The Observer is the Observed
Bombay, India. Public Talk 15th February, 1948
Each Sunday I have been trying to take up a different subject and approach the problem of existence from a different point of view. I am going to try this evening to approach it from the point of view of effort, this constant battle that we make to overcome something, to succeed, to achieve, and see if we can have a brief period to comprehend the full significance of this struggle. There is so much sorrow and so little happiness in our lives. When there is happiness, the problems of power, position, and achievement, come to an end. When there is happiness, the struggle to become ceases, and the divisions between man and man are broken down. We must often have noticed, in those rare moments when we are perfectly happy, quiet, that all conflicts cease to exist. So, happiness comes only with the highest form of intelligence. Intelligence is the understanding of sor- row. We know sorrow, it is always with us, a constant companion; it seems to be without end - sorrow in different forms, at different levels, physical and psychological. We know certain remedies to overcome physical pain; but psychologically it is much more difficult. The psychological problem is much more complex, demanding greater attention and greater study, deeper penetration and wider experience; but sorrow, wherever it be, at whatever level, is still painful.
So, the problem is: Does sorrow, suffering, come to an end through effort, through a thought process? You understand, I am not for the moment talking about the physiological suffering, the painful disease, but about the psychological suffering. Does that suffering come to an end through effort, through what we call the thought process? Physical pain can be overcome by effort, by searching out the causes of disease. But psychological suffering, pain, anxiety, frustration, the innumerable aches - can they be overcome by effort, by thought. So we have first to enquire what is suffering, what is effort, and what is thought. It is a very large problem to be solved in a very short time; but if you will follow it attentively, I think it is possible to understand the significance of it; and perhaps in understanding it directly we shall be able to solve it, or rather catch a momentary glimpse of that happiness which destroys this ache, this burning loneliness and pain.
So, what is suffering? Is it not the desire to become, with its varying frustrations? Is not sorrow the outcome of the desire to be other than what one is? Do not actions based on that desire lead to disintegration, to conflict, to the neverending wave of confusion? So, sorrow, suffering, is the desire to become, the desire to be, either positively or negatively. I think we can all agree on that fundamentally. Sorrow comes into being when there is the desire to become. In that becoming, there is action, whether social action or individual action; and that action is constantly expanding itself in disintegration, in futility, in frustration, which we see about us constantly. Now, can this desire to become, which is the cause of sorrow, come to an end through effort? That is what we try to do, is it not? When we are frustrated, when there is pain, when there is sorrow, we try to overcome it, we try to battle against it. This positive or defensive attack is called effort, is it not? That is, effort exists or comes into being when there is the anxiety to change what one is. I am this, and I want to become that. This change, this movement of changing this into that, is called effort. Now, what is change, what is changing - not the dictionary meaning, but the inner significance of it? Surely, change is a modified continuity, I am this, and I want to become that; that is, I want to become the opposite of what I am. But the opposite is the continuity of what I am in a different form. So, the opposite, in which there is always effort, is the modified continuity of its own opposite. Non-greed is the modified continuity of greed; it is still greed, only under a different name, because in it becoming is implied, and this becoming, in which effort is involved, is the cause of sorrow. We see that effort implies continuity in a modified form. And can thought, can the thought process, bring sorrow to an end?
