The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Group Discussion 20th April, 1948
We have discussed the importance of immediate transformation and how it can be brought about; also how individual regeneration is not a process of time but free of time and it is not "becoming". We saw the various forms of hindrances that introduce the time-element. It is possible to see a thing directly, clearly and honestly. It is only when there is a contradiction that the time-element comes in. The time- element is introduced whenever we allow the thought-process to take place. Emotions, sentimentality and devotion are within the field of time, of thought; therefore, they and the various forms of feeling are not love. One cannot think about love but only about objects of love thereby having sensations and deriving stimulation, emotions; thus, emotions are within the thought-process.
What brings about transformation? There must be change, revolution. We cannot go on day to day as we are doing and have atomic bombs. Social and economic revolutions have no meaning. Again, the inner revolution must be a continuous one. Thought-process is not going to change us; for, ideas breed further ideas and ideologies breed other systems which are in opposition. Realizing that the time-element is valueless, that no regeneration can take place within time, how are we to set about to have transformation?
Question: Can we do anything about it? The moment we try to do something, we seem to imitate some pattern of conduct or another.
Krishnamurti: It is an important question. Can anything be done to bring about this inward transformation? Any action on my part is within the field of thought as it necessitates choice. What is implied in choice? When is there choice? There is choice only when there are two or more things to choose from. When you go to a shop you set in motion the action of memory - which is comparison, weighing, balancing; you look at various things and then choose. Will choice which is comparison with a past or with a future and which implies postponement of action, lead to transformation? Question: What do you mean by saying that choice implies time?
Krishnamurti: How is choice made? With memory. What is memory? Incomplete experience. If you understand or experience something completely, the psychological memory of it is absent; you may remember the incident but there is no emotional content.
Question: Psychological memory may act subconsciously whereas factual memory is within the superficial layers of consciousness.
Krishnamurti: We are discussing whether transformation can be effected by any action on my part. My action is always within a pattern of action or behaviour known to me, or foreseen by me or decided on by me on my past knowledge. Obviously, such an act will not lead to
transformation. Whatever I do is within the field of such a pattern of action; it is always based upon a thought in the past, the past being memory - factual as well as psychological. Without factual memory, I cannot build a house or build a bridge, I cannot have any verbal communication with others. What do we mean by psychological memory? When do you remember an experience? Why do you not remember all experiences? Generally, pleasant experiences are remembered and the unpleasant ones are put away, though they may still be in the deeper layers of consciousness. You remember those experiences which have a value given by you as associated with the pleasure you derived. That is, pleasant experiences give you pleasure and you remember them because of that pleasure. Unpleasant experiences are also sometimes remembered as a reference to any possible future conduct. But, what makes you remember an experience?
Question: Vanity of life and pride make us remember.
Krishnamurti: Why? Look at this question practically. You have all had experiences; you think about them, you recall them and you remember them. Why is there this remembrance? Do you remember anything which you have completely finished, an incident or an experience? You have a conversation and you are interrupted; then you go back and complete it mentally. When you face, understand and complete the fact of the death of your child, then you do not have a psychological memory of it. Question: Even when I have completely finished a conversation, I still remember it.
Krishnamurti: Yes. It is factual memory. You and I have a conversation. Until that conversation is completed and until we fully communicate with each other what we want, the significance is not understood.
Question: This conversation is only one part of my life.
Krishnamurti: When a conversation is completely understood, you need not go over the whole of that conversation again though you may remember the incident. The psychological memory uses the factual memory as a means to get something out of it. Even facts are not remembered unless there is a basis of avoidance or gain. What makes you remember a conversation? When that conversation is not completed or its significance has not been completely understood. When completed and fully understood the contents and the thought-process in regard to that conversation have ceased. If you use the factual memory of a conversation as a means of deriving pleasure, then you remember and dwell upon the conversation. If something - a desire, an intention or a pleasure - drops away, it is gone out of your system. But, when you struggle to give it up, it does not drop away. Therefore, the process of giving up, renouncing, is an incomplete action; and therefore will lead to a remembrance of the things given up, and therefore a strengthening of the entity that gives up. The incomplete conversation leaves a space, a mark which we remember; it is very deep down in the layers of our consciousness and it acts invariably always like a record continuously playing, till we complete that experience. Why does an experience leave a mark? A mind which is marked, has a residue of experiences, cannot experience a new thing like an exposed negative which cannot take a clear impression of a new picture. Such a mind is incapable of acting apart from a pattern of action already known. Until that mark is completely understood, the memory will go on repeating itself.
