The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Public Talk 9th November, 1947
I would request you to listen to these talks, not so much with the idea of learning, but letting what I am saying take root. If it is true it will take root unconsciously and if it is not true it will fall off and so you do not have to bother. Because, what is true is absorbed instantaneously by the unconscious and what is not true, though it is implanted in the unconscious, gradually falls off. So, if I may suggest, these talks should really be extended and discussed every day. There is something new happening to all of us every Sunday and these talks are really meant to awaken, to quicken that intelligence. If I may make a resume of what we have already discussed, I think it will be possible to extend more and more what I have been saying about self-knowledge, that is, we will be able to go further by approaching it from different angles each time.
The other day we were discussing with many friends why each one of us, and therefore the world, is so consumed with the sense of property and class division. Why is it that each one of us gives such significance to acquisitiveness and to social, national and racial divisions? Why is it that all our problems seem to revolve around possession and name? I do not know whether you have thought about this from this point of view. Why is it that property with all its implications, name and nationality, racial and class divisions, fills our minds? There must be some reason. Mustn't there be? And we have tried to solve our problem from that point of view; property, acquisitiveness, possessiveness, racial and class divisions and so on. This is what is happening in the world. We are trying to solve our problems in either of these two ways. Now, why is it that they fill our minds? It would be worthwhile to discuss this with each one of you and really go into it but that is impossible because there are too many persons here. So I can only point out the problem and I hope you will think about it afterwards.
Now, I said that we are consumed by these two ideas. Why is it that all our civilization is based on these ideas? Why is it that we are wrangling, quarrelling, going to war about these two ideas and why is it that we are trying to solve all our problems from the point of view of these two ideas? Is it not because we are seeking security? That food, clothing and shelter are very essential is an obvious fact. Yet we seem to be incapable of solving this question. So, why have these rudimentary demands taken such a deep hold of our minds? Is it not because we have no greater value? If you are interested in something greater, the lesser would not have such predominating value. In other words, secondary values when given consuming importance bring disaster and misery as they are doing now in the world. So why is there no greater value though all the books, the sacred books, say that there is a greater value? You must seek why; have you not tried it? If we did seek why, where has it led us to? Again to class division. Though you are seeking God and all the rest of it, the result is still division, division between the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Christian, the Muslim and so on. So when the mind seeks security, certainty, there can be no greater value than the sensate. After all, acquisition and class division are psychological factors. They are not materialistic values. They are psychological demands. So psychologically when we are seeking security it only creates values that are made by the hand or by the mind and therefore there can be no greater value and so sensate values become all important. Obviously we must have legislation and some kind of control but that does not solve the problem because revolution after revolution has come and we still stay the same. We are in the same misery and in the same confusion and nothing has been solved.
So, how is the greater value to be found? This is significant. If I am really interested in something greater, I will not give such significance to the secondary, to the lesser. As I have not found a greater interest, the secondary becomes all import- ant and how am I to find the greater? I can only find it by understanding the psychological demand for security. I think this is the problem which we have to face, not the problem of food, clothing and shelter, because even when we have food, clothing and shelter, we still demand security for our inner needs. So, when we seek security we will have to ask, is there any security? Is there psychological security? We are all seeking it. We want to have food, clothing, shelter, but we also want to find security in names, class divisions, property, beliefs, definite ideas. This is the way in which the mind constantly seeks to be secure, to be certain, and we have assumed that there is such a thing as security and on it we are building our whole civilization, the whole structure of our thoughts, religious thoughts as well as those of every day existence. We have never asked ourselves, is there security, is there certainty? If there is not we will have to alter our whole existence. So, the problem then is not food, clothing and shelter for it can be solved.