Probably this is all rather abstract and difficult, but we will simplify it as I begin to answer questions about it. But I think we will have to lay the abstract before us, and then build structurally, concretely; and we will do that when we understand the principle of this problem of suffering - whether suffering can be overcome through effort which creates the opposite, and whether suffering, which is the desire to become something here or hereafter, can be brought to an end by thought. Now, what is thinking? When you say,`I am thinking', what does it mean? You are trying to solve the problem of sorrow through thought; and can thought put an end to pain, to psychological anxiety, to fear, and so on? So, what is thinking? Surely, thinking is the response of memory; if you had no memory, you would not be capable of thinking. Memory is the residue of experience - experience which is not completely, fully understood. When you understand something completely, fully, it leaves no mark. Only the undigested, incomplete experience leaves a mark, which we call memory. So, thinking is the response of memory; and when you try to solve the problem of suffering through thought, thought being the response of memory, surely there is no solution; because memory is the continuity of effort. This is not a cleverly worked out puzzle; but if you think about it, you will see that three things are involved in your process of dealing with pain: effort, thought, and memory. Don't memorize it - watch it operating in your daily life, and you will see. You don't have to read philosophical books; but, if you will watch yourself when there is anxiety, when there is pain, you will see these three things at work. And can these things overcome, dissolve, the pain, the sorrow? Obviously they cannot, because the thought process is merely the outcome of incomplete understanding, and change is merely modified continuity, which creates the opposite. So, our problem is to find out what can put an end to sorrow, what can bring about that state of happiness, which is obviously not the result of effort. I don't know if you have ever tried to be happy. Surely, you have never succeeded when you tried to be happy. Happiness comes into being spontaneously, uninvited. So, it cannot be a result of effort and if we seek happiness by getting rid of sorrow, then we will not understand, put an end to sorrow without the thought process, without effort? Because effort implies, as pointed out, the creating of duality, of the opposites; and what is opposite is still within the field of its own opposite. So, what puts an end to sorrow? When you understand the process of thought, the process of effort, the process of memory, when you really understand, as I have explained, when you are aware of these three processes, then what happens? When you are aware of something, what is your exact experience? Surely, when you are aware of something, there is no condemnatory attitude, is there? There is no justifying or identifying. You are simply aware. I am aware of that green, of those birds flying. In that awareness, there is no condemnation, there is no justification. Now, if you are aware of sorrow without the three processes at work trying to overcome it, if you are aware without condemnation then you will see there comes alert passivity, a passive awareness without any demand. You are very alert; there is no part of your being which is asleep, because you have explored, as we said, the whole process of memory, thought, effort, and therefore you are fully aware; and in that awareness there is a perceptivity, a quiet, a stillness, an observation. Without a prejudice, without a demand; and then you will find that sorrow comes to an end. But such awareness demands an extraordinarily persistent watchfulness to see how the mind works when there is suffering, to follow the swift movement of every thought and thereby comprehend the whole process of effort, of thought and of memory.
Question: You say love is chaste. Do you mean it is celibate?
Krishnamurti: Now, we are going to explore this problem and see the implications in it. So, please don't be on the offensive or the defensive; because, to understand you must explore, and exploration ceases when you are biased, when you are tethered to a tradition or to a belief. It is like an animal tied to a stake: it cannot wander far, and you must wander far to discover what is truth. You must go very deeply to find the truth of any problem; but, if you are anchored in a haven of belief, of tradition, or of prejudice, then you will never find the truth of any problem. So, please, for this evening at least, let us explore together without being anchored - which is quite an arduous task in itself. Because, when you are prejudiced, surely the problem is distorted, and therefore the answer is also distorted; and to find the answer, one must study the problem without distortion, either defensive or offensive, either negative or positive. So, we are going to examine the problem together and see where it leads us.
In this question is involved the whole complex issue of sex. Religious teachers, traditional systems, have forbidden sexual intercourse, saying that it prevents man from realizing the highest, that you must be celibate in order to find God, truth, or whatever it be. Now, traditionally, that is what is generally accepted. But, if we want to find the truth of a problem, tradition and authority have no meaning. On the contrary, they become a hindrance - which does not mean that man must become licentious. Truth is not found in the opposite, for the opposite is the continuity of its own opposite. The antithesis is the continuation of the thesis in a different form. So, to find the truth of this matter, we must approach it very carefully, without the bias of tradition, without the fear of authority, and without the sneaking pleasure of indulgence. We must look at it and see its full significance.
