The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Group Discussion 11th April, 1948
As these discussions will be for about three weeks, I would like, if I may, to go to the root of the problem direct and not beat about the bush. To deal with the problem directly, we must take a general view of the world's affairs; then, we can see the deterioration of the world's condition. Obviously, a social revolution, a revolution in the values of society, cannot take place; when we attempt to change society, such a change will only be a modified continuity. So, as long as we are looking to a social structure to be changed, including the leftist revolution in the outward structure of society, such a change will not be a revolution. Society is always static; only in the individual can there be a radical revolution. Leftists, Marxists, and Socialists regard revolution as an outward transformation; this really is mere change or modified continuity which implies a pattern, adjustment to a pattern, or a preconceived pattern which needs adjustment; therefore, it is not a revolution. Every social change which we all want, is only a modified continuity of 'what is' and not a revolution.
Question: Will you please explain modified continuity?
Krishnamurti: Change implies modified continuity. What do you mean by change? It is a change from this to that. To bring about a change implies an end in view. I am this and I want to be that. The society is this and I want it to be changed into that. Therefore, change is preconceived, an action within a pattern; it is only a modification in the same field.
When we say we want a change, a social change, does it not imply a change towards the known - intellectual, factual or utopian? Is that a radical transformation, or a continuation in the same field though in a different direction?
Question: Is not a revolution a hop within the same framework?
Krishnamurti: Surely not. What do we mean by change? When the Communists, Fascists or Socialists demand a change, what do they mean? Any change of pattern of action is still within the known pattern and therefore a modified continuity.
Our problem is therefore entirely different. Transformation is not modified continuity but quite a different process. To understand what complete transformation means, we must understand what change means.
Question: Is change what is intended by a human being or what happens without any intention on the part of man, just like that due to industrialization for instance? Can't we have a change of the outer without a change in the inner?
Krishnamurti: Any change which we desire is a modified continuity of the same thing as now exists. For instance, when we deliberately set about to change the present system in regard to the outer conditions leading to war, is not all such change the same thing continued in a different form? We want a continuity of what we like and a discontinuity of what we do not like.
Question: Is biological growth a change?
Krishnamurti: The growth of a tree is not a change but a growth of the same tree. Obviously, we are referring only to changes due to human action and not to what occurs in nature. Mere social transformation, i.e., changing the outer into something else is not a revolution; it is merely a change which is modified continuity.
Society is static. The individual only is creative and not society. When the individual thinks in terms of change, change being only modified continuity, whatever the individual creates will be static. The moment an act is complete, it is static. If the relationship between two individuals be mere static adjustment, it produces a society which is static. If the relationship is revolutionary and based on a different sense of values, then the individual will be creative. Therefore, continuous revolution is in relationship with people; and one has to start with oneself, the individual, and not with the society.
When one thinks of change of the society, such a change will only be a modification, however violent it may appear. This is what is taking place in the world. The opposite is invariably the continuity of the same in a different form, whether political or otherwise. Therefore, revolution can start only with the individual, with the 'me'.
Question: Is the opposite a continuity of 'what is'?
Krishnamurti: I do not want to go into this now.
When we talk about social revolution, we have to understand what is meant by 'change'. For instance, the word 'cap' is called by different names in different countries; but, there is always a cap, as referent. Change implies that there is a referent. Therefore, whenever there is a referent, there must always be the known. How can the 'known' be changed except into the 'further known'?
Question: So far as the individual is concerned, is not change modified continuity?
Krishnamurti: An individual alone can be in a continuous state of revolution, but not society. Any change in society is only a modified continuity. Transformation must be always immediate and not left to time, i.e., to tomorrow. There is no transformation in time, but there is only modified continuity. Time cannot produce revolution or regeneration.
Is not transformation the immediate question and cannot you and I immediately transform? If we cannot, what is it that prevents immediate transformation? To be transformed in the future is a contradiction.
What prevents us from immediately transforming ourselves? We understand something now or never. Understanding is always in the Now and not in To-morrow. Why is that you and I are incapable of immediate transformation? What prevents this? Why do we not see this clearly?
Question: Is there transformation even if we see things clearly?
