The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Public Talk 2nd November, 1947
I would like to continue from where I left off last Sunday. Perhaps those of you who have followed the discussions, those who have followed what I have been saying seriously, will remember that I was trying to show the relationship between the individual and society. How society having been created by the individual smothers the individual through systems, through organizations, through religion and so on. I would like to continue from where I left off because I think it is very important to realize not only verbally but really very seriously and profoundly, the relationship between the individual and society, as well as the transformation of society and the regeneration of the individual. There is hope in man, not in society, not in systems, organized religious systems, but in you, and in me. I think this is fairly obvious. We must try to know what is happening in the world and not merely accept a formula, a system because there is no hope in them. So it is very important to realize the relationship between the individual and society. Is not society the result of one individual's relationship with another? Your relationship with another creates the society which in turn brings into being the State. The State by itself is not a separate entity. It is the outcome of your relationship with others. So it is from society that State comes into being.
Though you assert that relationship is based on brotherhood, love and religious ideas and so on, if you really analyze it very carefully and deeply you will see that it is based on sensate values, that is, the relationship is the product of sensory values, values made either by the hand or by the mind. Sensory values are not eternal values. That we shall discuss presently. So the relationship based on sensory values has produced in the world, wars, catastrophes, the chaos which you see throughout the world. This relationship between you and another has bred individual enterprise, and opposed to that there has come into being collective action. If you examine both, you will see that society is based on sensory values; whether of the right or of the left it is ultimately based on sensory values; and neither the right nor the left has brought happiness to man. That is, whether it is organized society of the left or of the right, man's happiness has not come into being.
Man is in despair, confused and in sorrow. So the problem is this, does man's happiness - thought, action, mind - does it lie in sensate values upon which our society, either of the left or of the right is based? Though the right produces religion, worship, etc., yet if you look at it very deeply, you will see that ultimately it denies man's happiness because it produces wars, regimentation and an education that merely shows you what to think, not how to think; yet surely the organized society of the left also denies man's happiness because it is regimented. So, does man's happiness, the happiness which is yours and mine, does it lie in things made by the hand and by the mind? And this is what we are all going to discover, through self-knowledge; it is you, and not somebody else who is going to tell you where your happiness lies. Your creative being, creative activity and your joys and your happiness are in sensory values. Through self-knowledge we can discover what is the truth and right happiness and whether our happiness lies in things made by the hand and by the mind.
Now, what is self-knowledge? Surely it cannot be learned through books. Surely it is not the assertion of another. You have to know the total process of your whole being, that is, to be aware of everything that you are - thoughts, feeling and action. Being aware, not by becoming aware, of what you are, that is the very beginning of self-knowledge. Without self-knowledge I do not see how there can be any thinking at all. Since you are the world and your relationship with another is society, without a revolutionary change in you there can be no hope. How to understand yourself is of primary importance. "Transform society" is one of our catch-phrases, an easy assertion, that we must do something about the world as though the world were so different from ourselves. We have created this horror, these wars, this mad chaos in the world at the present time and we cannot transform it if we do not know how to think about the problem. We cannot think about the problem unless we are aware of it. And you cannot be aware of it outside of yourself. You have created this, therefore you should become aware of yourselves and not of others. Therefore the confusion has to be cleared within your mind, which does not mean you must wait till all the confusion in yourself is cleared before you act.