First of all, why has sex become a problem to most of us? Why is it that practically everywhere in the world at the present time-it is one of the most extraordinary facts - men and women are caught in this sensate pleasure? Why is it that it has become such an intense, burning problem? If we do not understand that, we shall either condemn it or indulge in it. I am not saying it is right or wrong - that would be a stupid way of regarding the problem. Must you be a celibate because the books say so? Must you lead a riotous life because other books say so? To think out the problem, we must think of it anew; and to think of it anew, we must leave the well-charted lines of the old. So, the problem is: Why is it that sex has become such a burning issue? First, obviously, because it is being stimulated by every possible means in modern society; every newspaper, every magazine, the cinemas and pictures, stimulate eroticism.The tradesman employs a woman to attract your attention, to make you buy a pair of shoes, or God knows what. So, through stimulation we are being bombarded with sex all the time. That is one fact. And society, civilization at the present time, is essentially the outcome of sensate value. Things, mundane things, have become extraordinarily important in our lives; position, wealth, name, have become of vital significance, because they are means to power, means to so-called freedom. Sensory values have become predominantly significant in our lives, and that is also one of the reasons for this overwhelming problem of sex. In thought, in feeling, you have ceased to be creative; you are just imitative machines, aren't you? Your religion is merely habit, following authority, tradition and fear, copying the book, following the rule, the example, the ideal. It has become a routine. Religion is merely mumbling words, going to the temple, or practicing a discipline - -which is all repetitive, copying, imitative, habit forming. And what happens to your mind and to your heart when you are merely imitative? Naturally, they wither, do they not? The mind, which must be swift, capable of deep penetration, deep understanding, has been made into a mere machine, a record-player which imitates, copies, follows. It has ceased to be a mind, and your religion has become a matter of belief. Therefore, emotionally, inwardly, there is no creation, there is no creative response - only dullness, emptiness. The same is true of thought. What is your thinking, what is your existence? A hollow, empty routine, isn't it? - earning money, playing cards, going to cinemas, reading a few cheap books or very, very cultured ones. Again, what is that? Is it not also just a repetitive machine functioning without depth, without thought, without compassion, without vulnerability? How can such a mind be creative? So, what happens to your life? You are uncreative, unthoughtful, unmindful, imitating, copying; so naturally the only pleasure left to you is sex, which becomes your escape; therefore, being your only release, you are caught in it, and so there is the eternal question of how to get out. And your ideals, your disciplines, will not get you out. You may suppress it, you may hold it in, but that is not living creatively, happily, purely, nobly - it is living in constant fear. Sex is one of the ways of self-forgetfulness; in sex you momentarily forget yourself; and because you live so superficially, so imitatively, sex is the only thing left to you, so it becomes a problem. And naturally, when sex is the only thing left, there is no life.
We are not trying to solve the problem, we are trying to understand it; and in understanding it fully, we shall find the answer. To the many serious problems of life, there are no categorical answers, yes or no; but, in understanding the problem itself, we shall find the answer. The answer is that the problem will exist as long as there is no creativeness, as long as you are not free from imitation, from habit, as long as the mind is caught in mere repetition, in the mere earning of money - which is a ruthless existence. In merely repeating, chanting, and all the rest of it there can be no creativeness. There is creativeness only through the release of creative thinking, creative being, creative existence, which means bringing about a radical revolution in our living - not a verbal revolution, but an inward revolution, a complete transformation of our lives. Then only will this problem have a different meaning; then life itself will have a different significance. Those who are trying to be celibate as a means of achieving reality, God - they are unchaste, they are ignoble, because their hearts are dry. Surely, without love, there cannot be purity, and a pure heart alone can find reality - not a disciplined heart, not a suppressed heart, not a distorted heart, but a heart that knows what it is to love. But you cannot love if you are caught in a habit, either religious or physical, psychological or sensate. So, a man who is trying to be a celibate can never understand reality; for to him celibacy is merely the imitation of an example, an ideal; and the imitation of an ideal is merely copying, therefore it is uncreative. But a man who knows how to love, how to be kind, how to be generous, how to give himself over to something completely without thought of self, that man knows love; and such love is chaste. Where there is such love the problem ceases to be.
Question: You say the present crisis is without precedent. In what way is it exceptional?
Krishnamurti: I do all the thinking, and you do all the listening - it is too bad. Sir, there is a danger in all these meetings that you merely become the audience and I become the talker. That is what has happened in the world. You all go to football and cricket games, or to the cinema. Others are acting, others are playing, but never you. You have become uncreative - that is why you have so many destructive problems gnawing at your heart. So, don't please, if I may suggest, become the audience here - that would be too bad, and would have no meaning. It is so easy to listen to somebody else talking, so easy to read books which somebody else has written; but, if there were no books, if there were no preachers, you would have to think out your own problems, and then you would be extremely creative, would you not? That is what we are trying to do here. Fortunately, I have not read books, religious scriptures; but you have, and unfortunately, your minds are stuffed with other people's ideas - and that is your difficulty. Your difficulty is that you are not thinking, or you are thinking through other people's formulas, ideas, sayings, quotations. Therefore, you are really not thinking at all. These talks will be of no significance whatever if you merely become the observers, the listeners; because, you will find that I am not giving any answer to any problem. That would be too easy, that would be too stupid - to say yes or no to any issue. But, if we think out the problem together, easily, sanely, without being anchored to any prejudice, then we shall find the significance of the problem; then there will be creative happiness in the search. Surely, Sir, that search itself is devotion - not to an image, to an idea, but there is devotion in the very search of the problem and its meaning. There is joy, there is creative ecstasy, in finding out what is true; but if we merely listen, words have very little meaning. The word is not the thing; to find the thing, you must go beyond the word.