Krishnamurti: If I see a cobra clearly without any equivocation, do I touch it? I touch it only when I am doubtful about it being a cobra. Why have we not transformed ourselves? Transformation is creative activity. Why is it that we do not see problems that are vital as clearly as we see a poisonous snake? If we see a problem vitally and recognise its immense significance, then, we shall act properly in relation to war, nationalism, in our relationship to nature, indi- viduals, ideas and problems of daily existence. Therefore, either we are unaware and therefore accustomed and immune to poison by constant habit, or we do not want to see.
There is no transformation except Now. I say it is possible to transform completely now and not tomorrow. Action on the basis of a belief in reincarnation is only postponement.
The real problem is why do we not transform now? Let us understand this now.
Obviously, society is crumbling and deteriorating rapidly. Here, we are talking about change, etc. But we are not creative; we are not the architects designing a structure away from all this. To do this, we must examine the causes of the present chaos. We must be the architect, the contractor, etc., for raising this new structure. To do this, we must have complete transformation now - transformation in values, in outlook and in our whole being. I have seen this happening. Why are you not transformed? Is it because you have been so long living with the cobra that you are immune to its poison?
Question: How do you find the true cause, not mere intellectualisation, of there being no immediate transformation?
Krishnamurti: One reason is that you are immune to the poison. I recognize that immediate transformation is the only solution of all problems - not tomorrow, not reincarnation; time does not produce transformation but only brings about continuity. Transformation is essential and can take place only now. What is it that prevents that marvellous thing happening to me, from my seeing the immense significance of transforming immediately? Let us be definite about this. We cannot leave this at loose ends. We must act.
The problem is "I see the importance of transformation. Transformation can take place only now and not tomorrow. Why is there not that extraordinary drive that sees things clearly and sets about to act"?
I know instances of immediate transformation. There was a person who made an enormous amount of money by playing cards. After hearing my talks recently, that person gave up cards-playing immediately and without any struggle.
Question: Why did not that person see this earlier? Krishnamurti: What are the causes that prevent your seeing the obvious things that drop away? What is the element that is required to say "I see it and it is gone". One of the factors is that I must be aware I am suffering, I am in anxiety, in a state of confusion and of fear. To recognize that transformation is essential, I must not be self- contented. There must be real discontent. It must have a quality which is not mere change.
If you see a cobra and know it to be a cobra, you have an instantaneous response. There is the bodily response to the poison and you jump. It is not out of fear that you avoid the poison; but, the understanding of the nature of the poison keeps you away from the poison. Most of us are afraid. Is not fear one of the principal causes that prevent transformation? You are afraid and therefore there is no transformation.
Question: Everyone coming here wants transformation. I, for one, have no fear. Yet, there is no transformation. Why is this?
Question: Is it laziness? Is there a real desire for transformation?
Krishnamurti: Do you not know the gravity of the present structure of society, its disintegration, its ruthlessness, etc.?
Question: Yes, that is why we want to do something in the service of others.
Krishnamurti: Service of others is really a foolish idea. What prevents transformation?
Love is the only thing that transforms. You can have actual experience of this. Have you not fallen in love with some one? Have you not been spontaneously affectionate with another?
Question: We have been affectionate to others in our house; yet, there has been no transformation?
Krishnamurti: You do not see the cobra, you do not see that you are on the edge of a precipice. Is that the trouble? Why do you not see it? Are not all writers, historians, etc., shouting that the end of the world is near? Yet, are you not enclosing yourselves in ideas like 'reincarnation', 'the Masters are looking after us', etc., and therefore are you not blind to the world and to your relationship with others? You, therefore, say "these are inevitable but everything will be alright soon or sometime later on".
Question: We see all the chaos but we feel helpless.
Krishnamurti: The confusion is so colossal that our individual acts can obviously do nothing - for instance, against the use of the atomic bomb. But, I, an individual, can create a structure away from all this confusion. We cannot persuade Truman and other big politicians to do what we think is correct; but we, though we are small people, can start somewhere else, i. e., with ourselves.
Question: Is it any use doing this in relation to the coming war, etc.?
Krishnamurti: You cannot prevent the world and the people going their own way. The same pattern can be seen in the case of all big leaders - Kaiser, Hitler, Stalin, etc. Can I persuade them by prayers or by appeals to them? No. Knowing the inevitableness of all this, I will not touch them. The simple way is for me to go my own way; I will transform myself. So far, I have also been contributing to the confusion and to the chaos in the world; now, I will withdraw.
Question: Does this not mean isolating ourselves from the world?