Why do we hold on to some experiences and reject others? My mind is the repository of all experiences of all humanity. How can such a mind, so completely filled, have anything new? I am the result of incomplete experiences because the past experiences are all incomplete. Experiences are remembered because they are incomplete, because we have not thought about them completely to their end. We use them as a means of profit or avoidance and therefore remember them.
Question: I don't have a new experience as long as I am the result of incomplete experiences. I cannot have any new thought or new perception as long as my mind is clouded with old thoughts. What am I to do?
Krishnamurti: True. Thought born of incomplete experience cannot meet the new anew and therefore cannot lead to your inward transformation. Now, find out what you will do. Whatever you do is based upon your memory and therefore will not lead you to transformation. You realize, therefore, that you cannot do anything with regard to immediate inward transformation.
Question: I feel intensely and want to do something. As I find I cannot do anything, I feel helpless.
Krishnamurti: Why do you not know? Have you realized that you cannot do anything to transform yourself, first superficially and verbally and then more and more deeply? Have you realized that whatever you do, your action is within the field of the known and therefore you cannot transform yourself by doing anything? If you have realized, then the activities of your mind which wants to do something or other, are all cut one after another and finally you realize deeply that you cannot do anything about it, that you cannot deal with this problem of transformation by your actions.
The main difficulty now is that your mind thinks it can do something or other with this problem and that, if it does not act, it feels uneasy. The mind is therefore restless. Mind acts only through memory and therefore mind kicks against "not acting". Therefore you have to consider and understand the activities of the memory and the mind in relation to transformation.
Question: There is distraction and also acting with a purpose.
Krishnamurti: Distraction leads to postponement; therefore postponement of any action is an indication of the existence of a distraction. When you are vitally interested in anything, you are not distracted.
Question: Transformation is not in the plane of action.
Krishnamurti: Why? I see the importance of immediate transformation not in terms of time, of a complete regeneration of thought, a clarity, a creativeness. I see myself in tortures. If I find this transformation, then my life will have a meaning. I, therefore, go all along the way finding out which is a distraction and which leads to transformation. As I know and understand them, I am purposive and proceed directly.
This can be made clear by an example. Supposing I live in a well- enclosed fortress and somebody says that there is something marvellous beyond the walls of the fortress. If I want to see that which is beyond the walls, any action that I do in that connection within the limits of the fortress only, is futile. It is only when I break the walls, that I can have a glimpse of what is outside.
When you want to understand something, a child or a picture, you have to be silent, to study, and to watch. Your attitude should be one of watching silently, observing and studying all the time. When you have realized that, whatever you do, you cannot transform yourself, what happens to your action? When you realize the futility of all your actions, what do you do? Can you listen to music with effort? Have you not got to sit absolutely quiet to enjoy music? Similarly, when you have the feeling that you must do something, it is an indiction that you have not yet realized the fact that whatever you do cannot lead you to transformation of any kind.
Question: Is desire in the way of transformation?
Krishnamurti: Is it not? Why do you not find this out for yourself? It is fairly simple to do so with regard to transformation.
Question: If I do nothing, there will be no transformation.
