The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Group Discussion 23rd December, 1947
Relationship, as it exists now, is one series of conflicts, giving in at one time and getting upset at another time and so on. It is a constant battle between yourself and your wife, between yourself and society, a constant friction, maladjustment, struggle and contradiction between two people.
We are not discussing what should be the ideal form of relationship. The ideal is a real curse because it really prevents you from understanding what is; if you accept and work towards an idea, you merely conform, without understanding the significance of relationship; you do not understand what your relationship actually is and what it means. Are you at all "related", you and your wife, or your neighbour and yourself? Though you live together and have children though you wrangle and fight, is there any "relationship" between you and your wife? If you examine yourself, you will see that your whole intention,your whole pursuit, is an isolating process. Each one is isolating himself or herself, in possession, in name, in power, in money; each one builds a wall around oneself and says "I am related". We look over the enclosing walls occasionally when it is suitable and convenient; but, most of the time, we lurk behind the walls. This process of isolation is considered "relationship"!
In daily life, we are isolating ourselves by our activities; we are separating ourselves through function - the bank clerk and the manager, the labourer and the executive, the priest and the bishop, the man in the street and the rich man, the ignorant and the learned, and so on. We are constantly erecting enclosing walls around ourselves, and yet we try to be "related". When there is this constant erection of walls and isolation, conflict is inevitable. The more one is enclosing, the more the struggle and the violence.
Is this isolation by the erection of the enclosing wall a natural process like the fall of an apple from the tree, or is it the result of influence by society? You are now aware that you are building the wall. Having built and being caught in the process of building the wall, your intelligence says that you should be rid of this wall. To get rid of this wall, you must first find out why you are building the wall. If you understand the truth of this, you do not have to 'struggle not to build' and you will never build the wall again. Is this isolation a form of self-protection? Is self-protection natural? Obviously it is. If you do not protect yourself in regard to food, clothing and shelter, there may be no existence at all. Physically and biologically, there must be self-protection against rain, against sunshine, etc. But, when that self-protection becomes a psychological necessity, then it becomes exploitation and all the rest of it.
When your neighbour and yourself are each behind his own wall, how can you understand each other? Why do you erect these separating walls psychologically? How will you get rid of these walls?
First of all, you are aware that you are building walls, psychologically, around yourself. Then, you enquire if such building is natural, instinctive and therefore inevitable. You do not protect yourself psychologically to be safe outwardly - name, property, bank account, etc.- but in order to be safe inwardly, in order to give you an assurance of self-protection inside.
Some protection of you outwardly, in the form of food, clothing and shelter, is necessary; but you increase the protection of yourself outwardly in things in order to be secure inwardly. Because you are inwardly incapable of protecting yourself and therefore inwardly uncertain, you depend on outward things. You can only protect yourself inwardly with ideas, values which the mind gives with regard to things made by the hand or made by the mind. Also, you can only protect yourself in relation to an outside object. You have no inward actions or perceptions which are apart from outward things and which would render outward things as of no significance. There is no inward protection by itself.
What is the nature of the enclosing wall around you, which gives you psychological protection in relation to your neighbour, your wife and your society? The wall you build around yourself psychologically consists of the values you give to things made either by the hand or by the mind, i.e. of your ideation. These values are merely the outcome of the pleasure or the pain felt by you through your senses, i.e. the outcome of sensory values. They have no substance behind them except the significance or value you give them. In protecting yourself outwardly, you say you can use the outward things to protect you inwardly. You can use property as a means of psychological protection. Property in itself is just a piece of land which can give you food; you give that property a significance which it has not, and with that significance you protect yourself.
So, the trouble does not lie in outward things which are all made by the hand or by the mind. The trouble is because you use those things as a means of self-protection; and therefore, you give to them values which they do not possess and, with those values, you are inwardly protecting yourself. The fact is that those values in themselves are non-existent but are merely created by your mind. Therefore, the outward things made by the hand and the beliefs made by the mind become extraordinarily important and you cling to them both because, with the values you give them, you protect yourself psychologically. What an extraordinary transformation you have made in yourself! Things made by the mind are illusory because they, beliefs, can project themselves into visions and experiences - you believe or you like to believe in the Master, and you can experience the Master. It is very simple; you want to see a vision and you see a vision, pleasant or unpleasant. It is all the projection of the mind.
So, you have discovered from this process that, through sensory perceptions, you are protecting something which is not sensory, something which you do not know.
What are you protecting behind your enclosing wall? Protecting implies that there is something which can be protected. In other words, what is that something which you are trying to protect by your values with regard to things made by the hand or by the mind? Is there anything behind the wall? You are building and erection of valuations; what is behind that wall of valuations?
To enquire if there is anything behind the wall, what is the instrument with which you are enquiring? The instrument is the outcome of the things made by the hand or by the mind, which is the wall. To find out what is behind the wall, you have to climb over the wall or go through the wall.
What are you protecting with extraordinary care everyday, struggling, cheating ruthlessly, brutally, violently, deceitfully and cunningly? When you say you are protecting your- self, you are merely protecting the wall which you have built up. So your consideration is how to strengthen the wall and not to protect something. To find out what is behind the wall, the wall must cease. You do not know what is behind the wall and therefore you are not protecting the thing behind the wall, but only the wall which you know, which is your valuation. The positive value is the wall; you do not like that and you would like to be something else.
When you are talking about protecting you do not know what you are protecting. But, you do know that the wall exists. So, perhaps you are protecting the wall, because the value is the wall, either positive value or negative value. So, you are keeping a wall, positively or negatively, as a means of protecting; and on enquiring what you are protecting, you do not know. You see the wall only and not the something behind it. Perhaps if you know what is inside the enclosure, it may not be necessary to protect at all; or perhaps there is nothing to protect.
Without knowing what is behind the wall, it is absurd your protecting or building a wall. you only know the wall. You do not know anything about protection. Therefore, the word 'protection' has gone out of your thought, and all that remains is the wall, not the idea to protect something. You are not using the word 'protection' any more because 'to protect' means 'to protect something'; and as you do not know that something you are not going to protect. All that you are now left with is the wall and not 'protection'. But the wall is made of the valuation by the valuer. So, the wall is the valuer and the valuation.
You are protecting something which you do not know. If you know what you are protecting, that may not need any protection,. So it is a foolish action that you are doing. Therefore, you will neither protect nor destroy; and you are only left with the wall and not with the idea of protection. The wall was created out of things made by the mind; therefore, the mind is the wall. The wall is made out of the mind's tricks and valuations. As the mind is the creator of the values, the values are the mind.
What is 'me'? 'Me" is the product of desire in relation to the object of desire. A challenge and the response to the challenge constitute an experience. When the response is con- ditioned, the experience leaves a residue which is memory. 'Me' is 'memories', the accumulated residue of experiences, with which evaluation is made, the sum total of the qualities. So, the 'me' which is protecting the wall, is the wall, i.e. the qualifier evaluating things is the wall. Therefore, the wall is the 'me', the thinker, the thought, the valuation.
The 'me', the accumulated residue of experience, is pleasurable in part and painful. The thinker wants to avoid the painful; he finds the thoughts can be changed. So, hoping to be permanent and unchanging, he separates himself from the thoughts and talks of "I change my thoughts", thus playing a trick on himself, because the separation is not real but only fictitious. When attacked, the thinker tries to seek identification with "higher self", and when that is attacked, he identifies himself with Atman, with Paramatman, then with... ... ...
The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Group Discussion 23rd 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.