So the problem of which we are well aware is how to transform the world, to bring happiness, to bring order, to bring peace. It must begin with us, that is with you and me, not merely by saying `I must begin', but in action, by becoming aware of what we are doing, of all the process and the repetition of ideas, and the absurdities in which we sometimes indulge, our class and communal divisions, national and racial divisions. All that has to be altered, has it not, before there can be fundamental changes in the world? And I do not think we realize what an extraordinary crisis this is. As I have said in my previous talks, it is not an ordinary economic crisis but an extraordinary crisis. A crisis like this happens only very rarely and we are all confronted with one of the rarest of catastrophes and confusions. And we all are approaching it with formulae, with systems, which is only blind thinking, whether the system is of the right or of the left. What we need is a complete revolution in thought, that is, in values and you cannot create values except by awakening the individual, not the individual in opposition to the mass. And as the individual's awakening is limited by narrow prejudicial activities, he cannot transform or regenerate himself, that is, the mass, and that can only be done by becoming aware of yourself, of whatever you do from the least important to the most profound. If you are not aware you must find out why you are not aware. When you walk down the streets you are aware of the poverty of the people, of the ill-fed families and of the utter callousness of everyone. But we have created this, you and I have created what is about us. it has not come into being by some mysterious charm, and since we are not aware of it how can we transform it? Surely that is the obvious beginning. Is it not? It looks simple and yet the most profound beginning is to begin with ourselves, which is the most difficult. We can always reform others, but it is very difficult to transform ourselves. (Laughter).
I know, Sirs, you laugh and that laughter has very little significance, it does not mean very much. I know that to most of us life has very little significance. We are all trying to solve the world's problem. What is happening in the Punjab, has happened in Germany. What is happening is a slow process of regimentation, even in England which has stood for the liberty of the individual. We are not aware of what is happening in America and China. You read about all of this because unfortunately it is one of our pet habits to read papers. We have become so dull and I think that is where our difficulty lies. We must revivify and quicken our whole sensitivity but you cannot be sensitive by merely saying that you must be sensitive. You become sensitive, when you become aware of yourself in action, in thought and in feeling. Surely hope or God, or whatever name you like to give it is to be found not in religion, not in systems but in trying to discover truth in every little thing. Truth is not far away but very near, only if we knew how to look for it, but we do not look for it because we are not aware. So what is of primary importance is to be aware, so choicelessly, so penetratingly aware of every thought, every feeling that is revealed.
Question: In a recent article by a famous correspondent it was stated that wisdom and personal example do not solve the world's problem. What do you say?
Krishnamurti: As there are many things involved in this particular question we must analyses it carefully. First of all we are persuaded or told what to think by famous correspondents, because correspondents, like you, have axes to grind. So, being very clever and good at words the correspondent writes and we read because we are educated, and what we read becomes the truth. We have stopped thinking but we absorb and so, famous correspondents become very important in our daily activities, also what they think and what they do. First of all we should be aware of everything; one has to be extremely alert, not to absorb other people's ideas and demands. The correspondent says that wisdom and personal examples are not enough to solve the world's problem. Neither do I think wisdom and personal example will save the world. The correspondent asks invariably for political action either of the left or of the right, based on a certain set of ideals, religious, economic or social.
Now, what does personal example mean? invariably it leads to imitation. You have an ideal and you conform to it and naturally conformity, imitation, regimentation of thought can never solve the world's problems. Therefore personal example in a great crisis becomes of very little significance. Wisdom cannot be realized through personal example. Wisdom is a thing that is living, real and constantly moving. It is not in a fixed place; it is not learned through books. What is necessary at the present time is not example, but revolution in thinking, creative thinking. And that revolution cannot take place or be gained by following a few leaders. It can only be gained through you, the individual. So neither personal example, nor political action based on a system or on an authority is going to save the world. That has been tried over and over again. Man puts his faith in a system, in the party, in a leader and each one of these has invariably failed. We merely returned to the exploitation of man in a different form, in different degrees, on a different level. Whether the State exploits man or man exploits man is all the same. The problem is not solved by the State or by examples.
The problem is our problem, because we no longer think creatively, but are following patterns, in a regimented way. We have brought about this world chaos and therefore personal example can never save mankind.
