The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Public Talk 16th November, 1947
It would be very interesting if we could take the journey together into self-exploration but unfortunately the difficulty with most of us is that we are used to watching rather than partaking; we would watch the game and be the spectators rather than the actual players. I think it would be beneficial if we could all play the game and be creative, and not only watch one person think, feel, live. The difficulty with most of us is that we have forgotten how to play in the sense of partaking, sharing and discovering for ourselves. We are accustomed to being told what to do, what to think and what the right action is. We are so unaccustomed to discover for ourselves the process of our own thinking from which alone action takes place. So, if we can, let us not be mere spectators but let us actually partake in what is being discussed; which means we must establish a fully communicable relationship between ourselves, between you and me. Most of us have relationship verbally and the difficulty is to go beyond that verbal level to a deeper level so that we can understand the identical thing instantly; because, after all communication has purpose only when both understand. You may understand but if I do not, then communication between us ceases and the difficulty always is to establish the right kind of communication on the identical level and at the same time, so that there can be instantaneous comprehension. So, it would be worthwhile I think, if we could take the journey together and not for you merely to watch me take the journey and tell you or describe to you the results of my journey. That would be utterly futile.
What we have been discussing the last few Sundays can be stated in a very few words, I think; and the simpler the statement, the more clear it will be. But unfortunately if it is oversimplified, the problem itself becomes non-existent. Yet the problem is there. Our problem is about the search for happiness and the overcoming of sorrow. We want happiness and yet our constant companion is sorrow. Now let us take the journey together and find out what we think of the problem, as though it were new and not as though I was merely describing what has been taking place in you and you were merely listening to me and communicating my meaning to yourselves. Let us be aware together, at the same time, on the same level, so that we can really go into it deeper and deeper at every discussion and every talk.
We seek happiness, do we not, through things, through relationship, through ideas or thought? So, things, relationship and ideas, and not happiness, become all important. That is, whenever we seek happiness through something, the thing becomes important and not happiness. When stated like that it sounds very simple, and it is very simple. Because we seek happiness in property, in family, in ideas, the property, family and ideas become all important; we expect to find happiness through something. Now, can happiness be found through anything? Things made by the hand or by the mind have assumed greater significance than happiness itself, and because, things, relationship and ideas are so obviously impermanent, we are always unhappy. That is, we seek happiness through things and we find that there is no happiness. If we examine a little bit more closely we will find that happiness does not come through things. Then again, if we shift to another level, the level of relationship between ourselves and others, whether it be the society, the family or the nation, we see the enormous difficulty of adjustment between ourselves and others. So, if you observe it very closely you will find that there is an extraordinary impermanency in relationship, though we try to anchor ourselves in relationship and make it a refuge and a security. Similarly with ideas. One system of ideas can be broken down by another system of ideas and so on. Yet we do not seem to realize the impermanency of all things - using the word not in its metaphysical but in its purely ordinary sense. Things are impermanent; they wear out. In the case of relationships, there is constant friction. The same is true for ideas and beliefs which have no stability. Yet we seek our happiness in them because we do not realize the impermanency of things, of ideas and relationships. And so after trying one set of relationships, one set of things, we move to another, from one page to another, hoping to find happiness and we never find it. So, sorrow becomes our constant companion and the overcoming of sorrow our chief problem.
How can we overcome it? We have never asked ourselves whether happiness can be found through something, through knowledge, through contact or through God. Can happiness be achieved through an object, either an ideological object or a physical object? Sorrow is inevitable as long as we seek happiness through something. is it not a fact that we seek happiness through something and when we do not find it in this world we move to the next world; when we do not find it in the family, in virtue, in ideas, we try to find it through a permanent entity called God? So it is always through something, through an object.
So the problem is: can happiness, which is never found through anything, be found at all? If I cannot find it through something, can it exist or am I only happy when I am not seeking, when I do not want happiness through anything? Can happiness exist by itself? To find that out we have to explore the river of self - knowledge. But, self-knowledge is not an end in itself. It is like following a stream to its source. Is there a source to a stream? Surely not. Every drop from the beginning to the end makes the river, and to imagine that we will find happiness at the source is an error. Happiness cannot be found through anything but only by following the river of self-knowledge, that is oneself.