When the mind is seeking security, it must create the lesser values which are sensate values; and then sensate values become all important. So, is there security? Is there psychological certainty? You are going to find it out. We can only find it out through self-knowledge. So, I come back to that point again with a different approach. That is, as long as the mind is seeking security, when it is seeking psychological security, it only creates sensate values, the known values, sensory values, and it is caught in these values. But, if the mind is enquiring whether there is security, then sensate values become of less significance. I may tell you there is no security or somebody else can tell you there is security; but that will have no significance. But if you can discover it for yourself, then it will become extraordinarily clear, which is not the result of our own projection. So, self-knowledge is important in the sense that while you explore your own mind you begin to discover fundamentally and basically whether such a thing as security exists, whether reality is certainty; and self-knowledge has an extraordinary creative significance, if we treat it as an experiment, and not try to achieve a result; if we experiment with ourselves and live experimentally then every relationship becomes a process of self-revelation; if I am related to you and in daily contact with you I am being revealed to myself, the way I think, the way I feel and act; if I am observant and aware of that relationship in daily life, the process of my thinking, my meditations, my demands become revealed to me. But I can only have self-knowledge if I am aware. When I am aware I can see that one of the major difficulties in relationship whether it be relationship with one or with many - is our desire to be secure, because after all can relationship exist on uncertainty? Can you feel insecure with your wife and your children? Because as soon as you feel insecure, you begin to inquire. The moment you are certain you go to sleep. Thus, self-knowledge becomes extraordinarily significant when one begins to enquire whether there is any certainty, and question the mind which is ever seeking, pursuing the known.
I do not know if you have observed the process of your thinking; but if you have, you will see that your thought is always moving from the known to the known, or to an unknown of its own creation which it then pursues until it becomes the worship of God. You have created God because it is the ultimate security; and if you observe very carefully your own way of thinking, your own feeling, you will see that they are absorbed in security. Yet truly, it is in uncertainty, in freedom, that you can discover what freedom is, not in certainty, nor in possessiveness, nor in the divisions of beliefs or of names. Property, belief have become all important because we have pursued certainty through sensate values, sensory values that the mind can create or the hand can create, because in them there seems to be security. But, if you went deeply into the whole problem of security, then sensory values would be of very small importance.
Question: Will you please explain further what you mean by meditation?
Krishnamurti: First of all let us see exactly what takes place, what the problem is, then we can have understanding. Only then will we find the answer. What do we generally mean by meditation? Let us examine what happens when we meditate. We are not condemning it. We are not judging it. We are merely examining what we actually do when we meditate because if we understand the problem we can understand the solution, the answer to it.
So what do we do when we sit down and meditate? First of all, whenever we give importance to a belief we erect a barrier. You do it because you have been told to do it. Secondly, if you sit down and meditate, your mind wanders hopelessly all over the place. Because you have been told, that your mind is subtle and that you must concentrate on one idea and exclude all other ideas, you spend your time in conflict, trying to concentrate on one idea, while all the time your mind flits all over the place. If you sit in front of a picture you try to concentrate on that picture, or else on a word or on a phrase or an a quality. Because of your desire to be secure, you concentrate on something positive, like a picture or a phrase or an idea, or a quality. The idea has generally been formulated by the mind or taken out of a book. This is what we do and this is the actual picture, is it not? I do not know if you sit down and meditate, perhaps you do not; if you do, is that not what really, actually takes place? Now, is that meditation?