Krishnamurti: How do you know? You realize that transformation is imperative, you feel the need for it. When you know that you cannot do anything about it, then only will you sit down quietly without doing anything. You know that thought-process cannot lead to transformation. Memory is always propelling thought and memory is incomplete experience. Desire also is based on thought-process. The road to Mylapore - which is a factual memory - becomes a psychological memory, when people walking onit give you incomplete experience. Your life consists of incomplete experiences and until you finish them you cannot but act. You have innumerable memories and you have to cleanse them all till your mind is free. Is this possible? No. You cannot cleanse the entire past. Can you by your actions examine all the contents of your consciousness, investigate into the past and finish them one by one? It will take time; the instrument of your investigation is incomplete. You might miss some. Therefore in this examination of your past experiences, you are sure to be caught again. Therefore, what are you to do?
Question: Go out and see what happens to you when you meet a new experience.
Krishnamurti: Can you do it with every one of your experiences? Even if you do, how long will it take? Again, the intimations from the hidden layers of consciousness have also to be understood and acted upon. Therefore, you cannot do it.
Question: When you can't do it, what can you do? You have to step out or to accept it.
Krishnamurti: Are you in a state when you do not know what to do? When you say that you do not know, what is behind it?
Question: That I want to know.
Krishnamurti: What are you to do when you realize that whatever you do will not lead to transformation? To know what to do, you must know that you do not know what to do. When you say "I do not know", you are reduced to a new position. You are nothing in regard to that.
Question: Is there not the recognition that it is possible to know? Krishnamurti: I cannot get rid of the past, do what I will. What am I to do? I want to do something about it and I cannot do anything. Therefore I don't know what to do with regard to the past or with regard to the future. When after realization, I say I do not know, my mind is very alert, very quiet and in a new state.
Question: It is a state of expectancy.
Krishnamurti: When you expect anything, it is based upon the known, therefore, that mind has not yet realized that it cannot do anything about it. But, if you have realized and then say that you do not know, your mind is extraordinarily alert, more alert than when you positively say "I am this"; this means negative thinking is the highest form of meditation; it is complete cessation of thought. Therefore, "not- knowingness" is the new state of the mind in which the past has disappeared. Unfortunately, you will never allow your mind to come to that point, your mind does not allow it to come to that point. Thus, there is a way by which the mind can be immediately cleansed of all its past, cleansed of the whole content of consciousness. When the mind is thus cleansed of all its past, there is direct action.
Until you realize and say with the whole of your being "I do not know:, you cannot stop the thought-process i.e., the process of experiencing (perception, contact, sensation, desire, identification), terming (pleasure or pain), and recording (memory and mind).
Question: Until I say "I do not know", I am not free of the past. Is this correct?
Krishnamurti: Why didn't you say now "I don't know"? We have been discussing all along about immediate inward transformation. Do you know what to do to bring about transformation in yourselves? You please experiment with it. When you bring me a gift and I do not want it, it is not mine. Similarly, when you have a problem and when you have realized that you do not know anything about it, then that problem is not yours.
Question: I am not able to get rid of psychological fear. Krishnamurti: I shall deal with it the next time we meet, as it is already very late.
Why do you find it difficult to say "I do not know"? What do you know except doing some work as a technician or earning money as a lawyer? Technique, gathering of other people's information etc., what else do you know? You are a bundle of memories. Beyond that what are you?
Question: I don't know.
Krishnamurti: Title, house, money - remove all these; what are you? Why do you not say "I don't know, I am nothing". You know nothing. Even all your dreams are within the field of memory and you therefore do not know. Why not acknowledge this? Why not face this nothingness and in facing it say "I don't know". Be completely stripped and say, "I am nobody, I am nothing". It is the recognition of a fact. Why do you not face it? That is your difficulty. Because you have never looked at it, you are never facing it. When you actually come to the state of facing and recognizing yourself as you are, you can say "I don't know, I am nothing"?
There is a way of completely cleansing the mind of the past immediately, and therefore bringing about instantaneous regeneration. This is when you have actually realized and when you say "I don't know". The mind is then unburdened and is swift - not erudite, not clever, not informed - but quiet, passive and extraordinarily alert. Then only there can be full and direct action.
The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Group Discussion 20th 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.