Surely, the present crisis is exceptional, is it not? Not because I say so - I will say many things, but it will not be true if you merely repeat it. Propaganda is a lie, repetition is a lie. Obviously, the present crisis throughout the world is exceptional, without precedent. There have been crises of varying types at different periods throughout history, social, national, political. Crises come and go; economic recessions, depressions come, get modified, and continue in a different form. We know that, we are familiar with that process. But surely, the present crisis is different, is it not? It is different first because we are dealing, not with money, not with tangible things, but with ideas. The crisis is exceptional because it is in the field of ideation. We are quarrelling with ideas, we are justifying murder; in this country, as everywhere else in the world, we are justifying murder as a means to a righteous end, which in itself is unprecedented. Before, evil was recognized to be evil, murder was recognized to be murder; but now, murder is a means to achieve a noble result. Murder, whether of one person or of a group of people, is justified, because the murderer, or the group that the murderer represents, justifies it as a means of achieving a result which will be beneficial to man. That is, we sacrifice the present for the future - and it does not matter what means we employ as long as our declared purpose is to produce a result which will be beneficial to man. Therefore, the implication is that a wrong means will produce a right end, and you justify the wrong means through ideation. In the various crises that have taken place before the issue has been the exploitation of things or of man; but it is now the exploitation of ideas, which is much more pernicious, much more dangerous, because the exploitation of ideas is so devastating, so destructive. We have learned now the power of propaganda, and that is one of the greatest calamities that can happen: to use ideas as a means to transform man. Surely that is what is happening in the world today. Man is not important - systems ideas, have become important. Man no longer has any significance. We can destroy millions of men as long as we produce a result, and the result is justified by ideas. We have a magnificent structure of ideas to justify evil; and, surely, that is unprecedented. Evil is evil, it cannot bring about good. War is not a means to peace. War may bring about secondary benefits, like more efficient airplanes, but it will not bring peace to man. War is intellectually justified as a means of bringing peace; and when the intellect has the upper hand in human life, it brings about an unprecedented crisis.
There are other causes also which indicate an unprecedented crisis. One of them is the extraordinary importance man is giving to sensate values, to property, to name, to caste and country, to the particular label you wear. You are either a Mohammedan or a Hindu, a Christian or a communist. Name and property, caste and country, have become predominantly important, which means that man is caught in sensate value, the value of things, whether made by the mind or by the hand. Things made by the hand or by the mind have become so important that we are killing, destroying, butchering, liquidating each other because of them. We are nearing the edge of a precipice; every action is leading us there, every political, every economic action is bringing us inevitably to the precipice, dragging us into this chaotic, confusing abyss. So, the crisis is unprecedented, and it demands unprecedented action. To leave, to step out of that crisis, needs a timeless action, an action which is not based on idea, on system; because any action which is based on a system, on an idea, will inevitably lead to frustration. Such action merely brings us back to the abyss by a different route. So, as the crisis is unprecedented, there must also be unprecedented action, which means that the regeneration of the individual must be instantaneous, not a process of time. It must take place now, not tomorrow; for tomorrow is of transforming myself tomorrow, I invite confusion, I am still within the field of destruction. And is it possible to change now? Is it possible to completely transform oneself in the immediate, in the now? I say it is. To do that, to transform oneself immediately, now, demands a certain close following of all that I am saying; because understanding is always in the present, not in the future. I have already talked a little about this, and we will discuss it as we go along during the many Sundays to come.
