The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Group Discussion 27th April, 1948
When we last met we came up to the point when we began to question why people generally have a tendency to follow more easily evil rather than good. In the course of this discussion, we saw that all escapes - so-called noble or ignoble, beneficial to society or anti-social - brought about sorrow and not the understanding of sorrow. It is only when we realize and face our own emptiness, loneliness etc., that we can have a solution to our sorrow. We also saw that where there was pursuit of pleasure or avoidance of pain or pleasure which is called ignoble or unrighteous, we can never understand the true nature of the problem. We generally pursue pleasure because the pleasure that we derive thereby, gives further nourishment or expansion to our 'self', i.e., to the me and the mine. Similarly, we avoid that which diminishes or contradicts or denies the self, the 'I'. Whenever there is the pursuit of self- expansion, it is easier to follow it. When there is a blocking of that expansion, we avoid it. Therefore, we follow that which we call evil, the path of strife, violence etc. None of us want to be eradicated psychologically, we want to be something - a writer, a politician and so on. Where the self finds no issue, we try to avoid it.
Question: Why is hatred a greater cementing factor than love?
Krishnamurti: I said the other day that fear, threat to security, binds people together. Where the self can find root, it uses it as a means of 'becoming'. The denial of the self is love, but it is not cohesive because we cling to self.
Question: The pursuit of both good and evil may lead to self-expansion.
Krishnamurti: This is not a question of difference between evil and good. Evil and good are both so-called. The point is that where there is scope for self-expansion, there you pursue it whether it is the so- called good or so-called evil.
Question: Is there not cussedness, a behaviour-compulsive, in human nature? Why are we cussed?
Krishnamurti: Are you cussed by nature? Why is there not a regeneration of the individual when he has explored the various avenues of his thought, feeling and action, and found their full significance? What is it that brings about a revolution in the individual? Our brains are sufficiently clear; we have thought about our actions, our relationship etc., and yet the quality which makes for immediate transformation, seems to be lacking.
Question: Is there such a catalyst? Can we look for it?
Krishnamurti: Is there a catalyst, or what is the new approach? What do we mean by transformation? Question: A state of not having a memory or not having an ego, a negative state.
Krishnamurti: Is that what we mean by transformation? We have moments when the self is absent, when the sense of the me and the mine is absent, i.e., without the conscious awareness of the experiencer and the experience. When you get a shock, in moments of great joy or sorrow, the self is driven out, there is no sense of the me.
Question: Can the me be completely dissolved, never to return? Is that transformation?
Krishnamurti: That is the classical understanding of transformation. Is there not a different approach?
Question: As we have not experienced it, we cannot say what transformation is.
Krishnamurti: All you can do is to be free of conflict, when sorrow ceases. When you free yourself from conflict or sorrow, something may happen. The mind creates the problem and the problem which is
identification and condemnation and justification, brings about sorrow. The past absorbs the present, modifies it and continues on into the future. This is all one continuous movement.
Why should the mind create the problem?
Question: Conflicting desires.
Krishnamurti: Can you not put an end to these desires? Why have we to strive and to struggle, keep on asserting and denying etc.? Why should we not live from moment to moment and as each problem arises understand it and resolve it, and so on? Why can't you do that? Problems arise. Why do you not deal with each problem completely without allowing it to leave a residue?
Question: A memory is already there and it is bound to condition the new.
Krishnamurti: Why should you not deal with the new as new, free from conditioning. If I am aware of the conditioning in me, can I not meet the next problem without the conditioned mind?
Question: We may have some conditioning of which we are not conscious. Krishnamurti: True. But if your intention is to meet the new without any conditioning by your past, then you are extraordinarily alert and you are aware of the conditioning. Transformation is the meeting of the new as new, without any conditioning whatsoever, i.e., to meet each new problem anew.
Question: This is impossible. If you have memory, that memory is bound to condition all your thoughts under all circumstances.
Krishnamurti: Can I meet a problem anew? Yes, but only if I have got the intention to be aware of the conditioning and to be free of such conditioning, whatever be the level of consciousness. I see that I can only understand a problem if I meet it anew. Then, I will welcome any opportunity which will open up this conditioning so that, by my being aware of it, that conditioning may drop away.
Question: Has conditioning a bio-chemical aspect in it? How will it be affected by my awareness?
Krishnamurti: Just as I recognize everything else, social, industrial or religious etc., I can understand a problem only when I meet it anew. As I have got so many memories, the whole human treasure, I cannot analyze every one of them. There are some conditionings of which I am aware; but, there are also other conditionings of which I am not aware. My intention is to meet the problem anew and to be free of all
conditioning. Therefore, I recognize my state of conditioning factually as well as unconsciously; I also recognize that I cannot resolve them all and that I cannot solve the problem unless I meet it without any conditioning whatsoever. I cannot investigate into the whole content of consciousness; yet, I must meet the problem anew.
Question: Have you not then a purpose, an object to be gained?
Krishnamurti: No. The purpose is the outcome of the conditioning and it translates the problem.
Question: If you have no purpose, there is no problem. Why should I solve the problem?