So there must be a creative revolution in thinking and that is extremely difficult. And because it is difficult we look to somebody else, to the example, to the leader. What do I mean by creative thinking? Do we think at all or do we merely respond to a certain set of conditions? Is that thinking? Because you are a Hindu, you are conditioned in a certain manner or if a Muslim, a Buddhist, or what ever it be, your response is to that particular conditioning. Surely that is not thinking. You have a certain conditioning and you respond to that. You think that you are thinking. There can be revolution in thinking only when the man is free from conditioning, not only the conscious conditioning, but the many layers of consciousness in which conditioning exists and to become liberated from that conditioning is revolutionary thinking. And that means you have to cease to be a Brahmin or a Muslim or a Hindu or a Christian. You have to transcend all fallacies, class divisions and that is the problem now. I know you will easily agree with me in all this. You will shake your head in assent. You will probably come next Sunday and the many following Sundays and yet you will go on in the same routine because you are conditioned. If you do change, what will your neighbours say! You might even lose your job and therefore you will go on shaking your head and the world will go on more and more miserably and you will go on talking about changing the world.
So the start is not in the world of which you are unaware, but in you. The world's problem can be solved if you are aware of the catastrophe and the misery in yourself, the confusion which exists in you and therefore in the world. Political action is comparatively easy. To organize the distribution of food for mankind is comparatively easy. There is a need to clothe man, shelter him and give him food. We all know that. Every school boy knows it. But what is the result? It is merely book knowledge. Because the boy is conditioned, because he cannot free himself from his conditioning, it remains merely book knowledge without action. That is why, we must break through our conditioning and all the degradations, the degenerative qualities that exist. I assure you that is the only way out, and that also means that personal examples are of very little significance in a world crisis of this kind, but what is of the highest importance is what you are, your thinking, your feeling, your action now.
Question: What do you mean when you say that we use the present as a passage.
Krishnamurti: Last Sunday I said that we use the present as a passage to the future. We use the present as a means of achieving some result, whether it is a psychological result or a personal result, changing oneself to become something. We use the present as a means of the past for the future, that is, to answer the question, the present is the result of the past. Surely that is obvious. What you think is based on the past, your being is founded on the past. Now thought without understanding the past, goes through the present into the future. So the future is the past continuing through the present, and it is the result of the past, it can only be understood through the present. The psycho - analysts look to the past to find difficulties, the conditioning, the complex, and so on. But to understand the past, the present which is the past must be understood. That is, through the present is the past. Past is not unrelated to the present. So to understand the past the door is the present, which is also the door to the future. That is, to understand the significance of the past the present must be understood and not sacrificed for the future. There are political groups of the left and also of the right who say: "Sacrifice the present for the future. It does not matter what happens to man in the present but we will lead him to a marvellous future." As though they knew what the future is going to be! This idea of sacrificing the present for the future has thus led man to disaster, to chaos and misery. Religious people also use the present as a passage to the future. That is, you say: "ln my next incarnation I will do something, but nothing now. Give me a chance." That is sacrificing the present, surely. Surely eternity is the present, the timeless is now and to understand the timeless you cannot approach it through time. Yet, you are using time, that is, the past, the present and the future as a means of realizing the immeasurable, the timeless. So one must be aware of what this political fallacy of sacrificing the present for the future is, and one must be aware also of this idea that the future is different from the present.
If you do not change now you will never change. Because you are continuing the present, understanding, wisdom is in the present not in the future. Wisdom is being, which is the present, which is now, and the present can be understood when the mind understands the past and thus becomes psychologically aware of the whole content of our being now, of what you are now and therefore to understand the now, you must look to the past, because your thought is based on the past. Surely that is obvious, is it not? You cannot think without the past and to understand the past, examine what you are now, be aware of what you are now and becoming aware of what you are now, you will see we are using the present as a passage to get somewhere, interpreting the present and knowing its significance conditioned by the past. So if you use time as a means to the timeless you will never find the timeless because the means creates the end. If you use wrong means you will produce the wrong end. War is a wrong means to peace and while we are talking of peace, nations are preparing for war. The means is the end and the end is not dissociated from the means. So if you would understand the timeless, what is bound in time, that is, the past, the present and the future, must free itself and that is extremely arduous. It demands constant awareness of every thought and every feeling and becoming aware how it is conditioned, how it is caught up in us.
Question: The communists say that the rulers of Indian states, the zamindars and the capitalists are the chief exploiters of the nation and they should be liquidated in order to secure food, clothing and shelter for all. Mahatma Gandhi says that the rulers, zamindars and the capitalists are the trustees of the persons under their control and influence and therefore they may be allowed to remain and function. What do you say?