Krishnamurti: No. What is isolation? Are you not now isolated in your relationship with your wife, etc.? Do you know them? Is this not creating the mess in the world?
If you read any paper or magazine, you will find that, in the world, there is steady deterioration. For instance, in the business world, there is black-marketing, no morality, etc.
Question: How can all this be changed?
Krishnamurti: It is not possible to change all this. Firstly, you must see that you cannot do anything with all this. You must see that all politicians are hankering after power, etc., and that this is leading to war. Seeing this clearly, you will say "I will not hanker after power"; and that hankering will drop away. Now, why do I not do this?
I see what the politicians dabbling in power-politics are doing. I see that wherever there is search for power, there must be ruthlessness, war. I also see I am seeking power. Then, why do I not drop this domination over my wife? Power is very destructive, is very evil. Then, what is preventing one from dropping this, one's domination over one's wife, etc.?
Question: I am not conscious of this, my seeking domination over others.
Krishnamurti: By becoming aware of your attitude to your wife and to others, will you not drop it immediately and not in the next life? Either you are unaware of your seeking power or you like power; therefore, you do not want to drop it. If you like power, it vitalises you and you do not mind its effects on others. Power ultimately leads to destruction and deteriorates the relationship between people. I like power even in my little home, and I pursue it even if it brings about chaos and destruction. I am conscious I am seeking power; I want it and I am deliberately in it; therefore, there is no problem.
Question: I want the gratification from power. If something else would give that gratification, I will follow that also.
Krishnamurti: You want power without paying for it; you had better be conscious of this without fooling about with spirituality, etc., be conscious of power and its consequences. You like power with its pleasure and with its pain; therefore, you do not want transformation. You all want to salve Mammon with God. Why not be honest and say " I want to be a leader; so, I will go after power"?
Question: Everyone is going after power. Why?
Krishnamurti: I shall show you the futility of this. Will you drop it? You have to see the futility of pursuing power. When you are seeking power, there must be ruthlessness which involves pain. When you watch this carefully, you will see it leads to war. Question: When I see this leading to war, I drop it.
Krishnamurti: When you know that power leads to ultimate destruction, why do you not drop it? You say that "destruction may happen long after now and, in the meanwhile, what does it matter so long as I get my satisfaction for 5, 10 or 30 years?" What is that mentality which says so? That is what Napoleon and all the war-mongers did. You are also saying the same thing. How can such a mentality approach Truth - a mentality which says "I want to get this whatever it may cost"?
I cannot understand myself if I am tethered to anything - property, idea or thing. If I want to explore the South Seas, I must leave Madras. I am tethered when I say "what does it matter so long as I get what I want." At least, this is honest as I do not quote scriptures in support of what I do.
A mind that says "I want to understand Reality and I am seeking Truth" and yet is tethered, is a dishonest mind.
Thus, we discover that there cannot be transformation if there is no honest thinking. Why is my mind dishonest?
Question: I want to seek my own ends; but I cover this up by spiritual ideas, etc.
Krishnamurti: Why do you do this? Why can't you say "I want power"? One reason is 'bread and butter depends'.
Question: Why is not the mind honest at least with itself, though not in regard to others?
Krishnamurti: I am not face to face with myself. I do not know the result of my facing myself is going to be. There are so many different masks. One day I am greedy, another day I am generous and charitable, then I want to be a Viceroy, etc. Again, the Higher Self is also an invention. Which is the 'me' to which I have to be honest? I am broken up into different parts. Unless I am neurotic, I cannot say definitely "I am this". There are many contradictions in me. In a state of contradiction, I cannot be honest. I can be honest only when the contradiction in my thinking ceases. To think truly, I must get rid of contradiction. Do you know that you are in contradiction? Question: At any one instant, there is no contradiction. Contradiction arises only when I analyse the past and the present.
Krishnamurti: There is a contradiction always going on in us.
Questioner: Are we aware of our contradiction even when we are in contradiction?
Krishnamurti: Only honest direct understanding will lead to the ceasing of contradiction. To understand something, I must give my full attention to it, which is possible when there is no contradiction in me.
Question: What is contradiction?
Question: Two inconsistent desires?
Krishnamurti: Can desires be contradictory? Is not the very nature of desire contradictory? There is only one desire which takes 2 forms, one desire creating oppositions.
Am I in contradiction? I want power and I know the poison of power. I want to love but actually I hate. Are you aware of this state in your daily existence?