So far we have considered a man that can fix his mind on one thing, as if this were something remarkable. If he can fix in his mind the idea of God which is an idea created by himself, or a word, or a phrase, and be consumed by that idea, that word, that phrase, you think he is a great religious man; and then you will also say that the man knows how to create. Isn't it so? What I mean is that the mind being vagrant, wandering, disorderly, but seeking orderliness, security, pursues one exclusive idea, generally a verbal idea; and when someone can dwell completely in an idea and be identified with it, we call him a great man. Yet the idea is a mere projection. The phrase is made by the man, is it not? The word is repeated by the man. So, as long as there is repetition, you are putting yourself in a trance by means of a phrase, a word, an idea; and going far into a trance, you will call that meditation, which is only identification with a projected idea; because reality is inconceivable, unknowable and you cannot think about the unknowable, you can only think about the knowable. And what you know is not the truth and therefore when you create the known you only experience a process of self-hypnosis. Is that meditation? To go into a trance, to concentrate on a thing with which you are completely identified, which is a projection of yourself? Is that not what we are doing? Is that right? What we do restlessly when in meditation is merely moving from the known to the known and therefore it is not the discovery of the unknown. After all, man is the result of the past and when the mind thinks of something in the future, it has translated the past into the future and therefore it is not the real. So if this is not the true process, then what is the true process? How to discover the unknown is the problem. After all the purpose of meditation is to discover reality, not to hypnotize yourself about the reality. Meditation is, after all, the discovery of beauty, love. But you can discover nothing by mesmerizing yourself, or by becoming stupefied by a phrase, or by a map, or by concentrating on something which is exclusive of all else. it is a form of self-hypnosis.
So, the problem is, whether it is possible to discover the unknowable, isn't it? What you seek is the unknowable. If you experience it and merely live in the experience-all experiences are of the past - then it is not the real. So, for example you feel an extraordinary clarity, a vision of beauty and truth.The mind records this experience in memory and clings to it, thus breaking away from the unknown. Memory becomes a hindrance to the unknowable. How then would you find out that which is not conceivable, that which cannot be formulated, that which is immeasurable, the real? This is the problem, in meditation, is it not? Meditation is not a prayer, it is not a problem of concentration, we have gone into that. Can meditation - which is the result of the known, of the past - discover the unknowable, the unknown? Can my mind, which is the result of the known, of the past, understand, experience the unknowable, the timeless, the eternal? What is the answer? It can only know the eternal, the timeless when it is not caught in time. The mind can know the truth only when the mind is free from time, the known. So how can the mind which is the result of the past, free itself from an idea, a phrase, from devotion to a superior entity, all of which are inventions of the mind? It is obvious that when the mind suggests a superior entity, it is already the known entity. I do not know if you will see the implication in this.
So, the problem then is not how to meditate, which is really a wrong question. `How' implies method. Method is the known and the known can only lead you to the known. The means creates the end. If the means is the known the end is the known.
So, the problem is the mind which moves from the known to the known. You study to find the unknowable, the eternal, the timeless. The mind cannot see the real unless it frees itself from the known. What is the known? The accumulated memory is constantly gathering ideas, possessions or distinctions. Can mind free itself from its own creations? Can mind, which is the result of time, free itself from time? Because when it is itself free from time, the timeless is. Mind is not searching for the timeless. It does not know what the timeless is. So, how can the mind free itself from time, from the past, the present and the future? It can free itself only from time, from the present, by being aware of everything, of all that we are doing now, of all thinking, of all feeling, by being aware now and not tomorrow. For, the present is the door to time, to the understanding of time and the present exists in what you are thinking, not in the time indicated by the clock, the time-table, or your routine. But in becoming aware of what you are thinking now you will discover why you are thinking and what you are thinking. That is, if you are aware, you will begin to see that you condemn, judge, identify or find excuses. But that does not help you to know what you are thinking and what is the cause of your thinking and your reaction to it. So, it is in knowing what you are thinking, in the constant awareness of what you are thinking, feeling, doing, that you will find the beginning of self-knowledge, not only knowledge of your self-conscious, but also of all the hidden activities. This is the beginning of self-knowledge and therefore self-knowledge is the beginning of meditation and there can be no meditation without self-knowledge. To meditate there must be self-knowledge.
