The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Group Discussion 27th December, 1947
These discussions are really meant to be a means of self-knowledge, to discover ourselves are we are talking - not afterwards but as we go along step by step -and to experience directly what is being said, so that we could relate what we are talking to our daily life.
We were discussing the idea of separating ourselves in our relationship, how we are building walls of isolation and thinking we are "related" to each other; how the sensate values become predominant when money, property, things are used as a means of isolation; how in relationship between you and another - which relationship creates the society - there is conflict ; that this constant battle between you and me and between you and society is due to our merely looking at each other over the walls of isolation, which we have deliberately built in order to isolate ourselves as much as we can; that this isolation is a form of self-protection, and that these walls are built by the 'me', the thinker who is not really different from the thought, though we have taken it for granted that thought is separate and that the thinker remains aloof and transforms thought.
We also discussed why we do not see the depth of such a serious problem as the thinker and the thought are one, whether it is because we are asleep, or because we don't want to go deeply into the matter, as, if we do it will mean a revolution in thinking and therefore in action. If the thinker and the thought are one, the thinker has to alter himself fundamentally, and not merely the frame of his picture which is thinking. So, the thinker plays an insidious and clever trick on himself and separates himself from the thought and then does something about thought.
To discuss this, you must find out what desire is and how desire or craving arises. Desire comes through perception, contact, sensation and identification. So there is the 'me', the person who chooses. The 'me', the thinker, is born our of desire, and he does not exist previous to desire. In your everyday experience, the thinker is separate from the thought, i.e. the thought is outside you as it were, and you can do something about it, you can modify it and recondition it. Is the thinker really separate from the thought?
How does the 'thinker' come into being? You are the result of your father and mother. How did you begin to think and feel as a child? You wanted milk, there was a sensation of hunger; then the contact with the bottle or the breast, and the struggle to feed, to grow, and then the toy, the impingement of society on the mind, and gradually, the 'I' comes out. Therefore, it is perception, sensation, contact and the desire from which is 'my mother,' 'my toy,' which grows to 'my bank account', 'my house', and so on. So the thinker, the 'me' comes through perception, contact, sensation and desire from which arises consciousness; the thinker then separates himself, for his own further security, as the high and the low, the high becoming the Paramatman and the low becoming this existence. When this existence is threatened, the thinker can always retire into the more permanent.
You are the sum total of all the human existence. As you are a Hindu, you are the result of all Hindus; you are the result of your father, not only biologically, but in thought, in your beliefs, and so on. The 'I' comes into being through desire; then the 'I' feels established and creates the desire which is outward, the desire and 'I' thus becoming two separate entities, which means that the thinker and the thought are separate. Craving continuity, the thinker separates himself from the thought, and thinks that thought is changeable, modifiable, can be destroyed and replaced. If the thinker is the thought, then the thinker also can be changed, which means he has to admit his impermanency - which he does not like. All our actions in society are based on the idea that the 'I' is the permanent and the thought is the impermanent. We know very well the impermanency of matter. Property can be taken away from you when Communism comes, or when you lose it by speculation. Because thought is seeking permanency, it says "I will go to a higher level of consciousness or a deep level which is my belief, which is my God", and goes higher and higher to be more and more permanent. When this trick is understood, it is gone, and the thinker and the thought are one. Then, there will be a revolution in our daily life.
You admit that the thinker and the thought are one and yet there is no change in your way of living. Why? Either you are asleep which means you don't want to be disturbed, or there is an inward resistance. Now, how can we dissolve the resistance? Not by overcoming it, not by disciplining it away, but by understanding it. The moment you understand it, it drops away. What do you mean by resistance? You accept the idea on the superficial layer of your consciousness and the rest of your consciousness is resisting it. You are resisting any change. That is, you are resisting the acceptance of 'what is'; 'what is' is that the thinker and the thought are one. You superficially say "Yes", but the rest of your consciousness is resisting it, because the unconscious sees the tremendous implications in the acceptance of 'what is'. You are afraid to lose yourself - yourself meaning your property, your status now, your belief and your son. So you are resisting in order not to lose what you are protecting, in order to guard it. This means you are resisting the destruction of ideas, relationship and things made by the hand or by the mind; you are resisting the dissolution of the identification with things, with name, with property, and so on. The house, the property, is the value which the mind gives; otherwise the house has no meaning; and things made by the mind are also the values given by the mind. You are afraid that, by not identifying with the valuations of the mind, there will be an end; and so, you are resisting their end or destruction.
You are defending the valuations which you have created, lest they should be destroyed; the valuations are created through desires, which is the mind. So, you are resisting the destruction of valuations which have come into being through thought, the thought being the result of the desire - i.e. the desire creates the thinker, the thinker evaluates and then offers resistance to the destruction of those things which he has built up. So the thinker is resisting 'what is' and the impingement of new desires. The values are created by the mind whether of things or of ideas. So, it is afraid to lose the valuation which it has created and to which it is attached. You bring a new idea and the mind does not want to have it because it is disturbing the things which it has already built.