The point is that, as the crisis is of an exceptional character, to meet it there must be revolution in thinking; and this revolution cannot take place through another, through any book, through any organization. It must come through us, through each one of us. Only then can we create a new society, a new structure away from this horror, away from these extraordinarily destructive forces that are being accumulated, piled up; and that transformation comes into being only when you as an individual begin to be aware of yourself in every thought, action, and feeling.
Question: Are there no perfect gurus who have nothing for the greedy seeker of eternal security, but who guide visibly or invisibly a loving heart?
Krishnamurti: Now, this question, whether one needs a guru, is put over and over again in different forms. Sirs, the vast majority of you have gurus - that is one of the most extraordinary things here. So, for this evening at least, put them aside and let us investigate the problem. The questioner asks: `Does a loving heart need a guide?' Do you understand? Surely, a loving heart needs no guide, for love itself is the real, the eternal. A loving heart is generous, kind, unreserved, withholding nothing, and such a heart knows the real; it knows that which is without a beginning and without an end. But most of us have no such heart. Our hearts are dry, empty, making a lot of noise. Our hearts are filled with the things of the mind. And as our hearts are empty, we go to another to fill them. We go to another seeking that eternal security which we call God; we go to another to find that permanent gratification which we call reality. Because our own hearts are dry, we are seeking a guru who will fill them. Can anyone, whether visible or invisible, fill your heart? Your gurus give you disciplines, practices; they don't tell you how to think, but rather what to think. And what happens? You practise, you meditate, you discipline, you conform yourself, and yet your heart remains dull, empty and unloving; you discipline yourself and tyrannize your family. Do you think that by meditating, disciplining yourself, you will know love? Sir, without love, you cannot find reality, can you? Without being tender, gentle, considerate, how can you know the real? And can anyone teach you how to love? Surely, love is not a technique. Through technique, you cannot know it, can you? You will know every other thing, but not love, So, you can never know reality through any discipline, through any practice, through any conformity; because, conformity, discipline, practice, is repetition, which dulls the mind, freezes the heart - and that is what you want. You want to make your mind dull, because your mind is restless, wandering, active, incessantly striving; and not understanding this restless mind, you want to smother it, you want to discipline it according to your pattern, you want to force it according to a set of rules and regulations, and thereby you strangulate the mind, make the mind utterly dull. That is what is happening, is it not? Look at your mind: How dull it is, how insensitive, because you have pursued the gurus so long. It has become a habit, a routine, to go from one guru to another. Each guru tells you to do something, and you do it till you find it unsatisfactory, and then you go over to somebody else, thereby exhausting your mind by this constant use; for that which is constantly used is worn out. What you are really seeking in a guru is not understanding, but gratification, permanent security, which you call the eternal, God, the real, truth, or what you will. And since you seek gratification, you will find a guru who will gratify you; but surely, that is not understanding, it does not bring happiness, it does not bring love. On the contrary, it destroys love. Love is something new, eternal from moment to moment. It is never the same, never as it was before; and without its perfume, without its beauty and its goodness, to search through a guru for that which you must find out for yourself is utterly useless. So, our problem is not whether a visible or invisible guru will help us, but how to bring about that state of being in which we know what love is. For love is virtue, and virtue is not a practice; but virtue brings freedom. And it is only when there is freedom that the eternal can come into being.
So, our question is, how is it possible for a dull mind, an empty heart, to come to love, to be sensitive, to know the beauty, the richness of love? First, you must be aware that your mind is dull, that your thought process has no significance. You must be aware that your heart is empty without finding excuses for it, without justifying or condemning it. Just be aware, try it, Sirs. Be aware and see if your mind is not dull, if your heart is not empty; though you are married, have children and possessions, is it not empty? Aren't you empty? Your mind is dull, though you know all the religious books; though your mind is an encyclopedia, full of information, it is dull, weary, exhausted. Just be aware, be passively aware without condemning without justifying; be open to dis- cover how dull, how weary your mind is and also that your heart is empty, lonely and aching. I am not mesmerizing you - just be aware of all this and you will see, if you are passively aware, that there comes a transformation, an extraordinarily quick response; and in that response, you will know what it is to love. In that response, there is stillness, there is quiet; and in that quiet you will find the indescribable, the unutterable.
The Observer is the Observed
Bombay, India. Public Talk 15th February, 1948
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.