So, the question `How to meditate' is a wrong question because it merely asks for a method, the known, a technique which is the known to find the unknowable. See how ridiculous it is. The means creates the end and if the means is the known then the end also is the known and therefore it is not the unknowable, the timeless. So the beginning of meditation is the beginning of self - knowledge. That is, through awareness the mind begins to be aware of its own activities and to know the whole process of the mind is not a question of time. But, if you begin to be aware, choicelessly, that is without condemnation, without justification, without identification, which is extremely difficult, then self-knowledge becomes extremely creative. After all that which is creative is creation, the Real.
Question: I am beginning to realize that I am very lonely. What am I to do? (Laughter.)
Krishnamurti: I wonder why you laugh, Do you laugh because you despise loneliness or because you think that it is something which does not concern you. You must be so busy with social activities that you cannot bother about yourself, nor feel your loneliness. Is that the reason why we laugh? it will be very interesting, Sirs, to find out within yourself why you laugh because then you will open the way to self-knowledge and if you pursue self-knowledge really, ardently, it will lead you to amazing heights and depths, to extraordinary joy, tribulation, which you will never know otherwise.
The questioner wants to know, why he feels loneliness? Do you know what loneliness means and are you aware of it? I doubt it very much because we have smothered ourselves in activities, in books, in relationships, in ideas which really prevent us from being aware of loneliness. So, what do we mean by loneliness? It is a sense of being empty, of having nothing, of being extraordinarily uncertain, with no anchorage anywhere. It is not despair, nor hopelessness, but a sense of void, a sense of emptiness and a sense of frustration. I am sure we have all felt it, the happy and the unhappy, the very, very active and those who are addicted to knowledge. They all know this. The sense of real inexhaustible pain, a pain that cannot be covered up though we do try to cover it up.
So, let us approach again this problem to see what is actually taking place, to see what you do when you feel lonely. You try to escape from your feeling of loneliness, you try to pick up a book, you follow some leader, or you go to a cinema, or you become socially very, very active, or you go and worship and pray, or you paint, or you write a poem about loneliness. That is what is actually taking place. Becoming aware of loneliness, the pain of it, the extraordinary and fathomless fear of it, you seek an escape, and that escape becomes more important and therefore your activities, your knowledge, your gods, your radios all become important. Don't they? I said, when you give importance to secondary values, they lead you to misery and chaos; and the secondary values inevitably are the sensate values and modern civilization based on these gives you this escape - escape through your job, escape through your family, escape through your name, escape through your studies, escape through painting, etc; all our culture is based on that escape. Our civilization is founded on that and that is a fact.
Have you ever tried to be alone? When you do, you will feel how extraordinarily difficult it is and how extraordinarily intelligent we must be to be alone, because the mind will not let you be alone. The mind becomes restless, it busies itself with escapes. So what is it that we are doing? We try to fill this extraordinary void with the known. We discover how to be active, how to be social, we know how to study, how to turn on the radio. So we are filling that thing which we do not know, with the things we know. We try to fill that emptiness with various kinds of knowledge, relationship or things. With these three we are trying to fill it. Is that not so? That is our process, that is our existence. Now when you realize what you are doing, do you still think you can fill that void? You have tried every means of filling this void of loneliness. Have you succeeded in filling it? You have tried cinemas and you did not succeed and therefore you go after your gurus, your books or you become socially very active. Have you succeeded in filling it or have you merely covered it up? If you have merely covered it up, it is still there. Therefore, it will come back and if you are able to escape altogether then you are locked up in an asylum or you become very, very dull. That is what is happening in the world.
Can this emptiness, this void be filled? If not, can we run away from it, escape from it? And if we have experienced and found one escape to be of no value, are not therefore all other escapes of no value? Therefore it does not matter whether you fill the emptiness with this or with that. Meditation is also an escape. So it does not matter much that you change your escape.