So our difficulty lies in that we have to follow not only our conscious but also our unconscious motives, demands and purposes. Those of us who have listened somewhat earnestly, must have made the experiment of following thoughts and feelings consciously. That is, by becoming aware of conscious thoughts and feelings and ideas, we clear the mind of all conflict and all tribulations and confusions and begin to receive the unconscious thoughts and intimations. So in order to begin following the stream of self-knowledge there must be a clarification of the conscious, that is one must be aware of what is consciously taking place. That is, by becoming aware of the conscious activities, which I assure you is quite difficult, the unconscious thoughts and hidden intentions and motives can be understood. So, as the conscious is the present, the now, through the present the unconscious and hidden thoughts can be understood; and the unconscious and hidden thoughts cannot be understood through any other means except by becoming intensely aware of the present and by freeing ourselves from those complications, incompleted actions and thoughts that are constantly creeping into the conscious mind.
So, all of us who really want to experiment, who really want to undertake the journey must free the thoughts in our conscious mind. That is, to make it simpler, the conscious mind is surely occupied with the immediate problems, the job, the family, studies, politics, the Brahmin and the non-Brahmin and so on. So, without our understanding those problems of the conscious mind and doing away with them, how can we proceed further? And to sweep that clear, is this not our constant problem of living? With these problems we are occupied, the state, nationalism, class division, property, relationship and ideas that constantly float into the conscious mind. How are we to solve the problem of property and class division? - property that creates so much hatred and enmity and class divisions and brings such conflict and despair? With that, our conscious mind is actually occupied. And if we do not clear that up, surely we cannot go very far and follow up the stream of self-knowledge.
So what we want first is that extraordinary beginning of taking a step. So those who want to make the journey across to the other shore, to see and discover where self-knowledge leads them must surely be aware consciously of what they are thinking, feeling and their habits, their traditions and their verbal expressions, the manner of their speech to their wives, to their servants, and to their immediate superiors. That will reveal how the mind is working and from there you can proceed and as you proceed you discover; and discovery of the real is happiness and it is not through something, but is in itself as love is, eternal; love is eternal not because you love somebody, love is in itself eternal.
Question: I have been told that you do not read any philosophical or religious literature. I can hardly believe this as when I listen to you I realize that you must have read or have some secret source of knowledge. Please be frank.
Krishnamurti: I have not read any sacred literature, neither the Bhagavad Gita nor the Upanishads. I have not read any philosophical treatise, modern or ancient; and there is no secret source of knowledge either, because you and I are the source of knowledge. We are the reservoir of everything and of all the knowledge. Because we are the result of the past, and in understanding ourselves we uncover the whole knowledge and therefore all wisdom. Therefore self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom and we can find that ourselves without reading a book, without going to any leader or following any `yogi'. It requires enormous persistency, an alertness of mind and I assure you that when you begin to explore, there is a delight, there is an ecstasy that is incomparable. But as most of our minds are drugged with other people's ideas and books, and as our minds are constantly repeating what someone else said, we have become repeaters and not thinkers. When you quote the Bhagavad Gita or the Bible or some Chinese Sacred Books, surely you are merely repeating. Are you not? And what you are repeating is not the truth. It is a lie, for truth cannot be repeated. A lie can be extended, propounded and repeated but not truth; and when you repeat truth, it ceases to be truth and therefore sacred books are unimportant because through self-knowledge, through yourself, you can discover the eternal. It is really a most arduous task, for self-knowledge has no beginning or conclusion with a solution at the end. It has no beginning and no end. You must begin where you are, read every word, every phrase and every paragraph and you cannot read if you are condemning, if you are justifying, if you pursue verbally and deny the painful, and if you are not awake to every implication of thought. You can only be awake when there is spontaneity because a controlled mind is a disciplined mind and it can never understand itself because it is fixed in a pattern. But there are moments when even the disciplined minds, the drugged minds are spontaneous and in these spontaneous moments we can discover, we can go beyond the illusions of the mind. So, as there is no secret source and as there is no wisdom in any book you will find that the real is very near for it is in yourself and that requires extraordinary activity, constant alertness. Self-knowledge does not come by studying in a room by yourself. If the mind is alert yet passive you can follow every second of the day and even when one sleeps the mind is functioning. If during the day you are alert, extraordinarily awake, you will see that the mind has received intimations, hints which can be pursued during the night. So really a man who wants to discover truth, the real, the eternal, must abandon all books, all systems, all gurus, because that which is to be found will only be found when one understands oneself.