Krishnamurti: It is extremely confusing, what is happening in the world. We give more importance to what other people say, and do not mind what we think. It is really odd. Wherever you go, in America, in England, and even in Damascus and here, you are fully acquainted with what everyone is saying, and yet do you know what you think? You will repeat what this political leader, that philosopher says, but will that save mankind? What another thinks, has it any significance? So the capitalists, the leaders and others say one thing contradicting or occasionally agreeing. So it is what they think that matters but not what you and I think? Do let us find out what we think apart from all our leaders, apart from our gurus, apart from all our systems and philosophies or all our groups whether of the left or of the right, let us think of the problem as though we are facing it for the first time. Let us view it as though we had never read a book. Surely that is the only way to solve the problem. So we are not discussing what the experts, the authorities, the leaders think but what you and I think.
How will you get rid of the zamindars and capitalists? How does one become a zamindar or a maharajah? By exploiting people. To gather more than what one needs, leads to exploitation. Does it not? Merely because you need a certain amount of food, clothing and shelter is no reason for becoming the means by which some men use others for their personal satisfaction either economically, socially, or psychologically. Therefore to use man to gain power, position and authority becomes exploitation. So exploitation is the problem and not the zamindars. They are like you. If you had the chance you would be zamindars. If you had the chance you would be capitalists. Because you have something, you want more. You lose your generosity, the moment you climb up the ladder. So the problem is exploitation; to stop it, is the problem, is it not? And the capitalists, zamindars, etc., are trustees! Good God, they are trustees! Do you know what `trustees' means? Trust means love, and trustees, people who love man. To seek position for oneself, does it mean love for man? How can you love and at the same time exploit people? See, please, I am not taking sides. So do not become aggressive. The problem is much more profound than merely to say that they are trustees or not. First of all the problem is how easily you are persuaded. Let us think it out together now. The problem is exploitation, can exploitation cease while there is individual enterprise or must there be collective action? We know what individual enterprise has brought into the world and we also know what State exploitation can do. Both are equally ruthless and brutal; the latter perhaps more so, because there is no appeal and the State is run by the few. They also seek power and position. They also exploit man. Perhaps they may organize collective food, clothing and shelter for everybody. But they will exploit something which is much more important, your mind, your being, which means what you are thinking. Surely that is also exploitation, to control what you say and think. So exploitation is a very complex problem and as I said the moment we stock beyond what is essential, we exploit not only physiologically, but, psychologically also. The more clothes, the more shelter, the more ideas, you are acquiring, the greater the exploitation. Let us analyse it. The moment you acquire, the moment you become important, the moment the emphasis is laid on you as an entity acquiring, there must be exploitation, which does not mean that we should not organize for the welfare of the whole. But if the organizer is concerned with acquisition, then surely organizing is a means of exploitation, which we have seen happen over and over again.
Can man live in relationship with another without acquisition, without position? Surely that is the problem put in a different way. Can we live in a society without acquiring more and more property for property represents power, position and security and you are not willing to limit your needs? Individual enterprise and other causes have contributed to horrors, so people of the left say: liquidate. But liquidation is not the solution surely. Man may not exploit through means of production, but the State will. The means of securing food, clothing and shelter is denied by psychological acquisitions which again is seen in everyday life. But this desire for acquisition is a means of security. The more you have the safer you are, at least you think you are. But is there such a thing as security? Because we have sought security irrespective of anything we possess, we have created this chaos. Each person is seeking security and because each person wants to be more secure still, another group says we must have collective security. That means exploiting man not merely for physical security, but exploiting man for much more profound things.