I now see that only very clear, honest thinking can bring about immediate transformation. One of the factors preventing this is this life of contradiction. We are in contradiction, for instance, when we want to go somewhere else and yet we want to stay here. In that state, choice exists; and so, as long as choice exists, there must be conflict.
Choice exists because you are confused. There is no choice when you see a thing clearly. Contradiction is when I do not see clearly, when choice comes into action. When I see clearly what I want to do, there is no choice and no contradiction.
So, as long as I am choosing, there is contradiction and there is dishonesty in thinking. Do you agree to that? Your whole life is based on choice - between the Real and the Unreal, between Good and Evil etc.; and therefore, there is contradiction.
Question: Are we not always in daily life, if we are intelligent, making a choice? Krishnamurti: You make a choice only when you do not know what to do. For factual things, you must choose. But, choice in psychological things is when you are confused. You do not choose between pleasure and pain but you pursue pleasure. A mind which is confused and choosing is a dishonest mind, i.e., doing a thing not knowing what it is doing.
Question: Dishonesty implies a standard of morality.
Krishnamurti: No. Choice exists only in matters that are irrelevant or are not clearly seen. Clear perception is honest thinking. As long as there is choice, there is confusion. Do you ever psychologically choose?
Question: Yes; when I want to earn money or when I renounce something.
Krishnamurti: No. You are seeking pleasure whether it comes through earning money or renouncing something. Therefore, there is no choice, psychologically.
I do not see clearly because I am choosing. Psychologically, I pursue pleasure. As long as I am pursuing pleasure and using wrong words, I am deceiving myself - for instance, by saying "I serve the world," "I serve the poor" etc. All this is based on pleasure. I must not deceive myself in any way. I must be very clear in my feelings, thoughts and actions. Then only there can be immediate transformation.
Do you not get what you want if that desire is not lukewarm? You envy Napoleons and Stalins who went ruthlessly and wholeheartedly after what they wanted. Spiritual leaders also have acted likewise, though with kid gloves.
Dishonesty is lack of perception, avoidance of looking at things as they are.
We have now come to this point: Transformation is not a matter of words or explanations; it comes instantaneously when we see things clearly.
When one gives up property or good income, how does one do it? Have you given up anything instantaneously?
Question: I dropped 'belief' and 'authority' after I heard your talk on 'fear', at No. 14, Sterling Road.
Krishnamurti: Why do you want to give up something, for getting rid of fear or on seeing it as it is? You dropped because you were face to face with the problem and there was no retreat. You get rid of authority when you face the thing directly. When you face it, you see the crooked action and it drops away.
Why is it that you do not drop all that divides, conditioned thinking? Because you do not see that it is poisonous and because you do not give your full attention to it, you tend to slur over it. Take war, for instance. You know all the causes, the opposites of ideologies. Yet, you all play with war. If you give your complete attention to war, you will not play with war. There is no transformation now because your attention is not given; you think you have too may commitments and by such thinking you deceive yourselves.
If we focused our attention on one thing and completely understood it, our mind is unburdened and is capable of looking at things directly; we would then understand anything psychological, and there would be instantaneous transformation now.
When we do not read the label clearly, we drink the poison and suffer the consequences. We can read the label only when we are attentive. One of our difficulties is we like to be lazy and we are inattentive in regard to things that do matter.
Question: Can we help it?
Krishnamurti: If I offer you something, will you take it? Take, for instance, a doctor. Will it be enough if he merely put up a signboard? Must there not be a patient? There must be a patient and also a doctor; otherwise, the profession ceases. If I am a patient, I will not leave the doctor till I am well. Is not that relationship essential?
Question: The disease may be incurable.
Question: Even then, you go to the doctor. How can you suppose you are incurable before you consult a doctor?
Krishnamurti: Between the doctor and the patient, there must be mutual affection, not respect; so also between you and me. When you love somebody, then there is open receptivity, communion between both; there is understanding. This affection is not because he is going to cure me nor because I want to be cured. Because there is no affection wherever we are which means love, there is no immediate transformation. It is that element which is missing in all of us. Therefore, there is no real communication between us, but only verbal. We are on the edge of things and not in the centre. When there is love, there are no sentiments and no emotions.
Question: Apparently, we do not know love then.
Krishnamurti: You are going to know it. There is no flame without smoke.
The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Group Discussion 11th April, 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.