Question: At present in this country our government is attempting to modify the system of education. May we know your ideas on education and how it can be imparted?
Krishnamurti: This is an enormous subject and to try to answer it in a few minutes, is quite absurd because its implications are so vast, but we will state it as clearly and as simply as possible because there is a great joy in seeing a thing clearly without being influenced by other peoples' notions and ideas and instructions, whether they be the government, or the specialists or the very learned in education. What has happened in the world after centuries of education? We have had two catastrophic wars which have almost destroyed man, that is, man as a means of knowledge. We see that education has failed because it has resulted in the most dreadful destruction that the world has ever known. So what has happened? Seeing that education has failed, governments are stepping in to control education. Are they not? They want to control the way in which you should be educated, what you think, not how you think, but what you think. So, when the government steps in, there is regimentation as has happened throughout the world. Governments are not concerned with the happiness of the masses, but they are concerned with producing an efficient machine; and as our age is a technical age they want technicians who will create the marvellous modern machine called society. These technicians will function efficiently and therefore automatically. This is what is happening in the world, whether the government is of the left or of the right. They do not want you to think but if you do think, then you must think along a particular line or according to what religious organizations say. We have been through this process, the control by the organized religion, by the priests and by the government. It has resulted in disaster and in the exploitation of man. Whether man is exploited in the name of God or in the name of the government, it is the same thing. As man is human he eventually breaks up the system. So that is one of the problems; as long as education is the hand-maiden of the government there is no hope. This is the tendency we find everywhere in the world at the present time whether it is inspired by the right or by the left, because if you are left free to think for yourself you may revolt and therefore you will have to be liquidated. There are various methods of liquidation which we need not go into.
Sirs, in considering education we will have to find out the purpose of education, the purpose of living. If that is not clear to you why educate yourself? What is significant? What are we living for? What are we struggling for? If that is not clear to you education has no significance. Has it? One period will be technical, another period will be religious, the next period will be something else again and so on. We are talking about a system and so is it not important to find out what it is all about. Are you merely being educated in order to get a job? Then you make living a means to a job and you make of yourself a man to fit into a groove. Is that the purpose? We must think of this problem in that light and not merely repeat slogans. To a life that is not free from systems whether they be modern or ancient, free of even the most advanced and progressive ideas, education will have no meaning. If you do not know why you are living, what is the purpose of being educated, then why make so much fuss about how you are educated. As it is, you are being led to the cannon. You are becoming cannon fodder. If that is what we want then certainly we must make ourselves extremely efficient to kill each other and that is what is happening. Is it not? There are more armies, more armaments, more money invested in producing bacteriological warfare and atomic destruction than ever before in history and in order to accomplish all this you must be technicians of the highest order and therefore you are becoming tools of destruction. Is not all this due to education? You are becoming fodder for cannons, regimented minds. Or else you become an industrialist, a big businessman grabbing after money and if this does not interest you, you, become addicted to knowledge, to books or you aspire to be a scientist caught in his laboratory. And if there is any higher purpose to our lives and if we do not discover it, then life has very little significance; it is as if we committed suicide and we are committing suicide when we make ourselves into machines, either religious machines or political machines. So if we do not discover what the purpose of life is, education has very little significance.
Then, what is the need or the purpose of our living? I am not telling you and do not expect me to tell you. We are taking the journey together. We must turn our back against divisions and distinctions, that is, we must find what is the real, what is God, what is eternity and what is happiness; because a man who is already happy is not bothered at all. A man in love loves everybody. For him there is no class distinction. He does not want to liquidate somebody because that somebody has more. If happiness is the end, then what we are doing now has no significance. To find reality there must be freedom, freedom from conditioned thinking, so as to discover if there is not something beyond the sensate values. Not the absurd political freedom, but freedom from conditioning, from the, psychological demands that condition thought. Does freedom come through education, through any system of government whether of the left or of the right? Can parents, environment give freedom? If so, environment becomes extraordinarily important because parents must be educated as well as the educator. If the educator is confused, conditioned, narrow, limited, bound by superstitious ideas, whether modern or ancient, the child will suffer. The educator therefore is far more important, that is, to educate the educator is far more important than educating the child. That means the parents and the teachers should be educated first. Do they want to be educated, altered or revolutionized? Not in the least, for the very simple reason that they want permanency. They want `status quo', things as they are, with wars and competition and a political world in which everybody is confused, pulling at each other, destroying each other.
