The Observer is the Observed
Ojai, California. 10th Public Talk 1945
Is there an enduring state of creative tranquillity? Is there an end to the seemingly endless struggle of the opposites? Is there an imperishable ecstasy?
The end to conflict and sorrow is through understanding and transcending the ways of the self and in discovering that imperishable Reality which is not the creation of the mind. Self-knowledge is arduous but without it ignorance and pain continue; without self-knowledge there can be no end to strife.
The world is splintered into many fragments, each in contention with the other; it is torn apart by antagonism, greed and passion; it is broken up by warring ideologies, beliefs and fears; neither organized religion nor politics can bring peace to man. Man is against man and the many explanations of his sorrow do not take away his pain. We have tried to escape from ourselves in many cunning ways but escape only dulls and hardens the mind and heart. The outer world is but an expression of our own inner state; as we are inwardly broken up and torn by burning desires, so is the world about us; as there is incessant turmoil within us so is there endless conflict in the world; as there is no inward tranquillity the world has become a battlefield. What we are the world is.
Is there a possibility of finding enduring joy? There is, but to experience it there must be freedom. Without freedom truth cannot be discovered, without freedom there can be no experience of the Real. Freedom must be sought out; freedom from saviours, teachers, leaders; freedom from the self-enclosing walls of good and bad; freedom from authority and imitation; freedom from self, the cause of conflict and pain.
Just as long as craving in its different forms is not understood there will be conflict and pain. Conflict is not to be ended through superficial restatement of values nor by change of teachers and leaders. The ultimate solution lies in freedom from craving; not in another but in yourself is the way. The incessant battle within us all which we call existence cannot be brought to an end save through understanding and so transcending craving.
The conflict of acquisitiveness appears in knowledge, in relationship, in possessions; acquisitiveness in any form creates inequality and brutality. This division and conflict between man and man is not to be abolished through mere reform of the outer effects and values. Equality in possessions is not the way out of our extended and enveloping misery and stupidity; no revolution can free man from this spirit of exclusiveness. You may dislodge him from possessions through legislation, through revolution, but he will cling to exclusive relationship or belief. This spirit of exclusiveness at different levels cannot be abolished through any outward reform or through compulsion or regimentation. Yet it is this spirit of exclusiveness that breeds inequality and contention. Does not acquisitiveness set man against man? Can equality and compassion be established through any means of the mind? Must not they be sought elsewhere; does not this separativeness cease only in Love, in Truth?
The unity of man is to be found only in Love, in the illumination that Truth brings. This oneness of man is not to be established through mere economic and social readjustment. The world is ever occupied with this superficial adjustment; it is ever trying to rearrange values within the pattern of acquisitiveness; it tries to establish security on the insecurity of craving and so brings disaster upon itself. We hope that outward revolution, outward change of values will transform man; they do affect him but acquisitiveness, finding gratification at other levels continues. This endless and purposeless movement of acquisitiveness cannot at any time bring peace to man, and only when he is free of it can there be creative being.
Acquisitiveness creates division of those ahead and those behind. You must be both pupil and Master in search of Truth; you must make the approach directly without the conflict of example and following. There must be persistent self-awareness, and the more earnest and strenuous you are the more thought will free itself from its own self-created bondages.
In the bliss of the Real the experiencer and the experience cease. A mind-heart that is burdened with the memory of yesterday cannot live in the eternal present. Mind-heart must die each day for eternal being.
Questioner: I feel that at least to me what you are saying is something new and very vitalizing but the old intrudes and distorts. It seems that the new is overpowered by the past. What is one to do?
Krishnamurti: Thought is the result of the past acting in the present; the past is constantly sweeping over the present. The present, the new, is ever being absorbed by the past, by the known. To live in the eternal present there must be death to the past, to memory; in this death there is timeless renewal.
The present extends into the past and into the future; without the understanding of the present the door to the past is closed. The perception of the new is so fleeting; no sooner is it felt than the swift current of the past sweeps over it and the new ceases to be. To die to the many yesterdays, to renew each day is only possible if we are capable of being passively aware. In this passive awareness there is no gathering to oneself; in it there is intense stillness in which the new is ever unfolding, in which silence is ever extending with measure.
