and you will see what happens. You have a feeling arising or a reaction, a response to a challenge and instinctively you name it, you term it, and then what do you do? The living response is put into a frame of past references which only strengthens your memory and therefore gives continuity to the I. But if you do not give it a name, what would happen? If you experiment you will see the reaction. The feeling soon withers away. Experiment with it and try it out for yourself.
So, any response to a challenge comes to an end when you do not name it and put it in the frame of references. Now we have only learned that a painful reaction can be got rid of that way: don't name it, it will vanish. But, will you do the same thing with pleasurable feelings? That is, if you have a pleasure and if you do not name it, it will also wither away, will it not? It will, if you have experimented with what I have been talking about and discussing in the mornings. So, pleasurable reactions and painful reactions wither away when you do not term them, when they are not absorbed into the framework of references. You will see if you experiment with it that it is a fact.
But, is love also a response, a reaction not to be named and so left to wither? It will wither if it is an opposite of hate, because then it is merely a response to a challenge; but surely it is not a response to a challenge. It is a state of being. It is its own eternity but with most of us it has an opposite. I am brutal and I must cultivate kindliness, I must become merciful, I must become generous. The becoming creates the opposite either positively or negatively. But you cannot try to cultivate love, surely. If you try to cultivate mercy, it being an opposite ceases to be mercy, also mercy contains its own opposite, hate. Love can be known surely only when the sense of becoming which creates the opposite ceases.
So, the problem of duality, which your sacred books have said you must transcend, which all your life you have struggled to transcend but in which you are still caught, seems to me, fallacious. But in the understanding of what the opposite is, duality ceases to exist. Opposite exists only when you try to avoid what is, in order to become something which is not; but in understanding what is, which for instance is arrogance with all its implications, not only at a particular level but through all the layers of one's consciousness - not only the petty official arrogance of a bureaucracy, but the whole arrogance of achievement - in understanding arrogance not as an opposite, because as I have explained, arrogance when it becomes humility, is still arrogance; in understanding arrogance in all its significance and without naming the feeling, you will see it wither away. And as love is not the opposite of hate, you cannot approach it through the process of cultivation or becoming. That process of becoming must entirely cease before love can be.
Question: Gandhiji says in a recent article that religion and nationalism are both equally dear to man and one cannot be bartered away in favour of the other. What do you say?
Krishnamurti: I wonder what you will say. I wonder what is your response to this. Will you question your so-called leaders? Must you not criticize, question, inquire to find out the truth and not merely accept? Will you dare to criticize? Because if you dared you would lose your job, would you not? In this question is implied the acceptance of authority; some one tells and you accept. In acceptance there is blindness and total lack of thought. It does not matter who it is that speaks. If you have lost the critical ability to inquire, to find out, you will never discover what truth is. And that is the tragedy of leaders, political or religious, because you create them, and thus there is mutual exploitation. And in India, as elsewhere, it is extraordinary to watch the growth of leaders, of tyrants, in the name of religion or in the name of politics; and the more power they have the more evil they become.
One of the points we have to bear in mind is, not to accept but to inquire, to find out what truth is; and to find out what truth is you must have an open heart and open mind and not be guided by any teacher or any politician. But you see, that means you have to think for yourself. You have to venture out into the open, uncharted seas; but we would rather be told what to think.
I am not criticizing any individual, I am not talking about any specific leader, but about the whole idea of authority. Surely, Sirs, you cannot create in the bonds of authority. Where there is authority, creation ceases. You may invent mechanical things but creation as reality, ceases, and I think that is one of the curses of this country and other countries. When you have given yourself to somebody, whether it is your priest or a political leader or the man who says he is the Messiah or a messenger of God, you cease to feel, to think and as human beings you are non-existent. Surely that is no solution to our problems, to our catastrophes, to our miseries.
Now, it is said that religion and nationalism are both dear to man and we cannot barter away one in favour of the other. Now, let us find out the truth of this, not by opposing or defending, but really find out the truth of this matter because it is truth that is going to liberate us, give us happiness, not the assertion of any one.
What do you mean by religion? Surely, it is not going to church or going to the temple and worshipping images, reading the sacred books, or belonging to any religious sect or body. Surely that is not religion. Is it? And religion is not belief. Religion implies, does it not, the search for God, for Truth, or whatever name you give it. Therefore if that is so, then organized religions are an impediment because they constrict thought and feeling by their beliefs, by their images made either by the hand or the mind, by their ruthless ceremonies and all the rest of it. So, religion is the search after Reality and not the performance of ceremonies, the reading of sacred books and so on. So, that means that religion as an organized form of belief, ceases to be religion. In the inquiry after Truth, the approach must be negative and not positive because positive action always leads to a positive end which can only be that which you know. And Reality is the unknowable and you cannot imagine it or put it into words. It is the unknown. Therefore any positive approach to the unknown will make the unknown knowable and therefore that is not the Truth. Truth is when the known ceases to be. The Eternal is approached not through time. The Eternal is when time ceases, that is when thought which is the result of time comes to an end. So, religion is not the positive; it is not dogmatic, assertive or convertive; it is not the worship of images.