You ask me what I should do about education. It is too vast a subject. If you want things to be continued as they are, then you must accept the present system which brings constant wars and confusion, never a moment of peace in the world. And it is much more difficult to educate the educator than the child because the educator has already grown stupid. I do not think you realize what is happening in the world, how catastrophic it all is. The educator is becoming dull and he does not know what to do. He is confused. He goes from one system to another, from one teacher to another, from the oldest to the most ancient and yet he does not find what he is looking for, for the very simple reason that he has not located the source of confusion which is himself. How can such a man awaken intelligence in another? So, that is one of the problems.
What is the child? He is a product of yourself, is he not? So he is already conditioned, is he not? He is the result of the past and the present. The idea that if given freedom, the child would develop naturally seems to be fallacious because after all the child is the father and the father is the child though with certain modifications of tendencies. To give freedom to a child you must first understand yourself, the giver of freedom, the educator. If I have to educate a child but do not understand myself and so start with my conditioned response, how can I teach him? How can I awaken intelligence in him? So that is part of the problem. Then there is the question of nourishment, care and love. Most of us have no real love for our children though we talk about it. Sirs, education is something tremendous and without love I do not possibly see how there can be education. The moment you love somebody you understand the person, your heart is in it. Do we love our children? Do we love our wives or husbands? Do we love our neighbours? We do not, because if we did there would be a different world. There is no true education through a system. If we love there must be instantaneous communication, on the same level and at the same time and because we ourselves are dry, empty, governments and systems have taken over. The educator becomes important, the environment becomes significant because we do not know how to love.
I am afraid you will say that I have said nothing positive about education. Is not negative thinking the highest form of thinking, for wisdom comes through negation. Do not put what I say into your old bottles and thus lose the perfume. Sirs, surely to transform the world there must be regeneration within ourselves. We find we have blueprints to educate our children but naturally blueprints have no love. Therefore you produce machines. We have brains but what has happened to them. We are becoming cannon fodder. We are not creators. We are not thinkers. We do not know how to love, we are merely drudging with our routine minds and naturally we become inefficient and the government which wants efficiency for destruction is going to make us efficient. There is an efficiency inspired by love which is greater than the efficiency of machinery.
Question: The traditional method of reaching Adepts or Masters by training given by them or through their disciples is still said to be open to humanity. Are your teachings intended for those who are on that path?
Krishnamurti: Sirs, let us really go into this question of various paths leading to ultimate reality. A path can only lead to that which is known and that which is the known is not the truth. When you know something it ceases to be truth because it is past, it is entirely arrested. Therefore the known, the past is caught in the net of time and therefore it is not the truth, it is not the real. So, a path leading to the known cannot lead you to truth and a path can only lead to the known and not to the unknown. You take a path to a village, to a house, because you know where the house is in the village and there are many paths to your house, to your village. But reality is the immeasurable, the unknown. If you could measure it it would not be truth. Because what you have learned through books, through the say-so of others, is not real; it is only repetition and what is repeated is not truth any longer.
So, is there any path to truth? We have thought so far that all paths lead to truth. Do they? Does the path of the ignorant, the path of the man with ill will lead to truth? He must abandon all paths. Must he not? A man who is concerned with murdering people in the name of the state, can he find truth unless he abandons his occupation? So all paths do not lead to truth. A man who is addicted to the acquiring of knowledge cannot find truth because he is concerned with knowledge and not with truth. The man who accepts division, will he find truth? Obviously not, because he has chosen a particular path and not the whole. Will the man of action find reality? Obviously not, for the simple reason that by following a part we cannot find the whole. That means knowledge, division and action separately cannot lead anywhere but to destruction, to illusion, to restlessness. That is what has happened. The man who has pursued knowledge for the sake of knowledge, believing that it would lead him to reality, becomes a scientist, yet what has marvellous science done to the world? I am not decrying science. The scientist is like you and me; only in his laboratory he differs from us. He is like you and me with his narrowness, with his fears and nationalism.
So a man who really seeks reality must have devotion, knowledge and action. They are not three separate paths leading to some extraordinary thing called reality. Yet, devotion to something is only another fantastic phase. Remove the object of his devotion, and the man is lost and he will fight and he will do everything to hold on to it. Therefore it is no longer devotion. It is merely an emotional outlet, centred upon something which he calls devotion, but a man who is really devoted, is devoted to the search itself and not to knowledge.