So we come back to the question whether acquisition, psychological or physical, can be voluntarily relinquished. If you do not voluntarily relinquish it, it will be taken out of your hands, that is, if you do not physically or psychologically relinquish the desire to acquire, society is going to deprive you of everything and you will be made into a tool. That is what is happening. Society now is based on industry and therefore the labour must be organized and also controlled, that is you and I will be controlled. Therefore the state will control you and tell you what you should do and should not do. This is coming whether you like it or not. And if you really relinquish this desire to possess, to acquire, then morally, we will create a new society not based on any compulsion but that requires a great deal of active intelligence. It also means that you must begin with yourselves but since you are apathetic, lazy, you will be directed and compelled and there is no solution in that way. The solution lies in understanding what exploitation is, not only physical exploitation but the psychological as well and if one does not understand psychological exploitation, one fails to realize that the more we desire security, position, the nearer we are to loneliness, to poverty, to degradation. This is an immense question and an immense problem. It is to be understood very deeply because we do not lay emphasis on sensate value only.
We live for intangible things like power. This greed for power comes because we do not understand ourselves. To understand ourselves requires a great deal of work, a great deal of thought and patience, the patience to look at things as they are.
Question: Are your teachings intended only for the sannyasis or for all of us with families and their responsibilities?
Krishnamurti: Surely what I am saying is meant for all: for those who have renounced the world and for those who live in the world, for he who has renounced is still in the world because he is in the world of his own making, just as the worldly person is in the world of his own desires.
Both are held in bondage whether the bondage of the family, of the sensate or the bondage of the mind, and what I am saying applies to both because freedom is not one's creation. God or truth does not lie either in things made by the hand or in the things made by the mind. One has to transcend them, go above and beyond the passions, the envies, the greed, the ill will, the worldliness and beyond the things that man invents and creates. Then only shall we find what is truth. And we do find it at rare moments, moments when the mind is not thinking of itself, when the mind is tranquil. This happens very rarely. When you are unconsciously wandering in the streets, when you are not thinking, spontaneously there is this extraordinary state in feeling - a fleeting revelation uninvited, unexpressed but which if you once have experienced it you want to regain. Therefore you are caught again in memory, in want.
After all the man who has a family is in a terrible position, is he not? Look at yourselves. Because of confusion in the world and sadness and despair in the world you are concerned with what is going to happen to your children. You want them to be secure, safely married and settled. The greater the confusion, the more you want security. That is, you want to push your responsibility on to somebody else, and what happens? You are unwilling to face the real issues, you call it responsibilities, whether it be love or any other thing. Likewise the man who has renounced the world is caught up in the images of his own mind. For him it is not different because he is heavy with his own fancies, his own dreams made of his own creation. He is born with them as you are with yours and so what is the real issue? How to live in the world when greed, when envy, when ill will, when those passions that destroy men are rampant. Surely we can live in the world without greed. Yes sir, you may laugh, you can live in the world without greed. To live so, you require a great deal of alertness, a great deal of thought, not to follow leaders, but to become aware of yourself. Then the family has a different significance because love comes in. Without love, family has no meaning and most of us, if I may say so, have not loved when we have families. If we understood our relationship with another real transformation would come. Then there would be love which will bring into being regeneration and a new world.
Question: You may have heard of the awful tragedy that has taken place and is even now taking place in the Punjab. Will the individual action based on right thinking and self-knowledge by the few who are capable of such action be significant to solve this Punjab problem?