How then will you find what to do about this loneliness? You can only find what to do when you have stopped escaping. Is not that so? That is, when you are willing to face what is, which means you must not turn on the radio, which means you must turn your back to civilization, then that loneliness comes to an end because it is completely transformed. It is no longer loneliness. Because if you understand what is, then what is, is the real. Because the mind is continuously avoiding, escaping, refusing to see what is, it creates its own hindrances. Because we have ever so many hindrances that are preventing us from seeing, we do not understand what is and therefore we are getting away from reality; and all these hindrances have been created by the mind in order not to see what is. Because to see what is, not only requires a great deal of capacity and awareness of action, but it also means turning your back on everything that you have built up, your bank account, your name and everything that we call civilization. When you see what is you will find how loneliness is transformed. Question: Are you not becoming our leader?
Krishnamurti: There are several ideas involved in this question; that I should enter politics; that I should help to lead India out of this present chaos and so on. Let us examine this question and see what it means. First of all, why do you want a leader; the question is not whether I am a leader and you are a follower. Why does one become a leader and why does one wish to be a follower, whether the leader be a man or a guru? We want a leader because we are uncertain. We do not know what to think; we are confused and because in our confusion we do not know what to do, we want somebody to protect us. Politically it becomes the tyranny of a dictator. That is what is happening and what is going to happen. When there is confusion, and psychologically we are confused, we want somebody to lead us. In the world there is confusion, misery, chaos, exploitation by the rich, by the capitalist, by the clever, by the intelligent, by those who have got a system and these become leaders, create a party and because we do not want anarchy we let them lead us. We do not want to be confused, we want somebody to tell us what to do. And so, we create leaders. Why do we create them?
Why do we hanker after leaders; why are we looking for leaders? Is it not because we want to be secure? We do not want to be uncertain about anything. Now, what happens? You not only create a leader but you become the follower. That is, you destroy yourself by following another. When you follow a tradition blindly, or follow a leader or a party, when you discipline yourself, are you not destroying your own thinking process? Instead there is confusion but nobody is going to bring order except yourself. Here is a marvellous state of confusion and you do not want to look at it. We want somebody to take us away from it. Then what happens? What do the leaders do? They get up and talk and they become leaders. But what they promise they must fulfil in action and when they cannot they feel frustrated.
So, exploitation exists not only between the worker and the owner, but also between the follower and the leader, because if the leader does not lead he feels lost. If the leader does not get up and talk on the platform what is he? You not only create the leader but because of his own frustration and confusion you are also exploiting him. Exploitation is mutual. Haven't you noticed this? As the leader depends upon you and you depend upon the leader where are we going to be led to?
This desire to create a leader is a form of self-fulfilment. You fulfil yourself in a leader and he fulfills himself in you, by seeking to save you, to guide you. But he is the leader you have created and therefore it is mutual exploitation, mutual self-fulfilment and therefore it is leading nowhere. Obviously it is exploitation, when it is only a self-fulfilment through organization. If there is self-fulfilment then it must lead to frustration and as we do not want to be frustrated we are always trying to watch for the inevitable. And therefore the leader becomes very important. He has to be the leader and you have to be the follower.
Now, I do not want to fulfil myself in that way. I do not believe in self-fulfilment, it leads to misery. It leads to chaos and as I do not depend on you financially or for my psychological demands, I am not your leader. It does not matter to me whether there is one or many or none to listen to me. I do not believe in mutual exploitation, it leads to such absurd indignities and intrigues and therefore I am not your leader and you are not going to make me your leader. That is very simple, because there must be the two, those who want to lead and those who want to be led. As I do not want to lead, nor to follow anybody I am out of that class. Because true reality is not found through following anybody, it is not self-fulfilment. It comes into being only when the self is absent, when there is freedom from psychological demands, when the mind is free to act in pursuing anything. The pursuit is indicative of creation and when all desires cease then there is reality.