To believe that there is a path to the Masters, to the Adepts or a path reached through their disciples is also rather fantastic. Is it not? Because wisdom is not found through a disciple or through a Master. Happiness is not found through any means other than by abandoning the idea that we are the chosen few, who travel along a special path. This idea merely gives us a sense of security, a sense of aggrandizement. The idea that yours is the direct path and that ours will take more time is the outcome of immature thinking. Does it not divide mankind into systematized paths? It is those that are mature who will find the truth. He who is mature never pursues, whether it be the path of the Adepts or the path of knowledge, of science, of devotion or of action. A man who is committed to any particular path is immature and such a man will never find the eternal, the timeless, because the part, the particular to which he is committed belongs to time. Through time you can never find the timeless. Through misery you can never find happiness. Misery must be set aside if happiness is to be. If you love, in that love there can be no contention and no conflict. In the midst of darkness there is no light and when you get rid of darkness, you have light. Similarly, love is when there is no possessiveness, when there is no condemnation, when there is no self-fulfilment. Those of us who are committed to paths have vested interests, mental emotional and physical, and that is why we find it extremely difficult to become mature; how can we abandon that to which we have clung for the past fifty or sixty years? How can you leave your house and become once more a beggar just as you were when you were really seeking? Now you have committed yourself to an organization of which you are the head, the secretary or a member. To the man who is seeking, the search itself is love, that itself is devotion, that itself is knowledge. The man who has committed himself to a particular path or action is caught up in systems and he will not find truth. Through the part the whole is never found. Through a little crack of the window we do not see the sky, the marvellous clear sky and the man who can see the sky clearly is the man who is in the open, away from all paths, from all traditions and in him there is hope and he will be the saviour of mankind.
Question: What profession would you advise me to take?
Krishnamurti: Each question is related to some other question. Each thought is related to another and is not separate. The profession, the path, education, self-knowledge are all intimately interrelated. You cannot merely choose a profession and pursue self-knowledge or choose a profession to be an educator. They are all interrelated. All actions, all feelings are interrelated and that is the beauty of it. If you take one thought you can go into the whole depth of thinking.
You ask: what profession would you advise me to take? If you want a right answer we must go into it fully. What is happening in this world? Is there any choice of profession? You take what you can jolly well get. You are lucky if you can get work. This is so in all parts of the world. Because we have lost all true values we have but one aim: to get money somehow to live. Since that value is predominating in the world there is no choice. If you are a B.A., B.Sc., or an M.A., you become a clerk. The structure of society is such that it leads to destruction. The society is geared to destroy. Every action that you do is leading to war.
I do not know if you are aware of it, but in the midst of this storm, and starvation, can you choose to become a lawyer, a soldier, or a policeman? When you really feel that mankind is on the brink of a catastrophe can you choose any of these three professions? By becoming a soldier can you solve the world's problem? A soldier functions to destroy and he will destroy. He is trained to destroy like the policeman whose office is to watch, to report, to spy, to intrigue; and you know what it is to be a lawyer - a cunning man without much substance behind him. You are all lawyers and you know what you have done to the world by your cleverness and yet you are still turning out thousands of lawyers. What is their profession? To divide and to keep up division and on that they live. They do not live on human relationship and kindliness and love but on cunning stupidity and intrigue. Can you join a man who makes money in the midst of this economic chaos? Can you know what starvation means?
So you see how limited the professions are. Sirs, before you can ask the question, what you are to do, you must know how to think rightly, not in a sloppy manner. Right thinking brings about right profession and right action. You cannot know how to think rightly without self-knowledge. Are you willing to spend the time to know yourself, so that you can think rightly and find the right profession? Those of you who are not compelled to choose immediately a profession, surely you can do something. Therefore, those of you who have leisure have the responsibility, those who have time to know and to observe. But those who can, do not. It is immensely difficult to choose a job in a civilized world of this kind where every action leads to destruction and exploitation. Many who are not pressed to choose a profession are those who can, but they do not, and that is the tragedy. You do not, because you are afraid. When the house is already on fire you still want to hold on to a few things. So the tragedy is not for those who have to choose a profession, they are going to choose it willy-nilly, but it is for those who sit back and observe. Through right thinking alone can there be right action. Right thinking is not achieved through books, through past memories or through future hopes.
The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Public Talk 16th 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.