Krishnamurti: What has happened in Punjab has also happened in Germany, in Europe. It has happened all over the world. It is not a peculiar Indian problem. This tragedy has taken place because of our national and religious bigotry. We are Hindus or we are Muslims, we are not human beings. We are labels, whether Germans or English, Japanese or Chinese and that is why the tragedy has taken place. I am afraid this is going to take place all over the world because nationalistic spirit is still rampant. Surely, till that ceases you are going to have war, economic, religious, psychological and all the rest of it. So the problem is not peculiar to Punjab but it is general. You only understand it by making it particular, by making it local. You are responsible for it and you have to transform yourselves. Because you have insisted for centuries on being either a Hindu or a Muslim as though what you call yourself mattered very much. We are labelled and we are unable to understand the sensitivity of other human beings and we are slaves to nationalism, to property and therefore we are willing to kill another in the name of freedom, in the name of God. To make it direct you have to change. Have you not? You have to completely stop nationalism. We have to stop the waving of the flag. We have to cease to be a Hindu or a Mussalman or a German or an American and cease to think in those terms and think in different categories. I know you will agree with me, yet you will go home and still be a Hindu or a Christian and God knows what else. You will continue your pujas, your Brahmanic tradition, you will go to the temples and function along the same routine. Yet we talk of brotherliness, being Hindus, and the tradition says that you must love each other as brothers. So what matters is that you should break up your conditioning. Not here, you have to break it up at home, at your political meetings. And then you will find how extraordinarily difficult it is. Your mothers, your sisters will cry and to please them you will have to become a hypocrite. You do not know how serious it is. You may be insensitive to it and you do not know what is happening? Preparations are going on for the third catastrophe which will be worse than ever before, and here we are discussing whether we are Brahmins or not. Is it not too childish? When you will be in a crisis will you bother about what caste you are, what nationality you are, whether you belong to the left or to the right? When we do, we are not aware of the crisis. We are controlled by our labels and that is our difficulty. To reawaken ourselves we have to become sensitive to the whole issue.
Question: You say discipline is opposed to freedom. But is not discipline necessary for freedom?
Krishnamurti: As this is a difficult problem, we have to consider thoroughly the implications of this question. A wrong means will produce a wrong end. Therefore right means must be employed for right ends. If you are disciplined, regimented, you will not produce freedom but a regimentation, a disciplined conditioning. It is obvious, is it not? So the means matters much more than the end. So, if you discipline your mind according to a pattern, which is the means, then you are bound to produce an end which is patterned after the means. But you will say: I must organize my daily life otherwise I can do nothing. I must condition myself to do my daily duties. I must organize the day. Now, what do you organize for? Why do you discipline yourself at all? To get things done, is it not? That is, you arrange your day to achieve a certain result. That is one kind of discipline. You arrange it mechanically, discipline yourself mechanically to achieve a certain result. Now the same mentality is carried over. In order to achieve a result you discipline yourself more and more. You say, you must be happy, you must find God, you must know, and you employ methods in order to achieve that result. You think happiness is truth or God, that it is an end to be achieved. That it is fixed, as though happiness were fixed, something to be done mechanically, something to be gained and you say after establishing it you have the means to discipline yourself. Now, can a disciplined mind, in the sense I am using the word `disciplined', be regimented, compelled through a means to an end? The means creates the end. The end is made by you. Therefore you are conditioning the end. Can a mind which is disciplined understand freedom? For a political man you may have to discipline yourself in order to achieve a result and in that process your mind becomes dull. Because party discipline is important, you sacrifice individual thinking in order to achieve a result. So you train yourself to be disciplined in order to achieve a result. There is no real thinking but the mind is merely hitched to a van you call the political machine and you cease to be a thinker and you are disciplined to function effectively. What you say is: I will discipline, control myself according to a pattern, in order to be free. How absurd it sounds? To put it differently, need you go through drunkenness to become sober? As means is the end, you must begin by understanding why it is necessary to be disciplined, and what it implies. Freedom is not a result. Freedom begins when you are aware and that awareness does not only apply to discipline, but to the whole process of living. So freedom can only come into being when the mind is free, when it is not conditioned by a pattern, by a discipline. When do you discover anything? When you are spontaneous, when you are absolutely free, not when you are bound and blind. To discover the real God, there must be freedom and you cannot be free to discover when your mind is trained after a pattern, trained according to a desire. Which does not mean that mind must be vagrant. When you become aware of the vagrancy of the mind, of the wanderings of the mind there is already freedom. You speak of discipline, the means to establish the end. Yet the need is not the real, because it is created by the mind and what you gain is not the real. Truth must come to you and you cannot go to truth and to receive truth there must be freedom to think clearly, deeply, profoundly. There must be choiceless awareness, not condemnation nor identification, but awareness. You will find that there are different ways of looking at discipline. Discipline prevents thinking and it is only in spontaneity that any freedom can be real, that the immeasurable can be known.
The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Public Talk 2nd November, 1947
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.