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The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 22nd November, 1947

We have been discussing the question of death and fear and we said that any form of continuity is death because continuity implies a constant movement of thought in the fortress of the known. Thought is always moving from the known to the known, from memory to memory, from continuity to continuity, and it cannot think of the unknown. It can verbally picture the unknown or speculate on it, but that picture is not the unknown.

Because the mind is moving in the field of the known, it gives continuity to it through the family, through property, through responsibility, through the machine of routine, through ideation and through belief.

Memory is merely the residue of experience. We experience through the screen of the past and therefore there is no experience at all but only a modification of experience. If we have a certain belief, that belief not only creates that experience, but also translates that experience according to its conditioning. So there is never an experience which is free from conditioning.

When the continuity through the family, through the name, through relationship, etc. is threatened, there is fear; and the ultimate threat to continuity is death. There is no renewal or rebirth in that state; a renewal can only be effected in ending.

Meditation is thought freeing itself from continuity and then there is renewal, creation and reality. Our whole structure of thinking is based on the desire for continuity. In understanding continuity we can understand the significance of rebirth or renewal.

Our process of thought is based on time - yesterday, today and tomorrow. Yesterday coming in contact with today creates the present. Yesterday's memory continuing today in a modified or transformed manner is the present. The present thought has its root in the past and so thought is continuity. The thinking process of a process of time and therefore a process of memory. Since we do not understand the process of our thinking, which is the result of time, merely to deny continuity is completely useless. If we want to understand the truth of continuity, we must watch it, go with it, every moment of the day. We are not concerned with physical continuity. What we are primarily concerned about is whether through things there is psychological continuity; that is, we are not concerned with the continuity of matter, but are concerned with the value we give to matter. We have seen that on one of the causes of the havoc and destruction in this world is our extraordinary adherence to property.

We need a certain amount of food, clothing and shelter. But, the moment we bring psychological value into it, it creates chaos. The moment we use our position or property as a means of psychological continuity, there is chaos.

When we feel pain we take immediate action to arrest it. We do not seem to take such psychological action with regard to property, which means we are not aware of what we are doing.

Our desire for continuity has brought us to death; it has made us insensitive and inactive. Psychologically we have given ourselves over to property and so we are dead, because things are dead. So, we have discovered the truth that the moment we have continuity through property, we are dead.

The same is the case with regard to relationship. When we seek continuity through the family, we give importance to continuity and not to the family, and thus we are creating the nation, the group, etc, which leads to disaster, or to death.

Similarly, ideas are also a form of continuity. We believe that we live even after our death. It is a belief through which we find continuity in some other quarter and at a different level. We cling to our God, our Truth, our Path and so on. So, the different kinds of organised beliefs have led us to division between ourselves, the Hindu, the Christian, and the Muslim and so on. There is only unity through intelligence and love. It is only when we recognise we are dead that there can be life. If we recognise we are blind, we would be careful and would not make any dogmatic assertion about anything.

What happens if one of your nearest relatives passes away? It is a great shock and a paralysis to the mind because you have invested your affection in him and he has come to an end, and suddenly you find that there is a psychological and physical breakage. You suddenly realise that you are alone. As you do not like the loneliness, there is sorrow, not exactly because your relative is dead, but because you have discovered your loneliness which you do not like.

That is, as you do not like what you are, you seek continuity through property, relationship and ideas - which has led you to utter chaos and misery. We cannot proceed any further without the recognition of that.

If we recognise that we are dead, there will be a revolution in our daily life. There will no longer be the psychological attachment to name, to family and to position. There will be a revolution with regard to our beliefs, which implies the cessation of beliefs.

We have seen and heard about several revolutions which have all brought about misery. But a revolution which is completely different from the revolution of theory, is a revolution of values, a revolution of thought, which can only come about by the recognition of 'what is'. There is a revolution in thought when I know I am blind. My whole action will be different; Then I will be very tentative, very watchful; I do not accept, but listen, I move very slowly, my whole being is revolutionised. If I do not recognise that I am blind, my actions will be quite different. If we refuse to recognise what is, we cannot find what truth is, because truth may be in that which is and not away from it.

The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 22nd 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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