Question: What is the difference between belief and confidence? Why do you condemn belief? Krishnamurti: First of all let us see what is belief and what is confidence. What do we mean by belief? Why do we have to believe? Is it not because we have a desire to be certain, to be secure? Psychologically it is disturbing not to have a belief, is it not? If you have no belief in God, in a political party, you will be very disturbed. Would you not? Fear, belief in reincarnation, in dozens of things. So, belief is a demand to be secure made by the mind and therefore what happens? The mind seeking security, seeking belief, creates belief. Either it creates it for itself or it takes the beliefs of others and whether it has created it or has taken it over from others, the mind holds on to it, and says `I believe'. Or it projects the belief into the future and makes out of it a certainty, a security according to which it disciplines itself. As various factors are bound to lead to different beliefs, you believe in God and another believes there is no God. You are a Muslim and another is a Hindu or a Christian and then what happens? Belief divides. Does it not? The desire to be secure psychologically is bound to create division because you are creating, giving importance to various things that are secondary.
See what belief is doing in the world. Politically or religiously there are innumerable schemes which you believe to be the solvent of our difficulties. There are religious beliefs of such extraordinary varieties, and each individual pursues his own belief because it brings him comfort, and becomes a means of propaganda and exploitation. Belief inevitably separates. If you have a belief or when you seek security in your particular belief you become separated from those who are seeking security in other forms of belief. Therefore, all organized beliefs are based on separatism, though they may preach brotherhood. That is exactly what is happening in the world because belief is a hidden psychological demand for self-fulfilment. That is, by fulfilling yourself by means of a belief, you think you will be happy. Therefore, belief becomes an extraordinarily important factor in religion, in politics, etc.
If you feel you are a human being, do you think you would be fighting like this? Hindu and you are fighting with a Mussalman and you are killing each other; the English fought the Germans and so on. So belief is formed because of a desire for self-fulfilment, for security; and because we demand security and strive for it, we have an end and the end is a projection of ourselves. If the end were unknown we would not believe. It is a projection of the self and therefore it creates separatism and it becomes a barrier between you and another and that is exactly what is happening. I am not inventing a theory, but I am describing a fact, psychologically as well as organizationally a fact. We all believe in a pattern because we feel it to be very safe, the leader as well as the follower. If you analyse belief very carefully and look into it you will find that it is a form of self-fulfilment, of mutual exploitation, and that it does not lead to any answer. That is what belief has done for us.
And what do we mean by confidence? Most of us confide in someone or feel confidence in something. If you have practised something, read books, etc., it gives you a certain confidence, because you have practiced, done it over and over again with confidence. It is a form of aggressiveness. You can do something and therefore you feel delighted with yourself - "I can do something and you cannot." Confidence in a name, in a capacity - such confidence is aggression. Is it not? Such confidence is also self-exploitation which again is akin to belief. Therefore belief and confidence are similar. They are the two sides of the same coin.
Now, there is another kind of confidence which comes through self-knowledge. It should not really be called confidence, but for the lack of a better word we will call it `confidence'. When there is awareness, when the mind is aware of what it is thinking, feeling, doing, not only in the superficial layer of consciousness but in the deeper hidden layers, when we are fully aware of all the implications, then there comes a sense of freedom, a sense of assurance, because you know. When you know a cobra you are free from it, aren't you? When you know something is poisonous there is an assurance, there is a freedom that was unknown hitherto. There is an assurance, an extraordinary joy, a creative hope, a sense of aliveness when the self has been explored none of which is based on belief. When the self has been explored and all its tricks and corners are known to the mind, then the mind is assured of its creator. Therefore it ceases to create and in that cessation there is creation.
Sirs, please do not be hypnotized. You may be, as I said in the beginning of the talk, in that receptive mood when the seed is set in place, takes root. I hope sincerely that the seed has been planted because it is not words, it is not listening to me which will free you. What is going to free you, to deliver each one of us from sin and suffering is that realization, that awareness of what is. To know what it is exactly; not to translate it, not to explain it away, not to condemn; to know exactly what it is and to perceive it without obstruction brings freedom. That is freedom and through that freedom alone can truth be known.
The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Public Talk 9th 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.