Krishnamurti: When you have got a purpose, can you dissolve the problem? Question: A problem is not absolute, it relates to man. The purpose is to enlarge the freedom of the individual.
Krishnamurti: Any problem is one of food, things, relationship, or ideas. You talk of the freedom of the individual. Freedom from what? Is it freedom to be more expansive, more stupid, more national? Freedom for the self to expand is not freedom at all. The self is a contradiction, it is limited; the more it expands, the more is it limited and in contradiction. An experience becomes a problem when it is not fully understood, i.e., when it is acted on by past conditioning, conscious or not. This experience gives pain. How am I to dissolve this pain? I can do so only when there is no thought of the past, when there is no conditioning. The mind always knows the fact of its conditioning, conscious or unconscious; and yet, it can understand only when it meets the problem anew without any conditioning. What is the conditioning of such a mind? What is it to do?
Question: Instead of finding out ways and means, stop thinking.
Krishnamurti: What is the state of mind at this stage? Is it a wrong question to put?
Question: Is not the problem itself a part of conditioning? Therefore, every problem is impossible of solution.
Krishnamurti: Let us investigate it. Is not this a false question? Because the more I use the conditioning, the more it strengthens itself and I cannot investigate into the whole of my consciousness. When I realize this, what is the state of my mind?
Question: There is this problem of death, losing one child, then another and then my wife being ill, all these coming one after another in quick succession. How can I understand the problem without bringing in my past conditioning, like my belief in reincarnation, etc.?
Krishnamurti: There is death and suffering. Do I meet it with my religious conditioning? What is the state of my mind when I meet the problem of death? Let us discuss this.
Question: My mind is passive, observing, not waiting to do anything with the problem but merely observing it. You can see how the memory is coming in in everything that I observe in this way. I come again and again to the problem pushing the memory away. Is not my thinking that I should meet the problem anew based upon my memory?
Krishnamurti: Not necessarily. It is only a verbalization of what is taking place in your mind.
Question: The problem is only the memory.
Krishnamurti: To experiment with anything, you should not be too ready to verbalize. The problem is new and you cannot have a ready-made answer. I am gradually discovering the ways in which memory operates over a problem. This gentleman says that he is in a fix; this is because he is thinking in the old way to find the solution. When you have a new approach, you do not think of solving the problem. Memory is a positive approach and it is positive. A solution along any negative line only can lead to Truth, as the positive approach which is through memory is always conditioned by memory. Therefore, my mind in the state referred to by me is in a state of negation, which is not really the opposite of the positive; the mind is much more alert than when it is doing a positive action. When the mind is in this negative state, i.e., when the approach is negative, the mind should not create a process of thought; the mind is incapable of thought and it is not asleep, nor is it expecting an answer.
Choice is inaction. Positive action based on memory, on conditioning, is really inaction. Real action is when my mind is new and when, in the new state, it meets the problem anew.
What is the state of mind when it has no positive action towards the problem? You cannot pre-conceive that state; you must experience that state. If there is any choice, then the action is positive. Any voice, the inner or the voice of the Master, is still conditioning. Conditioning means no action. An action of choice is really the avoidance of 'what is'; it is therefore no action but only inaction.
Any response, positive or negative, coming out of the conditioning is not true action. When I experience that state of mind, I may find the new approach.
It is extremely difficult not to have a positive action towards a problem. A positive action is an action based on choice, on memory. When the mind is not positively acting on a vital problem, what is its state? Have you any vital problem?
Question: Yes, the illness of a relative, which is giving me pain.
Krishnamurti: How do you approach it?
Question: I am trying to do my best in the matter. My approach to this is really a positive action of my memory. I do not know what else I can do.
Krishnamurti: We are experimenting now. It is no use waiting and seeing. I have a living vital problem. I recognize that any positive action is valueless. What is the state of my mind? I cannot verbalize at that particular state, but only afterwards.
Questioner: There is blankness in my mind.
Krishnamurti: True. Supposing it is not blankness, what is the next step? As it is a new state which we have not experienced before, you cannot call it blank; it cannot be merely blank. It has pushed out positive action.
Question: I am now in a state when I surrender.
Krishnamurti: Surrender to whom or to what? Are you experiencing? You feel something and you do not proceed further.
Question: I am paying attention.
Krishnamurti: This means that there must be the giver of attention. You have now been forced to experience that state. When I am forcing you to that state, you are avoiding it.
Question: My experience is that such a mind is open to receive whatever it is.
Krishnamurti: In such a mind, there is no desire, no seeking an end; nor is there an actor. What is the state of that mind? For this experience to take place, the mind must have pushed away all attempts at positive action, without any effort or struggle. Therefore, such a mind is in a state of negative activity. This means really that you have stopped the interpreting of the problem.
What does negative activity mean? The mind is alert and in a state of negative activity; that means, there is no desire and no seeking of a result. What is the next response? Nothing is happening in the mind. What is the next movement out of this nothingness? Put away the question and the response, and watch again. You get blocked at this stage because probably you are not accustomed to this. You try this again and see what is happening.
We should proceed with this experience of yours when we meet next Thursday. The whole of this is awareness and there is the fun of discovery in understanding this.
The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Group Discussion 27th 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.