We try to use the new as a means of breaking down or strengthening the past and so corrupt the living present. The renewing present brings comprehension of the past. It is the new that gives understanding and in that light the past has a fresh, life-giving significance. When we listen to or experience something new our instinctive response is to compare it with the old, with a past experience, with a fading memory. This comparing gives strength to the past, distorting the present and so the new is ever becoming the past, the dead. If thought-feeling were capable of living in the now without distorting it then the past would be transformed into the eternal present.
To some of you these talks and discussions may have brought a new and vitalizing understanding; what is important is not to put the new into old patterns of thought or phrase. Let it remain new, uncontaminated. If it is true it will cast out the old, the past by its, very abundant and creative light. The desire to make the creative present enduring, practical or useful makes it worthless. Let the new live without anchorage in the past, without the distorting influence of fears and hopes.
Die to your experience, to your memory. Die to your prejudice, pleasant or unpleasant. As you die there is the incorruptible; this is not a state of nothingness but of creative being. It is this renewal that will, if allowed, dissolve our problems and sorrows however intricate and painful. Only in death of the self is there life.
Questioner: Do you believe in karma?
Krishnamurti: The desire to believe should be understood and put away for it does not bring enlightenment. He who is seeking Truth does not believe; he who is approaching Truth has no dogma or creed; he who is seeking the Timeless must be free of formulation and the time-binding quality of memory. When we believe we do not seek and belief brings doubt and pain. Search to understand, not to know; for in understanding, the dual process of the knower and the known ceases. In the mere search for knowledge the knower is ever becoming and so is ever in conflict and sorrow. He who asserts he knows does not know.
The root of the Sanskrit word karma means to act to do Action is the result of a cause. War is the result of our everyday life of stupidity and ill will and greed; conflict and sorrow are the outcome of the inward turmoil of our craving. Is not our existence the product of enchaining conditioning? Cause is ever undergoing a modification and alert awareness is necessary to follow and understand it. Silent and choiceless awareness not only reveals the cause but also frees thought-feeling from it. Can effect be separated from cause? Is not effect ever present in the cause? We desire to reform, to rearrange the effects without radically altering the cause. This occupation with effect is a form of escape from the basic cause.
As the end is in the means, so the effect is in the cause. It is comparatively easy to discover the superficial cause but to discover and transcend craving, which is the deep cause of all conditioning, is arduous and demands constant awareness.
Questioner: Not only is there the fear of life but great is the fear of death. How am I to conquer it?
Krishnamurti: What is conquerable has to be conquered again and again. Fear comes to an end only through understanding. Fear of death is in the craving for self-fulfilment; we are empty and we crave completeness, so there is fear; we desire to achieve and so we are afraid lest death should call us. We desire time for understanding, the fulfillment of ambition needs time, and so we are afraid of death. We are in the bondage of time; death is the unknown and of the unknown we are afraid. Fear and death are the companions of life. We crave the assurance of self-continuity. Thought-feeling is moving from the known to the known and is always afraid of the unknown. Thought-feeling proceeds from accumulation to accumulation, from memory to memory, and the fear of death is the fear of frustration.
Because we are as the dead we fear death; the living do not. The dead are burdened by the past, by memory, by time, but for the living the present is the eternal. Time is not a means to the end, the Timeless, for the end is in the beginning. The self weaves the net of time and thought is caught in it. The insufficiency of the self, its aching emptiness, causes the fear of death and of life. This fear is with us always: in our activities, our pleasures and pain. Being dead we seek life but life is not found through the continuity of the self. The self, the maker of time, must yield itself to the Timeless.
If death is truly a great problem for you, not merely a verbal or emotional issue nor a matter of curiosity which can be appeased by explanations, then in you there is deep silence. In active stillness fear ceases; silence has its own creative quickening. You do not transcend fear through rationalization, through the study of explanations; the fear of death does not come to an end through some belief for belief is still within the net of the self. The very noise of the self prevents its own dissolution. We consult, analyze, pray, exchange explanations; this incessant activity and noise of the self hinders the bliss of the Real. Noise can produce only more noise and in it there is no understanding.