And what is nationalism? The feeling, is it not, of belonging to a group of people or to a country? When you call yourself a Hindu, a Mussalman or a Christian, what do you do? Does it not give you a sense of well-being, to feel that you are united with something you consider greater than yourself. When I say I am an Indian there is a sense of belonging to a whole group of people, to an ancient land with all the vanity implied in it. Is it not so? I belong to my family and it also gives me a sense of continuity; property, ownership gives me a sense of continuity. The idea gives me a sense of continuity. Therefore through nationalism I continue, the `mine' continues, therefore I identify myself with what is considered the larger, the whole, the country called India. In myself I am empty, shallow, poor, I am nothing; but if I identify myself with something called India, an idea, then I am well placed, I have happiness and through that idea I can be exploited, I can butcher other countries with immunity. That is what has been happening in the world; the Germans fighting the French, Hindus fighting the Muslims and so on, all in the name of nationalism, in the name of country, in the name of God, in the name of Peace. Because I like to be identified with something which I call India, which is really myself enlarged, and when you attack that I am ready to kill you because without it I am not. Therefore I invest in nationalism all my feelings, it takes the place of religion, and that is what is happening now; Gods are disappearing and the States are taking their places. Both are ideas and therefore you have nothing to lose; that you barter one for the other is of very little importance, because you are really, fundamentally seeking continuance through a concept, and whether it is India or God or Germany or something else does not matter as long as you, as an entity, can continue in some form.
So, nationalism like organized religion has brought division between man and man. Through nationalism you can never find brotherhood. If you are a nationalist and try to become brotherly you are living in deceit because you cannot be identified with one and deny the rest. The moment you identify yourself either with a belief or with a country you are the creator of wars. You may speak of brotherhood but you live in a state of suppression, therefore you are causing wars. I do not see much difference between nationalism and organized religion. Both have brought misery to man, both have created division, both have spread destruction, conflict; because through beliefs and through patriotism they separate man from man. Surely, you must go beyond these petty images created by the mind or by the hand, to find Truth, must you not? You must cease to be nationalistic however thrilling it may be, however stimulating and you must cease to belong to any particular religion in order to find Reality, must you not? As both nationalism and organized religion are inventions of the mind, of time, to understand the timeless, you must be free of time. This is extremely difficult in the modern world as the modern world is geared for war, total war, total destruction which nationalism or organized religion render inevitable; therefore a man who desires to find Truth must leave these two behind, for Truth is to be found not in an image made by the hand or by the mind, but when thought ceases; the ending of thought is the ending of time. Truth can only be understood through self - knowledge, and not by following the assertion of any leader.
Question: You have talked of exploitation as being evil. Do you not also exploit?
Krishnamurti: I am glad that you have still the capacity to criticize. It is through that we will find Truth and not by hiding behind the defence of words. Yet, most of us have erected walls of words which it is very difficult to penetrate. I am quite willing to expose myself, and I will, and you can have a great deal of fun.
What do you mean by exploitation? Have you thought about it, I wonder, or merely read about it in books and so are able to repeat to me or to yourself assertions of the left or of the right. What does exploitation mean? Does it not mean using another for your own profit either socially or psychologically? Society, as it is established at present, makes it inevitable, unfortunately, to use others; the shirt which I put on and the kurtha I am wearing are the result of exploitation and how can anyone, in a society which is constructed in this manner, cease to exploit? You understand what I mean by exploitation; using another for your own personal benefit, personal gain, personal achievement. All that I can do is to say to myself that I will have a minimum, and I have decided what my minimum shall be. It is of very little importance to me whether I have much or little. To have much is a bothersome thing, as people who have much will tell you. The limiting of the needs can only come about when the needs are not used for psychological purposes, that is, when I do not use the essentials of life as a means to psychological contentment, or psychological gratification. The use of property as a means of self-aggrandizement, I call exploitation. But exploitation ceases when I use the essentials as essentials and no more; I hope you understand that point.
Exploitation begins when needs become greed, when needs become psychological necessities. The needs which are food, clothing and shelter have very little significance in themselves except to feed one, to clothe one and shelter one. Surely exploitation ceases when the needs do not go over into the psychological field because, after all, when you examine the needs they are food, clothing and shelter and a happy man is not bothered by these, because he has other riches, he has other treasures. The man who has no other treasures, makes the sensate values predominant and this creates such havoc in the world. So, if I may be personal, as I do not use the essentials of life for psychological aggrandizement I am really not exploiting anyone. You may call me an exploiter, but in my heart I know I am not.
