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The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 15th November, 1947

Life is a continuous challenge and response. Whenever there is a challenge there is a direct response which almost immediately becomes a conditioned response which almost immediately becomes a conditioned response - fear, love, jealousy or something else. At the moment of direct response which is unconditioned, there is only an unprepared state of heightened sensitivity, a state of extreme and intense alertness, without any qualification whatsoever; in that state, there is no dissociation between the person who experiences and the quality which is experienced. As it is extremely difficult to live for any length of time in that state of heightened sensitivity, the conditioned mind which is seeking self-protection, gives it a qualification according to whether pleasure or pain is apprehended; and instantaneously there is a separation of the experiencer from the quality. This leads to a conditioned response.

For instance, when pain is apprehended, the mind gives that state the qualification of fear and, instantaneously, the person who is in a state of fear has separated himself from the quality of fear. Then the person makes a conditioned response to the challenge made by the quality, fear - the conditioned response being "how to overcome fear" or " how to run away from fear." The conditioned mind can never be free of fear by "overcoming it" by compulsion or discipline, because any such overcoming will necessarily repeat itself. Nor can the mind be free by running away from fear. If we examine closely, we shall see how our whole education, culture, and philosophy are based on running away from conditioned responses like fear. Every attempt to run away from fear fails and the mind is continually engaged in going from one escape to another - only to find ultimately that every such attempt is futile.

When pleasure is apprehended, the experiencer identifies himself with the quality of joy, etc, and goaded by the memory of what he experienced, seeks to have a similar experience again. Another experience of a similar nature only strengthens the memory and therefore strengthens the desire for the experience again. Then, with a view to having absolute security, the conditioned mind projects the idea of God and seeks God. A conditioned mind can only think of the known and not of the unknown. Therefore, the conditioned mind can never find Reality, God.

We are now trying to understand fear. We know how fear distorts and makes the mind small and also poisons the system. The little-minded people are afraid and they cannot understand the supreme. We have seen how futile is the attempt made by the mind either to overcome fear or to run away from fear. We have also seen how fear is primarily based on the mind' desire for self-protection. Naturally, our problem of fear has not been solved so far because we gave importance to and pursued fear which is only a secondary value, instead of giving importance to and pursuing 'the desire for self-protection' which is the primary value. We are in confusion because we give importance to the symptom and not to the cause, to the secondary values and not to the primary.

As fear is a conditioned response, our concern should be not to condemn it or to justify it but to be aware of it as and when it arises and not run away from it. When we are thus aware of fear and of the process of 'the desire for self-protection', fear ceases and the mind is free of fear.

In understanding fear, one opens the door to the extraordinary meaning of Death which is the Unknown as God is the Unknown. If we do not understand death, we cannot love.

The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 15th 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.

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