Understanding comes when your whole being is deeply and silently aware. Silent awareness is not to be compelled or induced; in this tranquillity death yields to creation. Questioner: It has never occurred to me myself as being able to attain liberation. The ultimate I can conceive of is that perhaps I might be able to hold and strengthen that entirely incomprehensible relation to God which is the only thing I live by. and I really do not even know what that is.
You talk about being and becoming. I realize that these words mean fundamentally different attitudes and mine ha been definitely one of becoming. I now want to transform what has been becoming all along into being. Am I fooling myself? I do not #ant simply to change words.
Krishnamurti: We must first understand the process of becoming and all its implications before we can comprehend what is being. Is not the structure of our thought-feeling based on time? Do we not think-feel in terms of gain and loss, of becoming and not becoming? We think Reality or God is to be reached through time, through becoming. We think that life is an endless ladder for us to climb ever to greater and greater insights. Our thinking-feeling is caught in the horizontal process of becoming; the becomer is ever accumulating, ever gaining, ever expanding. The self, the becomer, the creator of time, can never experience the Timeless. The self, the becomer, is the cause of conflict and sorrow.
Does becoming lead to being? Through time can there be the Timeless? Through conflict can there be tranquillity? Through war, hate, can there be love? Only when becoming ceases is there being; through the horizontal process of time the Eternal is not; conflict does not lead to tranquillity; hate cannot be changed to love. The becomer can never be tranquil. Craving can never lead to that which is beyond and above all craving. The chain of sorrow is broken only when the becomer ceases to become, positively or negative
Now the becomer desires to translate his becoming into being. He sees perhaps the futility of becoming and desires to transform that process into being; instead of becoming, now he must be. He sees the pain of greed and now he desires to transform greed into non-greed which is still a becoming; he has assumed a new attitude, a new garb called non-greed; but still the becomer continues to become. Does not this desire to translate the becoming into being lead to illusion? The becomer perhaps now perceives the endless conflict and sorrow involved in becoming and so craves a different state which he calls being; but craving continues under a new name. The ways of becoming are very subtle and till the becomer is aware of them he will continue to become, to be in conflict and sorrow. By changing terms we think we understand and how easily we pacify ourselves !
Being is only when there is no effort, positive or negative, to become; only when the becomer is self-aware and understands the enchaining sorrow and wasted effort of becoming and no longer uses will, then only can he be silent. His desire and his will have subsided; then only is there the tranquillity of supreme wisdom. To become non-greedy is one thing and being without greed is another; to become implies a process but being does not. Process implies time; the state of being is not a result, not a product of education, discipline, conditioning. You cannot transform noise into silence; silence can only come into being when noise ceases. Result is a time process, a determined end through a determined means; but through a process, through time, the Timeless is not. Self-awareness and right meditation will reveal the process of becoming. Meditation is not the cultivation of the becomer but through self-knowledge the meditator, the becomer ceases.
Questioner: If we only consider the obvious meaning of your words, memory constitutes one of the mechanisms against which you have warned time and again. And yet you yourself, for instance, sometimes use written notes to aid your memory in reconstructing the introductory remarks which you obviously have thought out previously. Does there exist one necessary and even indispensable kind of memory related to the outside world of facts and figures, and an entirely different kind of memory which might be called psychological memory, which is detrimental because it interferes with the creative attitude which you have hinted at in expressions like "lying fallow" - "dying each day" etc?
Krishnamurti: Memory is accumulated experience and what is accumulated is the known and what is know is ever the past. With the burden of the known can that which is Timeless be discovered? Is not freedom from the past necessary to experience that which is Immeasurable? That which is made up, that is, memory, cannot comprehend that which is not. Wisdom is not accumulated memory but is supreme vulnerability to the Real.
Should we not, as the questioner points out, be aware of the two kinds of memories: the indispensable, relating to facts and figures, and the psychological memory? Without this indispensable memory we could not communicate with each other. We accumulate and cling to psychological memories and so give continuity to the self; thus the self, the past, is ever increasing, ever adding to itself. It is this accumulating memory, the self, that must come to an end; as long as thought-feeling is identifying itself with the memories of yesterday it will be ever in conflict and sorrow; as long as thought-feeling is ever becoming it cannot experience the bliss of the Real. That which is Real is not the continuation of identifying memory. According to what has been stored up one experiences; according to one's conditioning and psychological memories and tendencies are the experiences, but such experiences are ever enclosing, limiting. It is to this accumulation that one must die.