The problem of psychological exploitation is much more difficult. Psychologically, we depend on things, on beliefs or on ideas. That is, psychologically, things, relationship and ideas become important as long as things, relationship and ideas fill our psychological emptiness; that is, being inwardly poor, insufficient, fearful, uncertain, we seek security in things, or in relationship, or in ideas. That search for security in things, in beliefs, in ideas is the beginning of real exploitation. We know the result of seeking psychological security in things; it leads to war, to destruction, to such social chaos and degradation as exist in India and elsewhere at the present time. Things have become extraordinarily important to you, because they fill your psychological emptiness. You are the things, take away the things, where are you? So, you must have a bank account, it is your bank account, you are the owner. And in relationship too, what happens? Being psychologically empty you depend on your husband, on your wife, on your friends. So, dependence becomes very important, therefore there is jealousy, fear, possessiveness and all the bother of trying to overcome possessiveness. Similarly when you are inwardly empty, ideas and beliefs become extraordinarily important, the leader, the messenger, the saviour become important.
So, exploitation begins fundamentally, deeply, profoundly, only when you, the individual, the society, have that painful, psychological emptiness of which we are aware sometimes, but which generally is very carefully concealed. Such exploitation, psychological exploitation is far worse, because then the name matters, because then things matter, ideas matter, the thought as knowledge matters. Surely through knowledge you cannot find the Real. Only when knowledge ceases the Real is, for knowledge is merely the product of thought and thought is the result of time and that which is the product of time can never find the timeless. So, things, names and ideas become extraordinarily significant when through them you are expanding. And that expansive process is the beginning of real exploitation. You cease to exploit when you recognize the significance of property for what it is, for what it gives you, which is very little. When you see the significance of relationship for what it is and not for the gratification it gives you, and when you see the idea not as self-protection, as security, but as merely an idea, then they have their own significance and very little else because, after all, if in relationship, you seek self-expansion through gratification, relationship ceases, relationship becomes very painful. Relationship is a process of self-revelation, a means of discovering your own way of thinking, of feeling. If you use property as a means of self-expansion, then it leads to chaos, to an utterly sensate existence which is what the world leads at the present time. Trying to solve the problem of existence on its own level brings destruction and the same is true of ideation. When you use knowledge, idea, to gain psychological gratification you set man against man which again produces hatred, envy and misery. So, really exploitation takes place when there is self-expansion whether it is in the name of God or in the name of anything else. Exploitation is not swept away through legislation. You may establish a physically non-exploited world, but it will lead to exploitation on another level where the boss will still be all important. So, exploitation can be understood and really brought to an end only when you understand your own way of thinking, feeling and acting, that is, through self-knowledge you begin to perceive the utter emptiness of your own existence, which is a fact that has been covered over by ideation, by relationship, by things. When you realize that emptiness and do not try to escape from it through any means, then that which is, is transformed.
Question: What is the difference between surrendering to the will of God and what you are saying about the acceptance of what is?
Krishnamurti: Surely there is a vast difference, is there not? Surrendering to the will of God implies that you already know the will of God. You are not surrendering to something you do not know. If you know Reality, you cannot surrender to it. You cease to exist. There is no surrendering to a higher will. If you are surrendering to a higher will then that higher will is the projection of yourself, for the Real cannot be known through the known. It comes into being only when the known ceases to be. The known is a creation of the mind because thought is the result of the known, of the past and thought can only create what it knows and therefore what it knows is not the eternal. That is why when you surrender to the will of God you are surrendering to your own projection; it may be gratifying, comforting, but it is not the Real. To understand what is, demands a different process, perhaps the word process is not right but what I mean is this: to understand what is, is much more difficult, it requires greater intelligence, greater awareness, than merely to accept or give yourself over to an idea. To understand what is does not demand effort and as I pointed out in my earlier talks, effort is a distraction. To understand something, to understand what is, you cannot be distracted, can you? If I want to understand what you are saying, I cannot listen to music, to the noise of people outside, I must give my whole attention to it. So, it is extraordinarily difficult and arduous to be aware of what is, because our very thinking has become a distraction. We do not want to understand what is. We look at what is, through the spectacles of prejudices, of condemnation or of identification, and it is very arduous to remove these spectacles and to look at what is. Surely, what is, is a fact, is the Truth and all else is an escape, is not the Truth, as we said earlier this evening. To understand what is, the conflict of duality must cease, because the negative response of becoming something other than what is, is the denial of the understanding of what is. If I want to understand arrogance, I must not go into the opposite, I must not be distracted by the effort of becoming, or even by the effort of trying to understand what is. If I am arrogant, what happens? If I do not name arrogance, it ceases, which means that in the problem itself is the answer and not away from it. So, it is not a question of accepting what is, you do not accept what is, you do not accept that you are brown, because it is a fact; only when you are trying to become something else you have to accept. The moment you recognize a fact, it ceases to have any significance; but a mind that is trained to think of the past or of the future, trained to run away in multifarious directions, such a mind is incapable of understanding what is. But without understanding what is, surely you cannot find what is Real and without that understanding, life has no significance, life is a constant battle wherein pain and suffering continue. The Real can only be understood by thinking, by understanding what is. It cannot be understood if there is any condemnation or identification; the mind that is always condemning or identifying cannot understand. It can only understand that within which it is caught. The understanding of what is, being aware of what is, reveals extraordinary depths is which is Reality, happiness and joy.
The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Public Talk 14th December, 1947
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.