The thinker is resisting, not with things but with ideas which are transitory in themselves. So, your resistance is transitory. You are resisting the dissolution of valuations which are thoughts and thought is transitory. Things have no significance except what the mind gives; in their very nature they are transitory; and yet the mind clings to them and to the significance it gives them. In other words, the thinker creates evaluations and then, in examining them, finds that these evaluations are transitory, and that he is resisting the destruction of the transitory because he is seeking permanency in them. In other words, you recognise that they are all impermanent and yet you are seeking permanency in them because, by your valuation, you have given them permanency. When you recognise the absurdity of giving permanency to things which have no permanency, it drops away - just as when you know that all the banks are bad, you don't go to any bank. All things made by the hand or by the mind are in their very nature transitory because the mind alone gives values to them, transitory for the simple reason that thought is transitory and thought is the thinker. Now, you, the thinker, are asking,"Is there permanency?" because it is what you want. You are the result of desire which is impermanent. The impermanent is asking to find out the truth of permanency. The mind which has been seeking permanency has vested permanency in things made by the hand or by the mind, and it finds that they are impermanent; and yet it says it must have permanency.
Can the impermanent find the permanent? If I am blind can I see the light? If I am ignorant can I know enlightenment? There can only be enlightenment when ignorance ceases. The transitory cannot find the permanent; it must cease for the permanent to be. The person who is seeking permanency is obviously impermanent; you cannot say he is permanent. He is the outcome of transitory desire and therefore, in himself, he is transitory - which he does not acknowledge.
Property is impermanent. Relationship is impermanent. Belief is impermanent. Therefore, seeing everything around as impermanent and as transitory, the mind says that there must be something permanent, though there is no inherent permanency. Your permanency is born out of impermanency and is therefore the opposite of impermanency; therefore it has the seed of its opposite which is transitory. When you treat impermanency as impermanent then there is nothing; but when you are seeking permanency as an opposite to transitory, the permanency itself is transitory. So you are resisting the acknowledgment of the fact that whatever you do, think and feel is impermanent, though you know very well that they are impermanent. This is another trick of the mind. So, you recognise the trick that the mind is seeking permanency in opposition to the transitory - namely that whatever you do is impermanent; and yet you are seeking permanency. Being transitory yourself, you can never find permanency, because you will evaluate "permanency" and all your valuations are transitory. the impermanent can never find the permanent.
When you realise this, you do not seek permanency through things, through relationship and through ideas. Therefore, there is no valuation and you accept them at their level. Therefore you have no conflict with them. There is a great relief if the mind is not giving values of permanency to things which have no permanency. If you say property, family and things are necessary but not as a means for permanency, then there is no conflict. It does not matter who owns the house; you use it merely as a means of protection, not as a means of self-expansion through the search for permanency. Therefore the mind, the 'thinker' as the 'evaluator', is non-existent. When the thinker ceases to create value, perhaps something else will come into being. But, as long as the thinker exists there must be the evaluation. His values are impermanent. Therefore, if the thinker is seeking permanency, he must cease, because he is the mischief-maker and is reducing to chaos the relationship with society and with property. So your problem then is how the thinker can come to an end, how the thinking process can end.
Someone says that there will be no progress at all if the thinker ceases to exist. The word "progress" was first introduced by the industrialists in the eighteenth century in England because they wanted to make the people buy more. Progress means time. Through time, do you understand anything? You can only understand now, not tomorrow. Therefore, understanding is independent of time. So, how is the thinker to come to an end? If he does, life becomes extraordinarily marvellous and there is no conflict with things. As the thinker is the result of desire, this means that desires must come to an end. Can desire come to an end? What do you mean by desire? Perception, contact, sensation and desire. "I must have " food, "I must have" clothes, "I must have" shelter. Those are imperative 'musts'; though there are certain desires involved in them, they are necessary. But the desire or the craving for things, for family, for name, for beliefs must cease. If it ceases, what will happen to my relationship? Desire is the very expression of attachment. When I use my wife as a means of psychological necessity, then there is attachment; when she helps me to cover up my loneliness, then I am attached. Then, she is mine. Similarly, belief becomes necessary when I am attached to it, whether it is belief in religion, or belief in an economic system. So desire can come to an end only when there is no attachment. And can I live in the world without attachment? Obviously I can. The moment I am attached it is an indication of desire - desire which is impermanent and which creates the thinker who evaluates. It is only when it ends, that you can find out if there is permanency or not. Without that, any talk of belief is puerile. I have shown you how to stop thinking. If thinking ceases, then there would be a great quickening, and a revolution would take place inside you.
The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Group Discussion 27th 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.