Is the experience of the Real based on memory, on accumulation? Is it not possible for thought-feeling to go above and beyond these interrelated layers of memory? Continuance is memory and is it possible for this memory to cease and a new state come into being? Can the educated and conditioned consciousness comprehend that which is not a result? It cannot and so it must die to itself. Psychological memory, ever striving to become, is creating results, barriers, and so is ever enslaving itself. It is to this becoming that thought-feeling must die; only through constant self-awareness does this self-identifying memory come to an end; it cannot come to an end through an act of will for will is craving and craving is the accumulation of identifying memory.
Truth is not to be formulated nor can it be discovered through any formulation or any belief; only when there is freedom from becoming, from self-identifying memory, does it come into being. Our thought is the result of the past and without understanding its conditioning it cannot go beyond itself. Thought-feeling become a slave to its own creation, to its own power of illusion if it is unaware of its own ways. Only when thought ceases to formulate can there be creation.
Questioner: Do not the images of saints, Masters, help us to meditate rightly?
Krishnamurti: If you would go north why look towards the south? If you would be free why become slaves? Must you know sobriety through drunkenness? Must you have tyranny to know freedom?
As meditation is of the highest importance we ought to approach it rightly from the very beginning. Right means create right ends; the end is in the means. Wrong means produce wrong ends and at no time will wrong means bring about right ends. By killing another will you bring about tolerance and compassion? Only right meditation can bring about right understanding. It is essential for the meditator to understand himself, not the objects of his meditation, for the meditator and his meditation are one, not separate. Without understanding oneself meditation becomes a process of self-hypnosis inducing experiences according to one's conditioning, one's belief. The dreamer must understand himself, not his dreams; he must awaken and put an end to them. If the meditator is seeking an end, a result, then he will hypnotize himself by his desire. Meditation is often a self-hypnotic process; it may produce certain desired results but such meditation does not bring enlightenment.
The questioner wants to know if examples help one to meditate rightly. They may help to concentrate, to focus attention, but such concentration is not meditation. Mere concentration though troublesome is comparatively easy, but what then? The concentrator is still what he is, only he has acquired a new faculty, a new means through which he can function, enjoy and do harm. Of what value is concentration if he who concentrates is lustful, worldly and stupid? He will still do harm; he will still create enmity and confusion. Mere concentration narrows the mind-heart which only strengthens its conditioning, thus causing credulity and obstinacy. Before you learn to concentrate, understand the structure of your whole being, not just one part of it. With self-awareness there comes self-knowledge, right thinking. This self-awareness or understanding creates its own discipline and concentration; such pliable discipline is enduring, effective, not the self-imposed discipline of greed and envy. Understanding ever widens and deepens into extensional awareness; this awareness is essential for right meditation. Meditation of the heart is understanding.
We use examples as a means of inspiration. Why do we seek inspiration? As our lives are empty, dull and mechanical we seek inspiration outside of ourselves. The Master, the saint, the saviour then becomes a necessity, a necessity which enslaves us. Being enslaved you then have to free yourself from your enchainment to discover the Real, for the Real can only be experienced in freedom.
Because you are not interested in self-knowledge you seek from others inspiration which is another form of distraction. Self-knowledge is a process of creative discovery which is hindered when thought-feeling is concerned with gain. Greed for a result prevents the flowering of self-knowledge. Search itself is devotion, it is in itself inspiration. A mind that is identifying, comparing, judging, soon wearies and needs distraction, so-called inspiration. All distraction, noble or otherwise, is idolatrous.
But if the meditator begins to understand himself then his meditation has great significance. Through self-awareness and self-knowledge there comes right thinking; only then can thought go above and beyond the conditioned layers of consciousness. Meditation then is being, which has its own eternal movement; it is creation itself for the meditator has ceased to be.
The Observer is the Observed
Ojai, California. 10th Public Talk 1945
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.